Most people will agree that bathrooms and kitchens are more dangerous places for the elderly than bedrooms. And while most home accidents indeed happen in those places, seniors usually spend much more time in their bedrooms.
And believe me, a non-senior-friendly bedroom holds many hazards for the elderly. Some of them are really hard to spot, especially for seniors who suffer from vision impairments or have difficulties moving around.
Fortunately, by taking bedroom safety for seniors seriously you can prevent the vast majority of falls and injuries.
In this post, I’ll share with you the main causes of bedroom accidents and the exact measures you should take to prevent them. At the end of the article, you’ll find even more tips on how you can make bedrooms a safer place for the elderly.
So how can you improve bedroom safety for seniors and prevent accidents? In brief:
- First of all, make sure the bedroom is well-lit and organized.
- Eliminate all the obstacles to avoid falls and injuries.
- Make sure all the commonly used items are within reach.
- To further enhance safety install grab bars and small bed rails (only if necessary) and keep a walker next to the bed.
- Also, consider buying an affordable portable toilet to avoid hazardous night walks to the bathroom.
And now let’s dive in!
Install Safety Grab Bars Next to the Bed and the Doors
Elderly people who are unsteady or have mobility difficulties can benefit a lot from grab bars. Navigation is a lot safer with these safety devices as they help seniors maintain their balance while moving around.
Installing a grab bar is not difficult at all and it can make a real difference in preventing falls. Bars are usually installed on the walls next to the bed and the doors, but you can place them wherever they’re needed. However, after installing, always make sure they’re firm and stable.
Sometimes a floor-to-ceiling security pole can be a better choice, especially when you want extra support in the middle of the bedroom. To further improve safety, you can use security poles instead of or in addition to grab bars. When buying, look for adjustable models that have a high weight capacity.
You can read more on fall prevention here.
Make Sure the Bedroom Has Enough Light
Seniors often suffer from some kind of visual impairment. A well-lit bedroom reduces the chance of falling due to an unnoticed object. Make sure lighting is adequate in the whole room at any time of the day with particular attention to the area around the bed and the way to the entrance door.
Many bedroom accidents happen at night when seniors wake up to visit the toilet. Unfortunately, darkness and poor eyesight often lead to falls. Make sure your elderly loved one can switch on the light directly from the bed. If it’s not possible, consider transforming the already existing lighting system of the bedroom so that it can be controlled remotely, or just purchase a wired or wireless lamp with remote control. Alternatively, you can install a rechargeable touch light within reach from the bed.
Another solution could be using a flashlight or clap-activated lights which are only recommended if your loved one sleeps alone (being woken up by someone clapping next to you in the middle of the night is certainly not a pleasant experience).
Finally, don’t forget about the path to the bathroom: lighting should be adequate along the way until the bathroom door.
Eliminate Obstacles in the Bedroom and Make Sure Commonly Used Items are Easy to Access
Navigation can be a real challenge for elderly people in a crowded bedroom. Clear all the unnecessary stuff out of the room to get tidy, large spaces. Eliminate all the obstacles and cluttered cords that may lead to falling. In the end, you want to get enough room to easily move around. Pay special attention to the area around the bed. If you want to rearrange the room, before doing that always ask your loved ones’ opinion about it. What are their preferences?
Also, eliminate all the slippery mats from the bedroom and check for wrinkled carpets and other tripping hazards. Always use non-slip rugs and flooring or non-slip grip mats.
Keep frequently used items within reach and always in the same place so that your loved ones can remember easier. Don’t place often-used items too low or too high because seniors can lose their balance while bending or standing on a chair or ladder.
Bed Rails Can Prevent Sudden Falls Out of Bed but They Should Be Used with Caution
Bed rails not only help to avoid injuries by preventing rolling off the bed but also make changing position and getting out of bed much easier. Often smaller models are a better choice: they significantly improve safety and provide just enough support. You can install them on both sides of the bed if your loved one lives alone and the bed is not located next to a wall.
Always use bed rails with caution, especially in the case of seniors with dementia. To avoid entrapment never use a bed rail until you make sure that your loved ones can’t get any part of their body through the bed rail because that could lead to serious consequences.
It’s good to know that both removable and permanent models exist and installing sometimes can be as easy as sliding the rail between the box spring and the mattress.
When purchasing a bed rail always choose a sturdy one with the right weight limit and non-slip hand grips. Double-check for stability after installing. You can opt for a model with an adjustable height if you think it would better suit your loved one’s needs.
For traveling purposes, you can buy a portable bed rail that’s lightweight and easy to carry and install.
Sometimes using a low bed can be a better solution than rails. Lowering the bed considerably reduces the risk of injuries, however, keep in mind that getting out of a very low bed can cause difficulties for seniors with weak muscles.
If you don’t want to use bed rails you can also try placing a pool noodle inside the mattress pad at the edge of the bed. This can serve as a minor barrier and can prevent seniors from rolling off the bed.
Make sure you don’t miss our comprehensive article about the best ways to prevent seniors from falling out of bed.
Consider Applying Portable Toilets
Seniors usually go to the bathroom several times a night. If visiting the toilet causes difficulties for your loved one, an affordable portable toilet can be the solution. This way your relatives can avoid night walks that are always hazardous for seniors.
Portable toilets come in different sizes, so make sure you opt for one that is large and comfortable enough for your loved one. Models with arms provide additional support when getting on and off.
If you decide to buy a portable toilet, place it close to the bed, and don’t forget to have hand sanitizer and toilet paper next to it.
More Tips on Bedroom Safety for Seniors
- If your loved one has mobility difficulties, keeping a walker with or without wheels beside the bed can prevent nighttime slips and falls. Make sure your elderly loved one can use the walker properly (here’s a detailed guide with videos). If you decide on getting a walker, don’t forget to check out our article on the best narrow walkers.
- Too high beds can be uncomfortable to climb and unsafe when getting off.
- Install a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide alarm in the bedroom. Read more about fire safety for seniors here.
- Make sure your loved ones wear tight enough clothes at night. Loose ones can be a tripping hazard.
- You can place a sturdy chair in the bedroom so that your loved ones can sit down while dressing or if they get tired.
- Gift non-slip socks and non-slip slippers or shoes with nonskid soles to your loved ones.
- It’s a good idea to round sharp corners in the room to avoid injuries.
- Always make sure your loved one uses the electric blanket the right and safe way.
- Eliminate or secure unstable dressers and cabinets to the wall to prevent tipping over.
- Make sure door thresholds are low enough. High ones can be tripping hazards.
- Remove any easily flammable materials or liquids and sources of flame from the bedroom.
- Discourage smoking in the bedroom, because seniors often fall asleep easily and suddenly. If they do this while smoking in bed, the consequences could be devastating.
- Call your loved one’s attention to never leave a burning candle unattended (using electric candles would be a safer solution).
- Consider installing a medical alert button in the bedroom and encourage your loved ones to always keep their cell phone within reach after going to bed. However, setting up a corded phone beside the bed is often a better idea because unlike a cell phone it will never be discharged. Check out our article on the best medical alert watches.