Caring for an elderly parent can sometimes be like caring for a child - you have to take extra steps to ensure their safety, not only because they are unable to do so themselves, but also because even the smallest injury can be challenging to deal with in old age. In this article, we provide a comprehensive list of bed safety tips for the elderly that family and caregivers can implement.
With old age comes failing strength and other conditions such as arthritis that limit one's mobility range. It also makes getting in and out of bed, walking around in the room, sitting down and getting up substantially challenging.
Painful conditions also increase the risk of falls and injuries for seniors, which become the leading cause of emergency room visits. Some falls can even prove fatal because the person falling has no control over where they land. It is better to improve the safety features in the bedroom to minimize the risk of falling.
There are many different kinds of safety features and tools you can install to enhance bedroom safety. Below we highlight some of the most important ones and a few tips to help you stay on top of safety requirements for your beloved seniors.
What is the Best Type of Bed for Seniors' Safety?
As mentioned earlier, getting in and out of bed is particularly challenging and painful for most seniors. Almost all aged adults have arthritis, which weakens the joints and also results in painful joint inflammation. From the elbows, knuckles, knees, and even the ankles' joints all become excruciatingly painful.
While medication can help lower inflammation and deal with the pain, it does not restore the full range of motion. Here, you can make slight changes to the bedroom to ensure a senior-friendly setting. One such change is installing an adjustable bed.
An adjustable bed is ideal for seniors. It allows you to raise the head of the mattress and gives the seniors a little lift that reduces the amount of strength required to get up from the bed or lower down. Both these actions require some core strength and arm muscle that most seniors don't have enough of.
By installing an adjustable bed, you also reduce the level of dependence a senior has on family or their caregivers. The bed is also very functional for those suffering from sleep disorders or other health problems a raised bed can solve.
How High Should a Bed Be for an Elderly Person?
Bed height is another essential safety detail to consider. How high or low a bed will depend on the user's height and the severity of their condition. Too low a bed can mean placing unnecessary stress on one's joints when attempting to get up. The more strength the senior uses, the harder it is for them to stabilize themselves once they stand up.
A bed too high can also increase the chances of accidents. It makes reaching the floor substantially challenging. The seniors will have to rely on body strength to find stable footing, and they may topple over and fall face-first to the floor.
Here again, an adjustable bed can be a blessing. They come with a height-adjustable feature allowing you to personalize the bed as per the user's preferences.
What is the Best Type of Mattress for Seniors' Safety?
The choice of the mattress depends upon various factors, including medical conditions. A senior suffering from back pain or arthritis will prefer a different mattress to those suffering from sleep disorders only. The user will also have to take into account their partner's preferences if they share the bed.
However, preferences aside, from a safety point of view, a firm mattress is best for seniors. It provides the best support to the user not only when they are asleep but also when attempting to get up. Where a softer mattress compresses as a response to pressure, a firm mattress holds its shape well and provides a somewhat solid ground for the senior to use for support.
How to Keep the Elderly from Falling Out of Bed: Best Practices
Yes, the elderly falling out of bed is a possibility, especially as they attempt to get out of bed in the middle of the night to make their way to the bathroom. As the body ages, muscles and joints start to tense up, and they become particularly stiff when you wake up. The stiffness limits one's range of motion, making it harder for the elderly just to swing their legs and get out of bed.
To prevent accidents, consider installing a safety rail or bed bumper. Many hospital beds feature safety rails ensuring the user doesn't fall off the bed as they attempt to get up. It also reduces the risk of the senior toppling over in their sleep as that is also a possibility.
Make sure the bed sheets are all neatly tucked under the mattress at all times. It is best if you find ones with elastic that fit securely over the mattress. A loose sheet is not just uncomfortable but also dangerous. It increases the chances of the elderly tripping on it and falling.
How to Keep the Elderly from Sliding Down in Bed: Practical Tips
We love a few extra pillows on the bed as they make the room look Pinterest worthy and extremely comfortable! However, they are a safety hazard for aging adults. They can result in the senior slipping down the bed. Make sure you remove all extra bedding and pillows from the bed and keep the bare essentials only.
Make sure you use sturdy non-slippery sheets. Silk is not exactly old age-friendly bed sheet material. The sheet must be soft but not slippery, so cotton is the perfect material. You should also secure diapers sheets or other accessories securely to the bed to prevent the senior from slipping.
Best Bed Accessories to Keep a Senior Safe in Bed
You can effortlessly avoid all the problems mentioned above by installing a few accessories to promote safe, independent living. An adjustable bed is a must-have for all seniors. It can really alleviate a substantial amount of discomfort for the user and enhance bedroom safety.
Besides an adjustable bed, there are a few other accessories that you must consider installing in the bedroom for added security.
Bed rails for seniors
As mentioned above, bed rails can be very beneficial for the aging adult. Most adjustable beds feature bed rails, but if they don't, you can get one separately as well. A bed rail can either cover the full length of the bed or just half of it. We suggest you go for the one that covers only half as it is more functional.
A bed rail ensures the adult doesn't fall off the bed in their sleep. It also provides the user with much-needed support when attempting to get out of bed. The elderly can grab onto the rail to push themselves up and hold on to it till they establish secure footing.
The rail also becomes a blessing for many as they make their way back to the step. If you have a senior living in your home, you will understand how excruciating the last few steps can be. The railing can act as a walking aid in those final few steps making it an ideal safety accessory.
Bed Bumpers for Seniors
For those seniors who find railing uncomfortable, a bed bumper might do the trick. A bumper is a foam bed rail with the same function as a rail but is substantially more comfortable. It also eliminates the chances of hair getting stuck in the rail as you put it up or lower it.
A bed bumper is a foam boundary that you will attach to the mattress and cover with the bed sheet to secure the bumpers in place. They are ideal not only for seniors but also for children who move a lot when they sleep and can hit their head on the rail.
However, they may make getting out of bed a little tricky. You can lower a bed rail, but you cannot lower a bed bumper in the middle of the night.
Bed Sensors for Seniors
Bed sensors are the best safety accessory for seniors with limited mobility. It can help the caregiver identify when and if the senior moves or falls of the bed. There are different types of sensors. Some get triggered by weight shift, other by movements. They come with alarms that alert the caregiver of any activity that can be dangerous for the senior.
You can also get a wireless monitor that allows the caretaker to watch or listen to the adult's movements. Combined with the bed pad and the sensor, these safety features can alert the caregiver or loved ones of movement. It will help them assist their loved ones better and can also avoid accidents.
Bedroom Safety: Tips for Keeping a Seniors' Bedroom Safe
Ideally, you should focus on bedroom safety and not just bed safety. Here are a few tips you can use to keep seniors safe.
- 1Install carpets on the floor to reduce the risk of slipping. If the senior doesn't like carpet, then make sure they use anti-skid or anti-slip slippers to minimize the risk of slipping.
- 2Install a stable and sturdy nightstand that the seniors can use for support when getting up and walking around. Tape some cardboard or pieces of cardboard under the legs to ensure the table doesn't move or slip as the senior uses it as a walking aid.
- 3Bed placement can also make a world of difference. Ensure the bed is as close to the bathroom as possible to reduce the distance the senior has to cover.
- 4Place a comfortable armchair by the closet. Doing so will ensure the senior has a place to sit and change their clothes comfortably. They can also grab onto the furniture to make their way across the room.
- 5Install walking rails across the walls. For many seniors, rails are a must-have as they cannot make their way across the room without walking aid. For others, it can be an added safety feature in the room, making the space more accessible for the senior.
- 6Install light sensors in the place that illuminate the way to the bathroom. They will automatically light up when they sense movement, which is ideal for aging adults as it reduces the chances of tripping.
- 7Make sure all electrical cords are neatly tucked away. It is easy for us to step over them, and yet we trip sometimes. For aging adults, it becomes a safety hazard.
- 8Ensure all side lamp switches are easily accessible. If the control is hard to reach or the lamp is located at a distance, it can be an inconvenience for the aging adult.
- 9De-clutter the room. If you can remove one of the side tables, or decorative lamps, then remove them. It is better if the senior has access to every inch of the room freely. Having to zig-zag their way across the room can be difficult, painful, and dangerous.
- 10Keep a flashlight nearby. In the case of power outages, a flashlight at hand can be very helpful for the elderly. Installing an emergency or night light is also an excellent way to enhance bedroom safety.
Safety always comes first because precaution is better than regret. Paying a little attention to bedroom safety can help prevent painful accidents for your beloved seniors and a lot of stress for you. Just as we baby proof our house, we should also consider senior proof the house to make sure we can keep them safe, happy, and healthy.
Make sure you get an adjustable bed with a safety bed rail or bumper. Keep the room and neat and minimalistic as possible. Pay extra attention to furniture placement and light installation. Ensure everything is accessible, and there are ample surfaces for the senior to hold on to help them move around, and you should be good to go.