13 Best Ways to Prevent an Elderly Person from Falling Out of Bed
I think you agree with me when I say that falling out of bed is not a pleasant experience. However, it’s quite common among elderly people (source). Sometimes it can lead to severe injuries and it’s particularly dangerous when it happens frequently. Seniors are much more vulnerable to falls than younger adults so in their case prevention is especially important.
In this post I’ll share with you all the best, proven methods to successfully stop your elderly loved one from rolling off the bed. Many of them are easy to implement and don’t require much time and effort.
So how to prevent seniors from falling out of bed?
You can prevent seniors from falling out of bed by using pool noodles, bedside wedges or body pillows. Special mattress or mattress cover with a raised perimeter can also help. Small, non-restrictive bed rails are highly effective and they provide additional support when getting out of the bed.
Keep in mind that when it comes to fall prevention, improving your loved one’s health can significantly contribute to success.
And now let’s see the details:
Simple pool noodles can serve as bumpers on both sides of the bed. Just place them inside the mattress pad or under the sheet. They serve as small and subtle barriers that indicate the edges of the bed and can prevent rolling off while sleeping.
One of the most effective solutions to prevent seniors from falling out of the bed is installing bed rails on both sides of the bed (obviously, if the bed is next to the wall or your loved one doesn’t sleep alone you’ll only need one rail).
Bed rails don’t have to be restrictive, big or ugly. Actually, in most cases, the smaller, compact ones are a better choice when it comes to fall prevention.
You can choose from permanent and detachable models. The latter ones are more popular as they’re very easy to both install and remove.
A sturdy and small U-shaped bed rail can be a great choice for those who don’t want anything obtrusive. It can be installed easily by sliding it between the box spring and the mattress and it successfully prevents falls. When buying always check the weight limit and opt for an adjustable model.
Rails not only prevent seniors from falling out of the bed but also help them to get out of it easier because they can serve as a handrail that seniors can use to pull themselves up.
Bed rails can be really effective, however, they always should be used with caution in the case of elderly people with dementia to avoid entrapment.
Concave mattresses with built-in raised edges can prevent falling out of bed while sleeping. However, at the same time they make it somewhat harder to get out of the bed, so always consider your elderly loved one’s actual health status before buying one.
If you want something similar to a concave mattress but don’t have the budget, you can opt for a safety mattress cover. This item features bolsters to stop seniors from falling out of the bed.
A mattress cover can be a cheaper solution than buying a new mattress and has pretty much the same efficacy.
As an alternative to bed rails, you can opt for soft rails, also called bedside wedges. They usually made of foam and come in different sizes so you can choose the most appropriate model for your loved one. Wedges can effectively prevent sudden night falls from the bed.
You can place a specially designed safety mat or a foam mattress next to the bed to reduce the impact when a fall happens. Keep in mind that thick mattresses can be a tripping hazard.
Note that this solution doesn’t reduce the frequency of falls but can prevent injuries and their negative consequences.
One of the most budget-friendly solutions is placing one or two thick body pillows on the sides of the bed. Sometimes they can do the job pretty well, so it’s worth trying.
If you want to know how you can make the whole bedroom much safer for seniors, don’t forget to check our all-in-one guide on bedroom safety.
The appropriate height of the bed is your elderly loved one’s knee level. Getting off from a high bed can easily result in a sudden fall because of losing balance. On the other hand, rising from a too low bed can be exhausting for seniors with weak muscles.
Certain types of medication like hypnotics, sedatives, benzodiazepines, and antidepressants can contribute to nighttime falls. Some drugs can cause balance issues, disorientation or even confusion that can lead to accidents and injuries.
Regularly review your loved one’s medication with a health professional, especially if falls happen frequently.
Visual impairments, like cataract and glaucoma, affect many seniors and can significantly increase the risk of falling. It’s especially true at night when there’s not enough light and it’s hard to notice obstacles around the bed. It’s a good practice to get vision checked at least once a year.
Sometimes seniors need something from the nightstand and while trying to reach it, all of a sudden they lose their balance. Older adults who suffer from poor balance and mobility difficulties are more prone to falling from the bed. As a preventive measure make sure your loved one has all the things she or he might need at night within reach.
Doing some fall-prevention exercises regularly can significantly improve muscle strength, mobility, and balance in the long term.
You want to have a clean, clutter-free area around your elderly loved one’s bed. Seniors often wake up at night and visit the toilet. During these nighttime visits, they’re still sleepy and try to get to the bathroom without proper alertness.
The absence of bright enough night lights and unnecessary stuff around the bed can promote accidents. Often falls can be prevented just by installing night lights and removing obstacles.
According to the statistics seniors with some type of cognitive impairment, especially those who suffer from Alzheimer’s dementia, are at a much higher risk of falling regardless of the time of the day (source).
If your loved one suffers from dementia you want to be extremely thorough when it comes to fall prevention. Depending on the severity of the disease you may want to take multiple precautions at the same time to prevent falling from the bed.
Dementia is not reversible but its progression can be slowed down. However, for this purpose, you’ll need to regularly visit a psychiatrist with your loved one to evaluate the current condition and suggest proper therapy.
Protecting seniors from falling out of bed is an achievable goal. As always, the best approach is to consider the possible causes of the falls, your loved ones’ needs and condition and make changes accordingly.
Always talk to your loved ones about the precautions you’re planning to take. Ask about their suggestions and respect their opinion.
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