The US Consumer Product Safety Commission’s report on bed rails was stark. They estimate that 175 adults died because of the bed rails that they had installed on their beds and that nearly 40,000 adults had been injured over the previous decade by the use of portable bed rails!
Now, not all bed rails are dangerous, and not every senior will have an accident using them. However, if someone suffers from dementia, muscle spasms, is particularly frail, or regularly experiences delirium? Then it’s time to think beyond a safety bed rail or a traditional bed rail and look at the best alternatives to bed rails for elderly people before they hurt themselves.
The Best Bed Rail Alternative Options
The FDA has a long list of reasons not to use bed rails for your senior’s safety.
There are several alternatives to bed rails that are worth considering and then some additional items such as bed alarms that you might want to consider in addition to these alternatives.
Adjustable Bed Frames
We’d recommend reading how to choose beds for seniors with mobility issues as well as how to care for an adjustable bed and how to choose mattresses for adjustable beds too.
However, put simply adjustable height beds are those that can easily be adjusted for height and profile to make it easy to get into them, get out of them, and stay in them once you’re in bed and in a comfortable position.
These adjustable beds are probably the best alternative to adult portable bed rails but we would not that they’re not the cheapest alternative to bed rails. You can spend several thousand dollars on a bed like this.
A ceiling trapeze is the most common option instead of bed rails in hospitals.
It’s a metal frame that is secured to the top of the bed and then it’s suspended from the ceiling using a triangular handle configuration.
The handle can easily be grabbed (rather like seniors bed rails) and then they can manoeuver themselves onto the bed trapeze and easily reposition their body.
You need some upper body strength for this but not as much as you might expect and it means they can often get into bed without assistance and it’s much safer than a bed rail.
If your senior needs a bed rail because they’ve been rolling out of bed at night?
Then they might consider a concave mattress instead. This is a mattress that is built with a natural curve to keep the individual in the center of the bed, when they roll onto the raised edges, they simply slide down again and into the center.
However, unlike a bed rail or wedges, you can’t move the edges of a concave mattress and that means that though this is a cheap and simple solution for most seniors – it may restrict their ability to get out of the bed.
OK, so you think that rather than a bed rail, the concave mattress pad might have been good but in practice? The mattress wasn’t the best of bed rail alternatives for your senior and you still would rather not use a bed safety rail? Then, wedges, bumpers, and bolsters might do the trick.
These can be used to create a space that the senior can’t roll out of at night (just as with traditional bed rails) but while they keep you in bed safely while you sleep, they can be removed when you awake – which makes it easier to get out of bed.
They are also one of the lowest cost solutions if you’re finding it hard to afford another solution.
One thing that you should be aware of is that even if you have bed bumpers and bed rail bumper covers, sometimes a senior will keep falling out of bed at night.
In fact, it may be that nothing can safely prevent this issue – if that’s the case, the right thing to do is invest in crash mats to break the person’s fall safely.
These are easy to shape for the person than say an ordinary mattress or body pillows might be and they are safer too.
Vertical Bed Poles
Yes, a vertical pole is going to end up looking like a stripper pole near the bed, however, they are a non-permanent installation that makes it easier for someone to sit down or get up from the bed with support.
They are tension mounted to the ceiling and can be found in various lengths and weight capacities.
However, if the temporary versions don’t stay in place, then you may need to consider fitting a permanent vertical pole instead.
We would also like to note that though the options above are all great ways to replace bed rails, you should also consider additional safety features.
We’d recommend either using alarm systems attached to the bed to allow the person to call for help even in the case of sustaining serious injuries or using baby monitors, if your budget is tighter, to allow the person to shout for help if needed.