A common misconception about many home modifications, including bed rails, is that they are only designed for hospitals or nursing homes. Though this couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, bed rails can significantly improve safety for you or a loved one at home all while blending into the home environment. If you or a loved one is at risk of falling in the bedroom or has a tendency to roll in and out of bed, a bed rail can help.
What Are Bed Rails?
Bed rails are a home modification that can be installed on the side of one's bed. These rails are designed to provide extra grip and support for those needing additional assistance to pull themselves up, turn in the bed or get out of bed. They are a great solution to minimizing the risk of falling out of bed and make sure one doesn't need to roll themselves to gain bed mobility. This is especially important when needing to get out of bed in the middle of the night, when the room is dark and seeing the edge of the bed is more difficult.
Bed rails are usually made of metal or extra durable plastic and many models come with additional features including comfortable grips or pouches to store items directly next to the bed.
Are They Safe?
Bed rails can be a great additional to the bedroom to increase safety. Though depending on one’s needs and conditions it’s important to ensure that bed rails won’t pose any sort of safety risk. For example, a bed rail might not be safe for someone who experiences episodes of agitation, confusion or for those requiring assistance in toileting. It’s important to consult with an occupational therapist to see if a bed rail is a modification that is appropriate for you or a loved one’s specific needs.
In addition, make sure that a bed rail is always being used properly.
Here are some tips for using them safely:
- Make sure the rails are the correct size for the bed
- Make sure the rail has a weight capacity that meets your needs
- Check the rails regularly to make sure they are secure
What Are The Benefits To Using Bed Rails?
Bed rails can provide a number of benefits for older adults who wish to safely age at home. Some of these benefits include:
- Fall prevention
- Assistance getting in or out of bed
- Creating a sense of security
First, bed rails can significantly help to prevent falls from the bed.
This is especially important for those with a medical condition or age-related concern that may increase their risk of slipping out of bed. Having something to hold onto when sitting up in bed or getting out of bed can help to reduce the risk of sustaining an injury. It also provides a way to sense where the edge of the bed is so that a person does not accidentally roll out or miss the edge.
Assistance getting in or out of bed
Bed rails can also provide additional support to make sure one doesn’t lose their grip or balance when getting in or out of bed. This can be helpful for those who have difficulty moving around or may lack the strength to pull themselves up on their own. The bed rail provides a stable surface to grab onto. Ultimately the bed rail allows arm strength to compensate for any amount of muscle weakness one may experience in their legs.
Creating a sense of security
Finally, bed rails can also create a sense of security and safety for older adults. This can be beneficial for those who may experience anxiety or have a constant fear of falling. Bed rails create a physical boundary that can help ease any worry that one may have of falling out of bed while asleep or if they frequently get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.
How Do You Install Bed Rails?
While bed rails can be assembled and installed by someone at home, we always suggest working with a home improvement installer who knows the specifics of this type of home modification. However, if you would like to consider implementing bed rails on your own here are a few things to note:
- Bed rails usually include screws, washers, and brackets that will need to be installed.
- You’ll need to mark the bed rail's placement on the bed frame. It's important to make sure that the bed rail is placed correctly so that it will be sturdy and secure.
- Before official use, check that the bed rail is securely installed. You can do this by gently shaking the rail to see if it moves or wobbles.
Make sure to read the specific instructions that come with your purchase, as some items may have differences in installation.
Are There Alternatives?
There are several alternatives to bed rails that can be used to improve safety. These include bed wedges and bed alarms. Each of these has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to understand which type will best meet the needs of the individual.
Bed wedges are soft devices that can be used to help keep an older adult safe. They are typically made from foam or plastic and can be wedge-shaped or triangular. Bed wedges are designed to prevent an individual from slipping out of bed, and they can also be used to raise the head of the bed to help with respiratory problems or to prevent pressure injuries.
For those interested in implementing a bed wedge at home, we recommend Mabis Healthcare’s Comfortable Bed Wedge Pillow. This comfortable pillow is made from support foam that provides support and won’t flatten out over time.
- Made from high density foam
- Designed to relieve discomfort from back pain, knee pain and more
- Comes with a machine washable cover
Bed alarms are devices that are attached to the bed and sound an alarm when movement is detected. Although it is still up to a family member or caregiver to find the individual before their fall out of bed, these alarms make it easier to ensure safety when one can’t be directly next to an older adult.
If a bed alarm might be of interest, we recommend Smart Caregiver’s Wireless Bed Alarm. This is a cordless bed sensor pad that one can put under the bed sheets to monitor any movement within the bed.
- 10”x30” cordless and weight sensing
- Sensor pad is soft, latex-free, vinyl and has a foam interior
- Wireless monitoring with a range up to 300 feet
Prevention Is Possible
It’s because of home modifications such as bed rails that preventing a fall in the bedroom is possible. They can be a cost-effective solution to maintaining safety for older adults who may find it challenging to stay independent and mobile in the bed.
There are several types of bed rails available, and it is important to choose the most appropriate product for specific needs. If you're considering adding bed rails to a bed, make sure to schedule a free home safety checkup through Jukebox Health. We connect you with an occupational therapist who is more than happy to access the bedroom environment and pin-point any safety risks.