The bedroom is an important room in your home. You go there to hopefully, forget all your problems of aches and pains, and slumber into a safe comfortable much needed sleep. This will help you to awake the next morning refreshed and energized to begin another day.
Having a good night’s sleep is especially important for people with disabilities as sleep loss can have a major impact on their lives. For users with restricted mobility, everyday activities such as sleeping and getting in and out of bed can be a challenge.
In this article we will cover a range of mobility aids that will allow you to remain safe and comfortable in the bedroom and help you to have a good night’s sleep so that you feel totally refreshed when you wake up the next day.
Bed Grab Rails
If a user struggles to get from laying to a sitting position or finds it difficult to get in and out of bed, a bed grab rail can provide additional support. Not only can a bed grab rail provide additional support but it can also function as a rail to prevent failing out of bed.
Bed grab rails come in a range of different types and styles. Some can be positioned between the mattress and the bed base, others can be attached to the frame of a bed, while others are freestanding and are placed between the underside of the bed and the bedroom floor.
It is important to choose the right grab rail for your bed base. For example, if your base is slatted or spring-sprung or you have a profiling bed, a grab rail that fits between the mattress and the bed base will be unsuitable. In these examples, you should opt for a freestanding one instead that fits between the underside of the bed and the bedroom floor.
Opt for a folding bed grab rail if you want one that you can easily take with you when you go on vacation or visit friends or family.
Most grab rails are height and width adjustable which means they can be fit onto any sized bed.
Better alternatives for these types of users can include bed roll guards which can reduce the risk of the user falling out of bed. Always consult with an occupational therapist so that the user can be assessed first in order to determine suitable aids for the individual.
Bed Roll Guards
For users where bed grab rails may be unsuitable for them due to physical conditions such as Alzheimer’s, dementia etc, bed roll guards are a good alternative.
Roll guards fit alongside the side of bed and reduce the risk of users falling out of bed. The guards are normally constructed of soft foam which means they are comfortable when on the bed.
Bed Fall Mats
Another alternative to bed roll guards and grab rails are bed fall mats. These are positioned at the side of a bed and reduces the risk of injury if a user falls out of bed. Fall mats are usually constructed from high density foam so they are designed to safely absorb the impact of a fall and they a have non-slip rubber backing.
For users who are maybe recovering from surgery such as a hip or knee replacement, or who simply enjoy having breakfast or reading from the comfort of their own bed, an overbed table also known as a hospital table can come in handy.
Overbed tables can easily be maneuvered beneath a bed, they are usually height adjustable and they can be tilted as required.
Bed Rope Ladder
A bed rope ladder can assist someone with lower extremity weakness or someone who is maybe recovering from surgery to sit up in bed.
Depending on the rope ladder model, the bottom end can be attached either around the bed’s frame or its legs and the rungs on the ladder enable the user to pull themselves up to a sitting position. The length of ladder is normally adjustable allowing it to fit most bed sizes.
If you’re a wheelchair user, and you struggle to get in and out of a low lying bed, a good way to increase the height of a bed is to invest in some bed risers.
They can easily and quickly be fitted under the bed legs and they help to raise the bed’s height. They’re perfect as it avoids the expense of having to buy a new bed and it allows a user to more easily get in and out of bed from a wheelchair without having to struggle.
Transfer Pivot Disc
A pivot or transfer disc can be used if a user can stand and is able to bear some weight during transfers, but is unable to properly move their legs due to maybe partial paralysis or other diseases such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
They are designed for assisted and unassisted transfers and they are ideal to help someone to transfer between a wheelchair or chair and a bed.
In order to use one, the pivot disc is placed on the floor next to the user’s feet. If they have full control of their upper extremities, the user can stand on the disc unaided. Next, they slowly swivel until they reach the desired position before sitting down (as demonstrated in the below video).
For users who suffer with balance issues, or may have limited upper extremity strength, a carer will be required to help with the use of one. For aided transfers, before the user stands on the pivot disc, the carer must place their foot on the disc in order to stop it from swivelling. Next, the carer holds onto the user’s hand as they step on it. They then use their foot to swivel the user to the correct position. Once the user has reached the desired position, the carer places their foot on the disc again in order to stop it from rotating. Finally, the carer while holding the user’s hand slowly lowers the user to the required seating position.
Pivot discs come in a range of different diameters sizes, always choose the most appropriate size for the user’s feet size.
A transfer board is the favoured mobility aid for wheelchair users who are unable to bear weight or may suffer with balance issues while standing during transfers.
A transfer board bridges the gap between a wheelchair or chair and bed and it allows someone to transfer while remaining seated. It allows a user to transfer easily and safely and reduces the risk of falls.
Transfer boards comes in all sorts of shapes and designs and are usually made from wood or durable plastic. Some are straight, some are angled and others are curved. To aid with easier transfers, some models like the BeasyTrans model (as shown below) are fitted with a rotating seat that slides along the length of the board.
For larger sized individuals there are also a range of bariatric models available.
For anyone who is recovering from surgery or who suffers with arthritis, restless legs, ulcers or skin irritation, the use of a blanket cradle/lifter may be beneficial.
A blanket cradle is secured under the mattress and it is designed to elevate the bed sheets, blankets or duvet in order to take the weight off the user’s sore legs, feet or knees allowing for a more comfortable sleep.
There are a wide range of blanket cradles available to suit all needs and most are height adjustable.
The risk of falling can increase if you suffer with reduced mobility. It is important therefore that you properly fall-proof your home and remove any trip hazards.
In the bedroom, ensure that furniture is properly arranged so that you have clear pathway in and out of the room. Make sure any rugs in the bedroom have non-slip backing tape so you won’t slip.
Ensure that the hallway leading to and from the bathroom is clear of any trip hazards. As you may want to use the bathroom at night, use night-lights in the hallway so you can see where you’re walking in the dark. Opt for motion-activated lights as these will only come on when you need them to.
Users who suffer with a stiff or immobile leg and struggle to get out of bed may find a leg lifter helpful.
A leg lifter is constructed from durable nylon and contains two loops on either end. The upper loop fits around the user’s hand, while the lower loop which is rigid is designed to slide over the foot enabling the user to manually lift their leg in and out of bed.
Beds and Mattresses
For users who suffer with reduced mobility and may find it difficult to remain comfortable while in bed, there are a range of different options available, which include:
A cost effective way of upgrading your existing mattress is to invest in a mattress topper. A mattress topper fits on top of a mattress and it can provide additional comfort.
There are four main types of mattress toppers, which include:
- Memory foam topper – these mould to a user’s body and allow for even weight distribution. They can help to relieve aches and joint pains and they make an ideal choice for arthritic sufferers. They can also help to reduce the risk of bed sores from developing. One of the negatives of foam toppers is they can feel hot when laying on them and it can often be difficult to turn over in bed.
- Latex mattress topper – latex toppers are generally firmer than memory foam one. They are good at absorbing movement. Users can suffer with latex allergies so ensure your partner or yourself do not suffer with this type of allergy.
- Feather and down topper – these types of toppers are great at regulating temperature throughout the year. They keep cool in the summer and they stay warm in the winter. They are also easier to turn on than memory foam and latex ones.
- Microfiber mattress topper – these types of toppers contain synthetic material. While they are usually the cheapest type of topper, they can flatten quickly. If you suffer with joint pain, it may not provide enough support or relief for your aches and pains.
These are electric beds that can be adjusted to suit the needs of a specific user. The mattress is divided into sections. The user can position these sections including the head, foot, knee etc with a simple touch of a button to suit their individual needs.
These types of beds allow users to adopt more comfortable positions and therefore they can help to relieve joint pain which may otherwise have been impossible with just a standard bed.
For users who may need to remain in bed for extended periods of time, this type of bed can help to relieve bed sores as the user can adjust the angle and height as required. It can also help users to more easily manoeuvre in and out of bed and it can therefore improve safety.
There are a wide variety of profiling beds, choosing the right one will depend on the specific needs of the user as well as their health conditions.
Nursing beds are similar to profiling beds in that different sections within the bed can be adjusted to suit the needs of the user.
The main difference however is they have additional features including built-in safety rails to prevent the users from failing out of bed. A hospital bed can also be raised higher as well as lowered further to the ground allowing for carers to properly care for the patient. Mattresses on these types of beds usually consist of high density foam which are covered with vinyl which can be wiped cleaned when needed.
Unlike profiling beds, hospital beds only come in twin size. For individuals with more serious health conditions, a hospital bed may be more suitable than a profiling bed.
Pillows & Elevators
For users who suffer with joint pain, having the right pillow to soothe those aches and pains is critical. Having the wrong pillow could mean a restless night’s sleep where it’s difficult to stay comfortable while resting.
Fortunately there are a wide variety of different pillows and elevators available which is suitable for all types of users and health conditions. Some of these pillows and elevators can include:
A v-shaped pillow provides the user with head, shoulder and neck support while resting. It can help to relieve aches and pains and it can also help to prevent lower back pain as well as sciatica. A v-shaped pillow can also provide extra support when sitting up in bed while reading.
Apart from v-shaped pillows, there are also u-shaped, l-shaped, and j-shaped pillows available which may suit different types of sleepers better.
For anyone requiring relief from neck pain while resting, an orthopaedic pillow or otherwise known as cervical pillow can be a good choice.
An orthopaedic pillow is designed to keep the neck supported and aligned with the spine and it can help to promote a better sleeping position and ease tension around the neck.
Orthopaedic pillows come in all different shapes and sizes. Orthopaedic pillows can contain a number of fillings which can include memory foam which adapts to the contour of a user, gel which keeps cool in warmer temperatures and bamboo which has antimicrobial benefits.
A bed wedge can be positioned at the front or end of a bed. It can provide better support and it can help to promote a better posture and so prevent orthopaedic issues with the spine, neck and shoulders.
If the user is sitting up in bed reading, the wedge can be positioned behind the user to elevate the head. It can also be positioned at the end of the bed in order to elevate the legs and improve circulation in the legs and help with swollen feet and relieve muscle tension.
Knee Support Pillow
A knee support pillow is ideally suited for anyone suffering with a painful hip or knees and wishes to relieve their aches and pains.
The pillow helps to separate and elevate the knees and it is designed to support a healthy alignment of the hip, spine and knees. It’s ideally suited for side sleepers and it can help to relieve pressure and discomfort while asleep.