No one likes to think of their parents aging, but this is something that everyone goes through. Aging can make getting in and out of bed difficult and cause other problems too.
You might think about how you can retrofit a bathroom to fit a senior citizen, but you also need to think about bedding for seniors and the best beds too.
Whether you have an elderly loved one living with you or on their own, you can curate a bedroom that works for them.
The beds that you find in nursing homes or hospitals usually have rails. This is to make sure that the patient stays on top of the bed.
Falling down is the most common cause of senior citizen injuries – and falling out of bed is a common way that seniors fall down. So it makes sense to curate a safe bed for seniors.
The beds we have at home aren’t usually equipped with rails, but there is a simple solution here. You can ensure that the senior citizen in your life stays in bed by using bed bumpers.
Bed bumpers act as roadblocks and prevent the sleeper from rolling off the edge of the bed.
Bumpers are very easy to install and use. You simply place them where you want on the mattress (usually the edge), and then just cover the mattress with a fitted sheet like you normally would.
If the bed is situated along a wall, one bumper will be enough. If both sides of the bed are exposed, you’ll want a bumper on both sides.
Lights For More Safety
Another common cause of falls is walking around in the dark. Walking even a few feet to the nearest light switch can be a struggle.
If there isn’t access to a light switch within arm’s length, you’ll want an alternative source of lighting.
Motion sensing nightlights that come on automatically are not only convenient, but they’re also the easiest safety measure to implement.
Those lights plug in directly into the wall outlet, and illuminate the floor to help them find their way to the bathroom and/or other rooms.
One light per side of the bed should do the trick.
If you want to be ultra-safe, one light by the bedroom’s entry door, as well as a light near the bathroom will illuminate the room entirely.
The best beds for the elderly at home include adjustable beds. You might see advertisements on television that talk about how these beds are great for people with limited mobility.
The beds come with a remote control that has large buttons. Those buttons are easy for senior citizens to see and use.
They can press one button to raise the bed down to a good level when they want to get some sleep, but they can use other buttons to push the backside up if they want to watch television or to lower the bed when they’re ready to get up.
Select a Bed Based on Height
One thing you should keep in mind when choosing a bed is that some heights are better than others.
The bed should be tall enough that the elderly person can get in and out easily without bending over or losing their balance.
Ideally, you’ll want a bed that comes up to their upper thigh, to limit the amount that they’ll need to bend to get into bed.
A low profile bed – while modern and aesthetically pleasing – is not a good idea.
Most beds are around 25 inches off the floor, but this height may not work well for the senior citizen in your life, especially if you need to do senior rehab at home.
An injury such as a broken hip or a condition such as arthritis can make it difficult for them to get in and out of bed.
You should choose a bed based on the height of the person who will use it, which can be up to 36 inches off the floor.
Flannel Sheets and Bedding
The worst type of bedding for seniors includes sheets made from satin and other silky materials.
While you might love how soft that bedding feels against your skin, it can potentially cause injuries among the elderly.
Those materials can be so silky that they slide right off the bed.
Flannel is a much better material. It does a good job of helping them stay hot or cool based on the temperature in the room.
It’s soft, with a bit of added texture that creates enough friction to keep them parked in bed.
No Long Blankets or Other Bedding
Many bed-in-a-bag sets come with a matching skirt that sits around the bottom of the bed.
The skirt completely covers the box spring and hides anything stored beneath the bed too. You should never use a bed skirt on beds for the elderly at home.
Those skirts can easily tangle between their feet and cause them to fall. The same thing can occur with any other long blankets or bedding too.
You want to make sure that the bedding is the right size for the mattress and that it won’t get in the way of the person who sleeps there.
Adults often opt for beds in queen and king sizes.
These mattresses give them plenty of room and are perfect for couples who share a bed. However, let’s say that you have a mother or father who lives alone after their spouse passes away.
In this case, you might want to downsize to a smaller mattress.
Changing their bed to use a twin mattress instead of a larger one might not be the best idea. A double or Full-sized bed would be a better choice.
A Full-sized mattress gives the sleeper more room, and decreases the chances of a fall. In a twin mattress, they’re always a twist or turn away from the edge.
Other Ideas for Seniors Living at Home
Seniors who live on their own or with loved ones need bedrooms designed for them, with their limitations in mind.
Every piece of furniture is a potential source of support. You should look to remove flimsy furniture and replace them with more durable pieces.
Durable nightstands – that are mattress height – that they can use for support when getting out of bed are a good place to start.
The nightstand below looks chic and decorative, but are you sure that the legs won’t buckle if someone leans on it with their full weight?
Carpets over hardwood
You might want to swap out hardwood floors for carpeting. Carpets decrease slips and falls, which are common accidents in the bedroom.
They also provide a softer surface should a fall happen.
The elderly, especially when immobile, can’t always make it to the bathroom. An incontinence pad placed under the fitted sheet is a good insurance plan.
They’re basically diapers that you don’t wear.
The picture above shows the incontinence pad directly under the sleeper.
This time of orientation will keep the fitted sheet clean, but the pad tends to move along with the sleeper. To keep the pad flat and in place, for instance, under the fitted sheet is best.
Function over form
Senior citizens face many problems as they age. With some preparation and the right ideas, you can create a bedroom that is perfect for any elderly person. One that includes the best bed and the right bedding.
The ideas in this article have focused on providing convenience and safety where possible.
Ultimately, your set of circumstances and resources are unique to you. There are certain things that will come up that are more of a “judgment call”, of course.
When in doubt, focus on function rather than form, and everything will fall into place.