A whopping 94 percent of caregivers who look after a loved one for 21 hours a week or more experience some kind of musculoskeletal pain, according to a survey conducted by Ohio State University researchers. The lower back, knees, shoulders and wrists are the areas hardest hit by caregiving activities, and the pain has a significant impact on both the caregiver's quality of life and their ability to look after their loved one. "Informal caregivers may not receive training on how to handle patients without injuring themselves or their loved ones," says Amy Darragh, Ph.D., an occupational therapist at the Ohio State School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.
Occupational therapists with geriatric training focus on adaptive strategies in the home to improve the safety of aging in place. Consult an occupational therapist in your area to perform an evaluation in your home and provide some basic modifications and strategies to keep you and your loved one safe. If a fall does occcur, and you are certain your loved one is not injured, see these strategies for How to Safely Pick a Loved One (or Yourself) Up After a Fall.