Help for Elderly to Get Out of Chairs

by Fran
(Brampton, Ontario)

My mom is 87 years old and has quite a bit of dementia. She still lives in her own home, but my brother and wife are living there with her.

I've seen them try and help her get out of the chair by holding her hands and have heard this is not a good method.

What is the best way to assist my mom to get up off a chair other than automatic chair lifts.

What are the best techniques to provide help for the elderly to get out of chairs?

REPLY from
You're absolutely right, there are better methods for assisting seniors to get out of chairs.

The method you describe - help her get out of the chair by holding her hands - is a very common technique.

The main drawback of this method is that it can cause muscle and joint strain to both those assisting as well as the one being assisted (in this case your mom).

Backs, shoulders and necks are the main areas at risk. For obvious reasons, it's important to keep both your mom and her caregivers healthy.

There can also be over-compensation by a helper that can result in a fall by pulling to hard or not hard enough.

There are safer methods other than buying an electric lift chair.

Safest Solution

The safest solution is to enable your mom to be independent with getting up from sitting.

The main reasons why seniors/elderly have difficulty getting up from sitting is because the seat is too low and/or there is nothing to push/pull from.

1) Increase seat height - You can do this by raising the whole chair/couch. Put it up on blocks or use furniture risers. You can also do this by adding high density cushions.

2) Something to push/pull - A chair with armrests is the easiest solution. Other solutions are installing floor to ceiling transfer poles.

Alternative to Electric Lift Chairs

There are cushions that are either battery powered or spring powered that assist seniors in getting up from chairs. They are portable and less expensive than electric lift chairs. Two models are the UpEasy Power Seat and Seat Assist.

Technique to Physically Assist

Although the safest option is to change the set up of the chair/couch so that your mom can do it on her own, there are ways to make it safer to physically assist her.

1) Transfer belt - I would suggest getting a transfer belt that your brother/sister can put around your mom. It gives them something to grab on rather than pulling on her arms or clothes.

2) Proper body positioning - Encourage your brother and sister to use proper lifting techniques such as bending knees (not their back), no twisting while lifting and use a wide stance. It's also important to communicate with your mom as to what she can do to help.

A Recliner Lift Chair is also an option.

For more information on taking care of elderly parents, read about help for elderly.

Thank you,

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