Senior Safety: Safer Alternatives to Bed Rails for Seniors with Dementia

Senior Safety: It can be scary when a senior falls out of bed!

Family caregivers want to help keep their loved ones safe, but sometimes they don’t know how. They may reason that side rails will keep their seniors safe from rolling out of bed, however, doing this can cause much bigger problems than it can solve for senior safety.


Senior Safety: Bed Rails

Senior Safety: Bed Rails


What is a Bed Rail?

A bed rail is a set of plastic or metal bars that can be attached to the side of the bed. Some bed rails are short, just half – or even a quarter – of the length of the bed. Other rails extend the entire length of the bed.

Bed rails can be helpful for seniors who may need a handhold to get in and out of bed, to reposition themselves in bed, or those who may accidentally roll out of bed in their sleep. However, they should never be used to keep a confused older adult in bed. In these cases, their dangers far outweigh their benefits!


What are the Dangers of Bed Rails?

If a senior has forgotten about the presence of a bed rail – or doesn’t understand why it’s there or how to use it – they can be badly hurt. Thousands of seniors have sustained serious injuries due to bed rail accidents, and hundreds have even died.

When an arm or leg becomes stuck in between the bars of the bed rail, it can cause cuts, skin tears, bruises or even fractures. Some have gotten their heads or torsos trapped between the mattress and the bed rail, which has led to suffocation or death.

Other seniors have tried to crawl out of bed over the top of the rails, which can lead to a fall with much worse injuries than they would have received from a fall from bed mattress level.


Safer Alternatives to Bed Rails

When an older adult is falling from bed, it’s important to find something that works to reduce their risk of injury. If bed rails aren’t the best option, what is? Thankfully, there are a few options.


Lower the Bed

Sometimes lowering the bed by removing the box springs, or using an adjustable height bed can make it easier and safer for a senior to stand up.


Use a Transfer Pole or Bed Trapeze

If the senior needs something to hold onto to help get in and out of bed, a transfer pole – a sturdy vertical pole can be a good option – can also be a good option. A bed trapeze can also work for some seniors. If a bed rail is necessary, use the smallest possible size to reduce the risk. Discuss your concerns with the doctor, and consult with a physical therapist to determine what would work best for your loved one’s specific needs.


Use Safety Mats

Specially designed safety mats at the bedside can reduce the chance of injury if the senior does fall – but they can be easy to trip over, so use with caution!


Senior Safety: Anticipate Needs

Pay attention to any patterns of when or why your loved one is getting up in the night. Do they need the toilet, or are they restless? Anticipate their needs and help them to the bathroom or take them for a walk before bed to help meet these needs proactively.

It can be a lot for family caregivers to handle senior safety on their own. Consult with a reputable senior care agency to determine how a professional caregiver can help.


If you or an aging loved-one are considering hiring  Caregiver in Smithtown, NY, please call the caring staff at Companion Home Care of Long Island. Senior Home Care serving Suffolk, Nassau, and Queens Counties. Turn your questions into answers. Call Today (631) 884-0005