Today I’m going to share with you 10 Great Alternatives To Bed Rails For The Elderly.
With growing age, our body gets weaker. Senior citizens are more prone to nearly all diseases that infect the earth and for the very same reason, they require a lot of added medical supplements to keep their bodies functioning properly.
From complicated mechanisms like that of mechanical dialysis to avoid poisoning throughout the body, these supplemental aids narrow down to bed rails as well, whose function is as simple as to avoid injury from falling off the bed. Alternatives to bed rails for elderly, their needs, and their machines have been thoroughly explored in this article.
But before we dive into alternatives to bed rails for elderly, it is important to understand what bed rails are, how they work, why they are installed, their types as it helps when you browse for any alternatives to be rails for elderly at home, etc.
What Are Bed Rails?
Bed rails in the simplest terms mean railings that are installed on the sides of the bed which act as a wall or support which helps the bed to be “not open” and prevent falling down.
Bed rails are also known as bed assist rails, safety rail, mobility rail, support rail, bed handle or bed grab bar in the market. This bed assist rail goes along and is set to the side of the bed to prevent a person from rolling and falling out of the patient’s bed.
Falls can be potential causes for developing new injuries or worsening the ones the patient may already be suffering from, especially for senior citizens. Nonetheless, the use of adult bed rails is not limited to just providing side support to beds, they are also used to help the patient to get repositioned with ease and provide the much-needed stability when he or she needs to move in or out of bed.
These rails are designed in a variety of options so they can fit any type of bed, especially a traditional home-style one. As mentioned above, these support rails are available in different types to suit the needs of any patient.
Some bed assist rails are mounted on the bed using straps while the others are attached through bolts. Some support rails are even portable. It is necessary to understand all the types of bed rails and bed rail alternatives available to you so you can choose the one that is not only necessary but also pocket friendly to you. Various types of bed rails along with their pros and cons have been discussed below:
Alternatives to Bed Rails for Elderly:
Traditional Bed Rails:
The typical image that is most likely to pop in your head when you hear the word “bed rails” is going to be that of a traditional bed rail. If the main purpose for you to buy a rail assist is to avoid chances of fall, then a traditional bed rail is your best choice.
Let’s understand why: Multiple horizontal crossbars designed along the length of the bed (other options available), provide the sturdy support you are looking for.
These horizontal crossbars also act as handholds for the patient which further assists them while they are in bed by giving them extra help with repositioning and outside during the transfer period.
These traditional bed rails face a lot of safety hazards and issues as well (discussed above) and for the very same reason, people often opt for traditional bed rail alternatives, but when designed in a correct way, they can prevent injuries and entrapment for users who fail to move their bodies by themselves.
Traditional bed rails are generally directly attached to the patient’s bed using bolts. There are variations in these bed rails as well. You can find full, half, single- or double-sided traditional bed assist rails for your bed.
- Pros of Traditional Bed Rails:
Even though there are many alternatives to bed rails for elderly, a well-designed traditional bed rail has its own perks. The extra handholds that are provided in a traditional bed assist rail provide just the right amount of extra support a patient needs while rolling or moving inside the bed.
Availability of various rails of a variety of heights make it simpler to push the patient up to a standing position as well. There is a wide variety of options when it comes to selecting the type of rails, half or full length and single or dual bed which prevents entrapment as well.
- Cons of Traditional Bed Rails:
These beds have a more institutional look that isn’t liked by everyone which can be avoided by using DIY bed rails for elderly techniques. They are also more heavy, bulky and take up more space than their other counterparts.
Bed Assist Rail with Adjustable Feet:
Another popular sub-category of bed rails whose features can be covered in most of the bed rail alternatives is bed assist rail with adjustable feet. The main purpose of these rails is to help its patients to enter or exit them safely. Where does the “adjustable feet” part come in?
These types of bed assist rails have vertical legs that transfer the patient’s weight down to the floor when he or she stands up which further transfers pressure that would be experienced by the patient to the bed rail for stability.
These rails are assisted with a strap, rail or a board that slips and goes between the box spring and mattress of the bed which helps keep the rail steady and make sure it keeps in place.
The installation procedure for the same is pretty simple as it doesn’t need to be bolted into its user’s bed frame. As equipment of the device also rests on the floor, under the bed, it can create obstacles and take up a bit of extra room. It will be an obstacle when you are vacuuming around the bed.
- Pros of Bed Assist Rails with Adjustable Feet:
These bed rails are best suited for patients who can walk on their own as it provides them the extra help they need while getting up out of bed, giving them a sense of independence. Not only is it extremely simple to install but multiple stabilization points that these rails offer make them super safe for senior citizens! It is a better option when it comes to bed safety rails for adults.
- Cons of Bed Assist Rails with Adjustable Feet:
These bed rails are not designed well for wheelchair users, there are ample other bed rails, diy bed rails for elderly, and bed rail alternatives that these people can look into. They also create under-bed obstacles as the device takes up a considerable amount of space under the patient’s bed. It creates hindrances while vacuuming, etc.
Bed Assist Rail (Without Feet):
These beds assist rails to have an “L” shaped design. The longer side of this L-shaped design slips between the box spring and mattress. While the other side acts as a handhold. These types of rails may not have feet but they also come with a rail, strap or board for stability like the previous one. They are also extremely easy to install.
They compliment some bed types extremely well and facilitate excellent weight-bearing capacity and the required sturdiness. These rails also have the facility to adjust their length and height.
Many of these models also provide built-in storage which makes it different from other bed rails. The types that have a board under them to stabilize them are loved by travelling patients as they are easily portable.
- Pros of Bed Assist Rails Without Feet:
The installation and uninstallation process for these bed rails are extremely easy. They work differently with bulky and heavy king or queen-sized mattresses and are still portable. Some models have assisting features like adjustable height handles and additional storage which gives these rails extra points that some alternatives to bed rails for elderly may lack!
- Cons of Bed Assist Rails Without Feet:
Even though these rails work exceptionally well with heavier mattresses, they lose a great deal of stability when it comes to lighter mattresses and can end up being tilted forward if the weight of the mattress doesn’t resonate with the rails.
Bed handles are best suited for those patients who are in need of some kind of leverage while getting in or out of bed. Mind you, bed handles are not suitable for seniors who need a high-level device with greater weight-bearing stability features.
They are extremely easy to install and have a narrow design with an extremely low profile and just take up a small amount of space. Such basic assistance can be gained through DIY bed rails for elderly, which is much more cost-efficient.
- Pros of Bed Handles:
Bed handles are best matched with people who need minimal assistance in stability as it provides the required support without being as conspicuous or giving a big institutional feel.
They take up less space and are a breeze to install and can be learned easily through a tutorial for DIY bed rails for elderly!
- Cons of Bed Handles:
As the mechanism for bed handles are pretty basic, the handle may wiggle while being in use, make sure to keep it in check and get it fixed from time to time.
They cannot be used for a high amount of weight-bearing, there are better-suited bed assistance rails for the same purpose.
Also Read – 211 Motel Voucher Program For Homeless People
Bed Steps with Rails:
The main purpose of this bed is to cater to those beds that are stationary and too high. Bed steps with rails help its user to safely get in and out of bed.
These rails generally come with straps to secure them on the bed frame and don’t need to be mounted on top of the bed. You may not find this feature in many alternatives to bed rails for elderly.
There are a variety of options in terms of the range of height, step widths, weight capacities, etc. So, one should research well and get to know all their options to make the best choice.
- Pros of Bed Steps with Rails:
These bed steps with rails greatly reduce the strain that is produced on the knees and hips of seniors. They also provide these seniors independence in terms of movement when it comes to getting in and out of their own beds.
These rails are adjustable and can be easily removed.
- Cons of Bed Steps with Rails:
Irrespective of all the amazing features that bed steps with rails have to offer, they can still be a trip hazard in darkness which makes them dangerous.
These rails aren’t even mounted directly to the bed which makes them risky which is one of the major reasons that bed safety rail for adults and bed rail alternatives have been introduced.
Features to Consider Before Purchasing:
Some main features that need to be looked into before your purchase of a bed rail or alternatives to bed rails for elderly have been discussed below:
- Weight Capacity:
The first and foremost thing to be checked is if the bed rail or bed rail alternative in question can provide adequate support as that provides stability which fulfils the purpose of bed assist rail i.e., safety.
The number on the scale may vary from person to person, it is best to get a figure from the doctor before buying any rails.
- Type of Bed:
Not every rail is a match for every bed. Some rails have specific requirements like a box spring or a heavy mattress to provide safe and reliable stability.
Some safety bed rails have a fixed height and others are height adjustable. To determine if a height adjustable model is the best choice, it’s important to measure correctly. For maximum adjustability, some models are length-adjustable too.
- Length and Adjustability:
Every patient has a different set of needs that need to be looked after. For someone who is more likely to fall from the bed, a full-length rail is a better fit as it not only provides the support needed but it also facilitates the user to sleep on an alternating pressure air mattress to turn side to side while on the other hand, with someone who is more mobile, a full-length rail is not necessary.
For such people, a half-length or a bed handle provides them with the support needed to independently use this aid and get the movement they want.
The Need of Alternatives to Bed Rails for Elderly:
After reading so many different types of bed rails, an obvious question comes to mind, what is the need to look for a bed rail alternative? Bed rails have been observed to pose some serious safety hazards. Let’s take a look into the dangers of using bed rails.
Parts of their bodies can be caught between bed rails and mattresses or the rails themselves. This can lead to strangling, suffocating, severe bodily injuries and even death.
A lot of injuries have been noted in the form of falls when senior patients climb over rails to get in and out of their bed which causes scrapes, cuts and bruises in the skin.
Even though bed rails are used to provide support, they can quickly turn into restraints which can give rise to agitated behaviour. So bed safety rail for adults and numerous alternatives to bed rails for elderly have been introduced.
Alternatives to Bed Rails for Elderly:
Following is a list of ten alternatives to bed rails for elderly:
- Adjustable height beds
- Bed bumpers
- Concave mattresses
- Bed wedges, bumpers and bolsters
- Crash mats
- Vertical poles
- Bed trapezes
- Bed alarms
- Wireless baby monitors
- Posey all-in-one beds
Let’s know a little more about each of these bed rail alternatives:
1. Adjustable Height Beds:
If your main issue is rolling and falling off the bed, then you can look into adjustable height beds. You can put the height of these beds to very low i.e. extremely low to the floor.
You might feel how that helps? Putting the bed that low reduces the impact of any potential falls and even if the patient rolls off the mattress, there will be no cases of serious injuries.
These beds can be adjusted back to their normal heights, so they can be used for the normal medical procedures with ease.
2. Bed Bumpers:
One of the most basic and simple alternatives to bed rails for elderly are bed bumpers. Bed bumpers can be defined as thick, raised bolter cushions or pillows that are placed on either side of the patient’s bed. The sheets needed to be fitted, and these bumpers needed to be placed under them which gives stability to the bolster and keeps it in place.
They are not advisable to a lot of patients as they are not the sturdiest of the many options that are out there. They only help in avoiding major mechanical injuries by preventing falling issues and provide no support or assistance when it comes to the patient adjusting themselves when they are inside the bed.
People looking to fulfill other needs should browse through other bed rail alternatives. On the other hand, bed bumpers are extremely affordable so they are worth checking out if it matches your needs!
3. Concave Mattresses:
Not all alternatives to bed rails for elderly are bing machines. Another solution to the falling off problem is concave mattresses. These concave mattresses are designed in a way that they have raised edges which incline downwards to the central part which is flat.
This change is made to prevent its occupant from slipping off the bed.
If your loved one is rolling out of bed while they are sleeping, a simple solution like wedges/bumpers is concave mattresses.
4. Bed Wedges, Bumpers and Bolsters:
All three, bed wedges, bumpers and bolsters are the same thing. They refer to large pieces of foam that are placed on regular mattresses to give elevation to its edges, to create a concave mattress from an ordinary mattress which prevents the patient from rolling and falling off the bed and are extremely effective alternatives to bed rails for elderly.
The key difference between these and the former bed rail alternative, i.e concave mattresses is that the slope in the former can be removed.
5. Crash Mats
As its name suggests, “Crash” mats are an alternative for bed rails for elderly when there is no available choice. These are placed on both sides of the patient’s bed to reduce the impact of a patient’s fall.
6. Vertical Pole from Floor to Ceiling
A vertical pole is a different kind of bed rail alternative that is often installed next to a patient’s bed and can be used by him or her to get out of bed safely. They can be used as alternatives to bed rails for elderly if the pole is secured to the floor properly and if it is solid enough.
A lot of people prefer to get floor to ceiling poles as they provide more sturdy support. There is also an option of getting non-permanent poles. These have variable length and tension.
The non-permanent poles, the ones that can be removed, are known by various names like “universal floor to ceiling pole” or “grab bars”.
7. Bed Trapeze:
A bed trapeze consists of a metal frame that is attached firmly to the head of a patient’s bed which has a triangular handle. This handle is suspended above the head of the patient so they can reach out and grab it easily and get the support they need while repositioning themselves or getting out of bed.
They are also known as “over bed pole hoist” or “over bed pole” and are one of the best alternatives to bed rails for elderly that provide proper movement inside the bed as well.
8. Bed Alarms:
An unusual bed rail alternative are these bed alarms that can be used in the form of bed exit alarms, motion sensors, call buttons or pagers or even pressure mats so that you or the patient’s caregiver can be alerted that he or she is trying to get out of bed so necessary assistance can be provided to the patient.
9. Wireless Baby Monitors:
Even though these monitors are meant to check on babies, they can be used to check in on senior patients to see if they need any help. These don’t need a cell network or internet to send audio or visual signals which makes them easy to operate and super-efficient.
The baby monitor is just a sensor with a camera. They work as excellent alternatives to bed rails for elderly which have increasing risks of injury.
10. Posey All in One Bed:
For an extremely high-end risky case, posey beds are the perfect fit for an alternative to bed rails for elderly patients. The only iffy thing about these is that they are extremely expensive starting over a thousand dollars. Posey beds are advised to patients who are at extreme risk of getting hurt by themselves.
They are designed to be kept in hospitals to reduce the feeling of entrapment along with reducing the chances of rolling and falling off the bed. These posy beds have a canopy overhead which can be zipped and are aides with buckles that can be opened anytime and act as a safe space for the patient.
A Complete Guide for Bed Rail Users:
For people who use bed rails for seniors, one should know what bed rails are meant for. Bed rails and even alternatives to bed rails for elderly are supposed to aid the patient in changing positions in bed, provide easy movement, help to get in and out of bed and finally prevent patients from rolling and falling off the bed.
These bed rails are not meant to confine seniors inside their beds. If not installed properly, they can lead to an increasing feeling of entrapment and suffocation.
If you are one of those people who have no choice but to use bed rails and not the other alternatives to bed rails for elderly, important pointers that should kept in mind have been discussed below:
Always have a discussion with your doctor and find out if the patient’s condition can afford bed side rails or whatever bed rail alternative that you are thinking of getting installed.
Make sure that the patient knows not to try and climb over the installed bed rails on their own and it can lead to fatal falls. Keep things that patients need frequently close to them so they do not feel the need to get out of the bed on their own.
For instance, keep water by their bedside alongside something to eat so they don’t try to get out of bed on their own at night, in the darkness thus eliminating some potential accidents.
You can use some bed rail alternatives or DIY bed rails for elderly, as additional help in your bed frame. For example, use bed exit alarms and motion sensors or pressure pads that can alert you or the patient’s caregiver so proper assistance can be provided.
You can also provide the patient with a paging device or call button so they can alert the required people when they need any assistance or start to feel suffocated.
These cases are extremely common when senior patients have dementia or other cognitive diseases. So do not hesitate and apply video monitoring that can alert you of any audio and video movement that takes place. You should always keep the bed as low and close to the floor as you possibly can.
Using the right kind of mattresses also plays a huge role when it comes to thinking about bed safety rail for adults. Usage of concave mattresses or wedges alongside bed rails or other bed rail alternatives is the best bet as it makes sure that the patient’s head doesn’t get trapped between the rail and mattress cushion.
If you cannot get your hands on wedges or concave mattresses, try to get your hands on bed rail bumper covers. These covers close the gaps in the rails and if they are installed properly, can greatly reduce the chances of feeling trapped or suffocated.
But make sure that during installation, these covers are pulled all the way below the mattress to eliminate any gap under the rail and above the mattress as well.
The mattress that you are using should be thick and of good quality, as they have negligible to no gap between itself and the rails which provide the best sturdiness.
Things to Keep in Mind While Buying and Installing Bed Rails:
Just finding a suitable bed rail or a bed rail alternative is not enough. Buying and installation also need your equal attention. The size and weight of the patient play an important role when it comes to the choice of bed rail that he or she needs.
It is important to know that not all combinations of bed frames, mattresses and bed rails work. Take assistance from not only the patient’s doctor but also the manufacturer so you make the right decision and your frame and mattress fit.
When the rail is being installed, there is no gap between the top of the mattress and the bed rail where the patient can get their head entrapped and suffocate.
With time, the perfectly fit mattress can create a gap that can lead to potential entrapment. So, one should keep checking the patient’s mattress as gaps can be made by just movement as well. Using bed rails covers or other bed rail alternative tips always help.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Some frequently asked questions about bed rails and bed rail alternatives have been answered below:
1. Are Bed Rails Dangerous?
Bed rails can cause suffocating and entrapment which can lead to injuries and even death. But these risks can be minimized using the correct aids. Or else, there are ample alternatives to bed rails for elderly. So, you are bound to find the right fit for you.
2. What Kind of Mattress Should I Use for Beds with Rails?
The best choice is going to be a concave mattress. Or one can use bed wedges to get the same elevated effect.
If one cannot afford these, the normal mattress that is being used should be of quality and heavy, so there is no gap between the rails and mattress which is the main reason for accidents and falls.
3. What Are Diy Bed Rails for Elderly?
DIY stands for do it yourself. DIY bed rails for elderly are bed rails that one can build themselves. Not everyone can afford to buy bed rails and that is why many people have been taught how to create bed rails or structures similar to the same that work on the same principle and provide the same stability and support.
There are many videos available on YouTube as well. Following is a link to one such video tutorial for DIY bed rails for elderly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spup_ufbzO0
4. Can Baby Monitors Be Used for Supervising Adults?
The basic aim of monitoring senior patients is to make sure that help can be provided if a senior patient needs help with movement at night or starts suffocating and needs the urgent attention of the nurse.
This purpose can be served perfectly by baby monitors as well so of course, baby monitors can be used for supervising adults.
5. Are Full-Length Bed Rails Best Suited for All Beds?
The type of bed rails does not only depend upon the type of bed but also on the requirement of the patient. Those people who have little control over their movements require full-length bed rails while those who have considerable control over their mobility can attain the required support using a pole or a bed handle.
So, the choice of bed rail depends mostly on the purpose of why you are installing the rails or alternatives to bed rails for elderly.
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Ending the Article:
Bed rails are a necessary safety measure, they are not a restriction. Despite all that bed rails have to offer in terms of security and stability, they also come with possible safety threats like suffocating or potential trips and falls.
For the very same reason, there are a bunch of alternatives to bed rails for elderly available.
Ranging from better-suited mattresses to overhead poles to monitors and pagers, you are bound to find something that suits not just your needs but is also reliant and pocket friendly.