People tend to associate the danger of falling out of bed with young children and while it is certainly a frequent problem, do not forget that elderly people can also experience similar issues, often with devastating consequences. Not only could they roll out of bed in their sleep, they could also experience bad falls when attempting to lie down or stand up without the physical strength to properly support themselves. According to the CDC, falls are the number one cause of injury for seniors, and a tumble from bed could be serious and even fatal when the body is already weakened by age. Taking preventative measures is crucial and installing handles or railings for support could mean all the difference in the world.
Types of Bed Rails and Handles
Coping with the straining process of sitting and standing can be a daily struggle for the elderly and they may require the help of a spouse or caretaker, losing a part of their independence as a result. However, having something solid to hold on to in the vicinity of the bed could spare a lot of pain while protecting their dignity, in addition to limiting any greater danger at the same time. A conveniently placed nightstand, however, will not suffice. Using furniture as support should always be avoided as they are not meant to hold the weight of a person, and neither are they safely bolted down.
The most responsible choice is to invest in proper equipment. Hospital beds are an option, but they are expensive and often unnecessary. It makes more sense to look for a solution that adds the needed features to the existing bed that you already have. There are a multitude of different bed rails available that can be fitted to most bedframes, but the best are those that can be installed tool-free. As far as stability goes, the difficulty of the installation does not necessarily correlate with the level of safety provided, so keep that in mind before choosing a product.
Bed safety handles that can easily be removed are more convenient when it comes to cleaning or changing the sheets. There are rails that work with adjustable beds like Sleep Number, while others do not. In the case of bed assist bars with supports on the floor, it is advisable to look out for the minimum and maximum heights, especially if you have non-typical bed size. There are multifunctional products that rotate, can be extended across the bed, or fold down, although some railings are wide enough to keep the elderly from falling off the bed in their sleep without needing to be adjusted.
Recommended Bed Rails for Elderly
Medline Bed Assist Bar With Storage Pocket
Essential Medical Supply Height Adjustable Hand Bed Rail
Drive Medical Adjustable Height Home Bed Assist Handle
Tips for Getting in and out of Bed
The most important thing to remember is that you should not use a nightstand for support. If you are unable to get to your feet without help and do not have a handle to provide aid, then the safest alternative is to ask someone for help. Of course, this situation is just what most people would rather avoid and it is not exactly convenient anyway, especially if the need to visit the bathroom in the middle of the night arises. But safety should always be your primary concern.
If you opt for installing equipment to provide aid, then you should first carefully consider the best way to position the bed rail. Most assist bars can be used on either side of the bed, so it should be installed wherever you would usually stand. The spot to place the handle in should also be determined by your own comfort, since there is no universally correct way to use a safety handle it is better to go with a method that feels right to you.
Some people like to have the bar around shoulder height, while others find it more comfortable to have it by their waist. If rolling off the bed in your sleep is an issue, then it would be smart to purchase a bar that can be extended to the sides. This feature may cost quite a lot, however, so the next best thing you can do is position a narrower bar further down so it keeps your hips on the mattress.
When it comes to the process of standing, you should always start by rolling onto your side, facing the direction that you will be getting up in. Do not struggle to sit up in bed before you have had the chance to slide your feet off. Once your legs are down far enough, straightening up will be much easier and you will be able to pull yourself upright with the help of the rail, at which point the bar can be used to push yourself into a standing position.
Go the Extra Mile
Counting on every eventuality is the safest bet. Accidents can happen at any time regardless of the steps taken to prevent them, even after installing a bed assist handle or ensuring there is nothing underfoot to trip on. As such, for those unfortunate situations it is wise to have something like a medical alert system or a bed alarm as extra safety nets. Wearable fall detection buttons are especially useful since immediate help can be dispatched in an emergency, even if the wearer of the button is unable to move or talk after a fall.
These emergency buttons automatically connect to the call center of the service provider and the trained operators can alert paramedics to the emergency. Help will arrive to the wearer’s location thanks to the GPS built into the button and their medical history will already have been given to the paramedics prior to their arrival. All in all, a medical alert system is well worth the investment and it could prevent tragedy by getting help to those in need before it is too late.