Tips for Caregivers: Safely Moving Your Loved One - Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital
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Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital


Tips for Caregivers: Safely Moving Your Loved One

Young caregiver walking with an elderly woman in the park.

Learn to prevent falls when transferring your loved ones.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Tips for Caregivers: Safely Moving Your Loved One, Preventing Falls

We know that many caregivers are responsible for aspects of their loved one’s mobility. There are several important factors that caregivers should consider when determining whether to move or transfer their loved one from one position to another. The Occupational and Physical Therapy (OT/PT) teams at Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital have a few recommendations.

The first consideration about safely moving your loved one is the physical position of the caregiver. Make sure that you're standing in a way that you feel sturdy and in control. The second, is your loved one's position. It's important that your loved one is in a position that they have the ability to use their resources to help in the move. Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind:

  • Have your loved one scoot their hips towards the edge of what they're sitting on.
  • Before helping them to move, make sure their nose is over their toes.
  • Have your loved one put their hands on an armrest or something hard that they can push off of.
  • Encourage them up push up, not out.

Patience also is vital in safe transfers. Moving someone don't need to happen fast. In fact, it's better to have your loved one take their time. If a transfer is not going well, go back to square one. Safety is the number one concern whenever assisting to move someone. Give yourself as much time as you need.

In addition to positioning and patience, fall prevention also is an important consideration. To prevent falls, our OT/PT team recommends the following for your loved one:

  • Have regular vision exams.
  • Wear sturdy footwear.
  • Be aware of medication changes.
  • Engage in exercise to promote flexibility, strength, and balance.

If your loved one should fall, we encourage you to trust your judgement. If you didn't see the fall and are uncertain of the impact, we recommend calling for assistance. If you see the fall, assess the situation. If you have any doubts about possible injuries, again, we encourage you to call for assistance.

A safe environment also is an important aspect of preventing falls. We recommend limiting common "trip hazards" around your home. This includes extension cords, clutter, and throw rugs. Additionally, ensure that there's ample lighting.

As a caregiver, if you have questions about what to do for your particular situation, please reach out to your primary care provider for a referral to PT/OT. We're here to help you and your loved one.

This information was brought to you by the Health Promotion Disease Prevention (HPDP) committee and in collaboration with Social Work, Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy.


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