For many years, we’ve all believed that bed rails are safe for elderly adults. Unfortunately, not all bed rails are safe to use.
Research shows a growing number of elderly adults dying or injured because of bed rails. This being the case, there has been a growing movement to look for a good bed rail alternative.
Today, we’ve listed some of the best alternatives to the standard bed rails. Our goal is to create a safer bed environment and prevent falls from happening.
Alternatives to Bed Rails for Elderly
Our research shows various types of alternatives to standard bed rails. They’re perfect for every elderly person, even those in living facilities.
Let’s review the different practical alternatives and find the best choice regardless of the medical condition.
1. Foam Bumpers and Bed Wedges
If you’re looking for a short-term solution, foam bumpers, and bed wedges are a good choice.
All you have to do is place the foam bumpers and bed wedges on the side of the foam, which acts as a soft railing.
Nonetheless, it can also be a permanent solution if you seek a less invasive alternative. Some can be attached to the mattress with the help of velcro or tucked under a fitted sheet!
This ensures the foam bumpers and bed wedges don’t accidentally fall off.
Overall, the foam bumpers and bed wedges act similarly to concave mattresses. The only difference is that the edges are permanently raised on concave mattresses.
2. Roll Guards and Bed Rolls
Similar to foam bumpers and bed wedges, roll guards are effective rail alternatives. They’re soft and durable, unlike bed rails.
You can easily find a good position for roll guards and adjust it according to the shape and size of the hospital bed.
Despite its soft, cushioned look, roll guards provide extra support to a person sleeping. For your peace of mind, they won’t fall out of your bed while you’re asleep!
However, we don’t recommend this for patients with uncontrolled muscle movement because it tends to get lost.
3. Removable Bolsters and Bedding Replacements
Removable bolsters are similar to roll guards. You can place them on the sides of the mattress and even under a fitted sheet.
It helps prevent falling, especially those made of high-density foam materials. They’re effective, reliable, and also affordable!
The beauty of bolsters is they also double as a body pillow. It provides better comfort, perfect for elderly people confined in their beds.
4. Concave Mattresses and Supportive Cushions
The beauty of concave mattresses is you’ll hardly need bed rails. The raised edge of the concave mattress prevents falls from happening, and it’s permanently curved.
The raised edges come in different heights. You’ll be able to choose the best mattress for your needs and find the proper fit for the bed.
Investing in concave mattresses is a simple solution for fall prevention. Rest assured, this does not affect the comfort level of the mattress. This is a great solution for people living in assisted living facilities who want an alternative to bed rails.
5. Bedside Trapezes and Ceiling Trapezes
A bed trapeze is a great solution for someone with poor upper body strength. The trapeze is usually installed on the head of the bed, so it’s easy to reach.
A ceiling trapeze works the same way, but it’s installed on the ceiling instead.
The patient can easily grab the bars, help themselves sit up, and find a better position. This gives them more mobility, even with poor upper body strength.
Both a bedside and ceiling trapeze are reliable and safe to use. The grab bars are usually cushioned, providing a better grip for an elderly person.
6. Lowering the Bed Height and Adjustable Beds
Adjustable beds help reduce the injuries that may occur while sleeping. This is ideal for people who keep falling out of bed while sleeping.
As its name suggests, adjustable beds can be raised or lowered to and from the floor.
The bed can be lowered to wheelchair height, perfect for people with mobility issues. They can easily get themselves to bed with relative ease.
The bed can be lowered close to the floor at night so elderly people don’t fall to great heights.
7. Floor and Crash Mats
Floor and crash mats are better known as alternatives of last resort. They aren’t used as a safety bed rail and can’t stop people from falling out of bed.
Nonetheless, they’re effective so that elderly people don’t suffer from any serious injury when they roll off the bed. It helps cushion the impact, unlike when they fall directly on the hard floor.
Crash mats are often placed on either side of the bed and help soften the blow when they fall off.
8. Bedside Pole and Transfer Aids
Based on our research, more nursing homes are investing in bedside poles and transfer aids. It gives older adults a sense of independence in routine activities.
How this works is that a pole is installed on the side of the bed. This helps older adults sit up independently and get off the bed.
You can permanently install the pole, but just screw it in properly. Tension-mounted poles are also a good choice, although they’re more challenging to install. You need to find the perfect height and mount it properly.
Comparing Bed Rails and Alternatives: Pros and Cons
Not everyone is convinced to switch from bed rails to their alternatives. Undoubtedly, both have their pros and cons.
To help you make an informed choice, we’ve compared the difference between bed rails and their alternatives! This helps you explore the best bed rails and their alternatives and find the perfect fit.
Not to mention understanding traditional bed rail options keeps you aware of the risks associated with their use.
Safety Concerns with Bed Rails
Creating a safe and healthy sleep environment is vital. One way to achieve this is by eliminating risks that could disrupt this good environment.
Based on our research, we’ve discovered three safety concerns surrounding bed rails: asphyxiation, entrapment, and falls.
Believe it or not, people can suffocate because of their bed rails. This usually happens when the mattress is too small for the bed frame, and the patient slips in between.
This is very dangerous for patients who can’t move or are too weak to move. Suffocation can eventually lead to death, which is the last thing we want to happen.
Entrapment happens when any body part gets trapped between bed rails. This usually happens when the mattress is too small, and the patient can slip in any gaps.
It could be as simple as a leg or an arm, where the patient struggles and calls for help. In more serious cases, we’ve discovered, patients could have their heads stuck between the bed rails and mattress.
This could lead to suffocation, resulting in death.
That being said, bed rails must be assembled properly. They can be easily obtained, but installation can sometimes be tricky.
More importantly, it’s also important to understand that certain people can’t use bed frames that have rails. Adult portable bed rails should never be used as entrapment, especially for dementia patients.
Patients can fall off the bed and suffer from severe injury. Based on our research, this usually happens among dementia patients.
They’re often confused with their surroundings, leaving them stressed and frustrated. As a result, some tend to jump off the rails and injure themselves. When this happens, they risk suffering the following:
- Abrasions, bruises, and cuts
- Broken bones
- Hitting their head
For dementia patients, we highly recommend using Posey beds instead of bed rails. So if you’ve been wondering, “Are bed rails safe for patients?” The simple answer is no.
When to Consider Alternatives
It’s often hard to identify when to switch from a bed with a bed rail to its alternatives. Thankfully, we’ve listed several guide posts to help you make a good decision.
If the current bed rail setup doesn’t work, it’s time to consider other alternatives that may be more effective. If the side rails keep failing you, like when it collapses in place, then it’s no longer doing its job.
In such a case, switching to alternatives would be wise. A good example would be to invest in a concave mattress, which does the same job as the standard bed rail.
Always prioritize the needs of your patient. Remember, not all patients have the same demands. Some have mobility issues, and they require more help from you.
Identify what your patient needs, and adjust accordingly. Mobile patients won’t need a bed with side rails.
They’ll be able to adjust themselves to the mattress, so there’s hardly any risk of them falling on the floor.
For patients like these, a good bedside pole should be able to help them get up. Roll guards are also good for those looking for a temporary fix.
But investing in a permanent solution is important if you’ve got patients with more demands. Take the case of dementia patients, who might be better off in a Posey bed than a standard mattress.
Or take the case of patients with mobility issues who can benefit from an adjustable bed. They can prop themselves in the adjustable bed without too much support!
Evaluate the prior incidents your patient has had with their bed rail. Were there instances when any of their body parts got stuck in between?
Have they fallen to the floor because the rails keep falling?
Knowing the prior incidents help assess whether there is a need to switch to a better alternative.
Choosing the Right Solution for Individual Needs
It isn’t always easy to find the best solution for every person. Remember, everyone has different needs. That being said, there are a few considerations you have to make to arrive at the right solution.
Temporary or Permanent
You can choose between a temporary or permanent solution depending on your needs. A temporary solution is ideal for mobile patients who want a simple nighttime solution.
Plus, temporary solutions don’t require a permanent installation, which could get things in the way.
On the other hand, permanent solutions are perfect for patients living in homes or hospitals. This reduces the likelihood of accidents or injuries and sometimes provides extra support.
In all cases, be mindful of the right bed rail usage in nursing homes and address your patient’s specific needs.
Some alternatives to bed rails come with a few extra accessories. These accessories help make the patient’s life a lot better. A good example would include the following:
- Bed alarms
- Box spring
- Height adjustable grab bar
- Motion sensors
- Pressure mats
- Safety strap
No matter how simple these accessories are, they are useful for many elderly patients. Plus, some can even help make bed rails safer if used properly.
Some alternatives to the usual bed rail come with advanced features. Take the case of bed alarms, which immediately notify people if a patient has fallen to the floor.
Bed alarms are also perfect for children and people who have dementia and can’t seem to stop trying to escape.
Motion sensors and sensor alarms are also helpful. It’s a great audible signal that patients might have left their mattresses when they aren’t supposed to.
Top Brands and Manufacturers for Alternative Solutions
There are many reliable brands out there where you can find alternative solutions.
These brands have been around for several years and have gained much attention thanks to their impressive products.
We’ve listed some of the tried and tested brands you need to check out in the market. Rest assured, choosing each of them will be a good choice.
They’ve over a decade’s experience developing the best products, so you know they’ve got something work checking out.
1. Drive Medical
Drive Medical has been in the market for over two decades.
It had its humble beginnings in the year 2000, gaining attention from the market for its high-quality and reliable medical equipment.
Not just that, but you can expect great functionality and innovation from their products. You can guarantee that their products meet the ever-changing standards.
Their products focus on the following:
- Bathroom safety
- Patient room equipment
- Personal care
- Pressure prevention
Their products are aimed at improving the quality of life of their patients. They strive to help patients feel independent in one way or another.
Through the years, they’ve earned a lot of support from their patrons ranging from different sectors like:
- Government professionals
- Healthcare distributors
- Home healthcare providers
- Long-term care facilities
They certainly have some of the best bed rails and also alternatives.
Alimed has over four decades of experience, offering many medical supplies and equipment. Regardless of the condition, they always have something to offer, like the following:
- Aids for daily living
- Bariatrics, obesity patients
- Clinical and hospital equipment and furniture
- Medical supplies
They aim to improve the quality of life of everyone and serve their patients the best way possible. With the help of their supplies and equipment, patients can receive quality care and assistance even at home.
Another impressive brand on this list is Posey. They’ve been around for over 80 years, known for their restraint products and alternatives.
Through the years, they’ve become a well-trusted and go-to brand for everything related to bed safety, so much so that 70% of US hospitals have invested in Posey products for their needs.
Posey is a great choice if you’re looking for products to help prevent falling patients!
They also offer a great value-added proposition through their S.A.F.E. Program. It helps improve human services, especially for those in the hospital industry.
The program aims to educate workers about the most efficient and safest measures to prevent falls.
This holistic approach makes Posey a good leader in the industry, and this translates to the impressive set of products they offer.
Standers offers a wide range of mobility aids to give elderly people their independence back. They’ll be able to walk with minimal support without worrying about falling over.
The brand has its humble beginnings, all thanks to Grandma Essie.
It’s because of her that the Standers brand committed itself to make mobility aids and making her life better. This improves the quality of life of the elderly and boosts confidence.
Today, Standers has become steadfast in making elderlies age gracefully and with dignity.
Live independently with the help of Maddak products. We’re very impressed with their wide range of rehabilitation products, all aimed at making mobility issues a thing of the past.
Their products are highly useful for everyone, especially children, disabled people, and even children! Regardless of the need, they’ve got something to offer like:
- Bedroom aids
- Drinking aids
- Elevated toilet seats and risers
- Personal care
Tips for Implementing and Maintaining Alternative Solutions
One of the best ways to find the best alternatives is to consider all factors that would affect your choice.
We’ve listed some tips to help you in your search.
1. Assessing the Elderly Individual’s Needs
The first step in finding an alternative is assessing the needs of the elderly person using it. One way to get started is by asking the following questions:
- Why are you looking for an alternative?
- What problems or issues does that patient have with bed rails?
- Has the patient suffered any injuries because of their bed rails?
At the outset, establish the motive behind why you’re trying to look for an alternative for your elderly loved one. Is their current setup not working? Or perhaps it caused some injury to them, regardless of their fault.
The next step is to consider the kind of condition your patient is dealing with. Adjustable-height beds are a great alternative if they often fall off their bed.
You can easily lower adjustable height beds so your patient won’t fall to the floor at a great height.
Investing in a tension-mounted alternative is also a good choice. It’s perfect for people who only need help getting up and need something stable to hold on to.
2. Ensuring Proper Installation and Usage
Regardless of your alternative, always install and use them properly.
You don’t have to worry about hard installation for alternatives like foam bumpers and roll guards. All you have to do is set them on the side of the bed frame to act as a barrier.
But for alternative ceiling trapeze and bedside poles, you need to ensure they’re installed properly. For a ceiling trapeze, you have to ensure it won’t drop from the ceiling when pulled on.
You want to do the same for the bed handle of a bedside trapeze.
When it comes to bedside poles, it also has to be screwed properly so it stays stable. Your patient can easily grab the pole to help them in sitting. Helping them will be minimal, thanks to the pole.
3. Regularly Monitoring and Adjusting as Needed
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that bed rail alternatives are an end-all-be-all solution. The only way to make sure your elderly loved one is safe and comfortable is through proper monitoring.
Always check up on them and make sure the alternatives are working as expected. This is especially true when using temporary solutions like roll guards and bumpers.
They tend to get lost and out of place, so always check for that.
The same goes for permanent solutions like grab bars. Check on them once in a while and ensure that they’re properly screwed.
It hardly takes time to monitor your patient and adjust to their needs. This simple advice helps prevent unnecessary injuries, like skin bruising or broken bones.
Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve encountered many FAQs about the best bed rail alternative through our research. We’ve listed some of them here, which should help convince you to make the big switch.
Are Bed Rails Considered a Restraint?
In general, bed rails aren’t used as a constraint. However, once it’s used to prevent a patient from getting in and out of bed, it becomes a restraint.
It limits the patient’s movement, especially when they can’t receive help from others. Keeping patients within this restraint puts them at high risk for injuries, especially if they try to squeeze themselves within the bed rail’s gaps.
Can Bed Rails Cause Death?
Unfortunately, our research shows that bed rails can cause death. Some report that the death is often caused by the following:
- Bodily injuries
Because of this, nursing homes and hospitals are looking for alternatives that are less restrictive but still effective.
What Is the Cost of These Alternative Solutions?
Regardless of your budget, you won’t have difficulty finding the best bed rail alternative.
Some of the most affordable options include the following:
- Bed wedges
- Crash mats
- Foam bumpers
- Roll guards
- Bedside poles
These are usually just temporary solutions, yet they are still very effective! On the other hand, we noticed that the most effective ones usually provide a permanent fix.
These include alternatives like the following:
- Adjustable beds
- Bed trapeze
- Ceiling trapeze
- Concave mattresses
- Posey beds
Rest assured, these are all worthy investments that can help protect your elderly loved ones from falling out of bed.
Are There Specific Alternatives Recommended for Dementia Patients?
Dementia patients usually sleep on hospital beds with bed rails. It keeps them in one place, so they don’t wander around unauthorized places.
Unfortunately, some dementia patients feel restless because of the bed rails. As a result, they try different methods to get themselves out and risk injuring themselves.
Some would jump off the beds, while others would accidentally insert their body parts between the rails.
Our research discovered that posey beds are one of the best alternatives. Posey beds look, unlike the usual bed system. It’s essentially like a box that can only be opened and closed from the outside.
Dementia patients have a free range of motion while inside posey beds. They won’t be strapped down or restrained. Plus, there’s no risk of them jumping off.
Can Alternative Bed Safety Products Be Covered by Insurance or Medicare?
Not all bed safety products are covered by insurance. This is especially true for detachable alternatives installed only on regular beds.
However, we discovered that insurance covers alternatives to bed rails if used on hospital beds. Nevertheless, it’s always a good idea to ask your insurance and ask for clarity on what they cover.
It’s often hard to hear the news that your elderly parent or elderly loved one suffered an injury after falling off their bed.
Although we consider bed rails reliable, the Consumer Product Safety Commission seems to think otherwise.
With a growing number of deaths and injuries, finding alternatives to bed rails is the next best move.
Rest assured, the alternatives mentioned today are perfect, even for elderly people with physical limitations!