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How to Keep an elderly person from Falling out of Bed?

You can do a lot to keep an elderly person from falling out of bed. Write a list of all the possible ways to keep away from falls at night. To mention a few, avoid drinks at bedtime, install bed rails, and use pillows, maybe you will find bedside safety mat helpful too. To find more suggestions check below.

Falling out of bed isn’t a pleasant experience for anyone of any age. However, it’s very common among the elderly. Sometimes, a fall just causes an interrupted sleep session, but often it can result in severe injuries especially if it happens regularly.

But, why does it happen?

Why do seniors fall out of bed?

Often, the causes of falling from a bed are to do with balance or mobility issues. Sometimes, just something as simple as reaching for a glass of water or reading glasses from the bedside table can result in a loss of balance and a fall.

Older adults are prone to a condition called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). This is a problem with the inner ear causing vertigo, dizziness and false signals reaching the brain.

Sometimes the senior might be tossing and turning in their sleep and if they’re too close to the edge, they might fall out.

Certain medications cause dizziness and this can cause disorientation on awakening.

Some seniors awaken in the middle of the night and become confused and disorientated before they truly wake up.

As we get older our bladders start to play up and we need more frequent visits to the bathroom. If it’s dark and the visit is urgent, the senior might trip and fall.

How Serious is it to Fall out of Bed?

Many seniors suffer from brittle bones and lose muscle mass as they get older. Both these conditions can make a simple fall, into a medical emergency. It’s quite common for seniors to end up with broken arms, fractured pelvis and fractured skulls and of course, many falls leave bruises.

Can we prevent falling out of bed?

Falling out of bed is a common occurrence that affects many seniors. Fortunately, it is manageable and we can protect our seniors if we use the correct tools. The best approach is to consider the situation from many different angles.

Do a proper risk assessment of your elderly relative’s bedroom and write a list of all the possible ways they can hurt themselves at night. Once you have the list, consider all the methods you can use to make the hazards safe.

Don’t worry about being too extreme in your thinking. The chances are that if it’s possible to happen, it probably will. Your goal is to make sure you have covered all possibilities and you’ve put measures in place to make everything safe.

RELATED: Fall prevention tips for seniors

How to Prevent the elderly from Falling out of Bed:

There are a few different ways to help prevent a senior from falling out of bed. First of all, see if you can prevent restless sleep by changing medication or by managing hydration and toiletry needs.

If this doesn’t work, or if you want to try some secondary prevention, there are many appliances available to buy that will help.

Bed rails

Bed rails are a simple remedy and easy to install too. Buy one that only blocks half the bed, so it prevents rolling off yet still allows the senior to get out of bed if necessary.

Reduce the height

Lower the bed to prevent a fall from being too dangerous, and to help with climbing into bed. If you can’t do this, then you can access easier with a step stool or a small platform.

Body pillows

If you roll around in bed too much, place a large body pillow or a bolster pillow on either side to prevent rolling too close to the edge.

Bedside wedges

These are wedge-shaped pieces of foam. When placed on both sides of the senior, they create a hollow in the middle to prevent rolling out of bed.

Raised edge mattress

You can purchase concave mattresses with a raised perimeter to prevent falls. However, these can make it more difficult to climb out of bed. A cheaper option is a special mattress cover with built-in bolster cushions fixed in place down the sides.

Pool noodles

These are a useful and subtle alternative to bolster cushions. Place them under the mattress cover or bottom sheet to prevent the senior rolling out of bed.

Bedside safety mat

You can buy safety mats or a foam mattress to place on the floor next to the bed. This provides a soft area in case the senior rolls out of bed.

Prevent stumbling around in the dark

Sometimes, the senior has problems when walking around in the bedroom or when going to the bathroom. These problems need a different approach.

Visual impairment

A senior may have certain eye conditions such as cataracts and glaucoma, and these might severely increase fall risk. It’s even worse when it’s at night and difficult to see where you’re walking. It’s important to have eyes tested at least once a year or when you notice problems.

RELATED: Vision and reading aids for seniors

Remove obstacles

Sometime’s the visit to the bathroom might turn into an obstacle course if you aren’t careful.  Clear clutter from around the bed and ensure the doorway isn’t blocked.

Install night lights

It’s difficult to walk around a room at night without any light. Install nightlights that illuminate during the hours of darkness. Make sure they are bright enough to illuminate the room but not so bright that they disrupt sleep.

Avoid drinks at bedtime

Sometimes a simple solution such as not drinking anything after 8 pm will fix the problem and allow your senior to get some unbroken sleep. I know many seniors enjoy a warm milky drink at bedtime, but there’s no reason why they can’t have one earlier.

Manage cognitive issues

Seniors with cognitive problems such as Alzheimer’s or dementia are at a much higher risk of falling than those who are mentally healthy. There are varying stages of severity of these illnesses so it might be that you have to use two or three of the previously mentioned methods to make sure your senior is safe.

Use appropriate therapy to manage some cognitive problems. So, take your elderly relative or friend to see their doctor as soon as you become aware of the problem.

What’s next?

I hope you found this post helpful. In case you want to continue reading, I will outline some relevant topics. Check bathroom safety tips or read about suction grab safety. If you like to exercise with a treadmill, check my treadmill safety tips for elderly.

Bathroom Safety Tips for the Elderly

If you want to make your bathroom safe you should take care of lighting and install grab rails, raise the toilet seat or install tall toilets. Improve accessibility and keep your floor dry and clean. Most important, don’t rush, take your time. Check other tips for safety in the bathroom.

Bathrooms can be one of the most dangerous rooms for seniors. You might not only slip in the shower or on a wet floor but also the bathroom tends to have smooth hard surfaces everywhere. These are perfect for banging your head or breaking a hip. And it isn’t only fall hazards that cause problems.

Often the bathroom and toilet are the only lockable rooms in the house. And, mechanical locks sometimes break with age potentially imprisoning an elderly person in the room.  

How to Make Your Bathroom Safer?

Follow a few simple guidelines and the bathroom will no longer be an accident waiting to happen. You’ll be able to use it and relax in the knowledge that you’ve done everything possible to make it safe.

RELATED: Home modifications for the elderly

Install grab Bars

Grab bars will allow you to hold on to something if you’re climbing in and out of the tub or the shower cubicle. Install one by the toilet as well to help support your weight when sitting down. They’re also useful if you feel yourself about to lose your balance.

Make sure they’re fitted to the walls properly and use the correct wall fixings as they’ll have to support the weight of a fully grown adult.

Use non-Slip mats

Use specially designed rubber mats for the bathtub or shower to help prevent slipping. To be on the safe side, make sure they cover the entire bathtub floor. You can usually buy them very cheaply from discount stores or online.

While you’re at it, use a rubber backed non-slip rug for the bathroom floor. Not only will it help prevent slipping, but it will also make the bathroom floor feel warmer to bare feet and give you something padded to fall on if the worst happens.

Improve accessibility

Whenever you use the bathroom, make sure everything is within reach and you don’t have to bend or stretch. This includes towels, clothing and other commonly used items like shampoo, soap; toothpaste, and washcloths.

Lighting

It’s amazing how poor lighting can cause slips and falls. Someone might not notice there is a pool of water or a piece of soap on the smooth floor and the next thing you know, you’re falling onto a hard bathroom floor.  Adequate lighting is even more essential if the senior has mobility problems, balance issues, or impaired vision.

To be safe, it’s not only the room itself that needs adequate lighting. Seniors often need to make visits to the toilet in the middle of the night, so fix night lights along the route, to show the way.

Use bath Seating

This is one of the best ways to ensure safety in the bathroom, especially if you combine it with grab rails. You can use them in the shower or the bathtub and it allows you to wash without fear of falling or losing balance. They are available in a range of different styles and colors to suit most budgets.

Install walk-in Tub

A walk-in tub is a luxury that, if you can afford it, is well worth the money. It allows you to walk into an empty tub, close the door and sit. Fill the tub and relax, secure in the knowledge that you don’t have to stand up or climb out of a slippery bath at the end of it. Just drain the water, open the door and step out. Simple!

Raise the Toilet seat

Seniors often find difficulty in lowering themselves onto a standard toilet seat or standing up again afterwards. Joint pain, artificial hips and knees, and many other conditions require using a raised toilet seat. These are simple to install and can be removed for thorough cleaning if necessary.

Keep the floor Dry and Clear

If you can manage to keep the bathroom floor dry you’ll go a long way to maintain bathroom safety. A wet floor is slippery and can be dangerous even if the floor is merely damp. Use non-slip rugs to stand on after showering and while drying, and make sure to wipe up any spills as soon as they occur.

Removing any items that can cause trips and slips is essential in any bathroom. Debris, clothes and towels can make a person stumble and fall leading to a potentially serious injury. A clear floor is even more important if the senior has impaired vision.

Lower the Water Temperature

Sometimes elderly people have problems noticing if things are too hot or cold. Reduce the temperature of hot water not only in the bathroom but at every faucet through the house. A temperature of about 120 degrees Fahrenheit or 50 degrees Celsius will take about 5 minutes to cause third-degree burns.

However, remember that many bacteria, including Legionella, thrive in water stored at temperatures up to 140 degrees (60 degrees Celsius). So, it’s better to speak to your registered plumber about having thermostatic mixing valves fitted to reduce the water temperature at the point of use to a safe maximum by adding cold water.

Your plumber will know the legally required maximum water temperature in your state, so be guided by the professional.

Have supervision Available

In some cases, a senior might find bathing, toileting and simple hygiene practices difficult to do unaided. If this sounds familiar, the best way to keep safe in the bathroom and toilet is to have the care of a loved one or a professional caregiver. Having someone nearby or in the bathroom with you greatly reduces the chance of serious injury.

Have a seat Handy

Standing for a long time can be very wearing for a senior. Washing and brushing teeth can take a long time and be very tiring, especially at the end of the day. Having a seat available helps ease fatigue while washing. A chair is also useful when drying off after a shower.

It’s essential to dry every part of the body otherwise you’ll have various fungal skin problems to contend with. Being able to sit while drying feet and toes, reduces the problems associated with balance issues and allows thorough drying in all the nooks and crannies.

Take your Time

If you’re in the bathroom, don’t rush. Enjoy the experience, take your time and you’ll reduce the accidents that happen by rushing and not taking care. It’s a fact, that we put ourselves at risk of falling if we rush around and being in the bathroom is no exception to this.

What’s next?

Hopefully, this article provided you with some great ideas so that you can make your bathroom safer. If you want to prevent yourself from falls make sure to check the article on how to make senior-friendly home.

How Safe are Suction Grab Bars?

Suction grab bars don’t screw to the wall, instead, they use suction pads. You probably know what I mean by suction pads. They’re those circular rubber things that children lick to stick toys and other items onto windows. But are they strong enough to be any use? Do you think suction grab bars are safe?

Many seniors need support when walking up and down outdoor steps and when in the bathroom and toilet. Installers usually fix the support bars (or grab bars), securely to a wall so they can support the weight of a fully grown adult.

RELATED: Bathroom safety tips for the elderly

The fixings for the grab bars depend on the type of wall you have as many houses use various building materials. The safest and strongest walls are solid brick or concrete block, and the wooden studs within the plasterboard drywall. Never fix grab bars to drywalls using cavity fixings as they just won’t hold.

There is however another type of grab bar available, and that’s what we’ll talk about in this article.

What are Suction Grab Bars?

You’ve probably seen many of these advertised online and wondered if they were ‘fit for purpose’.

At first sight, they seem ideal to keep yourself or an elderly relative safe. As mentioned before suction grab bars use air pressure to hold suction pads onto a smooth, non-porous surface. And I stress smooth and non-porous, otherwise, the suction pads won’t stick.

Are Suction Grab Rails Safe?

The answer to this question depends on what you’ll use them for. If you intend to install them in public and commercial buildings, you’ll have to comply with many different regulations governing fixings and installations.

Different states within America and different countries have their own regulations. So, if you’re in doubt, contact your local government office and someone will help you out. There aren’t any regulations, at the time of writing, governing grab bars in private dwellings.

But, if you use those for public buildings as a set of guidelines you won’t go too far wrong.  Basically, the regulations state how the grab bars should be designed and the limits of their use.

Where to place suction grab rails?

Well, they’re very convenient and simple to install, but they have their limitations.

  • You can only place them onto a smooth and non-porous wall.
  • There’s no guarantee that the suction pad will hold the applied weight.

However, If the person has had a minor fracture or surgery and only needs the bars to help with balance, then suction grab bars will help increase confidence and boost recovery time. Just make sure the user knows that the bars will not necessarily take their full weight.

Also, suction grab bars aren’t permanently fixed to the wall, and the decoration doesn’t need repairing upon removal.

They’re useful when the user wants to know where to position permanent grab bars. Good positioning of these is essential, and by using suction bars, you can try out different locations before fixing proper grab bars permanently to the wall.

How to Install Suction Grab Bars?

So, let’s assume that the senior will be using the suction bars temporarily and knows that their weight might be too great for the suction pads, or maybe they only want help with balance issues.

How do we install them onto a wall?

As mentioned before, choose a smooth and non-porous surface. Six-inch glazed bathroom tiles, glass, plastic or metal are ideal and are probably the only surfaces smooth enough to take the suction pads.

Read the installation instructions and familiarize yourself with them. Make sure you follow them to the letter. As the instructions will depend on the make and model of grab bar, I can’t go into the details. But, I can tell you generalizations.

  • Wash the surface to remove all traces of grease and dirt. Dishwashing liquid and warm water will be ideal for this job.
  • Dry the surface using a clean cloth or paper towel.
  • Check that the surface is perfectly smooth and clean.
  • Moisten the suction pads where they come into contact with the wall’s surface.
  • Press the grab bar against the smooth surface so that air expels from beneath the suction pads.
  • Most suction grab bars have locking levers to strengthen the pads’ suction. If yours have them, engage and lock into place.
  • Some suction bars also have an indicator to tell you when the suction strength is satisfactory. Ensure yours indicates as specified in the manufacturer’s instructions.

Are Suction Grab Bars ADA Approved?

This is a phrase placed into many adverts to give the impression of good quality. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as being ‘ADA Approved’.

Presumably, this stands for the Americans with Disability Act. This is legislation protecting the rights of disabled American citizens in public places.

The standards aren’t designed for private residences but they provide guidelines for installers. The ADA is NOT a government agency and can NOT issue approvals or disapprovals for anything.

If you see this phrase used in any advertising, it actually means nothing and often makes me wonder whether it’s there to deceive the ordinary elderly person or if the manufacturer doesn’t understand the legislation.

It’s much better if you see the phrase ‘ADA compliant’. Then, you’ll know that the design and manufacture of the grab bars comply with the legislation. This is much better and shows the manufacturer knows what they are talking about.

But remember that ADA compliance has no legal meaning in private residences. It’s only a set of guidelines.

How Well do Suction Grab Bars Work?

As stated earlier, suction grab bars are great to use if they’re only there to help with balance issues. They aren’t necessarily strong enough to support an adult’s full weight and may give a false sense of security.

As a general rule, I would say that these aren’t suitable for a chronically disabled or elderly person as there’s no guarantee the grab bar fixings can support the person’s weight.

How Much Weight can a Suction Grab Bar Hold?

ADA compliance ensures that grab bars meet with certain standards. One of these is that it must be capable of supporting 500lbs weight. A typical suction grab bar with heavy-duty suction pads will hold anything up to 300lbs depending on the condition and smoothness of the wall surface and the seal between pads and surface.

What Are some Alternatives to Suction Grab Bars?

Two alternatives to suction grab bars are

  1. Bars screwed or bolted to a solid wall or wooden stud. This is by far the safer method of fixing a grab bar.
  2. Those that are free-standing and support a person’s weight by resting on the ground using their own feet. Although the person’s weight transfers to the floor, fix the support preventing the structure from moving when used.

How Much Weight can a Grab Bar Hold?

A standard non-suction grab bar can hold a minimum of 500lbs if it complies with the ADA legislation. This is enough to support the full weight of a standard-sized adult and includes enough strength to withstand a downward force due to falling.

What’s next?

I am sure you got a much more clear picture of suction grab bars safety. As mentioned before suction grab bars usually hold up to 300lbs weight but this depends on different factors. These are great if you have minor balance problems or if you are on the go.

You can take with you if you are visiting relatives and intend to stay a few days. It’s easy to position these exactly where you want them, without disturbing the existing decorations.

If you want to discover more gadgets like this you can check the guide to home modifications.