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Using a Hoyer Lift For Seniors At Home ( The Ultimate Guide )

Using a Hoyer Lift For Seniors At Home ( The Ultimate Guide )

What is a Hoyer Lift?

A Hoyer lift is a fairly large piece of durable medical equipment (DME) that is used to assist a person with severely restricted mobility.

The term “Hoyer” refers to the inventor Ted Hoyer, and “Lift” includes several different types of lifting frames sold by medical equipment companies. Hoyer lifts can be manually operated, hydraulic, or electric and can be a major saver for caregivers’ backs and joints.

What Is A Hoyer Lift Used For?

A Hoyer lift has one general purpose: to assist patients across the lifespan with functional transfers when their bodies are unable to.

Diseases, injuries, and disorders including, but not limited to, paraplegia, quadriplegia, lower extremity amputations, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, compromise patients’ abilities to safely stand and move around independently.

A sling is tucked underneath the patient while lying or sitting down. The sling is then hooked to the metal frame and the operator uses a manual or electric control to lift the patient.

The patient can be easily placed in a chair, in a bed, on the toilet, in the shower, or other surface areas with the touch of a button.

When Should a Hoyer Lift Be Used?

This depends on two things: the type of lift and the type of patient. In regards to general use, a Hoyer lift should only be used with patients who are primarily bed-ridden and require maximum to total assist for all transfers.

If a patient is unable to put the majority (or all) of their body weight through their legs, than a traditional Hoyer lift with a full body sling would be appropriate to use.

If the patient can weight-bear through their legs, but can’t lift their feet in standing to shuffle or to walk, then a standing lift may be beneficial.


What Kinds of Hoyer Lifts Are Available?

Since the invention of the first full-body lift just over 50 years ago, Hoyer and similar medical equipment companies have created a wide variety of lifts to cater to unique patient needs:


Classic Hoyer Hydraulic Lift:

Lift operated via a pumping or cranking lever designed to hold a full-body sling at two points or more.

Classic Hoyer Electric Lift:

Similar to the hydraulic lifts except that the sling can be lifted and dropped via a one-touch remote control.

Stand-Up Lift:

Stand-up lifts can be manually or electrically operated and are designed to pull the patient up into a standing position just long enough to make a transfer to a chair, a bed, a toilet, a shower, and so on.

Ceiling Lift:

A ceiling lift has a lightweight control and motor system that feeds into a track system. The track system has a hook up for the sling so that the user can travel across the room (or even from room to room) in the sling using the ceiling track system.

Many slings can be mixed and matched with the frame. However, some slings have a certain number of pull loops to match the available hooks on the frame (i.e. two-point slings for two hooks, 4-point slings for 4 hooks).

Increased number of loops on a sling are useful for heavier patients and for providing extra bodily support.


Can a Hoyer Lift Be Used By One Person?

Hydraulic and electrical lifts were specifically designed to be operated easily by one person by the use of a control or lever system.

The only part of the process that may require more than one person is getting the sling under the patient in preparation for lifting.

Additionally, it is always wise to have an extra person on hand in the event something goes wrong (i.e. sling slippage, lift malfunction, falls, etc.).


How Much Does a Hoyer Lift Cost?

Depending on the type of lift (power, manual, standing lift, ceiling lift, etc.), Hoyer lifts can cost anywhere between $1,000-$5,000 dollars without insurance coverage.

That usually refers to the lift frame itself. The slings alone can cost several hundred dollars in addition to the frames.


Will Medicare/Medicaid Cover the Cost of a Hoyer Lift?

Medicare does offer partial coverage of manually-operated lifts, but not electric lifts.

Patient who wish to get Medicare coverage must obtain a prescriptive order from their physician and purchase (or rent) a lift from an equipment provider who accepts Medicare insurance.

Hoyer lifts are considered “durable medical equipment”, which are partially covered (up to 80%) using the Medicare B supplemental plan. However, Medicare requires a certain deductible to be met before coverage is available.

Since Medicaid plans are state-mandated and not federally operated, it really depends on what state that patient resides in. With a prescriptive order from a physician, a patient may qualify for partial coverage for a lift.

What Are The Overall Benefits of Having a Hoyer Lift?

Hoyer lifts provide benefits for the both the patient and the caregiver:

Lower Risk for Falls and Accidents:

A Hoyer lift may not completely eliminate human error, but it can reduce it substantially. With proper placement of the sling and safe operation of the lift, caregivers can assist patients with almost all functional transfers.

These means no more slips, stumbles, and ground-level falls during one-on-one (or even two-on-one) transfers.

Reduced Risk for Bodily Injury:

Caregivers, either familial or professional, can reduce the risk of damage to their own bodies that often accumulates after assisting with multiple transfers over the span of several years (i.e. joint pain, lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, spinal damage, nerve compression, etc.).



Hoyer lifts have earned the reputation of being highly effective assets in the healthcare community. Frames and slings can be rented or purchased for home and facility use.

With thorough training, caregivers can move immobile patients with ease while preventing potential falls or injury.

Prior to purchase, future users and caregivers should carefully research available lifts and consult with relevant medical and equipment professional before making a financial commitment.

About Samuel

Samuel is a physical therapist with over 20 years medical experience. He has extensive knowledge in functional rehabilitation in the acute care hospital and in-home care settings. He has spent most of his career helping seniors transition from hospital or rehab care to living independently at home. In his free time he likes to travel and read autobiographies.

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