The first rule of Safely Aging at Home is “Don’t Fall.” The cemetery is full of hip fractures. How do you safely get mom from the bedroom to the bathroom?
Use a transport device to get Mom from room to room within the home. Get the device measurements before buying. The right fit will keep Mom safe, and make your life 100x easier.
The different transport device designs cater to different levels of strength. Some just assist Mom a bit so she can stand up. At the other end of the spectrum, they use hydraulic motors to pick Mom off the floor and put her back in bed.
View the products in this article here: Stand, Sit, Climb, Floor Lift, and Bath Lowering Devices Buying Guide
#1 – Use a Gait Belt to Give Mom Support While Walking (and Get Mom Up from the Floor)
Put a gait belt around Mom’s waist to help her walk, to prevent falling, and to pick her up if she does fall.
Prevent Falls While Walking Using a Gait Belt
The gait belt purpose is to give the caregiver a place to support Mom as she walks.
The purpose is to prevent falling. If she does fall, you can use the belt to lift her up.
The primary purpose of the gait belt is for walking.
But you can use a belt to help Mom stand up from a fall or from a seat.
The bigger the belt, the easier it will be to use it for picking her from the floor.
The extra fabric will spread the load to more of her back and sides, so that there is no heavy pressure on one spot.
Watch this video. It is a great demonstration of using a belt to lift a patient:
Get Six Handles for Two People to Help Mom Walk
Get a belt with extra handles to allow one person on each size of the patient.
Put the patient in the middle. Both caregivers should hold onto the handles.
The comfortable gait belts include extra padding.
They usually come in very large sizes but buckle down for smaller people.
Should You Get a Gait Belt?
Who needs a gait belt? A gait belt is for patients who have active caregivers. It is only useful if the caregiver is there to help the patient walk. Get a gait belt for a weak patient who needs support while walking. Use it to prevent the patient from falling.
How to Use a Gait Belt
How to use a gait belt? The belt goes around the patient’s core (abdomen) or under the armpits if the tummy area is injured or healing. Learn more from the University of Michigan’s Using a Gait Belt document (opens in a new window on the university website).
Virginia Beach EMS created this video to teach you how to use the belt and walk with the patient:
#2 – Use a Padded Nursing Sling to Get Mom Up from the Floor, the Chair, or the Bed
To stand Mom up, wrap the sling around her back and pull.
To help Mom sit down, wrap the sling around her back and support her as she leans backward.
She can be on the floor, on a chair, or in bed.
The method is the same.
How to Get a Good Nursing Sling
A good sling is very wide and tall.
The more surface area it covers, the better.
You need less strength as the surface area decreases.
Imagine holding Mom by the Gait Belt above. All the weight is on her abdomen.
Now imagine holding her in a folded sheet. You get much more leverage for the strength you put into it.
These slings are wide to cover get a good grip on her whole back.
A typical nursing sling is almost three feet wide and about 9 inches high.
Besides padding for comfort, it should have extra strong straps so you feel confident pulling Mom’s weight.
The Pros of Using a Nursing Sling
A wide and strong nursing sling gives you leverage and support at the same time.
If your mom has strength, she can help you help her.
But if you need to pull all the weight yourself, the sling distributes the load. That makes it easier for you.
A short, sharp pull with a sling is safe. If you did that with a gait belt, the pressure might be too much on Mom.
Nursing slings are supportive and strong.
The Downside of a Nursing Sling
As the caregiver, you need to have good control over the handles when you pull the sling.
#3 – Use a (Manual) Chair to Get Mom Up and Down the Stairs
- A manual stair chair requires two caregivers.
- An electric stair chair requires one caregiver.
- A fully automated stair chair requires no caregivers!
How to Use a Manual Stair Chair
- Lock the chair wheels
- Strap the patient into the chair
- Pull the handles out in the front of the chair
- Pull the handles out in the back of the chair
- The caregivers both pick up their handles
- For going up the stairs, the person in back walks up backwards
- For going down the stairs, the person in front walks down backwards
What’s Good about a Manual Stair Chair
These chairs are great for getting Mom up and down the stairs.
It is much easier to lift the handles than to lift Mom herself.
What’s the Downside to a Manual Stair Chair
The downside is that the chair adds weight.
The caregivers have to be healthy and stable to hold Mom steady during the trip up or down the stairs.
How Much Does a Manual Stair Chair Cost
A manual stair chair costs about $1000 to $1500.
#4 – Use (an Electric) Chair to Get Mom Up and Down the Stairs
Where the manual stair chair takes two caregivers, the electric stair chair needs only one caregiver.
Plus, the caregiver who helps with the electric stair chair does not need to be so strong.
With the manual chair, both caregivers needed to lift Mom and the chair.
With the electric stair chair, the caregiver guides the chair, but does not have to lift.
How the Electric Stair Chair Does the Work
The electric stair chair’s tread does most of the work.
It rolls along the floor and steps.
It looks like a small version of the tread on an army tank.
The tread is rubber. It grips the stairs as it moves.
How Much do Electric Stair Chairs Cost
An electric stair chair costs between $1400 and $3200.
#5 – Use a (fully Automated) Chair to get Mom Up and Down the Stairs (and Over the Rocks to the Beach)
For $13,000 to $40,000, you can get a fully automated wheelchair that climbs stairs.
You do not need a caregiver’s help, either.
The fully automated stair chair does all the work, no caregiver needed.
These chairs have special engineering to handle height changes.
They also do an amazing job with stabilization.
The Scewo Bro $39,000 Automated Stair Chair
The Scewo Bro, for example, is a Swiss chair that goes up and down the stairs.
According to the FAQ page, the Bro chair costs 36,000 Swiss francs, which is about $39,000.
The Scewo Bro runs on a lithium rechargeable battery that Scewo promises has a 25 km (15 mile) range.
For an extra fee, you can get a headrest or an aluminum ramp.
Take a Fun Ride Up the Stairs and to the Beach (all terrain stair chair)
As someone who took her Mom and her Mom’s rollator walker to the beach in Maine, I cannot help wonder how easier an All Terrain Wheelchair would have been.
It was worth it, but it was not easy.
The Foldawheel 4×4 power wheelchair costs less than a used Camry. Yet it takes you places a car can’t go.
This wheelchair easily travels up stairs, down stairs, up and down hills, on sand, on snow and on rocks.
It handles straight downhill with ease.
This is a lot of independence and probably the perfect Holiday or birthday gift.
#6 – How to Get Mom Up and Down the Stairs Even When You’re Not Home
If you build the stair lift right into the stairway, Mom can come and go as she pleases.
This type of transport requires you hire a knowledgeable technician to install it.
The chair slides up and down on a built-in rail.
The Best Part about a Built in Chair Lift
If your Mom has issues with feeling unsafe on the stairs, then the built in chair lift is the way to go.
It does not require helpers, so no one can accidentally drop her.
It positions Mom in with her back against the wall.
The stair arms give her a cushiony cocoon where she will feel safe.
The right is pleasant, slow and accurate.
The Downside of a Home Stair Lift
The last three chairs we looked at worked on any set of stairs.
A built in stair lift works on one set of stairs.
It only works where you install it.
You also need a professional installer.
How Much Does a Built in Stair Lift Cost
A built-in stair lift costs between $2,000 and $12,000.
You can also rent them for $200 to $500 per month.
Renting is a good idea for surgery recovery times.
Learn more about stair lifts in my article on this website: 10 Simple Aging in Place Ideas to Keep You Safe (with Pictures!)
#7 – How to Get Mom Off the Floor without Breaking Your Back
Mom is flat out on the floor.
She cannot get up under her own power.
You are not feeling that strong yourself.
Pull out the Raizer Lift to get Mom safely from the floor to a seated position.
The Raizer Lift is a board and lifting mechanism.
They assemble into a seat when fully raised.
- Place the board under Mom’s back
- Lift her legs so her knees are bent
- Place the motorized lift under her knees
- Connect the motor and board
- Turn on the machine
- The machine will slow lift into a seat, with Mom sitting down rather than lying on the floor.
This is what it looks like; the European version is the same as the one for sale in America:
#8 – How Mom Can Lift Herself Up in Bed
She might like the Vive Bed Ladder Assist.
How to Use the Ladder Assist to Sit Up in Bed
The Ladder Assist is a “pull yourself up” device you anchor to the foot of the bed frame.
Built like a yoga strap, the Vive Lift Assist is a way to give Mom support from a lying down position.
It is a “ladder” because it has individual rungs. Mom grabs one rung, then the next, on her way from lying down to sitting up.
It is like climbing a ladder. Each rung you grab means you’re further along.
The Good Part about the Vive Bed Lift Assist
It’s self-powered. The device does not require a caregiver to work.
The Lift Assist attaches to the bed frame and installs without any tools.
Soft but strong foam covers the handles.
The Downside of the Bed Ladder Assist
Mom has to have some arm strength for this device to be useful.
People do use it with strength on only one side.
But she does have to have strength at least on one side of her body.
Some people find that the ladder rungs are too far apart.
It’s a great device for those who have the strength to use it. It’s one of those things you might have to try to see if it works for your Mom.
#9 – How to Install a Bed Rail that’s Actually Safe (No Tools Required)
She doesn’t want to bother anyone, but she has to get up.
A traditional bed rail locks her into the bed.
She tries to escape, and hurts herself (or worse, yes the worst has happened) trying to get through or over the bed rail.
The fact is that traditional hospital bed rails are unsafe.
How to Get a Safe Bed Rail
Just make sure that if Mom tries to defeat the rail that it does not trap her.
And she doesn’t try to get over the rail and then fall as a result.
So a safe rail has to be a partial rail. It cannot go from head to foot on the bed.
The problem then becomes stability.
A short bed rail is not as stable as a long one.
One way to overcome this problem is to anchor the bedrail under the mattress.
How to Anchor a Twin or Double Size Bed Rail
The mattress weight gives the bed rail stability.
It’s not going to move with that massive amount of mattress on it.
For this size bed, the rail goes all the way under the mattress from one side to the other.
Some twin/double varieties have rails for use on both sides of the bed.
Others stick under the mattress but offer a rail only on one side of the bed.
How to Anchor a Queen or King Size Bed Rail
That design is not efficient for a queen or king size bed.
These beds are wide, so they require a lot of the bed rail to run from one side to the other.
That is a waste of good steel.
The answer is to run a stability bar under half the mattress.
Then attach it to steel legs and rubber feet to add to the stability.
This type of bed rail always offers support on one side of the bed, but not both.
It doesn’t travel all the way under the bed and come out the other side.
These bed rails are much safer than head-to-toe hospital designs.
#10 – How to Get Mom Safely Into the Bath (and out again)
If the knees do not work that well then it is hard to get into the bath.
You could seriously hurt yourself trying to get Mom into the bathtub.
The answer is to use a bath lift.
How to use the Bath Lift to Get into and out of the Tub
To use a bath lift, Mom needs to be able to:
- sit in a regular chair
- lift her legs — one by one — over the bathtub wall (from a seated position, see pictures)
- The Bath Lift does everything else.
- It drops her gently into the water.
- It lifts her gently out of the water.
The Bath Lift uses a rechargeable battery. So it’s vital that the battery is fully charged before using the lift.
To use the Bath Lift:
- sit on the edge of the tub, on the Bath Lift platform
- Lift one leg into the tub
- Lift the other leg into the tub
- Press the button to lower the seat into the water
- When done, press the button to lift the seat to chair height
- Lift one leg out of the tub
- Lift the other leg out of the tub
It does require enough leg strength to sit in a regular chair at the top of the tub wall.
It also requires the ability to lift each leg over the bathtub wall.
These devices use your strength or a motor to get Mom up and down.
I can’t emphasize enough how important quality of materials is when using any device to help Mom get around.
Even if you feel strong enough to use a device, you must also feel confident in its materials before using it.
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