Elderly people are at an increased risk of experiencing serious consequences of even minor falls. It is no wonder why so many caregivers and loved ones are worried about the risk of elderly people falling out of bed. After all, one out of every five falls results in a serious injury like a broken bone or a head injury in older people.
Because falling out of bed can lead to a hard impact being made while the elderly person is unable to protect himself or herself, it can be very scary. Every year, as many as 3 million older people get treated in an emergency department for related injuries caused by falling.
The good news is, there are products like fall prevention mattresses that can minimize the chances of one getting seriously injured from falling out of bed.
By the end of this article, you will know what fall prevention mattresses are, how to identify a good one, and some of the pros and cons of using one over other alternative options.
How Do Fall Prevention Mattresses and Mattress Covers Work?
A fall prevention mattress is something that is specially designed to minimize the risk of seniors falling out of bed. These mattresses typically have specific features that reduce the risk of rolling off the mattress. These can include foam inserts that guide the sleeper towards the center of the mattress.
What Are Some Important Features to Consider When Buying a Fall Prevention Mattress?
First and foremost, one of the things that you should be prioritizing when you are shopping around for any kind of mattress would be its comfort. The more comfortable the mattress is, the more likely one will be to achieve a night of deep sleep.
The better the sleep a senior can get, the less likely they will spend the night tossing and turning. That is why you should be prioritizing comfort above all else whenever you are buying a mattress whether for fall prevention in the bedroom or not.
Some of the most comfortable fall prevention mattresses you will find are made up of medium density foam.
Another feature that you should be looking for with the mattress you end up buying would be some sort of barrier.
Getting a fall prevention mattress should effectively prevent falls from occurring. At the very least, the mattress should minimize the risk. Getting a mattress with a barrier on the edges is one of the best ways to prevent falls.
Therefore, you should look for a mattress that has a pre-defined barrier on the outer edge to ensure that the sleeper won’t be able to roll off the mattress with ease.
3. Convenient Cover
Elderly people suffer from all kinds of issues including incontinence. Because of this, you want to ensure that the mattress you end up buying comes with a convenient and easy to take off the cover. That way, it won’t be such a hassle to wash it frequently. In case of accidents, you don’t want to have to spend too much time and energy getting the cover off.
Likewise, you want the mattress to have a cover that protects the mattress from spills or accidents. If you are opting for a cover, you will want to ensure that it has full compatibility with the mattress you plan on using. Some will fit all standard hospital beds too.
If a new cover isn’t an option, look at using bed pads for seniors with incontinence to protect the mattress and bedding.
Another thing that you should be concerned with when you are shopping for a mattress cover designed for fall protection would be the material.
The material of the mattress needs to not only be comfortable to use, but it also needs to be quiet. The cover is likely to be made up of nylon for its liquid resistance. Therefore, you want to ensure it isn’t going to be overly distracting which can cause issues for those who are light sleepers or who have difficulty falling asleep as it is.
Should You Use a Raised Edge Mattress Cover or Replace the Entire Mattress?
There are different things to consider when you are trying to figure out if you should be opting for a raised edge mattress cover or simply replacing the entire thing. Should you replace the entire mattress with one the best mattresses for seniors or add a fall protection cover or device to the existing one.
You should use a raised edge mattress cover if…
- You are looking for something that can be added to your existing mattress. Some people will not want to make the transition to a brand new mattress.
- You want to save the cost of having to purchase a brand new mattress. A brand new mattress will be much more expensive. Not everyone will be able or willing to invest in an entirely new mattress.
- You want something easy and convenient to maintain. Having to clean a mattress without a cover can be very difficult. At least when you add a mattress cover you know that it will be removable and a lot of them can be wiped clean.
You should replace the entire mattress if…
- You don’t mind replacing the entire mattress that you are already using. Likewise, you don’t mind spending the money on a brand new mattress.
- You don’t have a standard-sized mattress that will fit one of the available covers on the market that you can choose from. If your mattress is incompatible with the various covers, you won’t have a choice but to replace it with a new mattress with or without a cover.
- You don’t want to have to worry about swapping out covers.
Raised Edge Mattresses Vs. Bed Rails
The most common bed mounted fall prevention aids are raised edge mattresses and bed rails. Let’s compare the two.
A raised edge mattress is specially designed with an edge on each side. This is meant to protect the user of the mattress from accidentally rolling over in their sleep and falling off their bed.
- More Comfortable – A raised edge mattress will be much more comfortable than some of the other options available. The raised edges will be made up of comfortable material that you won’t mind bumping into. Whereas, with other options like rails, you could hurt yourself if you roll over too far.
- More Versatile -These mattresses can be used in conjunction with bed rails if needed. This makes them much more versatile than using only bed rails.
- More Expensive – You will typically find buying and adding bed rails to a bed the cheaper alternative than buying a new mattress.
Bed rails are very simple in how they function. You add the bed rails to a bed to prevent the individual from falling out of it.
- More Affordable – As mentioned, you should be able to find and add bed rails to a bed at a more affordable price.
- Easy Addition – The addition of bed rails to any bed is fairly easy.
- Uncomfortable – While there are some rails made up of softer material, the majority of them will be made up of harder materials like metal for its durability. This can be uncomfortable to bump into for anyone.
Want to learn more about using bed rails and bed handles? See my guide to the best bed rails for seniors.
Examples: Some Of The Best Fall Prevention Mattresses
Skil-Care 30 Degree Bed Support Bolster Systems
This option isn’t a fall prevention mattress or mattress cover exactly, but it can work in conjunction with a current hospital bed and mattress.
This bed bolster system from Skil-Care has two firm foam bolsters angled at 30 degrees to prevent rolling off of the bed. It also comes a reusable and washable incontinent pad that has an anti-skid backing for seniors with incontinence.
This one covers the top half of the body for seniors who may roll out of bed at night. Their legs will be open and they will still be able to get out of bed on their own. A full body option is available too if you’d like to discourage getting out of bed completely.
Drive Medical Defined Perimeter Mattress Cover
This mattress cover can fit any standard sized hospital bed. It is designed to be easy to put on and take off. It comes with a pre-defined perimeter with foam cushions on the edge. This can keep the individual in their bed throughout the night as the foam inserts will guide the sleeper to the center of the mattress and keep them from rolling off.
Why It’s Recommended:
This mattress cover works very well. It is highly rated and it has excellent compatibility. It works with every standard hospital mattress which makes it a good option for anyone with a standard-sized mattress.
Geo-Mattress Therapeutic Raised Perimeter Mattress With Wings
The Geo-Mattress With Wings is another pressure-relief mattress with the added protection of a raised perimeter. In this case, the raised edges are 8″ high for more aggressive protection. But this mattress is easy to get on and off of as well because of the cut out areas neat the middle. That way, the senior doesn’t have to crawl over the barrier to get out of bed.
Span America is known in the long term and home care industries for their Geo-Matt surface that helps distribute pressure and disperse heat and moisture through a series of foam cells with rings of air. What does that mean for your loved one? More comfortable sleep and less chance of a pressure ulcer.
This fall prevention mattress is designed to by used on hospital beds and is available in various lengths. Weight limit is 400 lbs and the mattress itself weighs 24 lbs.
Drive Medical Gravity 7 Pressure Relief & Fall Prevention Mattress
The Gravity 7 mattress combines the best of pressure relieving mattresses with fall protection so your senior will be more comfortable as well as safer. it is a high quality therapeutic mattress for maximum pressure redistribution through 3 layers of multi-density foams. There is a visco foam heel section to reduce pressure on the heels too.
For fall prevention, the mattress has 3 inch raised side rail along the outer edges to reduce the chance of an elderly person rolling off in the middle of the night. There are also cut out sections in the middle so that they user doesn’t have to push themselves over the barrier when getting in and out of bed.
The cover is resistant to fluids and breathable to reduce heat against the skin. It is removable for laundering as well as replacement covers can be ordered as needed.
It fits hospital and home care bed mattresses from 76″ to 84″ long (most home care beds are 80″ long). Weight limit is 350 pounds.
Skil-Care Visco Top Mattress w/ Perimeter Guard
Skil-Care is another mattress and fall prevention product brand that is well-known and highly used in nursing homes and long term care facilities. Their Visco-Top mattress has a temperature-sensitive visco foam layer that keeps seniors cool and also conforms to their body for increased support, reduced pressure, and maximum comfort.
You get a choice of covers with this mattress too. The first is a standard launderable fluid-proof cover that most home users will want to use. The second if a friction-reducing, breathable, and incontinent cover for seniors who are high risk for skin shear; it is wipeable but not machine option. The third option is primarily for facilities and made more for infection control.
The primary function of this mattress is more about skin protection than fall prevention. The raised perimeter is only 2″ higher than the mattress so more active users may be able to roll off. But it’s a good option for seniors with pressure ulcers or skin tears who only need minimal fall protection.
As you can see, nighttime falls are a major problem among the elderly. Unfortunately, a caretaker or a loved one can’t be with a senior 24/7.
Luckily, there are fall prevention mattresses and covers that you can use to give both seniors and their loved ones the peace of mind they need to get a good night’s sleep.
For maximum safety and injury prevention, combine using a fall prevention mattress with fall protection mats that cushion falls from beds, bed handles to help seniors get in and out of bed easier, or bed exit alarms that sound when the elderly person tries to get out of bed without assistance.