Lifting and carrying doesn’t get any easier with age. A decline in muscle mass, a loss of balance, and a decrease in energy levels all mean what we could once lift and carry with ease, is now out of our range of should-do’s. And the problem only becomes doubly difficult when you live alone. Instead of facing potential injury from trying to manage weights beyond your ability, employ some of the following tips to help you stay independent around your home – others have found they make a real difference to their lives:
In the bedroom
Making the bed is a daily task, but it becomes a difficult one when the bed must be moved away from the wall to allow you to access sheets and coverings. If you’re replacing your bed, choose one on rollers so you can move this heavy piece of furniture with ease. If you’re fine with the bed you already have, have rollers fitted to the legs.
Comfortable mattresses can weigh a ton, which makes tucking sheets under them a back breaking business. To help you tuck in sheets firmly, slide a strong walking stick a little way under the mattress a little at a time, and leaver it up, tucking in the sheet as you go.
On the balcony
Container grown plants are a joy on the balcony, but a heavy pot can be a nightmare to shift. Fortunately, many container plants, from strawberries to annual flowers, don’t require a great depth of soil in which to grow. Which means the lower third (or even half of a container) can be filled with broken pieces of polystyrene before the potting mix is added on top. Suddenly, your container is so much easier to move. Another trick is to place your container on a drip with wheels. Ask your garden centre about these.
At the supermarket
Supermarket shopping gets heavy! From carrying it out to the car, swinging it into the boot, and unloading it at home, it can be a back breaking task. Instead of doing the heavy work, take extra reusable bags to the supermarket, and ask the checkout staff to pack them one third full. Keep a light weight garden trolley or shopping trolley in the garage, and unload into it to save you making multiple trips from the car into your house.
When purchasing anything in bulk (such as pet food or potting mix), first line your boot with a small tarpaulin or an old sheet. Ask shop staff to load the bag into your car boot for you. Once you’re back home, split the bag open with a sharp knife or scissors, and scoop out the contents into smaller bags that are easy to carry. Any spills will be caught by the tarpaulin.
If you enjoy cycling, and want to take your bike out of town to a safe pathway, loading it onto a bike rack (especially if it’s a heavier e-bike) can be difficult to manage alone. Fortunately, there are now easy-load carriers available, where all you need do is wheel your bike onto them. The mechanism does the lifting for you! Ask at your local bike shop or look online.
Weighing in on it
Never move heavy furniture alone – it’s simply not a safe way to do things. However, if you have lighter objects to move, such as a small set of drawers or a small cupboard, first remove any items inside the piece of furniture (such as clothing or books). Next, in the case of a set of drawers, remove the drawers themselves (and number them so you know where they go once you are ready to reassemble). The weight you now have to move will be considerably lighter!
Bag barrows, dolly carts, hand trucks – call them what you will, but these handy two wheeled, tilting trollies make moving heavier objects so much easier. Traditionally heavy and sturdy (we associate them with furniture removal workers), light-weight versions are now available from hardware stores for less than $50. Save your back by investing in one. They can be used for moving everything from bags of compost to a box of fire wood (just be sure not to overload them, as you still need to push them).
Living alone doesn’t mean you always have to rely on others to lift and carry for you – it can be as simple as thinking the problem through, and coming up with a safe solution.