Although highly rewarding, serving as a family caregiver for an elderly loved one comes with many challenges, like stress, fatigue, and finding enough time in a day. Caring for an at-home senior can also be risky and dangerous, as thousands of family caregivers are injured every year while assisting loved ones. And if you get hurt, it could place your job and ability to manage your own household at risk. The good news is there are several reliable ways to protect yourself from caregiver injuries while caring for a senior in their home.

Why is Caregiving Dangerous?

You wouldn’t think that helping an aging parent get dressed, or take a shower, is dangerous. But many caregivers suffer injurious slips and falls while assisting loved ones due to wet floors, trip hazards, and poorly lit stairways. In fact, a senior’s home can sometimes be a very risky place, and when they also have cognitive impairment, like dementia, their behavior can be unpredictable at times. Here are the most common injuries that family caregivers experience each year:

  • Back sprains, strains, and other kinds of musculoskeletal problems
  • Injuries due to slipping, tripping, or falling
  • Cuts and bruises inflicted by care recipients with dementia and Alzheimer’s

Preventing Caregiver Injuries

Fortunately, there are several proven precautions you can take to avoid caregiver injuries while assisting your at-home loved one, including these:

“Fall-proof” Their Bathroom

Bathrooms are potentially dangerous places because of slick surfaces and tight spaces. Improve your safety odds by installing grab bars, a walk-in tub or shower, and a sliding shower bench. Also, remove trip hazards like throw rugs or step-stools, and place non-skid strips or pads wherever moisture accumulates.

Wear Proper Shoes

Trying to assist someone up the stairs while wearing heeled shoes is just asking for trouble, as is wearing slippery soled-shoes while bathing them. Ask professional healthcare workers you know what shoes they wear, and then find a pair that are comfortable with flat, non-skid contact surfaces to ensure reliable footing on damp, slick surfaces and stairs.

Remove Walkway Obstacles

Go around their home and remove any throw rugs, small pieces of furniture, or other obstacles that are obstructing walkways. Make sure that their stairs have ample lighting.  It’s also a good practice to secure your loved one’s pets in another room whenever you’re transporting them.

Use Good Lifting Techniques

One of the common ways family caregivers get hurt is by twisting their bodies awkwardly when repositioning a loved one. That can cause lingering back and shoulder problems, so always use proper positioning and lifting techniques. That means squaring up your body and shoulders. Do not twist your back. Remember to start your lift by bending at the knees. If your loved one is a larger individual, use a lifting assistance device like a gait belt, pivot pad, or actual patient lift.

Strengthen Your Body

One of the easiest ways to protect yourself from caregiving mishaps is to keep your body in good condition. Work out regularly using exercises that strengthen your body’s back and core muscles. In addition, eat nutritious foods, get plenty of sleep, and make sure you get a complete physical every year. All these measures will further help lower stress, wa