A good deal of your time may be spent helping the person get in or out of bed, walk around their home or helping them to the bathroom. You have seen relatively short nurses help people around the hospital so you know that you do not need to be very tall or physically strong. You do need to be smart about what you do so that you do not hurt yourself. Ask your home care coordinator/case manager to bring in an occupational therapist or physiotherapist for an in-house assessment. They are experts at helping you decide what assistive devices might be helpful and what types of support and care you can provide that would be most helpful to the person who needs it. Also ask your visiting home nurse for further tips.
Note: The tips in this section apply best to people who are weak and need some extra support. They do not necessarily apply to people who have muscular or neurologic conditions or those who have had a stroke. Always check with a physiotherapist or occupational therapist or visiting home nurse before trying something new.
Here are some specific tips that might help as well:
If movement causes extra pain, check with the physician or visiting home nurse about giving a pain relieving medication about 30 minutes before the movements happen (e.g., before daily baths, regular trips to the dining room).
Keep your feet and toes pointed straight ahead with your weight evenly divided on both feet.
You need to stand as straight as you can, keep your head up, shoulders down and knees slightly bent.
When lifting someone, you should have your head, shoulders and hips form a straight line. You need to bend your knees and keep your back as straight as possible when lifting. Have your feet about 30 cm (one foot) apart for the best stability.
Learn a few stretching exercises for your legs, arms, back and stomach muscles and practice them before you do any lifting or assisting.
The closer you are to the person or object you are lifting, the less strain on your muscles.
Make sure the area you will be lifting or walking in does not have anything in the way (e.g., toys and throw rugs) and that it is not slippery.
Wear comfortable, low heel shoes and loose fitting clothes.
Always use wheelchair breaks to prevent people from losing their balance and falling.
Remove the foot pedals on wheelchairs or move them to the side to give extra room.
Caring For Loved Ones At Home – Free eBook – click here.
Click here for Harry’s previous article on Basic Care.