Every 11 seconds, there's a senior arriving at an emergency room due to a falling injury. While most of the falls happen when an elderly person is wandering around, many also occur after they've turned in for the night.
Falling from bed becomes more frequent the older we get. There are various reasons why this happens: balance issues when getting up or lying down, rolling out of bed, medication, and disorientation in the middle of the night, just to name a few.
One of the ways to ensure seniors don't get injured while falling off the bed is having a bedside fall mat. However, there is a wide variety on the market, so it's crucial to understand which ones work best.
How to Use Bedside Safety Fall Mats
Proper use of a bedside safety floor mat is necessary for a senior's safety. Size-wise, it's essential that the mattress extends beyond the headboard and is thick enough to cushion the fall. Of course, the bigger the mat, the lower the risk of an injury occurring.
Once you get a falling mattress with the appropriate dimensions, it must be put in place properly. The mat should be located at the side of the bed where the user gets up or might roll toward. If the senior sleeps alone, then it's a nice idea to have the bed leaning against a wall. This way, there's only one side that needs to be covered. However, if a couple sleeps in the same bed, two mattresses will be required, placed on both sides of the bed.
Glow strips can be added to make it easier for the user to see the fall mat, especially during the night. These also aid while assisting a loved one in getting up, as it's necessary to be careful when stepping on the mattress to not trip.
Last but not least, maintenance is necessary to ensure the fall mat retains its quality and lasts longer. The best thing to do is to check the manufacturer's cleaning instructions and act accordingly.
Pros and Cons of Bedside Floor Mats
Like everything in life, fall mats have positive and negative aspects. On the bright side, these mattresses reduce the impact of fall injuries when the senior is getting out of bed or if they roll out of it in the middle of the night. Furthermore, the non-slip materials prevent further falls from happening, and they also provide firm support for the user's feet when they're sitting on the bed.
On the purchase side, it's excellent that there's so much variety. There are different sizes and designs, enabling you to find the perfect mattress for your needs and preferences. Furthermore, the vinyl material covering the fall mat is easy to clean and maintain, and most manufacturers offer warranties and guarantees. There are also more expensive fall mats that come with motion sensors to alert a caregiver if a fall occurs.
That being said, fall mats are not without their faults. Obviously, the best ones are pretty expensive – sometimes crossing the $200 mark. Furthermore, the ones with sensors sell the alert system separately and are not 100% accurate. There are also studies proving that fall mats actually become a falling hazard for seniors when they’re getting up or lying down, which may increase their fall frequency.
How to Choose the Best Bedside Fall Mat
When shopping for a bedside fall mat, research is necessary. Even the cheapest ones are above the $50 mark, so you want to make sure you're putting your money into one that answers your needs.
Of course, the main feature you should look into is how well the mattress reduces the impact in case of a fall. Usually, the thicker the mat, the better. However, it's also necessary to take into consideration the type of material used in the inner core. Moreover, the bottom should be highly textured, so it creates friction between the floor and the mat, preventing it from slipping. At the same time, the cover should grant the best stability possible.
Other important factors to consider are the weight and the overall size of the fall mat. The bedside mattress should always cover the entire length of the bed and be wide enough to take the impact of the senior's full body. However, you don't want to have an oversized fall mat that is too heavy to move. Even if the fall mattress is always going to stay by the bedside, you'll have to clean it regularly.
Recommended Bedside Fall Mats
Drive Medical Tri-Folding Bedside Mat
The Drive Medical Tri-Folding Bedside Mat is comfortable, soft, and practical. It measures 72″ x 30″ x 2″ and weighs three pounds, which combined with the tri-folding feature makes it easy to move around. The mattress is made of high-density foam that absorbs the impact when someone falls on top it, preventing them from injuring themselves. Furthermore, the cover is vinyl, which makes it easier to clean and maintain, and the fall mat has a non-skid bottom to prevent it from sliding on the floor. The amount of stuffing is the only problem since it may not be enough for heavier seniors or for those using tall beds where a fall would be more serious. This bedside mat is also perfect for people who are looking for a more economical option since it only costs around $60.
NYOrtho Bedside Floor Mat
NYOrtho bedside floor mat is another excellent option that protects the bedside completely. It measures 70” x 24” x 1” and weighs around 8.6 pounds. Though it has a lower height compared to the other bedside mats discussed, it's made of high-density foam that can take in a good amount of impact. Furthermore, the edges of the mat are beveled, so the transition to the floor is smoother, decreasing the chance of the user getting off-balance while getting up or laying down and making it easier to use mobility aids. The mattress also has a non-slip texture and an anti-skid back to ensure it doesn't slip on the floor. It's possible to get the NYOrtho beside floor mat standard version for $77 or the foldable one for an extra $10.
Drive Medical Primemat 2.0 Impact Reduction Fall Mat
Drive Medical Primemat 2.0 Impact Reduction fall matt is the most expensive of the list, costing around $140. However, it's for a good reason: it's 72” long, covering the full length of the bed, and it contains 0.75” of high-quality molded polyurethane foam inner core. This high-quality material greatly reduces injuries caused by falling out of bed – something that Drive Medical proved by dropping an egg from five feet above the mat. The egg landed uncracked and undamaged. Moreover, the mattress is made of durable materials, preventing it from getting damaged by a wheelchair rolling on top of it. Drive Medical Primemat 2.0 also comes with a non-slip pattern to ensure safety while the user is getting up or lying down, and it's possible to get it in black or brown.
When a Fall out of Bed Does Happen
While a fall mat eases everyone's minds throughout the night, it's just a safety net. It's pretty scary for a senior to fall from bed during the night, regardless of whether it's because they rolled over while sleeping or were trying to get up to go to the bathroom. Most times, the older adult doesn't have the strength to get up after falling, and the caregiver may be too deeply asleep to wake up to the senior's cries for help. A medical alert system can help with that. Some of these services provide a fall detector piece the user can wear that automatically connects the equipment to the care center if a fall is detected. This way, if the senior falls during the night, assistance is given right away, ensuring the senior's safety. Medical Guardian, Bay Alarm Medical, and Alert1 are some of the companies that offer this type of service and are praised by the senior caregiving community.