A caregiver can be a loved one or a hired professional who provides supervision and assistance of another person through their activities of daily life. If you feel physical discomfort when caregiving, here are some guidelines to help you work toward more positive movement experiences.
Life Tips for Caregivers:
Caring for another person can be stressful. Here are some tips for taking care of yourself while you take care of someone else.
- Pencil in personal time - Just a few moments each day to read, walk, soak in the tub, or any other activity you enjoy as personal time can help you to avoid burnout.
- Be active - Exercise relieves stress and gives you energy. A 10 minute walk can boost your energy.
- Eat well - Food gives you energy.
- Accept help - Allow someone to support you. It makes both of you feel good. Ask for help when you need it.
- Laugh - It relieves stress and releases endorphins. In the personal time you pencil for yourself.
- Deep breathing - Try deep breathing techniques to relieve stress. An example is breathing in slowly through your nose, holding it for a few seconds, and then slowly exhaling. Repeat this 5 times.
Picking up items from the floor:
Whether you’re picking up small items from the floor, bags, or medical equipment, follow these steps to load the muscles that are built to lift.
- Place the item directly in front of you, or at your side.
- Push hips back, bend knees, and do not reach for the item, but let your hands come to it at your natural arms-length.
- Push into heels and squeeze your buttocks as you push your hips forward to stand back up.
- Carry the item close to you either in front of you, or switch sides frequently.
Transferring a person:
Physically supporting someone can put pressure on our joints and cause a pain response. Our bodies are capable of supporting the added weight, but here are some strategies to empower our bodies to handle the added stress.1
- Position the person you are transferring so that their feet are on the ground to give them a stable support. If the person is in bed, help them into a seated position at the edge of the bed.
- While seated, place your arms around the person’s waist, so that you can support them. If the person wants to hold on to something for support, have them place an arm around your waist or shoulders, or use a gait belt that you can purchase at a drugstore or online stores such as Amazon.
- Position your feet shoulder-width apart and one foot slightly in front of the other on the floor before standing up to have a good base for support.
- Have the person rock forward 3 times to build momentum, counting out loud to 3. Push into your heels and squeeze your buttocks as you push your hips forward to stand up.
- Keep the person close to your body and take small steps as you move. If you need to rotate the person, rotate with them using small steps.
- To lower someone to a seated position, place your feet shoulder-width apart with one foot slightly in front of the other. Let the person you’re moving know to slowly sit down, reaching their hand back to control their descent if possible. Continue supporting the person as you push your hips back, and bend at your knees.
- A lightweight metal frame walker with rails that can be gripped by the person you’re caring for can help to support their body weight during transfer, and from rising and sitting.
- Family Caregiver Alliance (2017). Transferring a Person. Retrieved from caregiver.org/transferring-person