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5 Types of Lifting Aids for the Elderly

Article by Daniel Westhead Daniel Westhead Sure Safe Alarms
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One significant reason why an older person might need a carer is difficulties with mobility. These difficulties can occur for a myriad of reasons. Some seniors experience joint stiffness related to arthritis. Others might have shaking or poor balance due to Parkinson’s disease. And, of course, injuries or surgery recovery can also cause an older person to struggle with moving about easily.

Whatever its cause, an older person’s reduced mobility can require help with moving around and transitioning from one position to another. For example, entering and leaving the bed or shower can be points of difficulty. An elderly person might also need help getting up from the floor after a fall – and, as we’ve mentioned before on this blog, it can be unsafe for carers to lift an older person from the floor using only their physical strength.

In these situations, lifting aids for a fallen person can provide crucial assistance, safety and comfort for both seniors and their caregivers. A lifting aid might enable an older person to perform a movement safely on their own, or it might be designed for use by a caregiver who is assisting an older person.

So, if you’re caring for an older loved one at home, what kinds of lifting aids are available to you?

In this article, we’ll explore some types of lifting aids beneficial to the elderly, and discuss how they can help.

Gait belts

A gait or transfer belt is a device that’s designed to assist carers who are helping seniors with nearly any kind of moving about. Put simply, it provides a way for a carer to hold on to an older person without grabbing their body or clothes. For example, let’s say a carer is helping an elderly person stand up from a chair, and the older person stumbles. If the carer tries to help but is not holding on to a gait belt, they might grab the older person’s arm, tear their clothes or fail to prevent the older person from falling. In contrast, the gait belt provides a surer grip because it is designed to stay in place safely.

Of course, as with all devices we’ll mention in this piece, carers should be properly trained in a gait belt’s use. In fact, all carers who need to provide physical support should be trained in what’s called moving and handling. This ensures that the techniques used are safe for everyone involved.

Lifting cushions

Here’s a lifting aid for a fallen person.

As we’ve mentioned, experts typically advise carers not to lift older people from the floor using their muscle strength – especially if the carer has not been trained in safe lifting techniques.

In that case, how can a carer help an older person get up from the floor after a fall?

One option is a lifting cushion. This is an inflatable device that may resemble a stack of cushions, or it may even look like an inflatable chair. Either way, its key aspect is that it inflates underneath a fallen elderly person, helping to raise them into a seated position so that they can stand up on their own.

One great aspect of a lifting cushion is that, like many other inflatable devices, it is quite small in its uninflated form. That makes it handy for older people who live in small spaces and don’t have room for a lot of equipment.

A good complement for a lifting cushion would be a personal alarm with automatic fall detection. Like a lifting cushion, this device is small but offers great protection after a fall. It senses that its wearer has fallen and immediately calls for help all by itself, without the wearer needing to do anything.

Bed rail stands

A basic but super-helpful form of lifting aid for an older person is a bed rail stand. This is a metal stand that attaches or fits to the side of a bed in order to give an elderly person a secure and stable point to hold on to. With the help of a bed rail stand, seniors with muscle weakness or unsteady balance can find it easier to pull themselves out of bed or lower themselves into a sleeping position. That can be great for elderly people who want to perform their morning or evening routine independently, but it can also be very helpful for seniors with carers who simply don’t want to lean all their weight on their carer.

You can also get a very similar type of stand that can be used anywhere in the home. Rather than being a single point of stability like a cane, it’s a rectangular-shaped rail with a firm base that can be placed next to a chair or anywhere a senior might need to hold on for extra steadiness.

Lifting poles

A lifting pole might be a good choice for an older person who needs a little more help than a bed rail stand provides.

Like a bed rail stand, a lifting pole fits at the side of the bed and is designed to help with getting in and out of bed. The difference is that a lifting pole provides a small strap hanging over the bed for seniors to hold on to and pull themselves up. While a bed rail stand provides support and stability, it’s better for an older person who is a little more able to manoeuvre on their own. In contrast, a lifting pole might be better for a senior who needs more significant help with the act of sitting up.

Rising chairs

Lastly, we’ll mention rising chairs, which are chairs that slowly stand up to help tilt the seated person into a standing position. In other words, they help to lift an older person from a chair without needing any involvement from a carer.

For a deeper dive into riser chairs, take a look at our blog post on the pros and cons of riser and recliner chairs.

How SureSafe protects seniors at risk of falls

These are just a few of the many lifting aids available to help seniors move around safely, with or without a carer’s help. Beyond the devices we’ve mentioned, there are also many more large and complex ones, including slings and hoists to provide fuller support with moving patients who have very reduced mobility.

Another small device that’s great for older people who have difficulty with standing up, getting out of bed or moving about in general is an elderly personal alarm. Where many lifting aids work to reduce the risk of falls, a personal alarm is designed to help after a fall. With a one-touch personal alarm, an older person just needs to press one button to call for assistance if a carer is not around.

In fact, personal alarms provide help with many other emergencies beyond falls, too. They mean that an older person will never be unable to call for help if a crisis occurs. They can also offer protection to seniors with dementia – for example, a personal alarm with GPS tracking can allow family to find an older person with dementia who has wandered and is lost.

Curious to know more about how our affordable, easy-to-use personal alarms can help you or an older loved one? Reach out to our expert team on 0800 112 3201 to chat with us about which personal alarm might suit you. Alternatively, you can try our live chat or request a call back.

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