According to the National Institute on Aging, seniors need just as much sleep as younger adults. This means getting between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. If a senior is uncomfortable because of an inappropriate bed, however, this could prove impossible. A lack of proper sleep could lead to a variety of issues, including illnesses, memory issues, and chronic pain. Learning what types of beds are best for seniors can help elderly persons get a good night’s rest.
Choosing the Mattress for Senior Beds
Choosing the right mattress is something people of any age struggle with because there are so many options. Which one is the right one–an extra firm, firm, fluffy, adjustable, or pillow-top mattress? On top of those options, there are adjustable and non-adjustable mattresses. The right mattress for the elderly, and any adult for that matter, is one that supports the spine properly. It should also support the shoulders, head, and hips. Writing for WebMD, Lisa Zomosky quotes Dr. Arya Nick Shamie of UCLA as noting that a too-firm mattress can put too much pressure on those areas of the body, causing chronic pain and misalignment. On the other hand, a mattress that is too fluffy will not provide enough support. Finding the happy medium is necessary for a proper night’s rest.
Is it Time for a Hospital Bed?
If an elderly loved one’s mobility is restricted or the person has been put in hospice in order to stay comfortable during the last stages of life, a hospital bed is usually the best option. This bed provides the level of comfort the patient needs because it adjusts accordingly. It can help the person sit up to eat if he or she is unable to leave the bed or to sit up and watch television. Hospital beds are easy to move, too. They adjust for easier breathing if the senior has respiratory issues.
Bed Rails Are Sometimes Necessary
No one wants to think about someone they care about being “stuck” in bed. However, sometimes bed rails are necessary for a senior’s safety. Bed rails provide many different benefits, including:
- Prevention from falling out of bed due to confusion or even just rolling over in one’s sleep
- Support for a weakened person to sit up or stand up while getting out of bed
- Something to grab onto while adjusting one’s position in bed without having to call for help or remain uncomfortable
Bed rails come in a variety of different sizes and models. Some only cover a small portion of the bed. Others cover both sides of the bed to keep the senior in so that he or she does not get hurt getting out of bed or while roaming around the house.
Is an Alarm Necessary?
Among the many options available for fall prevention for seniors is the bed alarm. Like bed rails, bed alarms are under quite a bit of scrutiny. Are they necessary? Do family members or caregivers need to monitor every move an elderly person makes? A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that bed alarms did not prevent falls in hospital settings. With or without the alarm, seniors were still getting out of bed when they felt fit to do so. This does not mean a bed alarm will not work for an elderly loved one at home. If using one provides family caregivers with peace of mind that they will know when the loved one has exited the bed, an alarm could be the right choice. There are even alarms that alert family members when an elderly loved one is starting to stir, so they can hurry to prevent a fall before one starts.
Choosing the right bed for a senior loved one depends on the person’s exact needs. The type of mattress and the presence of bed rails and bed alarms depend on the habits, needs, and comfort levels of family caregivers and their charges. It is a fine balance between hampering an elderly person’s independence and keeping him or her safe.
Family caregivers should talk to elderly loved ones about their specific needs. This can help caregivers find a bed that provides the seniors with the seven to nine hours of sleep they need.
National Institute on Aging. A Good Night’s Sleep. National Institutes of Health. Available at https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/good-nights-sleep. Accessed on July 18, 2016.
Schoor, R. I., Chandler, A. M., Mion, L. C., Waters, T. M., Liu, M., Daniels, M. J., Kessler, L. A., Miller, S. T. (November 20. 2016). Effects of an Intervention to Increase Bed Alarm Use to Prevent Falls in Hospitalized Patients. Annals of Internal Medicine, 157(10): 692-699. Available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3549269/. Accessed on July 21, 2016.
Zamosky, Lisa. How to Pick the Perfect Mattress. WebMD. Available at http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/how-to-pick-your-perfect-mattress?page=4. Accessed on July 18, 2016.