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Hoyer lifts are ingenious mechanical devices to help caregivers and their loved ones stay at home safely. People need Hoyer lifts for various reasons, but some of the more common ones are disability resulting from accident or injury, paralysis, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and ALS. The advancement of durable medical equipment on the market has been a life-saver for families and their caregivers.

What is a Hoyer Lift and How They are Used?

A Hoyer lift is a mechanical device to help caregivers, families, and their loved ones move about

their home. There are many Hoyer lifts on the market to choose from, and you may base your decision on several factors. Some of these factors include the person's medical conditions, weight, space considerations, and purpose of the lift. Let’s take a look at the options. You might end up getting more than one type.

  • Power Hoyer Lifts. This type of lift has an electric motor that replaces the muscle strength needed for lifting a person. A power Hoyer lift can work through a rechargeable battery or wall plugin. A hydraulic pump moves the sling-bearing arm up and to the desired position. These may be more expensive, but they are the safest option for caregivers to prevent injury while moving someone. These lifts are equipped with a manual handle in case of power loss.
  • Manual Hoyer Lifts. Manual Hoyer lifts are sometimes called hydraulic lifts. Manual hydraulic lifts require hand-cranking, meaning the caregiver must generate counter-leverage by building lifting pressure manually. The caregiver must first position their patient within the full-body sling, then hand-crank the Hoyer Lift to a raised position before maneuvering the patient. These lifts are more cost-effective, but the caregiver needs to have the strength to operate the device.
  • Sit-to-Stand Hoyer Lift. These lift devices help people who can sit up in bed or a chair pull themselves up to a standing position. To use this lift, the person has to be able to bear some weight. Some hospital-grade sit-to-stand lifts can cost over $5,000. Others are less expensive.
  • Ceiling Hoyer Lifts. Ceiling lifts are an excellent long-term solution for moving someone from one room to the next or from a bed to a wheelchair. These systems are free-standing or secured to the ceiling on tracks. Ceiling lifts can be installed in the bedrooms or bathrooms and require a track system on the ceiling. There are many types of ceiling lifts, some designed for bathrooms, other for bedrooms, or to transport someone across the entire house.

A lift is only as valuable and as safe as someone’s ability to use it. Professional and family caregivers need training in using these devices safely. Physical and occupational therapists are an excellent resource for this, and there are also online tutorials available.

Benefits of Using a Hoyer Lift

The bottom-line benefit of using a Hoyer lift is for the caregiver and the patient's long-term safety. When someone is at the point of no longer being able to bear weight, a Hoyer lift is often a necessity for quality of life and some degree of independence. Even using a lift to transfer someone from a bed to a wheelchair has value. No one wants to spend their days bed-bound, and a Hoyer lift makes it possible for someone to move about their environment. Falls are the leading cause of disability and death for people over the age of 65. The most dangerous time for a person who is disabled is before they decide to start using a lift.

Many assisted living communities will not accept someone or will not allow someone to continue to reside in the community if they get to the point of requiring two people to transfer. Proper transferring techniques for seniors take time and effort to implement, and the risk to staff is too significant. Each state determines assisted living regulations, and some will allow a Hoyer lift under certain conditions, such as hospice. But most won’t. Imagine an assisted living community full of Hoyer lifts. The idea is neither sustainable nor safe, and the staff requirements would be immense.

A Hoyer lift can help make it possible for people to continue to stay at home and avoid nursing home care. Professional and family caregivers, adequately trained, can operate these devices safely and effectively.

Who Pays for a Hoyer Lift?

The following criteria must be met for you or a loved one to qualify for Medicare to pay for a lift:

  • You need two or more people to transfer you from your bed to a wheelchair or toilet
  • You would be confined to bed with the lift

Medicare Part B pays for lifts under Durable Medical Equipment (DME) with a physician’s order. Depending on the type of equipment you want, you may have to rent, buy, or have a choice between the two.

If you have private insurance, check with your policy to see what the coverage will be. Medicaid may also pay for a lift, but check with both of these programs to make sure they cover the type of lift you want and need.

Hoyer Lifts for Professional and Family Caregivers

In survey after survey, people say they want to age at home. Regardless of age, if someone becomes disabled, they usually want to stay home. Professional caregivers combined with the latest durable medical equipment like Hoyer lifts makes this possible.

About the Author(s)

Amanda Lambert is the owner and president of Lambert Care Management, LLC which provides care management for older and disabled adults. She is the co-author of Choose Your Place: Rethinking Home as You Age (November 2020) and of Aging with Care: Your Guide to Hiring and Managing Caregivers at Home (Rowman and Littlefield, 2018). She has worked for over 20 years in the senior-related industry including mental health, marketing and guardianship. She has a passion for topics related to health, wellness and resilience as we age.

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