If you’re a caregiver for an elderly loved one, you may be susceptible to back injuries and subsequent pain, which could place both yourself and your loved one at risk for an accident or injury. Fortunately, there are things you can do to diminish this risk. Here are five ways to prevent back pain related to caregiving.
1. Manage Your Weight
Carrying excess weight may lead to back pain when you’re assisting your loved one with the activities of daily living. Excess weight puts stress on the joints and muscles during movement. However, when you lose weight—even a few pounds—some of the stress can be relieved, which may minimize back pain and lower your risk of future pain. Being overweight can also contribute to exercise intolerance, stress, breathing difficulties, and pain in all parts of the body. If you’re unable to lose weight on your own, make an appointment with your physician, who can recommend treatment options to help you reach your goals.
2. Stay Fit
When you stay physically fit, you’re better equipped to carry out your duties as a caregiver. Optimal fitness keeps your muscles and joints strong so you’re less likely to experience back pain, strains, or sprains when you need to lift or turn your loved one. To maintain optimal physical fitness, schedule daily exercise sessions so your body will become stronger and more resilient to back injuries over time.
It’s important to make sure you get plenty of rest and time to practice self-care. Whether you need respite from your caregiving duties or your aging loved one needs live-in care, Portland, Maine, Home Care Assistance can meet your family’s care needs. Our dedicated caregivers are available around the clock to provide transportation to doctor’s appointments, ensure seniors take their prescribed medications, and help with a variety of tasks in and outside the home.
3. Take Preventive Pain Medication
Another way you can prevent back pain related to caregiving is to take pain medication before you begin your caregiving duties. Caregivers with arthritis or degenerative disorders of the spine and back may fare better if they take anti-inflammatory medication an hour or so before caring for their loved ones. While taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications may relieve your discomfort, you should never take prescription narcotic pain relievers prior to assisting your loved one. Because prescription pain medication can cause side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, and weakness, you and your parent may be at risk for an accident or injury.
4. Lift Properly
One of the most important ways to prevent back pain is to make sure your lifting technique is correct. If you bend at your waist when lifting your loved one, you’re more likely to experience back pain. Conversely, when you bend at your knees and hips, you’re less likely to experience pain or get injured. Another way to prevent back pain when lifting is to make sure your feet are spread apart, as this widens your base of support so you have more control over your movements.
If you’re experiencing back pain as a result of caring for your aging parent, consider hiring a trustworthy professional caregiver to help. Although it may be challenging to find reliable, highly rated senior home care, you can turn to Home Care Assistance. Our respite and live-in caregivers are expertly trained to assist seniors with a wide array of important tasks, including cooking, bathing, light housekeeping, and exercise.
5. Wear a Back Belt
Wearing a back belt can provide lumbar support. When the structures of the lower back are supported with gentle compression, injuries and pain are less likely to develop when lifting, twisting, or turning. Before you start your day as a caregiver, don a back belt, support garment, or orthopedic brace to keep you comfortable and safe.
Being the primary caregiver for a loved one can be physically challenging, and a professional caregiver can assist you with some of your more strenuous duties. Families who need help caring for senior loved ones can turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Portland home care service. Services available in our customizable care plans include meal prep, mental and social stimulation, assistance with personal hygiene tasks, and much more. To create a customized home care plan for your loved one, call Home Care Assistance at (207) 835-4849 today.