Caregiving and Back Injuries: Prevention is Key
In a job where being able to move freely is essential, back injuries can be career-ending. By definition, caregiving requires assisting others in the activities of daily living when they can no longer be self-sufficient. For patients who have limited mobility, caregivers can be required to move 50 or more pounds of body weight multiple times per day.
For trained caregiving professionals, proper lifting techniques are often common knowledge. However, if you are a first-time caregiver looking after a relative or spouse, you may be unaware of methods to help you properly assist, lift and move your loved one.
Back injuries are the most common physical problem seen in caregivers. Unfortunately, even one back injury can render a caregiver permanently unable to provide assistance.
If you are caregiving for a loved one, preventing back injuries should be a top priority.
Below are some techniques to help you avoid injuring your back when caregiving.
Strengthening your muscles will take load and strain off of your back. Consider starting a simple strength training and stretching routine. Focus on building strength in your abdominal muscles and glutes. For a sample back injury prevention routine, click here: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/multimedia/back-pain/sls-20076265
- Use proper lifting techniques
Some general guidelines to follow when you lift or move a person include:
- Keep your head and neck in proper alignment with your spine.
- Maintain the natural curve of your spine; do not bend at your waist.
- Avoid twisting your body when carrying a person.
- Always keep the person who is being moved close to your body.
- Keep your feet shoulder-width apart to maintain your balance.
- Use the muscles in your legs to lift and/or pull.
For more information on lifting techniques for home caregivers, click here: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/staying-healthy/lifting-techniques-for-home-caregivers
- Get help when needed
If lifting your loved one is too difficult due to uncooperativeness, heaviness or awkward positioning, seek help. If your loved one is currently receiving palliative or hospice care, ask your caregiving team for advice and assistance.
If you find that you are often unable to lift your loved one independently, consider purchasing a patient lift. Medicare will often pay for patient lifts if they are deemed medically necessary and prescribed by a doctor. Learn more about Medicare coverage for patient lifts here: https://medicare.com/coverage/does-medicare-cover-patient-lifts/
If your loved one is struggling with a serious illness, Hospice and Palliative of Greensboro can help. Call 336.621.7575 for more information.