Tips & Tools to LIFT an Elderly Person from a Chair 💺

When assisting, moving, or lifting an elderly person from a chair, one needs to maintain proper posture and body mechanics to prevent the likelihood of injuring themselves or the older adult. Transferring, turning, and lifting an adult comes with significant physical demands and can prove quite tasking for most of us. It is important for caregivers and loved ones to follow the general guidelines outlined in this article to ensure your shoulders, neck, and back remain injury-free.

Proper Body Mechanics When Moving the Elderly

Do Not Use Your Back to Lift

It is advisable to use your leg muscles for heavy lifting as opposed to your back muscles. The muscles on your back are weaker and smaller than those on your legs. It is worth noting that the femur, the bone sitting between your knee and pelvis, is one of the strongest bones in the human body.

Bend at Your Hips and Knees

When lifting a person, it is advisable to bend at the hips and knees to form a squat-like position. This prevents possible injury and strain on your back. Think of the position bodybuilders assume when lifting hundreds of pounds off the ground.

Always Ensure Your Feet Are Apart

During the actual lifting, keeping your feet apart improves your overall balance immensely. To do this, let your feet take a staggered position, with one foot slightly in front of the other. If the person you are lifting requires additional support, you can easily give it with your feet apart than when they are close together.

Chin, Wrists, And Abdomen

The human body is designed to handle quite some weight, but only in the correct postures. Keep your wrists straight when lifting, your abdomen tight, and your chin tucked in. This might not sound like much until you give it a try.

Always Count to Three

Once you are ready to lift your loved one off a chair or other surface, count to three before embarking on the lifting. Doing this helps you build momentum and find a mutual rhythm between you and your loved one.

Stay as Close to the Person You Are Lifting as Possible

When lifting a person, stay as close to them as you possibly can. Doing this reduces the strain created by having a significant distance between both of you. Holding the weight closer to your body requires much less effort to move than holding it farther from you.

Lift a Person by Their Hips

Contrary to what some of us might think, you should not lift a person by their arms since the muscles around this area do not respond very well to force. Instead, always lift a person by the hips. Additionally, you need to ensure that you do not twist your body when lifting. You can only handle a fraction of the weight possible when in a straight posture.

Proper Moves to Turn or Position Reclining Elderly Adults

Moving or positioning an elderly person requires some deliberate steps depending on the person’s initial position. Here is a look at some of the common positions and how to handle them.

When Sitting Up

To move an older adult sitting up in a wheelchair to their bed:

  1. Move the wheelchair close to the edge of the bed and ensure the wheels are locked. If the senior does not have the adequate muscle strength to push up using their arms, hold them under the legs with one arm and under the back with the other.
  2. Move the senior’s legs over the bed’s edge while pivoting their body such that they are eventually seated on the bed.
  3. Keep your knees bent and feet apart when doing this.

When Standing

If the senior needs help to get onto their wheelchair, position their feet slightly apart and place their hands on your shoulders. With your knees bent and feet apart, place your arms around the senior’s back and clasp them together. Lean back and shift your weight accordingly as you lower the person onto the wheelchair. If you have a lifting belt at your disposal, this would be an ideal time to use it.

When in Bed

If the senior is lying in bed and needs to be transferred onto a wheelchair, bend your knees and pivot towards the bed. With the senior’s hands on the wheelchair’s arms, lower them until the bottom is securely on the seat.

Use of Assistive Devices to Help Lift an Elderly Person

At times, lifting and moving an older adult can be quite daunting. If the person is significantly heavy, especially compared to you, the entire task can be quite complicated. Luckily, numerous assistive devices can alleviate this problem. Here are some of the common devices that can make these movements, transfers, and lifts immensely easier.

Step-ladder Equipment

These devices are designed to help get people from surfaces such as floors and, at times, chairs. Basically, step-ladder tools use incremental steps to elevate a person’s bottom from one step to the next. Once the person being lifted is at the top step, they can then be easily transferred onto a bed, chair, or sofa. These tools are quite portable, making them ideal assistive devices for someone taking care of an elderly person.

Ceiling Lifts

Ceiling lifts are basically mechanical hoist tools designed to lift a person off a particular surface. However, these lifts require the person being moved to be rolled over some form of cloth that is then fastened onto a hoist to enable the lifting. Some of these tools come with wheels to enhance portability and mobility.

Inflatable Lifts

Inflatable lifts are ideal when you need to get an older person to an elevated position before moving or transferring them. These lifts have inflatable sections that lie flat when deflated. Once the senior is seated on the lift, you inflate it gradually until it elevates the older adult to your desired level.

Useful Tips to Effectively Lift and Elderly Person

The requirements for lifting a senior effectively definitely vary from one person to another. However, here are some handy tips that should help make the process more effective.

Exercise is Key

If you are the regular caregiver to an older adult, exercise can help your body build the flexibility, endurance, and strength required to lift and move your loved one. Focus on exercises that improve your leg, core, and arm strength.

Posture is Very Important

Besides being good for your health, correct posture is also essential for lifting and moving a person effectively. Practice good posture when lying down, sitting, and standing. Additionally, make sure to always wear comfortable shoes that allow you to stand well, keep your shoulders back, and your head straight.

Teamwork Makes Things Easier

Recall how dancing looks amazing when two people are in sync. This is exactly what happens when lifting and moving a person. When moving a senior, communicate your intentions to them so that they can put forth the little effort that they can muster. Doing this will also give them a chance to let you know of any parts that hurt so that you can avoid aggravating them.

Your Setup Matters

Ideally, the space in which you are lifting or transferring an elderly person should be neat and clutter-free. Tidy spaces are less risky when it comes to potential tripping hazards. It would be a disaster to trip over a power cable with your loved one in your arms.

Embrace Tools and Technology

When caring for our loved ones, it is quite easy to overlook or forget the tools and tech that can make the process easier. If you have devices that can make transferability, mobility, and lifting easier, feel free to use them any time you need to.

Motivation Plays an Important Role

If the senior is reluctant to move from their current position, give them some motivation depending on their preference. Common motivators might include their favorite meals, television shows, or grandchildren. You can also ask them to help with a task they can handle since this makes them feel wanted.

Checklist for Lifting an Elderly Person

If you are not sure about the steps to take when lifting and moving an elderly person, here is a useful checklist to go over.

  • Do not be in a hurry: At times, seniors with reduced cognitive ability take longer to react to movements and instructions. If you rush the process, you might confuse them. Additionally, it is always important to choose safety over speed. Take the necessary time to set up every safety feature correctly.
  • Go over the techniques: It is quite easy to forget or overlook the correct lifting and movement techniques. Always go over these techniques in your head before handling the senior. Remind yourself about the correct knee, back, hip, and feet placement.
  • Always plan ahead: While it may seem like a routine task, lifting and transferring a person actually takes a bit of prior planning. Take time to declutter the areas from which you will be operating, tidying up rooms, and keeping the necessary tools and devices in easy-to-reach areas.
  • Do you need help: If you will require additional help when moving and lifting the senior, it is essential to communicate prior to the actual movement time. If the help you require is in the form of technology or tools, make sure to set these up prior to the transfer. Here is a look at some common lifting and standing aids you might require:
  • Anti-slip sheet
  • Grab bars
  • Mobile bed
  • Powered lift chair
  • Raised toilet seat
  • Slide board


Old age comes with numerous mobility-related issues. Caregivers are then tasked with the demanding responsibility of lifting, moving, and transferring seniors from one area to another. However, this process does not have to be too daunting. With the guidelines, tips, and checklist outlined above, you should be able to come with an effective way to move your loved one.

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