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How To Safely Help An Elderly Person Get Out Of Bed

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Helping someone (like an elderly person) to get out of bed safely seems like it may be a simple task, but truth is, you and the person in bed can both get hurt if you aren’t careful with the procedure.  With the right instructions and the right aids, you can minimize most any problems that may occur.

So, here is how to safely help an elderly person get out of their bed.  You begin by log rolling the person to the edge of the bed, using a handrail of some sort helps very much, move the legs off the bed and then by placing your hand under their shoulder help them to sit up.  Talk them through the steps and that gives them a chance to help you so you don’t get injured.

Why Is It Important To Follow These Steps?

I can tell you from personal experience as an Occupational Therapist that whenever you are helping an adult person to move in any way – the risk of injury to both of you (but especially to the helper) is very real and much higher than you would think.

In my years as an OT I helped hundreds of my patients on and off beds, chairs, toilets, etc and in some cases I injured my shoulder and my back severely enough that to this day I still suffer from chronic pain due to those injuries.  Even with proper training, injuries can occur.

So, do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the techniques I am outlining below.  You can thank me later!

Step by Step Process To Help An Older Adult Out Of Bed Safely

When I was doing my internship in Occupational Therapy at a rehab hospital, I learned how to safely transfer my patients to and from chairs, shower benches, toilet seats and of course, from the bed.  Of course, there might be some slight changes depending on the problems the patient was having but generally, the process goes like this…

  1. Get close – first step is to get the person in bed as close to the edge of the bed as is safe. The reason is that the closer to the edge that person is, the less strain you will be putting on yourself.
  2. Log roll – with the person laying on their back – you want to assist them to roll over onto their side (the side closest to the edge of the bed).  You begin by helping them (if needed) to place their feet on the bed with their knees bent.  Then you place one hand under the shoulder furthest from the edge of the bed and the other hand under their hip furthest from the edge of the bed.
  3. Use of handrail – if there is a handrail in place, while you log roll them they can reach over and grab onto the bed handrail.
  4. No handrail – if there is no handrail, the person in bed will simply place their hand on the edge of the bed.
  5. Legs off the bed – now that the person in bed is safely on their side, you can help them to move their legs over the edge of the bed a little.  Note:  you can help them to put their legs down and at the same time lift them up by the shoulder to sit up (if possible).
  6. Sitting up – you can now place your hand under their shoulder closest to the edge of the bed and help them to sit up.
  7. Cue them – if they can understand you and follow directions, cue them throughout the process so that they can help you as much as possible.

Here is a video showing the basics of helping someone out of bed.

How To Help An Elderly Person Get Into Bed

Knowing how to get someone safely into bed is just as important as getting someone out of bed without injury – or at the very least with very minimal injury.

  1. Sit back – once your senior loved one is sitting on the bed, make sure that they are seated as far back on the bed as possible.  This is much safer than just sitting at the edge of the bed.
  2. Bed position – make sure, as much as you can, that they are sitting in the proper spot so that when they do lay down they don’t have to scoot up or scoot down on the bed.
  3. The arms – ask them (or help them) to place the arm closest to the head of the bed across their waist so that their hand is resting on the opposite hip.
  4. With handrail – if there is a handrail in place, they can then hold onto the handrail with their other hand.
  5. No handrail – if there is no handrail in place, ask them to place their other hand onto your waist.
  6. Begin the descent – now that they are in position, ask them to lay down onto their side (or help them).
  7. Legs up – slightly bend the knees and gently bring their legs up onto the bed.
  8. Log roll onto their back – they can then let go of the edge of the bed or handrail and roll onto their back.
  9. Cue them – always speak with the person in the bed and talk them through the process.  It’s much easier if they understand what is happening – it gives them a chance to work with you.

These steps will help to minimize any injury that may occur getting in and out of bed.  Here is a video showing you the basics of the process.

Proper Equipment To Help An Elderly Person Get Out Of Bed

These days there are so many different types of equipment that you can use to make the process of getting in and out of bed so much easier and safer.   Let’s go over some of my favorites.

Bed Rails – my mom-in-law loves this bed rail that she bought from Amazon.  It’s got a nice padding on the grip bar, can be secured very well onto the bed (not just inserted under the mattress) and can be customized to her because it has 2 height settings.  It is built to be able to handle a weight capacity of 300 lbs.  I would highly recommend it.

Security Poles – another option is a floor to ceiling security pole with a handle bar like the Stander Security Pole & Curve Grab Bar.  But be aware that all these security poles are tension mounted.  That means they are not bolted to the ceiling.  If you do decide that this is your best option I would recommend to take the extra precaution and physically bolt it to the ceiling.

Specialty Beds – if you’re lucky enough to be living in England, you may want to take a look at Theraposture’s Rotoflex bed.  It’s the ultimate in independent living for anyone with mobility issues.

Grab Bars – depending on how the bed is situated, you may be able to install a wall mounted grab bar like Moen’s Flip-Up model.  It can flip up when not in use, it supports up to 300 lbs and is not difficult to install.

Helping seniors in and out of bed can be challenging but if you follow these steps I mentioned above it should be much easier.

I would encourage you to use any of the tools that I linked to here – some may seem expensive but I promise you that they are worth it.

Related Questions

What is the best bed for seniors? – A bed with a firmer mattress is easier when it comes to getting in and out of bed.  But it’s very important that the bed be comfortable for the senior sleeping in it.  So, I would say that comfort is the most important factor.

How to help someone with Rheumatoid Arthritis get out of bed? – A classic symptom of RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) is morning stiffness.  If this is the case, doing some mild stretches in the morning and applying a heated blanket over the body for several minutes may help to make the process of getting out of bed easier and less painful.

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7 Ways To Prevent Seniors From Falling Out Of Bed
Best Safety Products For The Bed


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