The Best Pillows for Seniors & Elderly Who Want Better Sleep Now!

By: Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS®

When most people think of pillows, they think of relaxation and comfort. In reality, however, pillows are used to help support the head, spine, shoulders, and neck when sleeping. This comprehensive guide will explain what to look for in a pillow and recommend the best pillows for older adults who want quality sleep.

Income Disclosure: I recommend products based on my personal experience working with seniors. I may earn a commission on items purchased from links in this guide. Learn More.

White, fluffy, rectangular, square, velvety, firm, name it! Pillows come in all shapes, sizes, and kinds, and although at face value they appear to be similar, they differ significantly in comfort and body support.

Pillows help alleviate and even prevent many common types of back and neck pain, as well as shoulder, hip, and other types of joint pain when used properly. They also keep the upper body aligned while sleeping, alleviating pressure and harmonizing the body’s points.

Pillows can therefore be beneficial components of a senior’s bed. As we all know, growing older brings with it a slew of physical issues such as neck pain, weak spines, backaches, hip injuries, an unstable lower body, lower back pain, and so on.

So, as an older adult or caregiver of an elderly person, you must find the appropriate aids and remedies to manage sleep quality effectively. One of these remedies is the use of a good pillow.

Top 8 Best Pillows for Seniors & Elderly

Here are my recommended pillows to help older adults get a better nights sleep. In the next sections, I’ll show you how to shop for a pillow that meets your individual needs.

myWoolly® Side Pillow

my woolly side pillow
  • Best for Side Sleepers
  • Standard/Queen Sizes
  • Filled with 100% natural Shropshire wool
  • High Loft
  • Machine Washable
  • 5 Year Warranty

This pillow is completely adjustable which makes it a great choice for side sleepers, stomach sleepers, and even seniors who sleep on their backs. It is inherently hypoallergenic and breathable since it is made from wool filler (natural cotton sateen, 300TC). The pillow provides its users with three important sleep benefits: health, support, and comfort. As such, it’s perfect for the elderly.

Additionally, because it can be curved, bent, or positioned to fit a senior’s sleeping needs, it has been known to provide extra support and pressure relief for the neck, shoulders, and spine. In the package are 3 washable pillowcases backed by a 5-year warranty and anti-aging properties.


myMerino® Pillow by Sleep and Beyond

myMerino Pillow
  • Best for Back/Side Sleepers
  • Standard/Queen Sizes
  • Filled with certified organic merino wool
  • Medium Loft
  • 5 Year Warranty

This is a medium fill organic merino wool pillow with a certified organic cotton percale cover. These wool fibers act as springs helping support the head and neck without collapsing as the night goes on.

It obliterates the “wet-and-soggy-pillow-while-I-sleep” nightmare. This is because it is made of natural material and therefore has all of the advantages of natural wool, such as breathability. It also promises mite resistance, environmental friendliness, and it is hypoallergenic as well.

The merino pillow is ideal for year-round relaxation, health, and support. As such, elders can sleep more and spend less time tossing and turning. It comes in both standard and queen sizes and comes with a 5-year warranty from the manufacturer.


Faux Down GhostPillow by GhostBed

  • Best for Side Sleepers
  • Queen/King Sizes
  • Filled with Natural Kapok Fibers
  • High Loft
  • Machine Washable
  • 120 Night Money Back Guarantee
  • 5 Year Warranty

The GhostPillow – Faux Down is best suited to side and back sleepers with neck pain. It measures 7” thick and is stuffed with plush-down alternative fibers. The fill cushions the head and neck for a cloud-like experience, while the pillow as a whole is fairly soft, yet many people won’t find sinkage to be an issue.

It also comes with a Ghost Ice fabric cover woven with phase-change technology, which improves heat regulation. For added breathability, the down substitute fibers are infused with gel. When the pillow has to be cleaned, the entire pillow may be washed and dried in a home machine, saving you time and money.


Layla Kapok Pillow

layla kapok pillow
  • Best for Side Sleepers
  • Queen/King Sizes
  • Filled with Natural Kapok Fibers
  • High Loft
  • Machine Washable
  • 120 Night Money Back Guarantee
  • 5 Year Warranty

This pillow is available in two sizes: queen and king. It fulfills the dual job of relieving neck pain while also keeping you cool while sleeping. It’s made from shredded memory foam mixed with kapok tree fibers. As a result, the pillow is as soft and consistent as natural down. The Kapok Pillow should also maintain a pleasant temperature because neither of these fabrics absorbs a lot of heat.

Furthermore, copper is infused into the pillow’s cover, which provides natural cooling characteristics to keep the pillow’s surface cold. It also includes an adjustable loft, which can be adjusted by unzipping the cover and adding or removing as much fill as desired. So, it holds the promise of superior comfort for those who sleep on their sides, stomachs, or backs.


Nolah AirFoam™ Pillow

nolah air foam pillow
  • Best for Side/Back/Combo Sleepers
  • Queen Size
  • Filled with temperature neutral AirFoam
  • Medium Loft
  • 120 Night Risk Free Trial
  • 2 Year Warranty

This pillow is known as the coolest pillow in town. From the inside to the outside, it’s made of superior cooling materials. The cooling Outlast® phase-change cotton cover keeps the skin dry and comfortable all night long, while the AirFoam material minimizes heat build-up. It’ll also suit any sleeper because of its soft and supportive texture.

It’s ideal for side, back, and combo sleepers who want their necks to be aligned and their shoulders to be relieved of pressure. The pillow is softer than ordinary pillows and has more bounce while maintaining excellent support for a restful night’s sleep. All of these characteristics make it ideal for the frail bodies of seniors.


Saatva Down Alternative Pillow

saatva down alternative pillow
  • Best for Side Sleepers Who Cuddle Their Pillow
  • Queen/King Sizes
  • Filled with Microdenier Down Alternative
  • High Loft
  • 45 Day Free Returns
  • 1 Year Warranty

The fluffy and airy texture of this Hypoallergenic pillow is the perfect recipe for beautiful dreams. It’s made from a down alternative and has a light and airy sensation that makes users feel like they’re sleeping on a cloud. It’s made to look and feel like classic down pillows, which provide both comfort and durability.

The pillow is available in king and queen sizes, it’s breathable, hypoallergenic, and has an attractive satin piping finish. It provides higher support and endurance than a typical fiber filling because of its supporting memory fiber clusters. This makes it ideal for our older adults.


Body Positioning Pillow: Sunnors® Lumbar Support

This one is a specialty pillow for back support for the elderly. It has a cotton fiber cover and is filled with quality medical-grade memory foam. The superior memory foam is hypoallergenic, antimicrobial, and dust mite resistant, so it will stay in shape for a long time.

It’s a versatile supporting posture pillow for the elderly and as such can be used to relieve pressure under the lower back, knees, stomach, and ankles. It is also suitable for those who sleep on their backs or sides. Seniors can use this pillow to improve their posture and relieve back leg, and hip pain.


Best Bed Wedge for Elderly: Bedsore Rescue® Jewel

This jewel pillow is a great option for seniors looking for support and pressure relief in a contoured bed wedge pillow. For even pressure distribution, the cushion is composed of high-efficiency foam layers. It has a 30-degree tilt design that is recommended, as well as a moisture-proof cover.

The top side is made of a soft, antibacterial, water-resistant nylon, with a non-skid bottom to prevent slipping. Its curved form relieves pressure on the spine and tailbone while equally dispersing weight, making it a perfect alternative for seniors with back problems.

What’s In Your Pillow: Pros & Cons of Various Pillow Filling Options

The first feature to consider is the fill of your pillow. There are lots of options – each with their own unique pros and cons. To select the best pillow for yourself or a seniors loved one, understanding pillow fill options is the best place to start.

1. Polyester

Polyester filling is the most popular and affordable pillow filler, making polyester pillows simple to repair. While polyester pillows are soft and last longer than cotton pillows, over time they become lumpy and less supportive, so they may need to be replaced more often

Pros:

• Readily available
• Inexpensive
• Have hypoallergenic stuffing
• Are machine washable
• Do not retain odors

Cons:

• Becoming lumpy over time
• Have a shorter lifespan
• Less supportive


2. Memory Foam

This is a type of firm, moldable foam that you may already be familiar with. It was originally designed for space flight safety but has since become a popular choice for pillows, mattresses, and other soft furnishings.

Pros:

• Denser than polyester or shredded foam pillows
• Tends to adhere to the shape of your head.
• Adapts quickly to provide the appropriate level of support.

Cons:

• Not as breathable as others so might make your head a little hot at night.
• Memory foam may contain chemicals which can irritate the skin and other body parts.


3. Latex Foam

Latex can be synthetic or natural, made from tree sap. Latex pillows are made from a single layer or chunks of latex. Latex responds to the body differently than memory foam. It has more spring to the touch and recovers to its shape faster after being compressed.

Pros:

• Biodegradable
• Flame-resistant
• Extremely durable.
• Mold and mildew resistant, as well as bed bug and dust mite resistant.

Cons:

• Latex pillows are more expensive


3. Natural Wool Fibers

Wool fibers are a newer entry into the pillow filling world. They are completely natural, free from synthetic materials, and are hypoallergenic. Their popularity has increased with the organic, all-natural, and chemical-free movements. If you have trouble regulating your temperature when you sleep, they can be a great choice for you.

Pros:

• Hypoallergenic & natural
• Excellent temperature regulation
• Easy to care for
• Has a great smell

Cons:

• Wool filling flattens out over time and needs more frequent fluffing


5. Down and Feathers

Down filling comes from the soft, delicate down feathers of ducks and geese. It has anti-allergic properties. Bacteria, fungi, and other organisms are also not attracted to it. In comparison to any other fill material on the market, this makes it a significantly healthier option.

Unfortunately, many people find that the feathers become displaced beneath their head’s weight, compromising the support they provide. Note that down-alternative pillow filling has the same feel as genuine down and is a hypoallergenic and cost-effective alternative to real down.

Pros:

• Soft and offer excellent conforming
• Often customizable, allowing owners to adjust the loft by taking out feathers or adding more
• Hypoallergenic

Cons:

• Feather pillows tend to lose their loft as the feathers get compressed over time.


6. Buckwheat

Buckwheat is a tiny, dry seed that is used as a pillow filling. Some people enjoy the way a buckwheat pillow molds to their head and neck, while others may find them excessively noisy (the seeds rustling as you move) or too rigid.

Pros:

• The hulls interlock naturally and keep their shape
• Excellent choice for head and neck support.
• Breathable, allergen-resistant, durable, and environmentally friendly.

Cons:

• High price tag
• Produce some noise when you shift positions
• May take some getting used to because they aren’t as soft as other standard pillows

RELATED: Best Bedding for Seniors & Elderly

What to Look For When Shopping for Pillows for Older Adults

Here are some important factors to consider when shopping for a bed pillow for yourself or a senior or elderly loved one.

Sleeping Position

Before thinking about your new pillow, you must first know your typical sleeping position. Your preferred sleeping position determines the type of pillow you need for maximum support and comfort.

Back sleepers require the least amount of head and neck support and should therefore opt for a low or medium density or a contour pillow. An excessively dense pillow may press their heads forward and cause the neck to overextend.

Side sleepers on the other hand should go for medium-density pillows for additional support. These maintain the neck and head aligned with the body. Without the right kind of support, an elderly who sleeps on the side could easily suffer from shoulder soreness.

Lastly, stomach sleepers require soft, low-density pillows, which are simple to set up and prevent the neck from being overextended laterally.

You can read more about the best sleeping positions for seniors and the elderly here.

Pillow Filling

There are different types of pillow fillings available. Some include polyester, feathers, wool, memory foam, and many others. In the next section, I’ll go over these options in detail for you. The type of filling affects durability as well as how comfortable and supportive it is. That said, pay close attention to the different materials to know which one is suitable for you.

Pillow Size

Most people think the bigger the pillow, the better it is. This criterion is often misplaced. To know the right size of a pillow for you, look at the size of your bed. When the pillow matches the size of your bed, it not only looks wonderful but it also gives support regardless of how much you move while sleeping. From here, choose between the standard, queen, and king pillow sizes.

Breathability

It’s difficult to get a decent night’s sleep when you’re hot and sweating. Instead of trapping heat, you want a pillow that allows air to travel through. As a general rule, the denser the pillow filling, the less breathable it will be for your head and neck.

The pillows that stay coolest are usually constructed of polyester or shredded foam because they allow good air flow. Look for a cooling cover of bamboo or specialty cooling fabrics.

Firmness

Pillow firmness is divided into 4 categories: soft, medium soft, firm, and very firm. A feather pillow is the softest and has the most give. It is also flexible and collapsible enough to fit most sleeping habits. On the other hand, memory foam pillows are the firmest and are a moldable alternative that is perfect for neck and shoulder support.

RELATED: Best Neck Support Pillows for Seniors & Elderly

To know how firm a pillow is, press down on it. To get a feel for what you’re buying, shake, fluff, squeeze, and even lay on it if possible. If your pillow is constructed of a loose filling rather than a slab of foam, see if it keeps its shape after you fluff it and if there are any bumpy places. You want a pillow with a consistent shape and thickness.

Pillow Loft

This refers to the angle of your head with respect to your spine when sleeping. A pillow that is too high or too low forces your neck to bend at an unnatural position. This can cause strain and pain over time. So, opt for a pillow loft that aligns your head and neck with your spine. If you’re not sure what loft you want, a pillow with an adjustable loft can be a good option.

Specialty Pillows

As mentioned before, aging comes with its fair share of body pains. Fortunately, there are some unique pillows called specialty pillows. They’re designed to ease pressure points and provide support for seniors with medical issues like strokes or to support specific sleeping positions.

If you have back or spine difficulties, these can be an excellent option because they are expressly developed to provide personalized support so you can sleep soundly even in unpleasant situations.

Conclusion: Finding The Best Pillows for Seniors & Elderly

Is your mom, dad, grandpa, friend, or any other loved one having trouble sleeping through the night? Take a close look at what’s on their bed! The quality of their pillow could improve their sleeping patterns unbelievably.

As such, start by evaluating the factors discussed and then choose one of the recommended choices to make your search easier. This way, you can find a pillow that is comfy, simple to use, and supportive to ensure that your senior doesn’t have any sleeping problems!

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