Serving as a family caregiver for an aging in place loved one is highly rewarding, but it can also be dangerous at times. Thousands of family caregivers are injured every year while assisting others. Those caregiver injuries oftentimes result in missed work days, costly medical bills, and neglected household responsibilities.
If it happens to you, it can also interfere with your caregiving duties, and threaten your elderly loved one’s ability to continue living independently at home. You may have to find a respite caregiver to fill in. The good news is that there are several dependable ways to help prevent caregiver injuries, including these.
Common Caregiver Injuries
Although reliable data is unavailable, it’s probably safe to assume that injuries to family caregivers mirror those sustained by professional home care workers. Many of those injuries require hospitalization, linger for months, or are even permanent. Assuming that conclusion to be true, according to industry experts here are the most common caregiver injuries:
- Musculoskeletal including sprains, strains and back injuries
- Slips, falls and trips
- Bruises, cuts and other wounds inflicted by seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s
The back seems to be the most vulnerable part of a caregiver’s body, with injuries typically resulting from improperly lifting and transferring. Non-ambulatory seniors need a lot of assistance when using chairs, getting in and out of bed, toileting and bathing. And, if you don’t take the necessary precautions as a caregiver, all those tasks place you at risk.
Injury Prevention Tips
To ensure your safety, and that of your loved one, use these injury avoidance tips from the pros:
Wear Safe Shoes
Wet surfaces, like when bathing someone on slippery bathroom tile floors, are a recipe for falling. Wear leather or flat-soled shoes, instead of heeled or slightly raised ones, with contact surfaces that are slip-resistant. Flat-soled shoes are also safer when assisting a senior on stairs.
Create Clear Walkways
Pathway obstructions are a major cause of caregiver trips and falls each year, so lower your risk by first creating clear walkways throughout your loved one’s home.
Use a Sliding Shower Bench
The bathroom can be one of the most dangerous areas of the home because of its slip potential and confined space. Bathing adds insult to injury, if you’ll pardon the pun, when you’re trying to get an adult in and out of the tub or shower. Make bath time much safer for you both by using a sliding shower bench and grab bars.
Stay in Shape
One of the best ways to protect your back is to strengthen your trunk’s core muscles, which will give your spine more support and help prevent back sprains and strains. Caregiving itself is very physically demanding, so exercise regularly, eat healthy, and get 7 to 8 hours of sleep daily to keep your body in good physical condition.
Practice Proper Lifting Techniques
Anyone who does manual labor will tell you that repetitive lifting and awkward twisting eventually wears down one’s lower back and shoulders. To protect those areas, use proper positioning and lifting techniques at-all-times. Those include squaring up your body and shoulders, not twisting your back, and starting a lift by bending your legs at the knees.
Use Lifting Assistance Devices
Notably when your care recipient is a large individual, there are lifting devices that you can use to take much of the stress off your body. Those include gait belts, pivot pads, lever bars, and bathroom grab bars.
Let Your Body Heal
If you do get injured, allow enough time for your body to completely repair itself before resuming caregiving duties. If you don’t, you’re just asking for lingering trouble. Consult with a doctor if you’re not sure how long it will take for the injury to completely heal.
Hire a Respite Caregiver
Don’t be afraid to seek outside assistance, especially when your body feels like it could use a break. If there isn’t a family member or close friend to step in, consider hiring a professional respite caregiver.
In-Home Respite Care for Seniors in Southeastern Massachusetts
Caregiving injuries are common, even for the pros. When your body needs a break, call upon the highly trained in-home respite caregivers at Cranberry Home Care. As a family owned and operated agency, we fully understand the injury dangers that caregivers face. Why place yourself and your loved one at risk when one of our experienced aides can step in and provide the comforting care they need, while restoring your peace-of-mind?
Our thoroughly screened aides can perform duties like light housekeeping, personal hygiene, meal preparation, grocery shopping, medication reminders, transportation and companionship; all within a flexibly tailored package when and where you need them. To schedule a FREE in-home care consultation, or to learn more about Cranberry Home Care’s family trusted, respite caregiving services for seniors in the Middleboro, MA, area, click: www.cranberryhomecare.com now!