Getting in and out of bed is a daily task that may become challenging as you grow older. But luckily, you can get yourself or your loved one a bed rail to enhance their safety and independence.
Read on to learn important information about bed rails, including their benefits and considerations for choosing the right products.
Why Use Bed Rails?
Old age makes getting out of bed a struggle, which means that your independence is also greatly affected. If you or your loved one are struggling to get in or out of bed, you can consider getting a bed rail.
Bed rails provide support and stability when you want to turn, sit, or lie in bed. They also allow you to safely get on and off the bed without much difficulty. This means you won’t have to rely on others to help you perform this daily task. Besides that, many other benefits come with bed rails for adults.
Benefits of Bed Rails for Seniors
Bed rails are appealing to seniors for a myriad of reasons, including:
- Sleeping in the same position for the entire night might be uncomfortable and lead to bed sores. Seniors often find it difficult to change sleeping positions because of their limited strength. Bed rails provide something to hold onto while taking different positions in bed.
- Seniors risk slipping or losing their balance when moving into or out of their beds. A bed rail provides something stable to hold on to when you want to get up or go to bed. The extra support reduces the risk of falling.
- Rolling out of bed happens to more seniors than you can imagine. Some may miscalculate the width of the bed and fall, especially if they’re not used to sleeping in a hospital bed. Half-length or full bed rails can provide a safety barrier to prevent dangerous falls.
- Bed rails provide you with a sense of security and comfort. As a result, you sleep better at night, knowing you’re safe and secure.
- Bed rails provide a practical space for bed pockets and storage compartments. This space can store medical equipment, books, bed controls, and other items.
Despite the benefits, bed rails are not ideal for everyone. In some cases, these bed rails may hurt more than they help.
When to Not Use Bed Rails
The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care says that bed rails carry the risk of asphyxiation, strangulation, and other injuries to seniors.
For example, persons with neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, might get their limbs or head entrapped in the railing.
Other conditions that may increase the risk of entrapment in the railing include the following:
- Lack of muscle control
Some medications impair the cognitive function of the patient and increase the risk of falling when using bed rails. Thus, bed rails are not ideal if you have cognitive impairment.
Do you want to buy a bed rail for seniors? You should consider several important factors before purchasing.
What to Consider When Choosing Bed Rails
The first step is to assess the health status of the person who will use the bed rails. Once you’ve determined that bed rails will improve their safety and independence, the appropriate choice addresses their unique needs.
For example, seniors who are less mobile need a quarter-length bed rail. This would improve their mobility by providing support when getting on and off the bed.
For a person with sensitive skin, consider using bed railings with foam padding. This will help avoid issues like skin bruises and bumps. It also minimizes the risk of slipping by providing a better grip.
Similarly, a one-bed rail may suit someone with impairment on one side of the body due to a stroke.
Bed Compatibility and Location
Not all bed rails fit all types of bed frames and mattresses. Make sure the bed rail is a suitable and safe fit for your type of bed frame and mattress.
There shouldn’t be too much space between the bedside rail, bed frame, and mattress. Or else it may trap a person’s limb or head.
Different bed rail types and designs come with accessory features such as the following:
- A safety strap for extra stability
- A grab bar with height adjustability
- An adaptable bed step stool
- A storage compartment
- LED light for fall prevention at night
- Foam padding for better grip
It’s also important to consider the type of bed rail to ensure you get the most use out of the bed accessory.
Types of Bed Rails
Bed rails for seniors fall into two major categories: portable bed rails and hospital bed rails.
Portable bed rails for seniors don’t come already attached to beds. This means they are installed separately on the side of the bed.
Portable bed rails come in different styles, including:
- L-shaped bed rails: They have two support legs on the floor and one end tucked below the mattress. They allow height and length adjustability.
- L-shaped legless bed rails: They typically tuck under the mattress. They have a safety strap for enhanced stability and make a proper fit for heavier mattresses.
- Fold-down bed rails: These are foldable for unrestricted access to the bed. They provide ease of disassembly for travel purposes.
- Crossbar bed rails: These offer several grip locations for support when standing up or repositioning in bed.
- Dual bed rails: These provide safety barriers on both sides of the bed.
Hospital Bed Rails
Hospital bed rails don’t come as standalone pieces of equipment. Instead, they are generally sold as part of a hospital or medical bed that you can buy for at-home use. They allow for height and length adjustability.
The Bottom Line
Bed rails for seniors can help prevent the risk of nighttime falls. They can also help you get in and out of bed independently. But they’re not suitable for everyone. They carry an inherent safety hazard for people with certain complications like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Before buying, consult a doctor about whether a bed rail might be appropriate for you or your loved one.