Most elderly individuals are able to do some of the transfer work from a wheelchair on their own. When you help an individual into or out of a wheelchair, ask the individual to help with the transfer as much as possible. Be patient and allow the individual as much time as needed to do their part of the transfer.
If the person you are transferring is lightweight and petite, you may be tempted to do more of the lifting yourself. But it’s important to allow the person being transferred to do as much as possible. This allows the individual to retain their sense of independence and saves your back in the process.
Ask a physical therapist to show you how to maintain proper body posture when assisting with transfers. Transferring from a wheelchair to a bath bench may require a different technique than transferring from a wheelchair to a car seat.
In some cases, a two-person transfer is safer. Do not attempt to assist with a wheelchair transfer by yourself if two people are needed. An unsafe transfer puts yourself and the individual you are helping at risk for injury.
Always communicate clearly with the person you are transferring. Let them know what you are going to do before you do it, and tell them again what you are doing as you do it. If they have a difficult time hearing, communicate your intentions through gestures and body language. Always show respect for the individual’s feelings, body, and dignity.
Helping your loved one out of bed and into a wheelchair can be done safely when following the proper guidelines. We recommend practicing with a healthcare professional before attempting a bed to wheelchair transfer on your own. A professional can make sure you are using the correct body positioning and lifting techniques, as well as help you learn how to communicate clearly with your loved one throughout the transfer process.
Transferring from a wheelchair to a walker or vice versa should be done carefully in order to prevent falls and ensure the safety of the individual involved in the transfer. These instructions are meant for active transfers, where the individual needs little to no assistance.
Since each individual is unique, varying levels of assistance or adaptation may be required, depending on physical limitations. The individual and caregiver should be aware of the individual’s limitations and be willing to adapt the method of transfer as needed. Consult a physical therapist or healthcare professional for individualized advice on transfer methods.
(Note: NEVER grab hold of the walker to help you stand up from the wheelchair. The walker can easily tip over backwards. Only transfer your hands to the walker after you are in a standing position and well balanced.)
Please consult a health care professional or physical therapist for any questions or concerns about the suitability of any mobility aid prior to use.