There’s no question, bed rails are some of the most widely utilized home safety enhancements for elderly persons and those recovering from a surgery or illness that has somehow limited their mobility. Rails made for simple assistance: up, down and repositioning, are aptly named “assist rails.” “Safety rails” span either half or the full length of the bed and, aside from assisting in the same ways as assist rails, also are made to prevent seniors from rolling out of bed and taking a dangerous fall.
Both assist and safety rails come in a variety of models with options like height adjustment, different gap widths, and types of padding. These are important considerations that help to ensure the bed rails for elderly persons are safe, so that they do what they are supposed to do: assist the frail in changing position or steadying themselves when going to stand or lay down, and especially to keep seniors from falling or rolling out of bed.
Here are some tips on how to best protect your aging loved ones who’ve come to depend on or will soon need bed rails to effectively keep them safer in the bedroom:
- Measurements. The smaller the senior, the less distance there should be between rail gaps. If the senior you care for tends to roll around in bed, it’s important to make sure that they do not become entangled in nor slip through the rails! Keep arms, legs and even entire bodies from getting free then getting trapped by taking measurements of your loved one and then comparing them to the measurements of the rails you’re considering.
- Ask questions from the retailer’s customer service department before making a final purchase. Find out if the height of the mattress and/or bed frame will make a difference in rail gap size. (Put that tape measure to use before making the call to customer service to make sure you get the best answers!)
- Bed rail pads and gap protectors not only reduce gaps between mattress and rail, the cushy barrier also keeps extremities from becoming entangled in the rails and prevents bumps and bruises that can happen if a senior tends to thrash in their sleep. (Unexpected elbow to rail = ouch!)
- Cushioning pads are made for both half and full-length rails; some models incorporate staph-resistant materials.
- Keep frequently used items within easy reach to further prevent falls with a bed rail quilted caddy, easily held in place with Velcro.
- Buy newer model rails on the market from well known and established manufacturers, like Carex, whose full length adjustable width rails easily adjust up or down and can be used on any sized beds.
- Talk with your parent or the person for whom you care. Assure that they are satisfied and comfortable with the rails being provided and take measures to make sure their comfort and safety continually prevails, i.e. via pads and gap protectors. Some side rail bed wedge gap protectors come with the added benefit of high density foam for positioning purposes, and are fire-retardant as well as anti-microbial.