Lifting a Dementia Patient?

Share your ideas about the practical side of caring.
My Dad is progressively losing the ability to walk. Last year he could still walk up to 3 miles, recently it has only been a lap of a football pitch be and I have noticed his balance is also starting to go, even more so in the last few days. So now I am struggling to get him to stand so he can to the bathroom. I might get him up but he won't put much weight on his feet or he won't point them in the right direction. What can I do? Is a care home beckoning?
Sadly, it might be.

The problem with dementia and mobility is that even if the person can still retain the physical strength to stand up and walk, their poor brains lose the ability to know HOW to do that.

This has now happened to my MIL with advanced dementia. On some 'good' days, she can still stand up, almost unaided, and, with someone guiding her, can take a few steps. But on 'bad' days when the dementia is peaking, she simply has 'no idea' what it is the carers want her to do (she is in a care home), and is totally confused by the whole thing. She is now hoisted up, and placed into a wheelchair, taken to the lounge, and lowered into an armchair, until the evening when the process is reversed.

It's desperately sad.

Would some kind of zimmer frame help for a while, do you think?

It's actually very difficult - and indeed, potentially dangerous (including for YOU and your back!) - to lift a complete inert adult to standing, let alone if they fall to the floor, let alone if they can't help you at all because they don't understand what you are doing and why, or how to make their brains make their muscles work. You can, alas, injure both yourself, and of course them - and they may not feel or register or express pain, again, because the dementia is blocking all those normal reactions.

It is so so sad and dementia is truly a dreadful condition.

I believe it may be possible - others here will know - to have hoists in the home, but you have to be trained how to use them safely for your caree and yourself. Or wait till the care-workers arrive maybe??
You certainly can get hoists in your own home. I don't even think they're that uncommon. You do need training and they're reluctant to let you have one to operate on your own but the training doesn't take long (maybe less than an hour). If you have a hoist carers will have to come in 2s or they may allow you to be one of the 2 if that's what you'd like and the individual carers firm agrees to it. If you do get a hoist I'd recommend practising with OTs around on the actual person you're going to hoist a few times to get used to how the combination works as I imagine it's different for everyone. My partner has arms and legs and bits of wheelchair sticking out all over the place. Your Dad might be a completely dead weight. Whatever you do you need to get it done soon before one or both of you gets injured. Contact occupational health and try to get through to.them that your needs are urgent. Use the word safeguarding and they'll feel more of a duty of care/expectation of getting into trouble so hopefully respond quicker.

This might also be the time to consider how much care you're taking on. A person who needs a hoist generally needs a lot more personal care than someone still walking.
Hi Jason,

I sympathise, as we have had similar issues with my Dad in recent months. He already had a walking frame but was increasingly unable to walk any distance and also struggles at times with transfers. We contacted our community OT and she has been brilliant in providing us with bits of kit - a wheelchair, hoist and manual lift. It gives us options to choose from, depending on whether Dad is having a good or bad day. They are not as cumbersome to use as I thought and they have made a big difference. You are meant to have 2 people to operate them, but our OT hinted-without-being-able-to-say-it that she knew there would be times when there would only be one of us. It can be hard enough getting one carer in, never mind two!

Can you contact your local OT team, or be referred by your GP or care manager? There might be options you can try at home before thinking about a care home, if you are keen to try and manage him at home. I find the authorities are keen to help us keep Dad at home, rather than funding him in a care home. You certainly want to avoid a fall - and protect your own back.

Good luck!
Hi Jason,

I'm a 54 year old slightly fitter than average female with a disabled partner who is cooperative in using the hoist although not entirely in control of what his body does. I find it fairly easy to use the hoist. Certainly easier than manoeuvring a manual wheelchair. Hope this gives you an idea of what you might be letting yourself in for.

I was initially reluctant to have a hoist because I'd been shown them being used badly in hospitals and that was physically hard work. They also make a huge song and dance about them because they don't use them very often (and I suspect have never been properly trained). But if you're using the same hoist on the same person several times a day you'll soon get quite slick at it.