The alternatives to bed rails that we’ll be discussing in this article include roll guards, bed wedges, foam bumpers, concave mattresses, posey beds, grab bars, ceiling trapeze, platform beds and adjustable beds. Some are to help seniors from falling out of bed and others are to assist them getting in and out of bed.
Each of these alternatives has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it is important for a senior or family member to consider the specific needs and preferences of individual adults when deciding on an appropriate bed safety solution.
Ultimately, the best option will depend on a number of factors, including age, mobility level, medical conditions, and the overall safety risks associated with each alternative.
Table of Contents
Are Bed Rails Safe For Elderly Adults?
When elderly adults are unable to get in and out of bed on their own, a bed assist rail can help keep them from falling or rolling off the mattress.
Although a safety bed rail may seem like an ideal solution, even the best bed rails have some potential dangers that you should be aware of before making a decision about using them for yourself or an aging loved one.
One of the main dangers of bed rails is that they can actually trap a person in the bed. If an elderly adult becomes tangled in the railings, they could be at risk for serious injuries or even death.
I know that I have seen this happen a few times when I worked in nursing homes with patients who had dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Bed rails can also create a tripping hazard if they are not properly installed or maintained.
- Bed rails can also interfere with access to the bathroom, which can lead to incontinence problems.
- Bed rails can create a serious safety hazard if they are not properly installed or maintained.
- Bed rails can interfere with access to the bathroom, which can lead to incontinence problems.
- Bed rails can be expensive.
- Bed rails can be uncomfortable.
- Some bed rail designs can make it difficult to change the sheets.
Overall, there are a number of potential disadvantages associated with using bed rails for elderly individuals.
Bed Rail Alternatives To Prevent Falling Out Of Bed
There are certain types of bed rails that can help to prevent older adults from falling out of bed. The alternatives to these types include:
- Roll Guards
- Bed Wedges
- Foam Bumpers
- Concave Mattresses
- Posey Beds
Although these safety rails can help family caregivers to keep their senior loved ones safe, they are not full proof.
Bed side rails should not be used as a substitute for proper monitoring, especially for people afda.gov
Bed Rail Alternatives To Help Seniors In And Out Of Bed
And then there are certain types of bed rails that can help to assist an elderly person getting into and out of bed. The alternatives to these types include:
- Grab bars
- Ceiling trapeze
- Platform bed
- Adjustable bed
Roll guards are designed to help keep seniors from rolling out of bed. They are usually made of foam and fit around the edge of the mattress.
Advantages Of Roll Guards
- Prevent falling out of bed: Roll guards are effective at preventing seniors from rolling out of bed, which can help reduce the risk of falls and injuries.
- Soft material: They are made of soft, durable foam that provides a comfortable and secure fit around the mattress.
- Easy to use: They are easy to position and adjust to suit the size and shape of different beds.
- Adaptable: Roll guards can be used with a variety of different bedding materials, including foam mattresses, spring mattresses and adjustable beds.
- Cheap: They are generally inexpensive and easy to find at medical supply stores and online retailers.
Disadvantages Of Roll Guards
- Difficult for seniors with mobility problems: They can be difficult to get in and out of bed with, especially for seniors who have mobility issues.
- Uncomfortable: They can make it harder to move around in bed, which can be a problem for seniors who need to change positions often.
- Large: They can be bulky and take up a lot of space, which can be an issue for small beds.
- Hard to clean: They can be difficult to clean, especially if they are made of fabric.
Overall, roll guards offer a simple and effective way for seniors to stay safe in bed while they sleep. They can provide peace of mind for both seniors and their caregivers, while also helping to prevent falls and injuries.
Whether you’re looking for a foam rail to use at home or need a portable option that’s suitable for travel, there are many different types of roll guards available on the market today.
Extra Tall Roll Guards
2. Bed Wedges
Bed wedges are soft, cushiony pieces of foam that are normally placed under the feet, knees, or hip area of a bed to help support and position an elderly person comfortably while they sleep.
They can also be used as an alternative to a traditional bed rail. Wedges can help reduce the risk of falls and provide a more comfortable sleeping experience for elderly people.
Advantages Of Bed Wedges
- Soft: Bed wedges are soft and cushiony, making them more comfortable than bed rails.
- Prevent falls: Wedges can help reduce the risk of falls and provide a more stable sleeping surface for elderly people.
- Easy to use: Unlike bed rails, which often require mechanical assembly or installation, wedges can be easily moved and re-positioned as needed.
- Adaptable: Some wedges are designed to be used with concave mattresses that help prevent rolling off the bed, further reducing the risk of falls and injuries.
Disadvantages Of Bed Wedges
- Costly: Bed wedges can be expensive, depending on the size and features of the wedge.
- Uncomfortable: Some bed wedges are not adjustable, meaning they may not be as comfortable for all body types and sizes.
- Large: Wedges can take up a lot of space in a small bed, making it difficult to move around or reposition in the event of an emergency.
If you’re considering using a bed wedge, be sure to talk to Occupational Therapist first to ensure it’s the right solution for you.
Bed Wedges To Prevent Falls
3. Foam Bumpers
Foam bumpers are a type of bed rail that is placed around the sides of the bed. They are usually made of foam or other padded material and can be used to help prevent a person from rolling out of bed.
How do they work?
Foam bumpers work by providing a barrier to keep a person from rolling out of bed. They can be placed under the fitted sheet or on top of the mattress, depending on your preference. Some bumpers come with a safety strap that attaches to the bed frame and make them easier to use.
Advantages Of Foam Bumpers
- Affordable: Foam bumpers provide a simple and affordable alternative to traditional bed rails.
- Easy to use: They are easy to install and remove, making them ideal for use in temporary settings or when traveling.
- Soft materials: They are made from soft, padded material that is comfortable against the skin and does not cause irritation or bruising.
- Secure: Some bumpers also come with straps or other attachment mechanisms that help keep them secure and in place.
- Hypoallergenic: They are usually made from hypoallergenic materials, making them a good choice for individuals who have allergies or sensitivities to more traditional bed rails.
- Popular alternative: While bumpers are not a perfect solution for everyone, they can be an excellent alternative to traditional bed rails in many cases and provide additional safety without the negative side effects of their metal counterparts.
Foam bumpers can be a useful alternative to bed rails for people who are at risk of falling out of bed. They can also be used to help keep a person from rolling off the bed if they have a condition that makes it difficult to stay in one position.
An inexpensive option to foam bumpers are Pool Noodles. Pool Noodles are hollow foam tubes that are usually made from either a waterproof PVC or vinyl. They can be cut in half and then used as bumpers for a bed, making them easy to transport and store.
Disadvantages Of Foam Bumpers
- Not as supportive: Foam bumpers may not provide as much support as bed rails, and they may not stay in place as well if the person moves around a lot while they are sleeping.
- Not as convenient: They may also be more difficult to install and take down, making them less convenient than bed rails.
Foam Bumpers To Prevent Falls
4. Concave Mattress
A concave mattress is a type of bedding designed specifically to help prevent elderly individuals from rolling off the bed. These mattresses feature a raised edge around the perimeter, which helps keep occupants in place.
They are typically made from soft, high-density foam and can be customized to fit any type of bed frame or size.
Advantages Of Concave Mattresses
- Prevent falling out of bed: They help keep elderly individuals from rolling off the bed.
- Soft material: They are typically made from soft, high-density foam.
- Customizable: They can be customized to fit any type of bed frame or size.
- Supportive: They provide support and comfort while sleeping.
- Reduce bed sores: They help reduce the risk of pressure ulcers and other injuries.
- Affordable: They may be more affordable than traditional bed rails or other mobility aids.
- Senior friendly: They can be a good option for individuals with limited mobility or dexterity issues.
- Easy to put up: They are easy to install and remove, making them ideal for temporary use or situations where full-time safety rails are not necessary.
- Variety: They are available in a variety of colors and styles to match any décor.
Disadvantages Of Concave Mattresses:
- Not as comfortable: They may be less comfortable than traditional mattresses, especially for individuals with pressure sores or other injuries.
- Cost more: They can be more expensive than other types of mattresses, particularly if they are specialized for pressure relief and other medical needs.
- Not suitable for everyone: They may not be suitable for all elderly individuals, as certain health conditions or mobility issues may make it difficult to use concave mattresses safely.
- Not supportive enough: They may not provide enough support or pressure relief, which can lead to additional health problems for older individuals.
- Not as durable: They may not be as durable or long-lasting as other types of mattresses, especially if they are not properly cared for or used continuously .
- Difficult to clean: They are often more difficult to clean and disinfect than traditional flat mattresses, which can be a concern for elderly individuals who may be more vulnerable to illness or infection.
Concave Mattress For Seniors
5. Posey Beds
Posey beds are an alternative to bed rails for elderly people who are at risk of rolling out of bed. Posey beds have a padded frame that goes around the outside of the mattress, and a series of straps that attach the frame to the bed.
This prevents the person from being able to roll out of bed, and also provides extra support to help keep them in a safe sleeping position.
Advantages Of Posey Beds
- Less likely to cause injury: They are less likely to cause injury if the person falls out of bed, and they provide extra support and stability to help prevent falling out of bed in the first place.
- More comfortable than bed rails: Posey beds also tend to be more comfortable than bed rails, and can be easily removed when not needed.
- Height adjustable: Many models are also height-adjustable to make it easier for caregivers to help the person in and out of bed.
Disadvantages Of Posey Beds
- Costly: Posey beds can be more expensive than traditional bed rails, and they may not be covered by insurance.
- Not easy to install: They can also be difficult to install, and may require special tools or assistance from a professional.
- May not be comfortable: Some people may also find them uncomfortable, as they can limit movement while in bed.
- Not for all seniors with mobility problems: Finally, Posey beds are not always suitable for elderly people with limited mobility, such as those who are confined to a wheelchair or have difficulty getting out of bed.
Posey Beds For Fall Prevention
6. Platform Beds For Seniors
Platform beds, or flat panel beds, are a type of bed designed to provide firm support and stability for sleeping. These beds feature a raised platform that supports the mattress, which helps prevent sagging. No box spring!
Because they are lower than traditional beds, they can be easier for some seniors to get in and out of.
Platform beds are often a good option for seniors who need extra support for their sleep, as they can help prevent some of the problems associated with aging, such as back pain and pressure sores.
Advantages Of Platform Beds For Seniors
- Good for back pain: Platform beds can help prevent back pain.
- Lower than traditional beds: They are low-profile, so they are a good choice for seniors who have trouble getting in and out of traditional bed styles.
- Good quality construction: Many models are made with high-quality materials and construction techniques that help ensure long-lasting durability, making them a good investment for seniors who want a comfortable and safe sleeping solution.
- Plenty of different designs: Platform beds also offer a range of design options, so it is easy to find one that suits the aesthetic preferences of the senior in your life.
If you are considering alternatives to bed rails for an elderly loved one, a platform bed may be the perfect solution. These beds offer many benefits that make them ideal for seniors, including: safety, comfort, durability, and style.
Disadvantages Of Platform Beds For Seniors
- Not for seniors with mobility problems: For some seniors with limited mobility, these beds can be difficult to get in and out of.
- Firm mattresses: They tend to be firm, so if you are accustomed to a softer mattress, a platform bed may not be comfortable.
Platform Beds For Seniors
7. Adjustable Beds For Seniors
Adjustable beds, also known as electric beds or hospital beds. They are specialized beds that can be raised and lowered to accommodate the needs of different users.
These beds are typically used by elderly or disabled individuals who may require assistance getting in and out of bed or need a higher level of support when sleeping.
There are several different types and brands of adjustable beds available on the market, so it is important to do your research before purchasing one.
If the height of a bed is an issue, you may want to look into adjustable height beds which can be customized to the safest height for yourself or a senior loved one.
Advantages Of Adjustable Beds For Seniors
There are many potential benefits of using an adjustable bed, including:
- Reduced pain and discomfort: Adjustable beds can be helpful for individuals who experience chronic pain or discomfort. By lifting the upper body at an angle, adjustable beds can help to relieve pressure on sensitive areas such as the hips or lower back.
- Improved sleep quality: Adjustable beds can also be beneficial for individuals who have difficulty sleeping. Lifting the upper body and elevating the legs may help ease breathing difficulties, reduce snoring, and promote a more restful sleep.
Disadvantages Of Adjustable Beds For Seniors
- Expensive: Adjustable beds can be quite expensive, often costing several thousand dollars.
- Difficult to use: Many elderly individuals may find it difficult or uncomfortable to use an adjustable bed, especially if they have limited mobility or other health conditions that affect their ability to get in and out of bed on a regular basis
If you or a loved one are considering an adjustable bed, there are several things to keep in mind.
- First, it is important to consult with your doctor or healthcare provider to determine if an adjustable bed is the right choice for your needs.
- Additionally, be sure to purchase an adjustable bed from a reputable manufacturer, as some models on the market may not meet safety standards.
- Finally, be sure to read the user manual carefully and follow all instructions to ensure proper use.
Adjustable Beds For Adults
8. Grab Bars As A Bed Handle
Depending on the position of the bed, a grab bar attached to the wall can be used as a “bed handle” to help the person in bed to safely get in and out of bed.
But, another option is a vertical grab bar that goes from ceiling to floor.
Decorative Grab Bars
9. Ceiling Bed Trapeze
A ceiling trapeze is a mechanical device that can be used by the elderly or physically challenged, especially those suffering from arthritis.
Installed between the ceiling and floor, it functions as a winch system with a boom that hangs down to allow patients to use their upper body strength to pull themselves up while they are in bed.
The patient can then use the trapeze to assist in turning, transferring to a chair or wheelchair, or getting out of bed unassisted.
Advantages Of A Ceiling Trapeze For An Elderly Person
- Multiple advantages: Include increased mobility and independence, reduced risk of injury or falls, and improved overall well-being.
- More independence: Because the trapeze allows patients to easily get in and out of bed without relying on others, they are better able to care for themselves and maintain their quality of life.
- Fall prevention: The trapeze reduces the risk of falling or injury, which is an added benefit for older adults.
Disadvantages Of A Ceiling Trapeze For Seniors
- Need upper body strength: In order to use this, the senior must have good upper body strength.
- Not portable: Once installed it’s not an easy product to move to any other room or bed.
- Not for seniors with cognitive decline: Ceiling trapezes may not be appropriate for all seniors, such as those with dementia or who are at risk for falls. If you are considering a ceiling trapeze for an elderly loved one, be sure to consult with a Physical or Occupational therapist first.
Ultimately, the best option will depend on your individual needs and preferences as well as those of your loved ones. Consulting with an Occupational therapist is recommended before making any decision about which type of alternative to use.
Ceiling Mounted Trapeze
How Do I Choose What Type Of Bed Rail Alternative To Use?
When it comes to choosing what type of bed rail alternative you want to use, there are a few things to consider. Below are some factors that may help you make your decision:
The needs of the individual: One size does not fit all when it comes to choosing an alternative to bed rails. The needs of the individual will play a big role in what type of product you ultimately choose.
For example, if the individual is at risk for falling out of bed, you will want to choose an alternative that will prevent them from doing so.
The type of bed: The type of bed will also play a role in what type of bed rail alternative you choose. For example, if the individual has a hospital bed, you will want to choose an alternative that is specifically designed for that type of bed.
Cost: Cost is always a factor when it comes to choosing any type of product. Since bed rails are NOT covered by Medicare, the expense falls on the family. But, there is an exception.
However, Medicare recipients may be eligible for a hospital bed which includes attachable and adjustable side rails. If the patient already has a hospital bed but it does not include bed rails, Medicare may approve attachable side rails to be used as an accessory to the existing hospital bed.Medicare.org
Do your research to understand what is considered affordable for yourself or the person you are caring for. Also consider whether or not there may be alternative funding sources available to help offset costs.
Installation: Many over-the-bed safety rails require that they be installed on one side of the bed frame and/or attached to the bed mattress.
It is important to be aware of the required installation process and to ensure that you have all the necessary tools and equipment on hand in order to complete it.
Safety: All over-the-bed safety rails must meet certain safety standards in order for them to be deemed safe for use. If purchasing your safety rail online, make sure to check product reviews and how the consumers have rated its overall safety.
For seniors who have a risk of falling out of bed, I would recommend to add any of these other products as an added precaution.
Bed alarms are a sensor that is placed under the mattress. If the person gets out of bed, it will set off an alarm to notify someone else in the house.
Floor Mat with Alarm
A floor mat with alarm is placed on the floor next to the bed. If the person steps off of the bed, it will set off an alarm.
If you or an elderly loved one has fallen out of bed or they are having problems getting into and out of bed, the first thing that usually comes to mind is a bed rail.
And believe me, they are great, but not for everyone.
The alternatives that we’ve listed in this article can be just as effective at providing safety and support for elderly loved ones without the need for a bed rail.
You may find that using a combination of two of these alternatives may work for you too!
Whether you opt for a roll guard, foam bumper, lowering the bed, or using concave mattresses, there are plenty of options to choose from that will help keep your elderly loved one safe and comfortable in their own homes.
So consider these alternatives before deciding on a bed rail for your elderly loved one.