If I had a dollar for every time a family caregiver asked me this during my 10+ years as an in-home Care Manage…I’d have like $2,000, lol.
“What is a gait belt, and why should every caregiver own one?”
Transfers (the process of picking someone up who needs assistance) are how MOST Family caregivers injure either their loved or themselves , and almost all of these injuries are AVOIDABLE! Unfortunately, MOST families don’t take precautions to prevent falls until their loved one HAS ALREADY BEEN SERIOUSLY INJURED IN A FALL! …That's like starting to wear your seat belt only AFTER you have been in a serious car accident!
Transfers are one the Activities of Daily Living (ADL). Activities of Daily Living (ADL's) are defined as the basic functions a person is able to perform by themselves, essentially in order to live. Activities of daily living (ADLs) are essential and routine tasks that most young, healthy individuals can perform without assistance. The inability to accomplish essential activities of daily living may lead to unsafe conditions and poor quality of life.
Functional status and the ability to care for oneself have a significant impact on a senior’s quality of life. Changes in ADLs can be caused by underlying medical conditions, but failing to recognize these growing needs can also contribute to a cycle of physical and mental health problems. Unmet needs for help with activities of daily living can lead to malnutrition, poor personal hygiene, isolation, illnesses like urinary tract infections (UTIs) and falls. In fact, studies have shown that ADL disabilities are associated with an increased risk for mortality. Ensuring a senior has the daily care they need can help prevent new and worsening health issues, keep overall costs down, and delay or eliminate the need for institutional care. Therefore, a senior’s functional abilities are often factored into important care decisions along with their more straightforward medical needs.
The ability to perform ADLs is often used to determine what types of care and senior living settings are suitable for an elder. For example, independent living facilities do not provide any assistance with ADLs. This type of unskilled care is usually referred to as personal care or custodial care. If a resident requires this kind of help, he or she will have to get it from a family caregiver, hire in-home care or move to a higher level of care where ADL support is provided (e.g., an assisted living facility, a memory care unit, a nursing home).
ADLs are also used as eligibility criteria for many elder care services, benefit programs and even insurance coverage. For example, a senior must have a documented need for a “nursing home level of care,” which often includes an inability to perform a certain number of ADLs among other requirements, to qualify for long-term care Medicaid programs. Needing help with ADLs is also one of the eligibility criteria for the VA Aid and Attendance pension, and applicants for Social Security disability benefits must submit an ADL questionnaire demonstrating how their condition affects their daily life. Having a firm understanding of a loved one’s functional abilities and limitations makes it easier to find care options that match their needs and supportive services they qualify for.
You think caregiver burnout is bad…I promise you that dropping your aging parent and permanently injuring them (or seriously injuring yourself) is MUCH WORSE!
As someone who spent 10 YEARS visiting THOUSANDS of aging adults & family caregivers in their homes, I can’t stress the value of owning a gait belt enough!!! The amount of injuries I’ve seen from poor transfers is in the hundreds, but no caregiver ever talks about these injuries because usually they are embarrassed; also, if you’re the primary (or only) caregiver of your aging loved one, who will care for them if you get injured?!
👉 Go follow her!👆
So as a professional who isn’t trying to sell you anything, and as a former caregiver myself, take this advice and go get your household a gait belt! you can find them on Amazon or wherever, and I recommend one w/ handles. I would have included a recommendation link, but I didn’t want this blog‘s integrity or motives to be in question.
Stay Safe Friends,
-Former Care Manager of 10+years
-2021 WEGO Health Awards Finalist x 2
-Harvard Business School / U of Michigan
-Detroit Walk to End Alzheimer’s Marketing Committee Chair 2021 -Detroit Walk to End Alzheimer’s Planning Committee Member
-2020 Grand Champion Fundraiser Alzheimer’s Association
-Detroit Young Professionals Member
-Long Term Care Insurance Association of America Member