Many people experience a decline in mobility as they age, which can make everyday activities like getting in and out of bed challenging and even dangerous for seniors.
Making the home safer and more accessible for seniors is critical, and installing bed rails is one of the best ways to do this. Not only do bed rails reduce the risk of falling out of bed, but they also make getting in and out of bed safer and easier for seniors.
Today, we offer some tips when shopping for bed rails and review the best bed rails for the elderly.
Best Bed Rails for Seniors: Product Reviews
Next, we’ll review some of the most popular bed rails in the market to help you make your decision.
An extendable rail in dark metal coloring.
- Extends up to 30 inches
- Lightweight, weighing 8 lbs
- Works for getting in and out of bed as well as fall prevention
This versatile bed rail can be used on any home or hospital bed. Easy to adjust with just a push of a button, the Extend-A-Rail has a length range of 20 to 30 inches and can be installed on either or both sides of the bed.
While the manufacturer does not state whether or not the rails can be used with an adjustable bed, at least a handful of users have had success using these bed rails with an adjustable bed.
It features a simple, modern design that can blend in easily with your bedroom décor. If you dislike the stainless steel look, the Able Life Bedside Rail is a great alternative, with sleek, dark-colored metal.
This is a safe and affordable option for seniors who need extra support getting in and out of bed. Plus, since the length can be extended, it can also potentially be used to prevent a light individual from rolling out of bed.
Note that this bed rail cannot be folded down, making it a more permanent option than alternative products. Also, while a bedside pouch is available, it must be purchased separately.
- Functions well for getting in and out of bed as well as preventing falling out of bed
- Adjustable length between 20 – 30 inches
- Easy assembly that fits mattresses measuring between 8 to 16 inches tall
- Weight capacity of 300 lbs
- Lightweight model, with bed rails weighing 8 lbs
- Dimensions: 30″H x 20-30″W x 18″D
- Storage pocket available for purchase
- Adjustable length for added security
- Organizer pouch for added storage
- Safety strap to keep rail locked in place
- Reviews note excellent customer service
- Height not adjustable
- Rail is fixed and doesn’t lower or fold down
- Organizer pouch not included and is an added purchase
A basic, compact bed rail ideal for getting in and out of bed
Compact and easy to install, this universal bed rail is affordable, ultra-lightweight and ideal for basic needs.
Compact and easy to install, this is a great option for seniors with mild or temporary mobility issues—such as while recovering from hip replacement surgery.
It’s a lightweight model that can be installed on any type of bed frame and works with all standard bed sizes (twin to king). A big advantage is that it’s convenient to maneuver around due to its compact size.
Note that this is a simple, bare-bones product designed to offer a little extra support while getting in and out of bed. If you have significant mobility issues or falling out of the bed at night is a concern, it may not provide the type of support you need.
- Compact design for getting in and out of bed
- Affordable, no-nonsense bed rail that can fit any bed height
- Padded handle for added comfort
- Ultra lightweight model, weighing 2.5 lbs
- Dimensions: 10-18″H x 11″W x 21″D
- Simple assembly
- Adjustable height
- Non-slip handle
- Compact and lightweight frame that’s easy to maneuver around
- Lightweight frame may not feel as secure to a larger individual
- Weight capacity information lacking in product description
A full-featured bed rail with all the bells and whistles
This adjustable bed rail can be easily folded away when not in use and comes with a convenient storage pocket for remotes, glasses, etc.
This is arguably the most versatile bed rail you can find, as it can be installed on hospital beds, regular beds, and adjustable beds.
It’s easy to adjust and is the only bed rail that can fold a full 180 degrees, meaning it’s completely out of the way when not in use.
It also comes with a safety strap to keep it secured and a storage pouch for convenient safekeeping of items like eyeglasses, medication and the TV remote.
It meets the FDA’s stringent bed entrapment guidelines, which is especially important for patients with dementia, which is why we consider this a top bed rail for dementia patients.
On the downside, it’s not the most stylish bed rail due to its large size.
- Higher-end product that offers excellent stability to help with getting in and out of bed and prevent falling out of bed
- Adjustable from 26 to 34 to 42 inches after installation
- Fits all standard bed sizes (twin to California king), as well as hospital beds
- Supports up to 300 lbs of weight
- Easily folds completely out of the way when not in use
- Includes organizer pouch with three pockets
- Length adjustable offering added security
- One of the few bed rails for adjustable beds
- Organizer pouch included
- Fold-down ability an added feature
- Several small pieces and tools make assembly process more cumbersome
- Pricier than other rails
- Larger product at 14 pounds which could feel too bulky to some
4. Essential Medical Supply Hand Bed Rail
Affordable bed rails with non-slip grip
An adjustable bed rail with a sturdy non-slip grip that won’t break the bank.
The Essential Medical Supply Standard Hand Bed Rail features an adjustable height and a non-slip grip handle which make it helpful for basic needs involving getting in and out of bed.
This affordable bed rail system is designed to fit any size bed ranging from twin to king (but not a California King). The system is mounted to the bed via the use of an extendable bar that slips between the mattress and box spring. It also includes a strap that secures the rail to the bed to prevent movement while in use.
The height of the support bar is adjustable, ranging from 17 to 21 inches, and the bed rail can support up to 300 pounds of body weight.
- Portable bed rails that can be collapsed to fit inside of a suitcase
- Ideal for bringing to a vacation or relative’s house
- Simple, no-frills
- No storage pockets or other extras
Bed Rail Risks & Dangers
Extra caution is required when installing bed rails for any individuals with dementia, confusion, or restlessness, as an attempt to climb over the bed rails can result in a fall just as dangerous as rolling out of bed.
While deaths due to bed rails are fairly uncommon (the FDA recorded 155 deaths related to bed rails between 2003 – 2012), there is risk of death to rail entrapment, as well as risk of injury.
Rail entrapment occurs when the individual is caught, wedged, or trapped between the bed and the bed rail or between the bars themselves.
In addition to reading over these safety recommendations prior to installing bed rails, be sure to frequently check the rails to ensure they have not shifted or loosened.
Bed rails should not be used to prevent someone with dementia from getting out of bed. This can result in worse injuries if they try to crawl over the rail.
What are Bed Rails? Why Are They Used?
Bed rails are known by a number of different terms, including assist rails, bed assist bars, safety rails, side rails, stand assists, and bed handles.
These devices typically attach to one’s existing bed frame. They provide a sturdy handhold to assist in moving while lying down, sitting up or getting into or out of bed. Bed rails can also reduce the risk of falling out of bed.
Some bed rail models are longer to enhance fall prevention, but it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers of extended bed rails. In some cases they can cause more safety concerns than the falls themselves!
Questions to Ask When Shopping for Bed Rails
Like with any investment, you need to do a bit of homework before purchasing bed rails. There are many different products available with various pros and cons, and one option might be better for your specific circumstances than another.
Here are some key questions to ask when beginning your search:
- Do I Need Bed Rails? If you or a mobility-impaired loved one has been having a hard time getting in and out of bed lately or simply repositioning within the bed, then bed rails will be helpful.
- Will I Use Bed Rails to Reposition Myself While Lying in Bed? Be sure to find a model that will stand up to repeated movements at high force. Steel is the most durable option. For frequent repositioning, seniors might find a padded non-slip grip most comfortable.
- Are Bed Rails Safe for Me? Bed rails are generally safe when properly installed and used correctly. However, they should never be used as a means to restrain someone in bed and are not a substitute for proper monitoring.
- Do I Need Bed Rails on Both Sides of the Bed? For seniors sleeping alone in bed, installing bed rails on both sides of the bed is considered safest, but if you generally only sleep on one side of the bed, one set of bed rails may be sufficient.
- What Type of Bed Rails Do I Need? There are four basic types of bed rails, which we discuss below—but essentially the decision comes down to your level of mobility and how you intend to use the bed rails.
Types of Bed Rails: Which to Choose
There are four general categories of bed rails:
- Hospital Bed Rails: These are the type of bed rails you see on hospital beds; they are part of the bed itself and cannot be removed. Most individuals will not have hospital bed rails in their home.
- Adjustable Bed Rails: These are any type of railings that can be installed on a typical bed in a home. They are usually installed by placing the connector between the mattress and box spring, or via bed frame staps, and can be adjusted to a variety of lengths.
- Portable Bed Rails: Best for seniors with better mobility, these are lightweight bed rails that can easily be installed and then removed at any time. Some portable bed rails for adults are also adjustable.
- Bars: These go along the side of the bed to aid seniors getting in and out of bed; they do not protect you from falling out of the bed at night. They are best for people who just need a little assistance.
Seniors with mild or temporary mobility issues may be better served by bars or portable bed rails, while people with more significant mobility concerns may want more permanent solutions, such as adjustable bed rails or hospital bed rails.
As with any health-related decision, it’s best to consult with your physician.
What Should an Elder Consider When Choosing the Right Bed Rail?
Elders should ask themselves the following questions before deciding on which bed rail will best meet their needs.
To narrow down your search, there are a few basic things to consider about your current bed and the way you’ll be using the bed rails. These include:
- Type of Bed: What size is your bed, and do you have a box spring or does the mattress lay directly on slats? These factors will determine what type of bed rail would work best. While many bed rails are designed to fit mattresses of varying sizes, some bed rails will only work with certain mattress heights.
- Height of Bed: Is your bed low to the ground or higher up? Folding the bed rails when not in use may be challenging with low-profile beds, so avoid units designed to fold away.
- Weight Limit: Most bed rails have a maximum weight limit, so make sure you know what that is before choosing a product. Always choose a set of bed rails with an appropriate weight limit!
- Grips & Padding. Some bed rails for the elderly have additional grips or padding that provide more comfort. Consider if this is important to you or not – for those with arthritis, this may be a big plus.
- Who Will Be Adjusting the Rails: Will you be pulling the rails up and down yourself or will a caregiver be assisting? Some types of bed rails require more strength to move than others, and it’s important that the bed rails you choose can be safely adjusted.
- How Often Do Sheets Need to be Changed? If incontinence is an issue and you find yourself often changing out washable bed pads or disposable bed pads throughout the week, you’ll want to be sure you are choosing a set of bed rails that doesn’t interfere with this task or make your work much more difficult.
- Other Bedroom Aids. Some seniors employ a variety of bedroom aids, such as overbed tables that make eating and reading in bed more convenient. Consider how your bed rails will work in conjunction with these items and make sure the bed rails are low enough to allow for an overbed table (or simply ensure the two products are installed on opposite sides of the bed).
When comparing bed rail products, also be sure to ask yourself these questions:
- Is the rail complicated to use? It’s usually a good idea to purchase the simplest model that will adequately meet your needs.
- Is the rail physically difficult to use considering arthritis, or other issues? If so, it may be a good idea to avoid features such as knobs.
- Am I likely to bump against the rail, leading to bruises or torn skin? Selecting the smallest effective model and padding it with optional padding, if available, can reduce the risk of injuries caused by bumping against the rail. Using a pillow or blanket to pass the rail can work in some cases as well.
- Do I need a place to store small items like tissues, a phone or remote? Consider choosing an organizer pouch to keep items handy. Not only convenient, this is safer than bending or reaching far for objects.
- Is the rail designed for use with my bed size and style? Not all rails will work with adjustable beds, or beds without box springs or frames.
- Will I need to uninstall and move the rail once it has been installed? Some people appreciate being able to use their bed rail on more than one bed, or take it along on trips. If you’re looking for portable bed rails, be sure to choose a lightweight option.
- How is it assembled and installed? Many models are “easy to assemble” for people in good health but may not be for those with less strength or more physical issues. Make sure you understand skills will be required for installation.
Bed Rail Alternatives
If you’d like to avoid bed rails due to the risks associated with them, there are other tools for fall prevention and bed comfort adjustments. Some popular bed rail alternatives include:
- Bed Bumpers. Foam panels placed on the edge of the mattress to prevent a senior from rolling off the side.
- Bed Rail Bumpers. Padded covers, which are placed over bed rails, helping to eliminate some of the risks of entrapment between the mattress and the bed rail.
- Concave Mattress. These mattresses have raised edges that slope down towards the middle, preventing the elderly from rolling out of bed.
- Adjustable Height Beds. With adjustable beds, you can make the beds very low to the ground so that if an individual does roll out, they won’t fall very far.
- Crash Mats. Crash mats are cushioned mats placed directly below the bed, so that if an individual does fall, the impact won’t be as powerful.
- Bed Alarms. Bed alarms can be installed that notify a caregiver when an elderly individual is trying to get out of bed.
- Bed Trapeze. A system that entails a metal frame anchored to the bed frame that suspends a handle above the bed, which an individual can use to reposition themselves in bed more easily.
- Posey Bed. Posey beds are beds that are completely self-contained with a zippered canopy. Within the zippered enclosure, individuals are safe from rolling off the bed and don’t have the risk of entrapment. They are regularly used in hospitals and are a great option for dementia patients, but they are also quite expensive.
- Bed Stools with Handrails. If a senior just needs a bit of balance help for getting in and out of bed, a sturdy bed step stool with a handrail could provide an easy and convenient solution.
Best Bed Rails for the Elderly: Our Recommendation
Our top pick overall is the Able Life Bedside Extend-a-Rail because it offers a fantastic balance of support and style—and comes with an attractive price tag too.
With that said, the Vive Bed Rail may be a more practical option for seniors who have better mobility and only need a little support while getting in and out of bed.
For elderly people who need as much support as possible and prefer a product with more bells and whistles, the Stander EZ Adjust Bed Rail is certainly worth considering.
Bed rails can give you more independence in your own home, making your daily life safer and more convenient. Be sure to consult with your physician about which bed rail would be best for you.
Have you ever used bed rails in your own home or for a family member or friend? What has your experience been like with them? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Last update on 2020-10-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API