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How to Properly Transfer an Aging Loved One

9 April 2021


Taking care of elderly loved ones can be challenging in many ways. It requires a mental and physical commitment to improving another person’s well-being. One of the most difficult parts of providing this care is known as ‘transferring’, and involves helping someone physically move from one place to another. 


Sometimes seniors can lose mobility and need assistance to do normal day-to-day activities. For example, transferring could take place from a wheelchair to a bed. It is also necessary to help someone use the restroom or get into a vehicle. 


Obviously, it is critical to use the best possible transfer technique to safely transfer someone and avoid injury for everyone involved. Caregivers can injure themselves during lifting, especially when repeating the same movements over and over again. This can happen especially when:


  • Lifting someone into a sitting position from a lying down position

  • Moving somebody from their bed into a wheelchair

  • Overusing back, shoulder, and neck muscles


So what does it take to transfer an aging parent or loved one properly? Keep reading for some great tips on what to do and what to avoid when transferring a senior!

Communication During Transferring

Communication is vital when transferring a person safely. Make sure you are talking and explaining what you are or will do throughout the transferring process. If caring for someone with dementia, make sure that they can follow simple instructions before starting as this can help make the process better.

Transferring Guidelines to Follow


Proper body mechanics can help protect you physically when transferring another person from place to place. It’s important to use these guidelines to safeguard your well-being in the long-run and make it possible to keep assisting your aging parent or loved one:


  • Don’t lift from your back -always use your leg muscles when pulling or lifting

  • Try not to twist your torso when carrying another person

  • Stay aligned by keeping your head and neck straight and in line with your spine

  • Don’t hold the person you’re carrying far from your own body

  • Let the person you are transferring do as much of the moving as possible

  • Maintain a stance that has your feet shoulder-width apart 

  • Don’t keep going if the person you’re transferring is too heavy or difficult to move


Once you’ve accounted for proper body mechanics, you want to ensure you are holding the person in the right way. Start by putting your arms around their waist. They can also put their arms around your waist or shoulders if they want to hold on during transferring. This is much better than them placing their hands around your neck, as this can lead to a loss of balance. 

Leaning and Rocking

When helping someone stand, it is a good idea to have them lean forward first. A rocking movement can also be a great way to create some momentum. Try to incorporate a countdown so they know when to stand (on the count of three!). Always bring the person you’re transferring as close to your body as you can. 

From the Bed to the Wheelchair


To move someone from their bed to their wheelchair, start by placing the chair close to the bed and locking the wheels. Get the person into a sitting position by putting one arm under their legs and the other arm under their back. 


Next, move their legs over the edge of the bed and pivot their body so they are in a seated position on the edge of the bed. Their feet should be on the floor and a little bit apart. Stand in front of the person with your feet hip-width apart and bent knees. Have the person you’re transferring put their hands either on your shoulders or the bed. 


Put your own arms around their back and clasp your hands together. Hold them close to you, lean back, and shift your weight. Pivot towards the wheelchair while bending your knees and slowly lower them into the chair. Ensure that they have both hands on the arms of the wheelchair before lowering down.


These are some basic tips for transferring an aging loved one safely. Make sure to use excellent communication and proper body mechanics to avoid injury wherever possible. Techniques like leaning, rocking, and countdowns can also help make the process flow smoothly. By following proper transferring methods, you can protect your body in many ways and make sure your loved one has someone to care for them in the long-run.

For more questions about getting a loved one caregiver support, please contact us by clicking here.

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