What is the ideal bed height for elderly people? It’s hard to say. Does your elderly relative have joint problems, arthritis, are they prone to rolling and falling off the bed? These are all the factors that will affect your decision to choose the right bed height for them.
However, the process doesn’t have to be that challenging. We compiled an in-depth guide that will look into all the needs of senior people when it comes to sleeping while accounting for different conditions that could affect the way they get in and out of bed.
Stay with us in this guide, and continue reading to help yourself, or your senior friend or relative sleep sounder.
Considering the ideal height of a bed alone is not enough. Bed frames, bed platforms, and mattresses are being sold separately, most of the time. While the normal height for a mattress that is comfortable for older people can be anywhere from 8 to 14-inches, the height of your bed frame and height of the mattress combined can be too much, or too low for an elderly person.
Falling from bed may not be a cause for concern. However, it shouldn’t be overlooked either. One in three adults older than 65 years will fall at least once a year. According to NHS half of those people will fall frequently, with the number doubling once they cross 80 years.
Some of those people also fall off the bed, and depending on the height of that bed, they may, or may not experience a serious injury. However, a rough fall from a higher bed could lead to serious injuries like bone-breaking, broken hips, or femur bones which could also be a consequence of arthritis.
Sleeping on a bed that is too high may increase the odds of falling. However, sleeping on a bed too low could lead to not being able to stand up as a result of a lack of something high to rely on.
What Is The Ideal Bed Height For the Elderly?
The general rule of thumb for most adults is to use beds with heights from 16 to 25 inches, but for seniors, these values may be a bit different. The ideal bed height for the elderly should be between 20-inches and 24-inches. Still, many other factors could affect how is the person who is choosing the bed feeling about getting in and out of bed.
Ideally, the person should be able to sit on the edge of their bed with both of their feet on the ground and be able to push themselves from the mattress to stand up. When attempting to lay down, seniors should be able to sit directly on the edge of the mattress and hoist themselves up to the middle of the mattress.
If they’re unable to do so, that means that they’re struggling with entering and getting inside their bed and that the bed they’re trying to enter is too high for them.
Remember, the ideal bed for seniors should ideally be neither too tall nor too low, although lower is better than higher when it comes to the risks of falling. It should be just the right height, so you should be able to test the bed or have the senior person test it in a store or someone else’s bed that has the appropriate height.
You can use the 20-24-inch height for reference, but it is ultimately the height of the elderly person, their weight, and their chronic condition that will decide the height of the bed they want to sleep in. The person can have problems with a fracture, stroke consequences, arthritis, aching muscles, and much more.
Going With The Higher Bed
If you or your senior relative are a taller person, then you should benefit from going with a higher bid. Still, it depends on the type of bed you’ll use, like platform, box spring, sofa, or the traditional bed frame.
There are various benefits of going with the higher bed in terms of ergonomics. Higher beds have a better space for storage like the drawers. Additionally, if the bed is high enough, you could use it to place laundry baskets, boxes, and other objects you may not need beneath.
If the person is tall, some beds can go up to 35 inches in height, which would be ideal for a taller person who doesn’t suffer from any chronic condition that adversely affects their movement.
Another good thing about higher beds for taller people is that they don’t need to jump out of bed on their feet. They can gradually stand up and go about their business, as long as they are sufficiently tall to not rely on their joints too much. If the bed is too low for a tall person, they would put more strain on their muscles to get out of bed.
What’s bad about the higher bed:
- Falling from the bed also means that you’ll fall from a bigger height and become more prone to injuring yourself.
- Problems with entering in and leaving the bed in the middle of the night for the sake of urinating.
But, if two partners of different heights sleep on the same bed, it can be problematic. How to make sleeping on a higher bed more comfortable for shorter people:
- Use crutches next to the bed or a walking stick to be able to have something to rely on.
- Use a stool to hoist yourself up and get out of the bed.
Going With The Lower Bed
People who are too short for a tall bed will need to settle for something closer to the ground. Don’t worry, the height of your bed won’t affect your sleep quality. Also, you won’t have to use crutches and stools to climb up on the bed to rest.
Falls are never convenient, and this may not comfort you enough, but it’s easier to fall off the shorter bed than that which is high, and could cause injuries such as a fracture, or even a broken hip.
Both The Journal of Nursing study and FDA suggest that using lower beds for seniors is better than using high beds. However, that comes with several limitations if the person who wants to lay down is tall, heavy and comes with certain disorders and chronic conditions that make laying down or standing up harder.
Another study suggested that the bed frame height should equal the height of a senior’s knee. Still, this is applied mostly to patients in hospitals.
What’s bad about the higher bed:
- You strain your muscles and could end up getting stuck or hurt while trying to sit up.
- You will probably need assistance to get out of bed which can be super-complicated if you need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.
- There’s less storage option for people who sleep on lower beds.
- You could end up falling while trying to sit down because of a lack of strength in joints and muscles.
How to make sleeping on lower beds easier:
- Use a mattress pad or mattress topper that will raise the level of your bed.
- Attach aids next to your bed that will make standing up easier.
- Switch for a platform bed that is neither too tall nor too low.
- You can use a bed raiser which is a quite popular option on the market. We recommend Utopia Bedding.
Are Adjustable Frames An Option?
A lot of people who can’t decide whether they should go with a platform bed or antique bed can also start considering adjustable beds. They’re great for a reason when two people who sleep together have different preferences, they can adjust the height of the frame to suit their needs while they’re sleeping. These types of beds are also used in hospitals to make the stay of older patients easier.
Adjustable beds consist of multiple, layered hinges that make the metal and sturdy frame that can change its height however you desire. It either comes with built-in commands on a button or a remote that you can manipulate to adjust the height, angles, and other things.
Using an adjustable bed won’t prevent you from falling off it. However, it’ll make sitting in and standing up much more comfortable for many users who already struggle with standing up on a flat surface. The bed can adjust the height of its upper area that not only feels more comfortable for back sleepers, it will also assist you when standing up. Standing up at an angle is much more convenient.
It is also helpful for those who feel joint pain as a result of acute back injury, as well as problems in the lumbar area, and sciatica. Seniors can adjust the height of the lower part of the bed, and relieve the extra fluids and swelling off their feet, which in turn makes standing up from the bed easier, as there is no added strain. This will also help with the problems associated with circulation.
However, choosing the right adjustable bed is not easy given your condition and whether you sleep with someone or not. Always make sure that the adjustable bed you’re looking for supports at least three height levels to help you have an easier time standing up and laying down. If possible, test the different height levels before buying it.
If possible, look for a split adjustable bed. It allows for a split mattress to sit in and provides enough space and versatility for your partner. This holds perfect for couples of different heights but also different chronic conditions. While someone has an easier time standing up from bed, it doesn’t mean that the same thing holds for the other person.
Extra Tips For Choosing The Right Height For Your Bed
If this didn’t help you decide on what height you should focus on when getting your own bed, here are some more helpful tips that will help you choose:
- Consider your own height and knee to bed frame ratio.
- Consider the style of your bedroom, and whether the architecture is more suitable for a traditional bed frame, platform bed or an antique bed which is the tallest.
- Consider other parties that may sleep with you in bed and their height too.
- How many times you stand up to use the bathroom in the night also decides how high your bed should be.
- How easy it will be to lay directly in your favorite sleeping position.
- The height and firmness of the mattress you choose should also affect the height of your bed frame. Don’t forget to compare the two.