What is the correct way to help an elderly person off the floor?

Many of us these days are facing challenges we never thought we would have to face. As our parents and grandparents get older, just getting around can be a chore. Let’s face it, falls can and do happen every day. Most of the time, they result in little more than a scrape on the knee or at worst a black eye. When you’re a kid, you hop up and get a band-aid, when you’re 80, it isn’t that easy. Sometimes they need a hand to get up on their feet. If it’s your hands and your back doing the pulling, doing things the right way might be the difference between laughing off a fall and a visit to the orthopedist for both of you.

What is the correct way to help an elderly person off the floor?

  1. Make sure they’re not injured. Don’t move them if anything might be broken. If you think something might be broken, that’s why we have ambulances. Call 911.
  2. Get a chair. Preferably one without arm rests, never one with wheels. Place it beside the person in the floor. If their arm is hurt, put the chair on the uninjured side.
  3. Get a belt if they aren’t already wearing one. This will be your handle bar for what comes next. Ideally you’ll have what’s called a gait belt, which is specifically made for lifting people. If not, any old belt will do, as long as it doesn’t close using Velcro.
  4. Sit them up on the floor and put the belt on them.
  5. Have them place their uninjured arm on the chair and push up while trying to stand up enough to get in the chair. You grab the belt and pull up. The object is to get their booty into the chair, NOT TO STAND ALL THE WAY UP! If you must, you can also grab under the arm that is not pushing on the chair with one hand and the gait belt with the other. This is NOT recommended as you could dislocate your loved one’s shoulder.
  6. Once they are in the chair, reevaluate to make sure everything is OK.

– Written by Encore DPT, Josh Lenox. 

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