Caregiving often involves heavy lifting, twisting, and turning multiple times a day, which can wreak havoc on the back. If not addressed, it can raise the risk of chronic pain. Fortunately, there are things you can do as a caregiver to prevent back discomfort. Here are five tips for preventing caregiving-related back pain so you can better care for your elderly loved one.
1. Focus on Proper Body Mechanics
When you need to bend down or stoop, it’s important to use proper body mechanics so you don’t accidentally wrench your back. Bending at the hips and knees instead of at the waist can keep your body in proper alignment and balance so you’re less likely to sustain a back strain or sprain. Also, if you keep your neck, pelvis, feet, and back aligned when you twist or turn, you’ll be less likely to hurt your back.
Stretching your muscles before helping your loved one with his or her daily activities can lower your risk of back pain because it helps the muscles become more resilient to heavy lifting, stress, and awkward movements. You don’t need to stretch for extended periods to protect your muscles from injury. A few minutes of stretching are all you need to prepare for a caregiving session.
Families who need help caring for senior loved ones can turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of in-home care. Services available in our customizable care plans include meal prep, mental and social stimulation, assistance with personal hygiene tasks, and much more.
3. Take Vitamins
If you develop a nutritional deficiency because of stress or poor dietary intake, you may be at heightened risk for back pain. If your meals aren’t full of nutrients, consider taking a vitamin and mineral supplement containing magnesium, vitamin D, and potassium to keep your muscles, bones, joints, and immune system in optimal working condition so you’ll be more resistant to back pain and injuries.
4. Eat More Fish
Coldwater fish such as salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These substances support bone and muscle health and have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. They may also reduce the risk of back strains and sprains. If you do get hurt while caring for your loved one, omega-3 fatty acids may also keep your pain level at a minimum. If you don’t enjoy eating fish, consider taking fish oil supplements. If you take prescription anticoagulants or aspirin, check with your doctor. Fish oil can raise the risk of abnormal bleeding if taken with blood-thinning medications.
It’s important for caregivers to look out for their health, too. In Anchorage, respite care is a great help to many families. Caring for a senior loved one can be overwhelming at times, which puts family caregivers at risk for burnout. However, an in-home caregiver can take over your loved one’s care, allowing you the time you need to focus on your own health, maintain a full-time job, or care for other members of your family.
5. Wear a Back Brace
If your loved one needs to be lifted or turned, consider wearing a back brace for support. A back brace can keep your lower back strong so you can support the weight of another person. In conjunction with proper body mechanics, a back brace support garment can significantly reduce the risk of injuries. While effective at reducing back stress, back braces may do more harm than good if they don’t fit properly, and they may even cause impaired circulation or soft tissue injuries.
Caring for a loved one can take a physical toll on the strongest of caregivers, so it’s important to practice preventive measures to keep yourself as healthy as possible. You may also want to consider seeking the help of a professional caregiver. The type of homecare services Anchorage, AK, seniors need can vary. Some need assistance a few hours a day, while others require more extensive around-the-clock assistance. At Home Care Assistance, we tailor our care plans based on each senior’s individual care needs, and the plans can be adjusted at any time. For reliable in-home care services, contact us at (907) 770-0907.