When You Need Help

If the person needs more than minimal assistance, ask your doctor for a PT or OT prescription. It's important to know how much remaining strength the person has and the best individualized transfer technique for that person. You'll receive hands-on training on how to help the person without hurting yourself. Your safety is just as important as the safety of person for whom you care.

You can also click on the Related Topics to access more information on Transferring, including videos by health professionals.

4 Transfer Steps - Minimal Assistance

In this 4-step transfer demo, we'll show you how to coach a person so he or she can transfer with only minimal assistance from you. The person still needs to have adequate physical ability to rise safely and language comprehension so he or she can understand your instructions. Although it may be hard to imagine, people with dementia sometimes forget how to get out of a chair and reminders often help.

Make sure that they have an easy transfer chair – one that's not too deep or low, or the following Transfer Steps may not work. And lifting a person out of a chair can seriously injure you back, so if the person needs more than minimal assistance, you may want to consider an automatic lift up chair. Also, see our special section on Transferring for more information.


Step 1. Friendly Approach

The first you thing you want to do is approach the person gently. As people with dementia often pick up on body language and tone of voice more than on what is actually being said, speak with a relaxed tone – and smile. Getting low – if you can do so - can be helpful.

If he or she is resistant to getting up, spend a couple of minutes talking and building rapport. Then invite the person to a favorite activity or destination. Sometimes just saying, “Come on, let’s go for coffee” (or some other activity the person really enjoys) is all that’s needed.



Step 2. Scoot Hips Forward

Next, you need to give gentle reminders if the person has forgotten how to get up from a chair. They may have forgotten one or several steps and need your help with reminders. Here are some general guidelines.

If needed, remind the person to position his or her hands on the front of the arm rests. For example, say, “Victor – put your hands here,” while pointing or tapping the front of the arm rests.

Then gently tell the person to scoot forward to the front of the chair’s seat. Speak in simple short sentences. For example, “Victor - move closer to the front of the seat” or “Move your bottom here” and point or tap the front of the seat if a visual reminder helps. Be sure to give the person plenty of time to respond. People with dementia can become irritated if they feel they’re being rushed. Repeat the instructions if needed.



Step 3. Feet Tucked In, Nose Above Toes

Then gently tell the person to move both feet slightly under the seat, if they’re able to do so. This puts their feet slightly behind their knees. Again, point or tap the floor if a visual reminder is helpful.

At times, in the later stages, you may need to gently help position the person’s feet slighting under the seat.

Then the person should move his or her trunk forward until the person’s nose is above the toes. You may need to give the person a gentle reminder if necessary. If the person tends to lean too far forward, you’ll need to make sure he or she is stable and won’t topple over when attempting to stand up.



Step 4. Rock and Rise

Sometimes when attempting to help the person transfer from a chair, it helps to count to three and, on the count of 3, help the person rise. Use one hand on the person’s shoulder or upper back and the other hand at the person’s waist (or hold onto the person’s pants at the waist). Some people, especially those with Parkinson’s, can transfer more easily by rocking back and forth when counting – this gives the person momentum for rising.

Once the person is standing, offer your arm for balance or have the person’s walker ready to go.

If the person needs more than minimal assistance, ask your doctor for a PT or OT prescription. It’s important to know how much remaining strength the person has and the best individualized transfer technique for that person. You’ll receive hands-on training on how to help the person without hurting yourself. Your safety is just as important as the safety of person for whom you care.

You can also click on the Related Topics button to access more information on Transferring, including videos by health professionals.



Related Topics


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