Aches and pains are part and parcel of aging. However, you don't have to learn to live with them. You don't have to spend the night tossing and turning, trying to find a position that doesn't hurt as much. And you definitely don't have to dowse painkillers or sleeping pills to find some level of comfort! The right mattress can make a world of difference.
As you age, your body changes, and so does its requirements. What once felt comfortable probably no longer does, especially when it comes to mattresses. If you're not getting a good night's sleep and feel your mattress isn't giving you the support you need, you're in the right place! Because in this complete guide, we explain:
What Our Bodies Need from a Mattress As We Age
Aging brings many physical changes that make it harder to find a comfortable resting position. The most common problems include arthritis/joint pain, muscle sprains, back and neck aches, and overall body stiffness that is quite uncomfortable. A lot of times, a substantial amount of discomfort is attributable to the wrong mattress.
Seniors require optimal comfort during sleep. For them, the ideal mattress will provide enough support to the back and take the stress off certain pressure points to alleviate the discomfort. Generally, seniors should look for a firmer mattress, preferably one with high-quality memory foam or latex foam.
The mattress should have comfort layers to provide optimal support. The right number of layers strengthens the mattress's structural integrity, which is essential for seniors. A spring mattress or one that doesn't have enough firm yet soft support spread evenly throughout causes backaches.
Make sure you opt for high-density foam with ample support layers and a soft cushiony touch. If the top is hard, it may aggravate hip, back, and neck pain for seniors. We suggest you don't steer towards the cheaper mattress options when buying one for aged adults. Try out the mattress, read through its specifications, and test it for a while before coming to a decision.
Ideally, all seniors should find an adjustable mattress, especially if you suffer from acid reflux or sleep apnea. You can also seek help from your doctor about what kind of mattress is ideal for you. However, if your doctor hasn't made any specific recommendations, you can read through our guide to find one right for you.
Different Types of Mattresses for Seniors
No two people sleep the same, which is why making a mattress purchase can be very challenging. Everyone has different needs. Some people sleep a little warm, and thus, they look for mattresses that can keep them cool, others look for medicated mattresses to help with certain painful conditions.
Memory Foam Mattress
Memory foam mattresses are one of the most popular mattress options for everyone. Their fame is attributable to their excellent support-providing ability. Memory foam is incredibly responsive to the body's contours. It is not just highly responsive but is soft and energy absorbent as well.
By contouring to the body, memory foam helps distribute the weight evenly. At no point during your sleep will you feel like any part of the body is under distress. Many people complain about memory foam being a little too soft, but there are many models out there that are firm yet soft to the touch.
To find the right memory foam mattress, you must try it out. Some mattresses come with a firm base with a memory foam layer. They are firmer than just memory foam mattresses for many aged adults. Some even come with a gel-infused layer that helps keep the mattress cool, which is one of the biggest complaints of memory foam.
The options are endless with memory foam, and with engineering advancements, you can effortlessly find one that provides the best support and comfort.
Inner Spring Mattress
Perhaps innerspring mattresses are the second most common mattress types. Many seniors prefer spring mattresses over memory foam as low-quality foam, or an ill-maintained one tends to sag. It also remains cooler than foam throughout the night, making it a comfortable option for many.
However, spring mattresses do not distribute weight as evenly as foam. If the mattress doesn't have enough coils, the sleeper may find themselves waking up in odd positions as they struggle to find a comfortable position throughout the night.
If you can find one with the ideal number of coils that manages to keep your spine aligned all night, it may be the right mattress for you.
Latex mattresses are a lot more elastic than traditional memory foam mattresses, so they don't let the body sink and offer it ideal support. The mattress hugs the body and alleviates stress off pressure points.
Latex foam also has better air ventilation than other mattresses. It can help keep the body cool, ensuring a good night's rest, especially for those who get really warm during their sleep. Another significant advantage of latex is that it is dust mite resistant, and hypoallergenic.
Overall it is a good option for all seniors unless they have special preferences. They are also naturally fire-resistant, making them ideal for those with limited mobility.
Hybrid mattresses are a cross between different types of mattresses. So they could feature a layer of gel and a layer of foam, or they could have a layer of foam over coils. They essentially combine the features of two, maybe even three different mattresses.
For seniors looking for something a little more personalized, hybrid mattresses are the ideal option. You can find one that provides perfect pressure point relief, the desired level of softness, and optimal air circulation as well.
Air and Water Beds
Where air mattresses are still widely available, water beds make up a very small percentage of overall mattress production and sales. They are not exceptionally comfortable as not many prefer the motion of water as they turn in their sleep.
However, air mattresses are pretty comfortable. They are inflatable, durable, and long-lasting. They are also on the firmer side and don't have that soft cushiony feel many prefer, but they are ideal for spine alignment.
The main problem with air beds is that they require substantial maintenance and care. If you puncture the mattress, the air will leak out, and you may find yourself sleeping on the bed frame. You will also have to keep an eye on the air pressure, which increases the maintenance requirements. Plus, you cannot use it with an adjustable bed, which becomes a necessity for many aged adults later on.
FAQs: Mattresses for Older Adults
If you have arthritic joints or back pain, then your doctor will recommend a firmer mattress for optimal comfort. Sleeping on softer mattresses with these conditions puts a lot more stress on the spine than is preferable.
Make sure you opt for a high-density memory or latex foam, or you can get 'medicated mattresses' that are quite firm. However, keep in mind that they can be a touch uncomfortable in the beginning and do not suit everyone.
The soft or firm mattress debate is a never-ending one. We aren't here to put an end to it either because your choice will depend upon your preferences. While aging joints are almost unavoidable, not everyone has the same kind of arthritis or the same level of discomfort. Your weight, your sleeping habits like your preferred sleeping position all contribute to your final choice.
A mattress that is too soft can cause unnecessary strain on the spine, aggravating back pain. If the mattress is a little too firm, it can put too much pressure on the back and joints, causing muscle stiffness and soreness. You will have to find one that offers the firmness level that suits your body's requirements.
Memory foam mattresses are suitable for seniors looking for pressure-relieving support. The mattress will conform to the body's outline more closely than most other options available. It also contains multiple layers that offer energy absorption and a substantial amount of motion transfer control, making it a perfect choice for those who share the bed with a partner.
Foam mattresses offer the best support. The right foam mattress can evenly distribute body weight and offer optimal support. As mentioned earlier, high-density memory foam is an excellent option. The layering system of foam mattresses allows the spine to maintain its natural curvature abut yet be in a resting position.
If you are looking for something high-tech, then you can look at Latex foam mattresses. They are dust resistant and free of any allergenic materials. They are also environmentally friendly and offer good support to the body.
Memory foam mattresses are ideal for those looking for a solution for pressure sores. The mattress layers make it a little denser, increasing its firmness without compromising on the soft feel. The foam has just enough give to provide the body a comfortable sink but is firm enough to support the body weight. It wraps around the body's shape and relieves stress from problem pressure areas.
A memory foam mattress must be of excellent quality to provide the benefits mentioned above. If you buy low quality, low-density mattress, it will end up doing more harm than good. The foam will start to sag where there is excess pressure and mess up the weight distribution mechanism.
If you suffer from pressure sores, it would be best to lie down on the mattress before you purchase it. It will give you an idea of how effective using a particular mattress can be and its comfort level. You could also ask for one specifically designed to help people suffering from pressure sores.
Medicare does cover mattresses under Medicare part B. However, for it to fall under the covered category of durable medical equipment, you will have to get a doctor's prescription. The mattress must also serve a specific medical purpose or advantage. It must also be necessary to preserve your everyday health.
It is fairly easy to get Medicare coverage for adjustable beds and suitable mattresses. However, you will have to ask your doctor for a prescription before you can make a claim.
It is hard to pick one ideal mattress for seniors conclusively. Everybody has different needs and different preferences. Some may be looking for a low maintenance option, others for comfort, some for a cool mattress, and so on. Whatever your requirements may be, make sure your choice of mattress does not increase muscle, back, or joint pain.
We suggest you try to find the right memory foam mattress if you aren't looking for something very firm. You could also look at good hybrid mattresses that are firmer than regular foam but offer the same body-conforming property. They relieve pressure from the joints and muscles and offer a substantial amount of support.
Stay away from innerspring or coil mattresses. They can be very uncomfortable and do not offer ideal body support. The uneven weight distribution, poor motion control, and other properties make it a not so ideal option for seniors.
We hope our complete senior's guide helps you better understand the kind of mattress suited to your needs.