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Bed Rails for the Elderly

Bed Rails for the Elderly

One out of every three Americans 65 years and older falls at least once a year. Ten percent of them fracture a bone, dislocate a joint or incur some other serious injury, said Dr. Mary Tinetti, Chief of Geriatrics at the Yale University School of Medicine.

This fact should truly concern those who are considering aging in place as an option for our seniors.  Most of these falls occur in the homes or even bedrooms of our seniors. The good news is that there are a lot of great elderly assistance products out there that help in fall prevention. One of these helpful products are bed rails.

 

What are Bed Rails?

Bed rails are elderly assistance devices attached to the sides of beds to help prevent falls when getting in and out of bed.  These protective side rails are usually seen in hospitals, nursing homes, and retirement centers, but are now a growing trend among elderly homeowners who are looking at aging in place as a living option. 


Know your Bed Rails

You should always do your research before any purchase - more so when considering a safety accessory and much more so before purchasing an elderly assistance product that ensures a senior's safety.

There are two different types of bed rails used by those considering aging in place.  They are the adjustable bed rail and the portable bed rail. Here is a breakdown on both.


Portable Bed Rail

These bed rails can be attached or removed from the bed at any time.  They often are attached to both sides but can be used on one side if there is only access from one side.  They are purchased apart from the bed itself, so are considered an elderly assistance product.

  • Attachable and removable from any bed
  • Installed or used on side of bed
  • Reduce the risk of falling from bed
  • Assist in re positioning in bed
  • Assist in transitioning into or out of bed

 

Adjustable Hospital Bed Rail

These rails are usually part of the bed or semi-permanently attached to the sides.  They are commonly what we see in all hospital beds. They are considered medical devices and so must pass Bed Rail FDA Regulations.  

 

Which bed rail is best for me?

The best bed rails are the ones that are safe.  Circling back to the top of this article - fall prevention (the major cause for senior accidents) is the reason why we’re even looking at bed rails.  Looks, design, easy use, and style all follow safety when considering which bed rail is best for you.  

Consider these factors when shopping for a good bed rail:

  • What is the height of the bed?
  • Type of mattress being used
  • Do you use a box spring?
  • Is the bed access point on one side or two?
  • Does the bed rail need to be moved?
  • How much weight does it need to support?
  • Will it be used with the lights on or off?
  • How does the senior get in and out of bed?
  • Will the bed rail impede getting in and out of bed?
  • Does the bed rail need to be attached or can it be portable?
  • Can the bed rail be traveled with?
  • How easy is it to assemble?

Fortunately, many of the newer bed rails address most of the above issues.  The new elderly assistance products recognize the growing aging in place market and have provided safe and sensible products in which to choose.  

Keep in mind, some types of beds will dictate which type of bed rail you should use.  Water beds, Sleep Number beds, Tempurpedic beds, and platform beds all sit extremely high.  These ironically are very popular among the elderly but their height can cause more serious accidents than help with posture.  Make sure the portable bed rail you choose for these beds reach the required height.  



Vince Baiera

Vince Baiera started his career working as an ICU Nurse at The Cleveland Clinic and Duke University Hospital in the Cardiac ICU. After working as a traveling ICU Nurse, Vince stepped away from nursing to pursue Healthcare Consulting and Teaching

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