Thousands of family caregivers get injured every year while lifting and transferring seniors with limited mobility. Those injuries include back sprains and strains, pulled muscles and broken bones. If you’re currently providing a loved one with daily living assistance, using a patient lift could make it an easier and safer experience for you both. However, patient lifts do come with some safety restrictions that you need to be aware of. Understanding what those limitations are will help you decide if a patient lift is the right choice for you.

Patient Lift Restrictions

According to guidelines from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there are several questions that you’ll need to answer before using a patient lift, including these:

The Care Recipient’s Physical Capabilities

  • Are they able to assist you while being transferred?
  • Based on the person’s weight, physical condition and the manufacturer’s guidelines, is the lift appropriate for them?
  • Can just one caregiver safely transfer the individual using the lift?

Any Medical Conditions They Might Have

  • Do you have the proper lift and sling for the recipient’s medical condition?
  • Will using the lift make their condition(s) worse?

Their Mental State

  • Is the senior mentally alert enough to understand what’s going on, and to clearly follow your instructions?
  • Will the use of a lift make them feel agitated, resistant or combative?

Regarding cognitive abilities, using a lift on a senior with dementia, including Alzheimer’s, is usually not advisable because they can easily get confused or frightened by physical contact. Once you’ve satisfactorily answered these questions for your senior, it’s time to move forward.

Lift Applications in the Home

While assisting a senior with limited mobility in the home, there may be several opportunities to use a patient lift, such as:

  • Lifting them off the floor or couch
  • Bed to wheelchair transfers
  • Raising one or more of their limbs
  • Toileting or bathing
  • Repositioning them in bed
  • Lateral transfers from one surface to another

As you can see, purchasing a reliable patient lift may provide a high return-on-investment when it comes to keeping you and your loved one safe. Now it’s time to find the right lift for the job.

Patient Lift Types

Decades ago, patient lift choices were limited, and most were used in hospitals or nursing homes. Today’s lifts come in many varieties, materials and prices depending upon your applications. Here are the types of lifts that are available for in-home use:

Manual Lifts

As the name implies, these use a lifting mechanism partnered with a sling that’s manually operated by the caregiver(s). Most manual lifts are designed to hold 250 to 400 pounds safely, so check the manufacturer’s recommendations first.

Electric Lifts

These lifts are powered by electricity that’s supplied by a battery or plug-in wall outlet. Electric lifts put the least amount of strain on both the senior and caregiver.

Bariatric Lifts

The term bariatric refers to individuals that are heavier than average, and bariatric, or “heavy-duty”, lifts come in electric or manual versions designed to safely move persons who weigh up to 700 pounds.

Specialty Lifts

The final type of lift is for specialty applications, like getting someone in a