Taking care of another adult, whether it’s a disabled adult child, spouse, sibling, or parent can be challenging. Being a family caregiver can cause a tremendous amount of stress, not just emotionally but also physically.
When somebody needs help getting out of bed, getting up from a chair, getting into and out of the car, or in other types of physical situations, the person helping them can become seriously injured if they are not positioning themselves properly. Back injuries are some of the most common problems many inexperienced caregivers face because they don’t position themselves in the right way to minimize impact on their joints and lower back.
Always bend with the knees.
It is absolutely essential that when you are about to assist somebody getting up from a seated position, out of the car, or even out of bed that you keep your back as straight as possible. The further you are bent over at your hips, the more pressure is being placed on your lower back.
For example, bending 90° over at your hips and lifting a 10 pound weight actually places approximately 100 pounds of pressure on your lower back. You can multiply the weight you are lifting by 10 when you bend over that far at your waist.
Instead, when you lift with your knees keep your back straight, all of the weight and pressure, all of that stress, is being put on your legs, where it should be. This helps to protect your back and also avoid injuries and accidents to you and the person who needs assistance.
Know and respect your limitations.
It’s a good idea to have a clear understanding about your own physical limitations. Far too often when we are assisting somebody in our family, somebody whom we love, with their physical needs, we overestimate our own limits.
If you push beyond your physical limits of what you can do and lift, you are opening yourself up to injury and accidents that can cause serious harm.
Rely on assistance when needed.
When you understand your limits, you should be willing to look at options for finding help. Hiring a home care aide or series of caregivers, even if it’s just for a couple of hours here and there throughout the week, can be one of the best decisions you make that not only keeps your loved ones safe, but also help you avoid unnecessary stress and potential injuries.