The 10 Best Senior's Bed Rails
October 19, 2018: Keeping in mind that mobility issues can range drastically from limited to the extreme, we wanted to provide a larger variety of options to accommodate both ends of that spectrum. The Drive Medical Home secures both sides of a bed and extends nearly to the full length of a mattress. Meanwhile, the Stander Advantage Traveler is a great choice for those who are still quite active and even still hit the road regularly, but just need a little assistance.
Bed Rail Safety
For these individuals, again, other options may be the better choice.
When used correctly, bed rails have the potential to improve quality of life, but with improper use, bed rails can cause harm to users. According to the FDA, the most common causes of bed rail injury are falls and entrapment, which occurs when the user becomes stuck between the rail and something else (like the mattress or headboard). Fortunately, there are ways to help prevent these issues.
The best line of defense is ensuring that the rail is installed properly according to all directions given by the manufacturer. If the rail doesn’t fit or seems too loose, don’t try to force it or invent creative solutions to hold it in place. Spend the time, instead, to find the bed rails that fit properly. Once a rail is installed, there should be no gaps between it and the mattress or the other parts of the bed. It’s also recommended to check for gaps regularly, as the mattress, frame, or rail can shift during use.
After the bed rails are properly installed, users should only utilize them as intended and never attempt to climb over them. For those in sound health, perhaps this isn’t as much of an issue; however, sleepers with dementia and other cognitive impairments may become confused and attempt to crawl over the rails to get out of bed. For this reason, experts suggest that bed rails are not the best solution for individuals with such issues. Rather, a monitoring or radio tracking device and a secure room are better at keeping such a sleeper safe in the nighttime.
Individuals suffering from extreme physical disabilities are also considered high-risk for bed rail injuries when these are used as a device to prevent falls during sleep. If sleepers become tangled or stuck in or near the rail, they may not have the coordination or strength to extricate themselves, leading to injury or even suffocation. For these individuals, again, other options may be the better choice. Your doctor or physical therapist can help you find the aids that will work best.
Choosing Senior's Bed Rails
Overall, bed rails are best used by those who have trouble moving between seated and standing positions, and those who may fall during sleep, but do not have extreme cognitive deficiencies or physical handicaps. In these situations, as you choose bed rails for yourself or someone in your care, you’ll need to consider a few details to get the safest, most useful aid for your situation. These include installation, weight tolerance, size, and use.
For instance, don’t attempt to install a rail on a thin gel mattress pad if you don’t have the required box spring.
Installation is arguably the most important factor, because if you cannot install the rails properly, they could be hazardous. For this reason, it’s crucial that you understand whether the rail will fit the bed. Manufacturers give information about what type of frame or box spring the rail can be used with, including sizes and measurements. Take the time to measure, and if you don’t have the proper bed equipment, you may need to look at another option. For instance, don’t attempt to install a rail on a thin gel mattress pad if you don’t have the required box spring.
The weight tolerance of a bed rail refers to how much weight it is designed to safely support. Manufacturers indicate this in pounds (or kilograms), with most limits in the 250- to 300-pound range. Placing the force of excess weight against a railing may cause it to break, leading to a fall or other injury. In cases where individuals exceed bed rail weight ratings, a bariatric bed might be the better choice.
A bed rail’s size usually differs in two main ways: length and height. For home use nowadays, shorter rails, usually between one and two feet, are more common, as these offer enough space for the rail to be grasped during transitions between seated and standing positions. Longer rails are available for keeping users in bed during sleep, but these should only be chosen when the user is not at a high risk for entrapment, whether due to physical or cognitive ailments.
When it comes to use, one main difference in models is between those that fold down and those that do not. Users who are having trouble adjusting to the need for a mobility aid might find the fold-down kind to be a good choice, as they are less noticeable and keep a bedroom from looking like a hospital room.
Keeping Seniors Safe
For those seniors who need a little extra help performing the day-to-day activities that many people take for granted, the modern world has a lot of help to offer. Today, if you can imagine a device for making a quotidian task easier, it’s probably available, making life for seniors much more comfortable.
A senior’s bed rail and other devices work well as prevention, but falls and emergencies do still happen.
Those with common cognitive impairments caused by age, for instance, can now lead less stressful lives thanks to a range of tools designed for safety. Anti-scald shower heads and faucets, stoves that turn themselves off, and automatic monitoring for fire, smoke, and more can all help an individual remain independent for longer and keep loved ones from worrying (as much). Even something as simple as a memory loss clock can make an Alzheimer’s patient feel more secure, since this disease causes problems with telling time that can lead to anxiety.
Seniors with arthritis also have plenty of options for making their daily lives a little simpler. There are gadgets to help with opening jars, seat belt extension handles to make reaching for the strap easier, lifting cushions that help with moving between seated and standing positions, remote controls and phones with extra-large buttons, and even gardening tools with ergonomic grips. These products aid in keeping some of the stress off painful joints and body parts, which can spell the difference between doing something independently and needing someone to lend a hand.
It’s crucial, as well, not to overlook those items that can save a life in a crisis. A senior’s bed rail and other devices work well as prevention, but falls and emergencies do still happen. Signing up with a quality medical alert service can’t necessarily stop these, but it can make an enormous difference in the outcome of a life-threatening emergency.