As a caregiver, it's necessary to understand the importance of body mechanics.
You must learn how to move and position the patient's body to avoid accidents.
It is also necessary for you to know the basics of body mechanics for you to better maneuver your body as well.
In this blog post, we will discuss body mechanics and how caregivers and healthcare workers can use them to prevent injuries.
According to Physiopedia, body mechanics describes how we systematically move our bodies.
They're coordinated movements working together with the musculoskeletal and nervous systems for a practical bodily function.
It includes appropriately positioning our bodies when we stand, sit, sleep, lift and even carry things.
So why is it important to use proper body mechanics in caregiving?
To understand how it works, we must learn the basic principles and types of body mechanics.
The center of gravity (COG) is the point where mass is centered.
It's found below the belly button and halfway between the lower back and stomach when we stand upright.
A lower COG means more stability. This can be done when we bring our COG closer to the ground.
The base of support (BOS) is the foundation for an individual, and when the feet are wide apart, the BOS increases.
There's also a vertical line that runs through our COG, which is the line of gravity. It should be straight from the top of the head to the feet with equal weight in all directions.
Lastly is posture or body alignment. When individuals perform any activity such as walking or lifting, they must keep a proper posture.
This is because good body mechanics are based on good posture. And good posture means placing the spine in a "neutral" position or "S" position.
When we're in this state, it's easier to maintain balance. This is because of all muscles work together for efficient movement.
The body works very hard to withstand the forces we put on it daily. So when we don't move correctly and safely, it increases the risk of damage to the body.
This is because the spine becomes subjected to abnormal stresses over time. As a result, it leads to degeneration of spinal structures like discs and other wear and tear which leads to back injuries.
Unfortunately, improper body mechanics in the healthcare setting is very routine.
Back injuries are very much common, especially in caregiving. In fact, 52% of caregivers are injured because of improper lifting and transferring.
That's why caregivers need to learn proper body mechanics.
Practicing it helps them work effectively without using too much energy and without causing excessive strain.
Caregivers are often required to carry out physically demanding tasks such as helping with transfers, bed mobility, and locomotion for seniors.
Many elderly loved ones need assistance when rolling or repositioning in bed or even coming up to a sitting position.
This requires caregivers to repetitively perform pull, reach, and push movements.
Because of this, caregivers are at risk of developing strain.
The challenge is that most perform these tasks in awkward and incorrect positions.
One way to counter that is to observe proper body mechanics.
Proper body mechanics for healthcare workers allow the body to absorb forces evenly.
Proper lifting and bending techniques in caregiving let the muscles function efficiently. In addition, it makes the body use less energy, resulting in less muscle fatigue.
Other body joints such as the spine, hips, and knees move in alignment with translating forces. Thus the possibilities of injuries and physical strains are lowered.
Good posture also helps promote physiological functions such as digestion and blood circulation.
The right stance reduces the impact of weight and gravity on supporting body structures.
Better stability also prevents caregivers from losing balance during outpatient care for the elderly.
Some other clinical tasks they perform include standing for long periods or bending. Repetitive movement and strain can affect the spine if body mechanics isn't practiced correctly.
Improper posture can cause kyphosis, lordosis, scoliosis, and other spine disorders.
Our first thought as caregivers is to safeguard and ensure the safety of our patients or loved ones.
Yet, our health and well-being can be easily overlooked.
Here's a quick reminder. We need to take care of ourselves first to take care of others. And that includes proper body mechanics to avoid spine and back problems.
To do this, you must practice proper lifting techniques.
Here are examples of good body mechanics that should be observed when performing caregiving duties.
For general rules, never carry more than you can comfortably handle. Allow your loved one to help as much as possible.
Scan the environment and ensure it's free of obstacles for patients to move safely.
As you start lifting your patient, ensure that your stomach muscles are tightened as it helps protect your back.
When you bend down, bend your knees rather than flexing at the hips. The back should always be in a neutral position.
Try to avoid twisting or rotatory movements upon lifting. Instead, stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart for a broad support base.
The same rules apply when caregivers perform patient transfers. For this case, hold your loved ones around their hips or waist.
You can use gait or transfer belts for balance and support as you complete the transfer.
The lifting should be accomplished by straightening your legs and rocking back with a count of "1-2-3" with the patient.
It's also recommended that patients look to where they're being transferred.
And if able, they can place their hands on the chair or bed to assist themselves in movements.
Check out these videos that demonstrate caregivers' essential, safe transfer and bed mobility techniques.
Learn more about musculoskeletal problems here.
It's necessary to understand the level of assistance your patient needs when practicing proper body mechanics.
Remember that our goal is to encourage our seniors to move on their own if they are capable. So take note of their existing conditions as you go.
Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind, especially when assisting the elderly.
If the person you are caring for is unable to assist in the transfer, a dependent transfer with a lift is the safest option. If they are able to help, follow the steps below.
These may sound like simple tips and techniques. But doing them regularly can help you maintain good posture and also keep you and your patient away from unnecessary pain and accidents.
Body mechanics are as necessary for the elderly as it is for the caregiver.
Knowing how to move patients and use your body for support can keep you both safe.
Many caregivers forget this basic yet essential practice. That's why I'm sharing this as a refresher for everyone.
This is also a reminder to take care of yourself, so you can perform your tasks and do your duties.
And if you have any more tips to share, make sure to leave a comment below.
That's all for today.
Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!
It can be difficult to know how to deal with dementia in parents, especially if you’re the primary caregiver.
As our parents age, their risk of developing dementia increases.
If you are a caregiver for a parent with dementia, it's essential to know how to deal with the condition.
It's not easy, but with patience and understanding, you can make life easier for both of you.
Here are some tips on how to manage dementia in parents.
Most would think dementia is just a part of normal aging. But it’s more than that.
WHO defines dementia as a syndrome that leads to deterioration in cognitive function.
It’s usually chronic or progressive in nature to an extent that it affects a person's daily life and activities.
It develops when part of the brain responsible for memory, decision-making, learning or language becomes affected.
And it’s caused by several factors damaging the brain directly or indirectly, such as Alzheimer's disease or stroke.
Most often, people would equate Alzheimer’s to dementia. But Alzheimer's is just one common type of dementia.
Read here on how to differentiate Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Further, the early signs of dementia can be very subtle and they usually go undetected for months or even years.
As caregivers, what early symptoms and common behaviors of dementia should we take note of?
A common finding in dementia is memory loss. They can’t recall key dates or remember important things they need to do.
Elderly loved ones may also have difficulty keeping new information. They may struggle to recall a person’s name after meeting them for the first time.
Another early sign is difficulty in speaking or writing. People with dementia may ask the same question multiple times or repeat the same story during conversations.
Some have difficulty remembering the exact words or how to use them.
And some would even stop in the middle of a conversation and wouldn’t know how to proceed.
People suffering from dementia also can show sudden changes in their moods and personality.
They can become withdrawn, confused, or even lose interest in previously enjoyed activities.
Seniors may also become easily confused with things. They may confuse the days of the week or even the season.
Or they could forget where they’re going or have difficulty finding their way to a familiar place.
And while this condition is progressive, sometimes sudden worsening of dementia symptoms may appear.
It may be because of underlying health conditions like urinary tract infections or vitamin D deficiency.
These cause our loved ones to suffer and affect their lives more.
Read more here about early subtle signs and how is dementia diagnosed in the elderly.
The time immediately after a loved one is diagnosed with dementia can be frightening and stressful.
Both family members and the patient may struggle in coming to terms with the diagnosis.
And the patient might not want to let others know about it because of fear.
So allow your loved ones to express how they're feeling and motivate them to keep doing things that give their lives value and purpose.
Allow time for you and your loved one to absorb the news, adjust to the new situation, and mourn your losses.
It’s difficult sharing a dementia diagnosis with anyone. But it’s more challenging with the elder’s children.
They may respond in several ways. And for some, it can be a dreadful experience especially if they have a difficult relationship with their parents.
They may feel uncomfortable spending time with them. Some become impatient with repeated questions or stories, which they feel guilty about.
Children also have difficulties understanding the elderly with early-onset dementia.
Some also feel a sense of rejection, especially if their loved ones don’t remember who they are.
So it’s best to explain what dementia is and show them it’s OK to talk and that there’s nothing wrong with being with them.
Being honest and giving family and friends information about dementia can go a long way to help them understand what's going on.
As caregivers, it’s best to find people who you can confide in. Inform friends and close relatives, so they can give you the much-needed support.
Also, look for ways you can combat such stress. You can turn to caregiver support groups or look for local community organizations.
There are also people who cope by reading books about the topic. Here are our recommendations for the best books about caregiving.
As dementia progresses, you’ll notice how an elderly loved one communicates.
They have difficulty finding the right words or substituting one word for another. They may lose their train of thought and even show sudden inappropriate outbursts.
But although they have these difficulties—it’s important they engage in social interaction.
And making them feel safe and heard will make communication easier. So try to manage your own feelings.
Here are tips on how to talk to someone with dementia.
Always be patient when talking with them. If they have a hard time remembering a word, give them some time.
Angry or impatient behavior will only make them forget. Tell the person that you will come back to the word later.
Remember to set a positive mood by speaking to them in a nice and respectful way.
Seniors suffering from dementia tend to respond to our tone of voice, facial expressions, and to words we use. So stay calm, keep eye contact, and have a relaxed posture.
Give one single step command or question at a time and use short sentences. Also remember to give your loved one time to process what you're saying.
Avoid asking open-ended questions or providing too many choices. Provide prompts, clarify your question, and guide their response.
If they can’t comprehend the first time, find a simpler way to say the same idea.
Remember to break down activities into a series of steps.
You can help your loved one by encouraging him to do what he can, gently reminding him of steps he forgets.
Then you can assist him with ones he can no longer do on his own.
If they show stubborn behaviors or become agitated, try changing the subject or the environment.
They also often feel anxious and unsure of themselves. Provide them with reassurance and avoid convincing them they’re wrong.
Instead, stay focused on what behavior they’re showing. And respond with expressions of support and comfort.
It’s a tough job caring for someone with dementia.
Often it leads to family conflicts among siblings. And it becomes the most common source of strain and stress when caring for someone diagnosed with dementia.
There’s no perfect way of telling others about the condition. But when the time is right, you should be honest with your family, relatives, or close friends.
Use it as a chance to educate them about the disease.
It's helpful to start reading about what to expect as soon as you learn about the diagnosis.
It helps you psychologically prepare for the future and provides you with time to plan ahead.
Here are helpful strategies for families caring for a loved one with dementia.
Outline what your loved one wishes to do and plan ahead. Have a serious talk with them and work together so you can put them into writing.
Guide them in completing legal directives after official diagnosis if they’re still able to decide for themselves.
Without such planning, families often disagree on the level of care for their seniors.
It’s also best to help families and friends to make them understand how they can best interact with someone who has dementia.
Plan fun activities that elderly loved ones can enjoy like family reunions or visits with old friends.
Getting them involved creates great opportunities for them to spend time together with family.
Remember to focus on the condition.
It can be upsetting to watch your loved one decline, but keep in mind that dementia is a disease.
Our loved ones are going through a tough transition because of the disease.
And if they forget who you are or become angry, it's easy to give up or become frustrated.
But remember that your loved one is going through the same thing and can be frustrated as well.
As caregivers, it’s not uncommon to feel a rollercoaster of emotions.
You may feel anxious, happy, or frustrated all while doing your responsibilities.
Fortunately, there are excellent resources available for caregivers caring for patients with dementia.
It can be difficult to find ways on how to deal with dementia behaviors in parents, especially if you’re the main care provider.
It’s emotional, conflicting, and can be a difficult time for everyone in the family.
The key is to respond with patience and understanding. If it’s difficult for you, then it must be more so for the elder who’s going through the challenges of dementia.
And if caregiving becomes too tough, there are always resources you can reach out to.
How did you cope with dementia as a caregiver? Share your experience with us below.
That's all for today.
Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!
As caregivers, our priority is home safety for the elderly.
And that is one of the reasons why we help our seniors aging in place.
The question is, what comes after you set up your elder's home for aging in place?
How do you keep them away from all the various dangers out there? How do you keep them safe while living independently?
Today, we will be discussing practical home safety tips for the elderly and seniors who are aging in place.
So let's get started.
Keeping the house safe is stressful enough. But it's more challenging for seniors who live alone and are aging in place.
Seniors are more likely to suffer from accidents like trips and falls. Many also suffer from neurocognitive disorders, like Alzheimer's, affecting memory functions.
The elderly are more susceptible to violent attacks, burglaries, and home invasions. They are also more prone to elderly abuse.
It can be a challenge to keep your loved ones aging in place, especially if you don't have access to large amounts of capital. And it can be expensive to arrange for care providers.
As primary guardians and caregivers, we can't always be there to ensure our seniors are safe. So what can you do about it?
One of the easiest and more affordable ways is to install security features in your loved ones' homes.
Doing this can help you check on them now and then without being physically present.
They can be one of the best crime deterrents available.
It helps you keep track of any strangers lurking around your senior's home. It also records people coming in and out of the house. This gives you an idea of the goings-on while you are away.
Security systems have many optional features. For example, they can alert the homeowner to break-ins, carbon monoxide, smoke, water leaks and frozen pipes.
These types of safety hazards in the home are difficult to detect especially for the elderly.
So here are some of the best, easy-to-use home security systems for seniors.
The question is, do security systems invade a person's privacy? Technically, it depends where you put them inside the house.
You'd want to keep it away from rooms with high privacy areas like bedrooms or bathrooms.
It is also advisable to increase visibility in accident-prone areas like the kitchen, garage, and laundry room.
Check out this blog from Safewise.com for more information on security camera rules, laws, and rights.
According to CDC, for older adults aged 65 and above, falls are on the rise. This makes falls the top cause of injury and death in this population.
One of the most common cause of falls is unruly cords and wires.
That's why it should be a priority to regularly check how chords and wires are placed.
Check the surge protector's instructions to find out how many cords can be securely connected to one outlet. And never staple or nail wires to a wall.
Most seniors also suffer from declining vision, so there's a huge need to secure and organize cables with cable covers or compact chord protectors.
Cables that are jammed into tiny areas might cause a fire hazard. So keep wires out of sight and resting flat to avoid placing pressure on them.
It also makes sense to turn your home into a smart home. Get internet-connected devices that allow remote monitoring and lighting and heating systems.
The great thing about smart homes is the convenience it offers. Most of these devices are also energy efficient and easy to operate.
They also have voice activation features that seniors can use.
Read more here about remodeling home ideas for seniors.
Often, seniors have to deal with complicated medications, especially if they have to manage several chronic illnesses.
This situation may make it necessary for caregivers to properly manage their medications.
Seniors often find it hard to remember which medicines to take each day. And this is a task that you need to manage as a caregiver.
It's practical to list all the medicine your loved one needs to take. This list should include the name, amount, and time they need to take it.
You can also install apps on their phones to make reminders much easier to manage.
Check out some of the most recommended medicine app reminders from Healthline.com.
Also, take note of the storage instructions for each medication.
Storing medicines in the bathroom might expose them to extremes of temperature and humidity.
Also ask your pharmacist about the safest ways to dispose of expired medication to avoid accidental ingestion.
Dangerous chemicals pose a high risk for seniors aging in place. It's easy for them to miss labels and expiration dates on common household chemicals and cleaning agents.
The garage is a good storage space for tools, equipment, and other household items. But it can be a dangerous place for seniors too.
Do routine checks for safety and make sure all the things they need are within their reach.
Minimize clutter by organizing items by category. For example, you can use storage racks to collect common items like laundry soap and other cleaning agents.
Or better yet, if needed use cabinets with locks for dangerous items .
Get more tips on how to organize and declutter garages for seniors here.
The kitchen is one of the most dangerous areas of the house.
Electrical fires, slips, accidents, and injuries are just a few of the hazards in a kitchen.
And the elderly are at a much higher risk, especially if they have mobility, agility, or cognitive loss issues.
Dementia can also cause people to forget to turn off the burner, remove meals from the oven, or unplug equipment, resulting in burns, fires, or even death.
Fortunately, there are ways we can let our seniors continue using the kitchen safely by following these guidelines.
It's good to invest in cookware with large visual displays that are easily read.
Or better yet, invest in a smart kitchen with induction cookers and smart gadgets.
Additional detectors include gas, heat, and carbon monoxide detectors and flood alarms for overflowing water.
Read more kitchen safety tips here.
Home safety for seniors includes having regular home assessments.
A skilled home inspector will inspect and recommend various changes and improvements.
And it's for improving a house's accessibility and overall safety for our seniors.
Home inspectors can help by making recommendations for the height of kitchen appliances, adding a walk-in tub, and altering floor surfaces to lessen the risk of falls.
They can also look at electrical outlets and switches for signs of faulty wiring.
Unsafe outlets will prompt them to recommend an electrician. They also advise covering switches and plugs to avoid shock dangers.
Learn more here about how home assessments work.
It's also important to have an emergency exit plan in place in case of fire. Having a plan ready and a clear path to get out of the house.
To make sure our seniors can get out quickly and without getting hurt, they can practice the plan a few times a year.
A list of emergency phone numbers should always be near the phones. So be sure to list the following numbers for personal safety tips for the elderly:
It's also best to consider hiring qualified caregiver assistance if our loved ones struggle to care for themselves.
Whether you hire a home care service provider on your own or work with an agency, you can put your fears at ease by doing some basic research.
So ask for recommendations from people you know. Your doctor or other healthcare professional may also give you suggestions.
Declines in safety can happen gradually or suddenly, negatively affecting a senior's life.
So it's better to do regular checks with your elders as well as their daily environment.
Home safety for the elderly is essential in helping our loved ones live independently.
It’s not enough to make sure their health is in check. We also need to make sure that accidents and other risks are prevented as early as possible.
Do you have any tips on keeping your parent's and seniors’ homes safe? Share them with us below.
That's all for today.
Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!
Podiatry services can help seniors aging in place stay healthy and safe by providing necessary treatments and advice on properly caring for the feet.
As people age, they experience changes in their feet and ankles, making it difficult or dangerous to continue living independently.
In addition to preventing problems, podiatry services can also treat existing issues, improving the quality of life for seniors.
If you are a caregiver for an elderly loved one, it is important to be familiar with the benefits of podiatry so you can ensure they get the treatment they need.
Today, we will be speaking with Dr. Gemma English, a board-certified podiatric surgeon that helps the senior population take care of their feet.
We will be discussing how podiatrists make sure seniors are healthy, why they need regular visits to the podiatrist, and more.
Let's get it started!
Thank you for having me.
My name is Dr. Gemma English. I'm a podiatrist at Chateau Foot and Ankle Center.
As podiatrists, we deal with nail care, callus care, and arthritic and balance issues. We also take care of seniors who have muscle issues, nerve issues, and those who can no longer reach their feet.
When it comes to the senior population, we help ensure they have good foot health.
Regular visits even before problems arise are important. Preventing or early identification of issue makes a difference.
We check on bed sores for feet and legs. We also make sure that their feet don't have ulcers or calluses.
Usually, we take care of 60 to 65 patients in a day. Then, after that, we perform surgeries and other procedures.
Most of the time, geriatric patients deal with arthritis, so we get a lot of questions about that. We also get questions about balance problems in seniors.
On top of our treatments, we also refer these patients to specialists, especially if they have balance problems.
Our goal is to make sure our patients have healthy feet to sustain good balance and avoid potential accidents.
We treat the feet to the same extent as we would treat surgical procedures.
All of our tools are sanitized to ensure we are not spreading bacteria and fungus to our patients.
Most of the time, our patients have vascular issues. They don't have enough blood supply going to their legs and feet. As a result, their nerves aren't functioning as they should.
So when they come to us, we don't just provide nail care. We perform a whole physical exam to help identify their neurovascular status.
We need to check for stability and ensure that everything has been functioning properly since our last visit. Our goal is to avoid issues like sores or any injuries to the feet.
If we find other issues, we refer them to other specialists like dermatologists. We need to make sure that our patients get the right care for overall health.
As we grow older, we encounter different problems affecting our balance.
This is where podiatry comes in.
Because we lose muscle mass and flexibility, it can be difficult for us to bend and reach our feet. This also affects blood flow and eventually the nerve endings in our feet.
Most of the patients we see are not even conscious of taking care of their feet.
We often have this idea that only diabetics should take foot care seriously. But you won't believe the things we actually had to remove from feet, especially for those aging in place.
One of the worst things you can do inside your house is walking barefoot.
Most of our patients, especially diabetics, are no longer aware of what they accidentally stepped on.
Learn more about diabetes management here.
And since they don't get to inspect their feet that often, it usually leads to infections and sores.
As caregivers, it's vital to do daily checks on the elderly, especially in between the toes and soles of the feet.
We also advise our patients on how to properly stretch their feet. Doing so reduces muscle tension and releases knots before it gets painful.
My top advice is for the elders to wear the right footwear even at home.
As I've said, walking around barefoot can be more dangerous for them, especially if they can't feel much of their feet.
We've removed foreign objects like insulin needles, broken glass, and toothpicks. And most of the time, seniors are not aware until the infection goes bad.
It would be best to get professionally fitted shoes by qualified personnel.
For diabetics, it's best to be in contact with an orthotist to make sure you have the right shoe fit. This will help ensure your feet have the right support and take care of their balance and stability issues.
When it comes to shoe brands, we recommend Brooks and New Balance. They have the widest size options and great arch support.
Read more about choosing the best shoes for seniors here.
Dr. Gemma English grew up in Athens, Georgia, and attended the University of Georgia. In Cleveland, Ohio, she went to podiatry school and completed her residency training at St. Vincent's Healthcare in Jacksonville, Florida.
Dr. English is a board-certified podiatric surgeon passionate about helping her patients live healthy, active lifestyles.
She has a passion for learning and is always looking for opportunities to help her give the next level of care to all of her patients.
She is a proud member of APMA and GPMA, believing that networking with other podiatrists helps make the best patient outcomes. When she isn't in the clinic or in the operating room, she enjoys spending time outdoors or traveling with her husband, 2 children, and a 7-month-old bernedoodle.
She currently practices podiatry in Braselton, Georgia, with her longtime friend Dr. Courtney Glenn. They opened a practice together in 2015 (Chateau Foot and Ankle) and happily serve all Northeast Georgia community members.
Get in touch with Dr. English!
That's all for today.
Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!