Research says that if an older adult spends too much time in bed they're are likely to experience difficulty with their health.
This can lead to everything from constipation to bed sores.
They also say this is one of the big reasons that some elderly people suffer from depression as remaining in the same laying position often leads to mental illness.
So, of course, you want to help them get their feet on the floor but how do you lift someone who is elderly without hurting them or injuring their pride?
The 6-Step Process To Helping A Senior Out Of Bed (Even A Hospital Bed)
Sitting Position In The Bed
It doesn't matter what kind of bed the person is even if it's a hospital bed, the first objective is to help the person to get into a sitting posture in the bed. That means they should end up with their back upright and in a place distinct from a lying down position.
You need to be careful with this, if they've been laying down for a long time, they may have diminished upper body strength and the movement can cause a drop in blood pressure. If your elderly friend looks pale or dizzy or says they don't feel quite right, don't rush them out of bed let them slowly get used to sitting first. A drop in blood pressure can be dangerous. Be careful.
Getting Out Of Bed And Sit (Upper Body Partially Elevated)
Once you've got to this point – the next step in bed mobility is to help the person to get out of bed.
We're not asking them to run around the room at this point – just to sit somewhere that isn't their bed.
You can easily help somebody do this:
- When the person (say an elderly parent) is laying down, first raise their knees (ask them to keep their knees bent) towards their body.
- Then roll the person over so that they're laying on their side, facing the edge of the bed.
- Then help them to swing their feet down from the bed, offering balance support as much as possible as they do so.
- Finally, using the shoulders and hips, help the person with limited mobility into a partially sitting position and then into a fully seated position – whatever you do, do not move someone from a lying position by their neck, you could seriously hurt them.
If your elderly parents have an occupational therapist, they may be able to help demonstrate this process for you.
It should be easy to move someone into a wheel chair from this position too.
The next step (and it doesn't have to be immediate – you may want somebody to spend a few days out of their hospital beds and simply sitting before you get them to stand) is to learn to stand up.
This must be done at the individual's own pace – it is sometimes safer to learn to stand from a lying position than it is from a sitting one.
It's helpful to have something to hold onto when trying this for the first time. You're looking to get the person moving so that they build strength in their legs and knees for the long term.
Give them time before you look at walking, standing is a really good start.
Using Action/Assistive Devices
You may also want to consider the use of a mobility aid such as a movement board to help transfer the person from a bed to a wheelchair.
Self-Care With Assistive Devices
They can also try using some self-care devices which can help them combat the aging process and move under their own steam.
Leg lifters are simple devices that slip on a foot and a hand and then allow you to use your arms to move your legs.
You may also consider a gait aid, grab bars, or bed rails to make the process easier.
Getting Independence Back
It can be hard to get moving under your own steam again – but that should be the eventual objective, not just more mobility but for older adults to be free to get around by themselves to some extent.
It may take weeks or months to reach this situation – but you should always be aiming for it. We know that chronic pain can often make it hard to be independent but the more support you give, the easier it becomes to achieve it.
Final Thoughts On Helping Seniors Out Of Bed
It's not as hard as you might think to help a senior get out of bed. Just follow the steps above and you should be fine, if you have any doubts, talk to a physician or occupational therapy professional to get more ideas.
We also have a guide to helping seniors into bed that might be useful too.
We'd also recommend considering a walk-in shower if you have a mobility issue. That can make life much easier in the bathroom too.