At first glance, falling out of bed doesn’t seem to be a big deal. However, among the elderly and children, it can result in serious injuries such as broken bones, and even death. Falling from bed, particularly in senior citizens, even if it happens just once, can spell the difference between mobility one day and loss of independence the next. Because of this, it is important to consider preventive measures such as installing a bed rail for elderly or other safety equipment and educating seniors on ways to prevent accidents.
Falls Among the Elderly: How Serious Is the Problem?
Very serious. Figures provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in older adults ages 65 years or older. They also indicate that the number of older women and men who died from falls has risen dramatically during the decade to 2013. And while most accidental falls happen among senior citizens who are mobile, it’s also true that a significant percentage of such accidents involves falling out of bed.
The number of accidental falls out of bed are even higher among senior citizens in nursing homes or hospitals, possibly because of health issues and environmental hazards, in addition to age, that make residents of such institutions more vulnerable to falling.
The Pitfalls of Bed Falls
These are some of the possible and most serious consequences of falling out of bed among elderly people:
– Traumatic brain injury
– Hip, leg, arm and other bone fractures
– Reduced quality of life
– Greater risk of early death
– High medical care costs
It should also be taken into account that the effects of falls go beyond the physical. Falling out of bed can add to the anxiety of not only the patient, but his or her family and caregivers as well. It can also increase the sense of frustration, loss of self-confidence and independence, and feelings of helplessness and powerlessness. And although it is acknowledged that aging increases the risk of falling in the home, some seniors are still reluctant to disclose falls to their doctor for fear of losing their dignity.
Keeping Safe in Bed with Bed Rails
There’s a saying that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, and when it comes to preventing bed falls among the elderly, installing a portable bed rail is a practical consideration.
Bed rails are not suitable for everybody; in fact, they are not recommended for patients with mental disorders such as dementia and delirium, certain medical conditions, and physical limitations. So it’s always wise to consult a health care professional before installing a bed rail.
Limitations aside, a number of studies, surveys, and case reports suggest that bed rails reduce the incidence of falling out of bed. Moreover, most patients and their caregivers have a generally positive view of using them. There are concerns that using bed rails can result in direct injuries or entrapment; however, research indicates that these are mostly due to improper assembly or use.
When looking for bed rails, it is therefore necessary to consider up-to-date and high-quality equipment that meets industry standards and ensure that the bedding and mattress are compatible with the bed rail. Proper maintenance of equipment to ensure that it does not loosen over time as well as learning how to use the bed rail correctly is also important.
While portable bed rails should not be relied upon as the only means of keeping an elderly family member safe in the bedroom, they can help reduce the risk of falling from bed and contribute to the peace of mind of patients, families, and carers.