It may not surprise you to know that most injuries among senior citizens are caused by falling, but did you know that falling out of bed is one of the most dangerous and common types of fall? Preventing older adults from falling from bed is a major cause of concern for caregivers and family members in charge of geriatric care. In this article, we discuss the causes and consequences of seniors falling from their beds. We also provide smart tips to help you cope with this common problem. Read on to learn more.
Why Do Seniors Fall Out Of Bed?
As with anyone, there are lots of reasons why an older person might fall from the bed. Some reasons may have to do with aging, illness or declining stability. Some are simple and straightforward and could happen to anyone. It’s important, for the person’s sense of competence well-being, to acknowledge this rather than assuming that every problem is caused by the person’s diminishing abilities.
Here are twelve reasons seniors might fall out of bed. As you read through these, think about which ones are specific to seniors and which might apply to you or anyone else.
Can An Older Person Be Seriously Injured Falling From Bed?
It goes without saying that it is very important to protect seniors from all kinds of falls. When an older person falls, he or she is at much greater risk of sustaining serious injury. A senior who falls out of bed and breaks a hip or sustains a head injury is very likely to lose independence and wind up in long term care.
The amount of damage caused by this kind of fall depends on a number of factors. Among them are:
Injuries sustained in a fall from bed (or any fall) can lead to long term complications for seniors. For example, head injuries can easily lead to traumatic brain injury (TBI). This is especially true in seniors who are taking prescription blood thinners.
10 Things You Can Do To Keep Seniors From Falling Out Of Bed
1. Avoid making changes that have the potential of being confusing. For example, if your senior is used to having a full-size bed, avoid switching to a twin size. Don’t switch from a high bed to a low bed (or vice-versa) without good reason. When replacing linens and sleepwear, try to get the same type and quality to which the person is accustomed.
2. Pillows arranged around the senior at bedtime can serve to prevent excessive movement and thrashing that can lead to falling off the bed. Thick, fluffy pillows are best, and body length snuggle pillows are especially comforting and effective.
Prevent inadvertent rolling out of bed by creating a soft railing using pool noodles. Simply laying a pool noodle on each side of the mattress and then making up the bed with a fitted sheet may be enough to remind some seniors not to roll too far. For very active sleepers, you may want to construct a pool noodle framework as demonstrated in this video.
4. Firm foam wedges can provide a solid and comforting barrier that prevents rolling. These wedges can also provide good support for seniors suffering from neck and/or back pain.
5. For those who tend to thrash around or have nightmares, a solid bed rail may be needed. Choose very sturdy rails and be sure that they are correctly and securely installed. A bed rail can work to keep a sleeping senior in bed, and it can be useful as a handrail to help with getting in and out of bed.
6. Prevent impact injuries by putting a fall mat beside the bed. This simple solution can significantly soften the blow when seniors fall. Be advised that geriatric patients who are quite weak might have a hard time extracting themselves from the soft, cushy surface of the mat. Be sure to check on your charge frequently during the night to be sure he or she has not fallen and/or become stuck.
7. When necessary, get a lower bed. Frequent falling is a good reason for changing the height of the bed. If the senior falls out of bed often, a lower bed (combined with a rail and fall mat) can significantly reduce the potential for injury.
8. Specially designed beds (e.g. hospital beds or Posey beds) with their adjustable height and built-in safety bed rails can be very helpful for seniors with limited mobility and/or dementia problems, which may cause frequent confusion and rising during the night.
9. Stay in contact with the person’s doctor or other health professional. Frequent falls can indicate health complications. The sooner these complications are detected and diagnosed, the sooner they can be addressed. Additionally, the doctor may have good ideas about medications and good advice about improvements to the senior’s living and sleeping quarters.
10. Begin making adjustments before they are needed. For seniors with brittle, weak bones and/or the inability to get up after falling, tumbling out of bed can be a very dangerous event. That’s why it’s important to begin addressing this issue before it happens. If at all possible, begin making reasonable adjustments to prevent falls before the senior in question becomes confused and/or loses mobility.
Be Safe And Smart!
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