Getting in and out of bed is something most people take for granted. But for senior citizens, this daily task can prove to be a potential hazard if the bed is too high or too low.
The bed should be set at a height that makes it easy for you, a loved one, or a friend to climb in and out of bed easily to avoid potential falls that can lead to serious injuries. In this article, we’ll discuss what the ideal bed height is for the elderly and provide tips for increasing bed safety.
What is the Best Bed Height for the Elderly?
You’ll find that there isn’t necessarily a one-height-fits-all solution to the question: What is the best bed height for the elderly? Several factors go into determining how high or low to set your bed. Some common factors include:
- Medical conditions
- Physical condition
According to the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, the proper bed height should be 20 to 23 inches from the floor to the top of the mattress. While this can be used as a good starting point, this recommendation is based on people who are confined to wheelchairs and may not be the best height for seniors.
The average bed height is about 25 inches; however, that’s for the average person, and most seniors will need their beds lowered for safety. Seniors should consider a bed height of about 16 to 24 inches, although height can dictate whether it needs to be higher or lower.
Guidelines for the Best Bed Height for Seniors
You may need to lower or raise the bed height depending on your comfort levels and for safety reasons. When you sit on the edge of the bed, you should be able to comfortably reach the floor with your feet and have your legs at a 90-degree angle.
If your legs are dangling, you should lower the bed height so you don’t risk falling when you get out of bed. Beds that are too short, meanwhile, will cause your knees to rise above your hips, which can also make it more difficult to get out of bed, especially if you have mobility issues.
According to Mattress Clarity, the average person’s knee height is about 16 to 24 inches. So, if your knee height is only 16 inches, you should consider lowering the bed to the appropriate level.
How to lower a Bed for an Elderly Person
If your bed is too high, here are some simple tips to lower it to create a safer environment. Some examples include:
Removing the wheels
If your bed frame has wheels to make it moveable, consider removing the wheels and placing the corners of the frame on rubber furniture caster cups with an anti-slipping floor grip. An extra inch or two may be all you need to get your bed to a comfortable height.
Cutting the legs shorter
If the bed is on a wooden frame, you, a friend, or a family member can cut the four wooden legs to make them shorter.
Installing new slats
If you want to keep the bed frame intact but lower the height of the bed, hire a handyman to build slats that are indented downward. This will keep the frame intact but will lower the overall height of the bed.
Buying a new bed frame
Although a significantly more expensive option, consider purchasing a new bed frame that meets your needs.
Using a stool
If the bed is too high and you need a solution in a pinch, consider adding a stool or a step to help you get out of bed. However, we only recommend this as a temporary solution as it could cause a fall if the stool is knocked over.
Signs that your Bed is Too High
- When you sit on the edge of the bed, your feet dangle or cannot fully grasp the floor. The proper bed height should allow you to have your feet fully on the floor and your legs at a 90-degree angle.
- You need to jump or lunge in the bed. This is obviously not the safest way for a senior citizen to get into bed, especially those who suffer from health issues such as arthritis.
- You need a stool.
- You have a history of falling out of bed at night.
Signs that your bed is too low
- When you sit on the edge of the bed, your knees rise above your hips. This awkward position can make it more difficult to get out of bed and can increase the chances of falling, especially among the elderly.
- You frequently feel sore or tired from the strain of getting out of bed at an awkward angle.
Tips for Increasing Bed Safety for Seniors
Fortunately, there are some easy ways to increase bed safety among seniors. They include:
Handrails are a great way to provide support when you’re getting in and out of bed. They can also prevent you from falling out of bed while you’re sleeping.
Buying a firm mattress
Firm mattresses can absorb most of a body’s pressure to provide less strain on muscles while improving circulation. A firm mattress also makes it easier to get out of bed in the morning.
Making lighting accessible
If you wake up frequently during the night and don’t have proper lighting available, it can cause trips and falls, especially among senior citizens. Consider installing clap-on lights, or smart lights that can be controlled from your phone with the touch of a button. You can also place a lamp directly next to your bed or turn a nightlight on.
Many senior citizens are vibrant and active, spending their days socializing with friends and visiting their children and grandchildren. But aging can increase the risks of being injured, especially in the bedroom. An easy way to keep safe is to ensure your bed is the appropriate height. If your legs are at a 90-degree angle when you sit on the edge of your bed, you should be able to comfortably get out. But if you find yourself in an awkward position when you get in and out of bed, reach out to a family member or friend to help you adjust your bed to the appropriate height.