The bedroom is one of the most important rooms in the home.
It’s where we sleep, store our clothes and can serve as a quiet oasis amongst the busyness of home life. It is also, unfortunately, a room in the home where nearly 30% of home falls occur.
These falls often happen at night when we get out of bed to use the bathroom and the lighting is low. However, other factors can increase our risk of injury in the bedroom. These include:
- Morning and evening stiffness or drowsiness
- Dim or absent lighting
- Bed height
Because there are various factors that can lead to a fall in the bedroom, it’s important to implement key fall prevention strategies that can greatly decrease the risk of injury or needing additional care at home.
It’s important to notice how the body responds to medication. It’s not uncommon for some medications to impact blood pressure, dizziness, or drowsiness. That’s why being mindful of medication management is an important fall prevention strategy.
Here are some examples of how you might manage your medications to prevent any falling or tripping in the bedroom.
If you or a loved one could benefit from reevaluating medication or dosages, we suggest you consult your doctor before changing your habits - including how and when you take it.
And be sure to tell the doctor about any side effects that might increase the risk of falling. There may be another medication or dosage alternative that can be taken to decrease negative side effects.
Morning and Evening Stiffness or Drowsiness
Both stiffness and drowsiness can increase the risk of falling, and are both more likely to happen first thing in the morning or late at night. Stiffness can occur from not moving for too long or from overexertion. Either way, this stiffness can impact your balance and reaction time.
To minimize stiffness, we suggest developing a morning and bedtime stretching routine. Having a consistent route to loosen your muscles can be a great fall prevention strategy.
Additionally, drowsiness is more likely to occur early in the morning or late at night - both times we are in the bedroom. Drowsiness decreases your reaction time, awareness of your environment, and strength.
Use the following strategies to combat the effects of drowsiness in the bedroom:
- Install adjustable bed bases to make it easier to get in/out of bed
- Add bed safety rails for better arm support and to prevent rolling out of bed
- Take any medications that increase drowsiness near the bed
- Keep the floor around the bed clear of clutter
Dim or Absent Lighting
Improving bedroom lighting can not only prevent falls when getting in or out of the bed, but also in the middle of the night when we need to use the bathroom.
Regardless of age, many of us experience incontinence or a need to go to the bathroom during the night. This means that when we are drowsy in the middle of the night, it’s common for us to try and quickly get to the bathroom.
Some, if not all, fall prevention strategies need to be implemented in this case.
It’s important to ensure you or a loved one can see the environment around them. The best way to do this is to improve bedroom lighting with motion-sensor lights, night lights, bedside touch activated lamps, or smart lighting (connected to a virtual assistant such as Alexa or Google Home). This additional lighting will increase safety during the night and minimize the risk of not seeing a tripping hazard.
Just like in the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, bed height must be “just right” for fall prevention.
An ideal bed height is typically between 20-23 inches from the top of the bed to the floor. Though the actual ideal height may change depending on the height and the firmness of the mattress. A bed height that is too low will make it difficult to get off the bed, whereas a bed height that is too high may cause the owner to get into the bed. That “just right” bed height can be achieved with simple and cost-effective home modifications.
We suggest you have an occupational therapist help you measure the exact right height to avoid spending extra or unnecessary money. After accessing the height a therapist will be able to recommend bed risers or an adjustable bed base depending on your needs.
Be Ready If a Fall Occurs
Although these four strategies will dramatically decrease the risk of falling, we would be lying if we said all falls are 100% preventable. Because of this, we want every family to be ready if a fall does unfortunately occur.
After a fall, it is important to have quick access to emergency personnel or loved ones who can help. Use the following fall prevention strategies below to ensure that you or a loved one has quick access to assistance after a fall.
- Keep a cell phone or home phone next to the bed at night
- Use a Medical Alert System such as Medical Guardian’s Classic Guardian System
- Move the bedroom to the first floor of the home
- Install a stairlift
The bedroom can be a particularly common place for falls due to the impacts of low-lighting, drowsiness, and medications. Using the fall prevention strategies above, a bedroom can be modified to support aging in the home. Simple changes now can mean long term independence and staying at home for years to come.
And if you or a loved one is thinking about home modifications for aging in the home, please reach out to our Client Care Team. We are here to answer your questions and connect you with a licensed occupational therapist.