The Home Physical Therapist

Caregiver Resources From A Home Mobility Expert

Category: Bed Mobility

Caregiver Training: Bed Mobility

This is a short tutorial for any caregiver who may need training or information about bed mobility.  If your patient or caree is larger than you, or, if they are simply too weak to assist much in performing bed mobility tasks, this technique may be beneficial to you.

I have this available in pdf download. If you think it may be helpful and want a copy just let me know in the comment section below.

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How To Help Someone Get Out Of Bed

When we’re able bodied and don’t have much pain we take the simple act of getting into and out of bed for granted. But, one of the most challenging things for many elderly or disabled persons is simply getting out of bed.

It happens even without our knowing it, but all through life we build up habits of how we move. How we stand up from a chair, how we comb or brush our hair, even how we cross/fold our arms in front of us.

Then when it comes to changing this habits it’s kind of hard to do. For instance, try to cross your arms normally in front. Then look at which arm is on top. Now, just to prove the point, try to fold your arms with the opposite arm on top and see how it feels. Did you have to put in a little extra thought as to where which hand should go? Most people do.

The same is true for how we get into and out of bed. In the past it was a habit. But all that changes with an illness or debility from surgery or a chronic health condition.

Most people who struggle to get out of bed (or struggle getting someone out of bed) are generally working from lying flat on their backs. Sitting up from flat off your back is hard enough when you’re twenty and in good health. It doesn’t work the older you get and the sicker you get.

How To Get An Elderly Person Out Of Bed

So, for everyone who struggles getting someone out of bed, or, has trouble getting out  of bed yourself, I am going to show you the basic principles of an easier way to get into and out of bed.

Supine In Hooklying


The first thing that we want to do is, as far as possible, get our subject into “hooklying”. This is a term that physical therapists use to describe lying on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the bed. The reason you want to have a person in hooklying is because it makes it easier for them to roll.

Log Roll Into Sidelying


From the hooklying position we’re going to roll to one side (the side you’re getting out from). Log rolling is another term that physical therapists use to describe a person “rolling as one unit”. I usually tell the person to make sure that they’re rolling their “nose, navel, and knees” all at the same time.

You start the log roll by reaching with the opposite hand across your body and then rolling the body at the same time. As you’re reaching, look toward the direction that you’re rolling. This takes care or the “nose” part of my little mantra.

At the same time you’re reaching to the side, let your legs “flop” over toward the side that you’re rolling to. This takes care of the “knees” part.  With the nose and the knees turning, the “navel” just follows along. And, before you know it you’re on your side.


Using the log roll technique helps to prevent the tendency to twist. When you twist it makes it a lot harder to get out of bed.

Drop Your Feet and Push Up To Sitting

sidelying to sit

Once you get to your side, sitting up actually is pretty easy. Just slide your feet forward until they drop from the edge of the bed. When the feet have dropped, you push up to sitting from lying on your side. This action kind of reminds me of a “see-saw” or teeter totter at a kids’ playground.

This technique works best if you stay completely on your side. Many people roll toward their backs when they are trying to sit up and this puts a lot of strain on the stomach muscles. Plus, while you’re on your side, you’re totally out of position to roll back onto your back.

Position Yourself Squarely On The Edge of The Bed

sitting edge of bed

Once you get to sitting you’ll want to make sure that you’re basically sitting square on the bed and that both feet are flat on the floor (if you’re legs aren’t long enough, use a foot stool). Sitting this way will give you the most stability and relieve any anxiety that might come up while you’re getting used to this technique.

Welp, that’s basically how you or how you’d get someone up to the side of the bed. It’s a lot easier than trying to struggle sitting up from off your back.

It takes a little bit of practice. But, once you’ve got the hang of it, you will find it’s a lot quicker and easier for everyone involved.

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