Skip to Content

Lifts: A Guide

Repositioning and transferring patients is familiar to all caregivers. However, issues arise when those receiving care attempt to move or walk without assistance. A result is often injury to themselves or their loved ones and can even result in permanent adverse effects to their health. Common issues from using lifts without assistance can include falls, back injuries, and chronic pain. Knowing and understanding the options available for patient lift-assisted devices is vital. These pieces of equipment can make transfers and lifts easier and safer for everyone involved.

Types of Lifts:

There are many different options available when looking at lifts, each serving a different purpose. Here is a rundown of lift types currently on the market.

Hydraulic Manual Lifts

Manual Hydraulic Lifts use hydraulic fluid for the hoist mechanism and can ease the strain on the caregiver. These lifts operate with a simple crank attached to a pump. Hydraulic lifts help to promote mobility while preventing injury to the patient and the caregiver during transfers. Additionally, these lifts are often the cheapest options available, especially compared to electrical lift chairs.

Power and Electric Lifts

These lifts do not require any physical exertion from the caregiver and are very easy to use. Here’s how they work:

  • An AC electrical current or a battery powers electric lifts.
  • Power lifts use an electric motor to pump hydraulic fluid to move the lift.
  • A switch activates the lifting arm, which starts pumping hydraulic oil. The hydraulic process, therefore, requires no effort from a caregiver.

Some options plug-in, while others are battery-powered. Battery-powered options can be used even if there is a power outage, but all lifts have manual backup options as a safety function.

Car Specific Lifts

Car-specific lifts are permanently or temporarily attached to the car. This type is for transfer in and out of a vehicle and cannot be used anywhere else. These allow for direct transfer from a chair to the car seat or vice versa. Transportation is an essential part of keeping seniors social, active, and independent.

Portable Lifts

Portable lifts are lightweight options that collapse for easy transport and storage. This option can be helpful for moving around the house or to and from a car. However, these options are less durable, and therefore do have a lower weight maximum.

Ceiling Lifts

There are two types of ceiling lifts: portable and fixed. Portable ceiling lifts are free-standing, while fixed ceiling lifts are installed into the ceiling. Both options use a motor to lift and transfer patients along a track. These options usually take up less space than other lift options, providing more room for caregivers to access the patients.

Other Lifts

There are many options available on the market. Aside from those already mentioned, there are bariatric lifts (built to handle heavier patients), pool lifts, bath lifts, wheelchair lifts, and sit-to-stand lifts. These choices all have manual and power options. Lifts are usually classified as either professional or home grade and provide different levels of assistance.


Lifts and hoists can vary in price depending on the type of lift, the dealer, and the manufacturer. Many dealers offer payment plans to pay off equipment over time. Comparing dealers and researching local equipment reuse facilities can aid in finding a lift that fits your needs and budget. Additionally, some insurance companies can assist in buying and renting lifts.

Improper lifts and unassisted lifts can be very damaging for both patients and caregivers. They can result in falls, injuries, and chronic pain. Lifts can help ensure the health and safety of those in need of care and the ones doing the care.


For more information on lifts check out these resources:

Patient Lifts for Home Use Help Caregivers Transfer Seniors Safely

Patient Lifts: Safety Guide

Healthy Hive

Recent Articles

Aging in Place
Aging in Place