One of the more physically demanding tasks of a caregiver is what therapists call “bed mobility”. Bed mobility is important for a number of reasons. But most commonly 1) giving someone a bed bath, 2) providing pressure relief for a bedbound or mostly immobile person to prevent bed sores, and 3) to get people up to the edge of the bed and then possibly to a wheelchair or bedside commode.
The primary reason that this can be physically demanding is that its difficult for the person in bed to assist the caregiver. And so the caregiver ends up doing a lot of the physical work or rolling and lifting parts or all of the bed bound patient.
Don’t Lift An Elderly Person Out Of Bed
But, what many caregivers don’t fully understand is that they may be working too hard. They may be doing things that 1) the bed bound person can actually do for themselves, or, 2) they are not using the best strategies or techniques to accomplish the task.
For instance, in some cases, a caregiver may end up lifting a limb and attempting to hold it in position while completing a task. However, it may be easier to “prop” the limb up with a pillow or other object to accomplish the same task.
Also, many family (and other) caregivers feel they need to lift the person up when they are trying to get them sitting on the edge of the bed, and in so doing they use a poor technique that puts a strain on all the parties involved.
There may be a better way to do this and avoid feeling the need to lift a person from the bed.
The following photo sequence will demonstrate what therapists and rehab professionals refer to as the log roll. Its the primary technique used for bed mobility and is the least stressful on the patient as well as the caregiver that may be assisting.
This is the starting position for most is not all bed mobility. From this position, its easier for the person in bed to scoot, slide, roll, and yes, lift themselves to be re-positioned.
Sometimes the sick or elderly are unable to get out of bed. But the hook-lying position will help make a number of caregiver duties easier and less stressful to complete.
The hook-lying position is generally comfortable for the person and easy to maintain with very little assistance from the caregiver (that is unless the bed bound person is significantly weakened or paralyzed in their legs)
In addition, this position allows the caregiver greater control of the lower half of the body if assistance is needed to re-position the bed bound person.
You can place a pillow between the knees for comfort or skin protection if needed.
2. Log Roll To One Side
This movement is called the “log roll” because the idea is to move “nose, navel, and knees” all at the same time without twisting. You know, … roll like a log.
To do this technique as efficient as possible, the bed bound person reaches across the body in the direction they are rolling while at the same time letting the knees “flop” to the same side.
If needed the caregiver can help them roll by reaching behind the shoulder (left side in photo) and with a hand on the knees, and gently pulling them into the direction of the roll.
3. Stay in Side-lying Position For a Moment
At this point, the person should be positioned in sidelying, or the fetal position. This position should be fairly comfortable. You will have to make sure that the person is not too close to the edge however, because this may cause them to panic for fear of falling. When a person is anxious about falling, it’ll be difficult for them to concentrate on anything else.
Its important that the person is actually in pure sidelying and not 3/4 sidelying. Its easier and less stressful to move to sitting when a person is completely lying on their side.
4. Drop Feet From Edge of The Bed, Push Up With Hand and Elbow
From sidelying the person moves their feet forward off the edge of the bed (don’t lift up off the bed) and lets them drop toward the floor. At the same time, they push their upper body off the bed using the free hand, and the elbow of the arm they are lying on.
This is a coordinated movement and is similar to a see-saw or teeter-totter you see on a playground. When the feet go down, the head goes up.
The caregiver can assist by placing their hand between their shoulder and bed and assist by gently pushing the person to the upright.
5. Sitting Edge of Bed
At the end of this sequence, the once bed bound person should be sitting on the edge of the bed and you may hear them say something like “Boy, that was a lot easier than I thought it would be”.
As with anything, to learn and perfect this technique, you would have to practice it. That goes for the caregiver as well as those who are receiving the care. It makes getting a person out of and into the bed a lot easier.
Getting Someone Back Into Bed
If someone has been out of bed for a while, just reverse the technique to get an elderly person into bed. 1)Have them sit on the side of the bed, 2) have them “lay on their ear” while you lift the feet on to the bed, 3) pause in sidelying (have them scoot their hips and feet back a few inches), 4) then perform a “reverse log roll” onto their backs, 5) straighten out their legs.
Once a person is actually sitting on the edge of the bed, it’s a lot easier for them to transfer to a chair or stand and walk. Its the getting to the sitting position that is most strenuous and has the potential to lead to injuries because many use an improper technique.