Bed rails are a great safety device for elderly seniors, but not everyone likes the idea of a bed rail. In this article, we’ll look at several alternatives for bed rails that can provide similar protection.
Why do Seniors Need a Bed Rail (Or Some Kind of Alternative)?
Bed rails are a valuable safety aid that allows seniors to rest comfortably in bed without fear of rolling out. It’s not unusual for seniors to have accidents and fall when repositioning themselves in bed, and bed rails go a long way to preventing this.
Bed rails can also offer a bit of extra support and a sturdy handhold to assist a senior getting in and out of bed (although you should never put your full weight on one).
For any elderly senior who is concerned about rolling out of bed or struggles to get in and out of bed safely, bed rails can provide great added protection and security.
Why Seniors Might Want a Bed Rail Alternative
Despite the value of bed rails in the home, some seniors may not love the idea of having bed rails installed alongside their bed.
Some reasons why an individual may not want a bed rail include:
- They find bed rails unattractive and an eyesore
- They don’t they think need a bed rail
- They associate bed rails as something for someone who is extremely frail and weak
- They take up too much space on the sides of the bed or don’t fit within the space allotted for the bed
These are all valid concerns, and we’ll discuss how to address these feelings in our alternatives below!
Different Bed Rail Alternatives for Seniors to Consider
For a senior that isn’t thrilled about the idea of a bed rail, there are a few alternative options that may work. While there aren’t many mobility aids that provide the exact same benefits as a bed rail (ie prevention from rolling out of bed and support getting in and out of bed), there are many options that provide some benefits that overlap with bed rails.
1. Bed Bumpers
For the elderly who aren’t really fans of having a bed rail, bed bumpers might serve as an alternative.
Bed bumpers are basically thick, raised bolster cushions that sit on each side of the bed. The bumpers are placed under the bed’s fitted sheet, which usually is able to keep the bolster more-or-less in place, so long as no one attempts to move or alter it.
They provide just enough resistance to prevent someone from rolling out of bed and are often used to keep young toddlers safely in bed. They’re also quite affordable!
Bed bumpers don’t offer much help if an elderly individual has a hard time adjusting themselves in bed or getting in and out of bed, as there’s no support handle to hold.
2. Concave Mattress
A concave mattress is basically a mattress with bed bumpers baked in, but in one enclosed shape. These mattresses feature soft, raised edges which keep sleepers from rolling out of bed.
These mattresses are most helpful for seniors who don’t have a problem adjusting themselves in bed. However, concave mattresses may make it more difficult for a senior to exit the bed, as the raised edges make it somewhat more challenging to roll to the edge of the bed and sit up, requiring slightly more force and push to get over the raised portion.
Still, the difficulty added should be minimal, and concave mattresses are still a solid option where preventing the senior from rolling out of bed is the main concern.
3. Adjustable Beds
An adjustable bed is a bed that lets the sleeper adjust the height and angle of the bed as needed.
Many adjustable beds can half the top half be raised to make it easier for seniors to sit up independently of the bottom half, which can also be raised if desired. These types of beds function similar to how a lift chair recliner would!
Adjustable beds are often a good option for seniors who require help getting out of bed, as the lift feature allows a senior to elevate the top portion of the bed, making it easier to roll forward and sit on the side of the bed while existing. The user needs less strength to push up since part of the bed is already raised.
Adjustable beds don’t require any unattractive attachments and look just like a normal bed! The downside is that they don’t protect the sleeper from rolling out of bed and can be quite costly. Still, if you’re shopping for a new bed anyhow, these might be a good consideration.
4. Bed Trapeze
A bed trapeze is a great option for individuals who have difficulty adjusting themselves in bed.
A bed trapeze is basically a small bar that hangs down over the sleeper’s head. The sleeper can grab the bar to pull their upper body up just enough to easily move or adjust themselves.
Many bed trapezes feature a bar that hangs down from a pole that goes up and over the sleeper’s head and attaches at the headboard. The benefit of a bed trapeze is that it won’t take up any additional space on the sides of the bed – it only may require some extra space at the top of the bed for the bar installation.
However, if a senior is against the idea of bed rails due to aesthetic reasons, a bed trapeze bar would likely be considered even more of an eyesore by most.
5. Bed Alarm
A bed alarm can provide peace of mind for caregivers of seniors who experience nighttime falls.
Bed alarms are small, battery-operated devices that emit a loud, piercing sound to call attention to an elderly individual who may be in danger or experiencing a fall.
Bed alarms typically feature a sensor pad that is placed under the senior. When the sensor detects a change in the weight distribution and pressure, the alarm goes off.
If a person does fall while sleeping, these alarms can warn others in the home to help get the senior back into bed. Of course, the major downside of bed alarms is that they do not prevent falls from happening in the first place, which is likely the preferred and safest option.
6. Bed Step With a Handrail
A bed step with a handrail is an easy way to help seniors get in and out of bed.
Bed steps are small, sturdy platforms the sit at side of the bed where the sleeper enters and exits. Many bed steps feature comfortable built-in handrails to assist in stepping up into and getting down off of one’s bed.
However, bed steps do not inhibit movement around the bed at all, and only function to provide stability while entering and exiting the bed. They do nothing to prevent falls or stop a senior from rolling out of bed.
Bed steps are fairly affordable, making them a good option for seniors who only need a bit of support entering and exiting the bed and don’t need to worry about rolling out of bed during the night.
7. Choose a More Attractive Bed Rail
Some seniors hate the idea of bed railings because they consider them an eyesore. However, there are many elegant bed rail options that are a far cry from the ugly industrial plastic designs that you’ll find attached to hospital beds.
Some models of rails have padding or stained colored metal to make them look nicer in your home. Bed rails don’t have to be unattractive!
8. A Bed Rail With a Storage Case
Some bed rails have handy storage cases that can be draped over the bed rail structure, allowing the item to function basically as a nightstand, providing a handy storage area for glasses, remote controls, or even a book.
While this isn’t exactly a bed rail alternative, it may convince a stubborn senior to install a set of bed rails. The storage compartment also can make a bed rail look less like a mobility device and more like a practical option for keeping items close by in bed.
9. Try a More Compact Bed Rail
Some seniors may be open to a bed rail if it’s a sleeker, more discreet design. No tall bed rails need to stretch across the entire length of the bed. Some bed rails just feature a single rounded bar to offer a more minimalistic look and take up less space.
Since these bed rails feature a more simple design, they also tend to be cheaper than longer-length bed rails.
10. Posey Bed
A posey bed is a hospital-style bed that features a soft mesh cover that basically traps a sleeper inside.
While it may sound a bit extreme, this is often the safest option for elderly seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s who may try to crawl out of bed during the night due to disorientation and confusion.
They also provide great safety for any senior who is nervous about accidentally rolling out of bed during the night.
Of course, considering the more advanced design of these beds, they often come with a hefty price tag.
Seniors who are unable to use bed rails or do not like the idea of railings around their bed should consider why they are against the idea. It’s important to ask themselves how important the safety and peace of mind that a railing offers is to them.
While there are plenty of bed rail alternatives, very few options provide the dual protection against rolling out of bed and support getting in and out of bed that bed rails do.
No matter which option a senior chooses, always make sure you consult with a professional when installing any kind of medical safety equipment.
Have you ever employed the use of a bed rail alternative? Why was a traditional bed rail not a good option for you? Let us know in the comments!
Last update on 2021-09-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API