Mobility Aids to Help the Elderly Get In and Out of Bed

If getting in and out of bed is becoming unsafe for you or a relative due to functional decline, then installing a transfer mobility aid in the bedroom can help to improve your comfort and safety, for a youthful mind and body. This can allow you to remain independent and safe by reducing the risk of falls. If you decide that a transfer aid would improve your ability to get in and out of bed then the following helpful guide on grab handles, lifting poles and leg lifters will prove useful.

Grab handles

  • What are they? These are handles which can be firmly fixed under a mattress or onto a bed base or by the side of the bed to improve stability when getting in and out of bed. Grab handles can be fixed to beds, walls or floors; certain models can be fixed into different positions to suit the person’s specific needs.
  • Is a grab handle the best option for you? As long as you are able to maintain a certain level of strength in your arms, this may be the simplest solution. Otherwise, other options would need to be explored.
  • Is available space an issue? Grab handles take up little room and can prove a useful addition to many elderly people’s bedrooms.
  • What else do I need to consider? Fixed grab handles may obstruct parts of the bedside and make, for example, reaching for items on a bedside table potentially hazardous; you should make sure that the handle is properly secured. Certain models are tucked under the mattress and kept in place by the person’s weight. In this case, the user will need to distribute their mass evenly to ensure the rail remains in place.

Lifting poles

  • What are they? These are metal gantries which can be free standing or fixed to a wall. They should also come with a strap and grab handle that can be positioned to suit the user’s needs. Once in place, the user is able to pull themselves into a sitting position which can help with getting in or out of bed.
  • Is a lifting pole the best option for you? This may not be a suitable option for elderly persons who have painful arms and shoulders or a limited range of movement. It also requires the user to have good abdominal control.
  • Is available space an issue? The lifting pole can slide under the bed and the hand grip be accessed when in bed, so space is not really an issue. However, you may wish to choose a model that fits in with the décor of your bedroom.
  • What else do I need to consider? You should make sure that any freestanding lifting pole is properly secured or it may tip over. Choose a model with a moulded handgrip for comfort and consider one that can be dismantled and moved, as this can prove useful for going on holiday or moving house.

Leg lifters

  • What are they? This is a type of transfer aid that helps elderly people get their legs in or out of bed when they are finding the act of lifting their legs difficult.
  • Is a leg lifter the best option for you? A leg lifter is a helpful mobility aid for people who have decreased strength in their legs. It is simple to use and can promote independence and safety standards in the bedroom.
  • Should I opt for a manual or powered leg lifter? A manual leg lifter consists of a reinforced strap with a loop at the end. This can be looped around the foot and lifted by the user’s arms. It requires that the person has the strength and dexterity to perform the action. If this is not possible powered leg lifters can prove a more suitable option, as these can be fitted to the side of a bed and controlled by a remote. Powered leg lifters often employ a compressor to fill an air sack which, as it expands, raises the platform and the person’s legs.
  • What else do I need to consider? Manual leg lifters may not be the easiest mobility aid to use if the user has minimal strength and dexterity, in which case a powered leg lifter can be a more suitable option. They can be handy to use after hip or knee replacement surgery.

These mobility aids for transferring in and out of bed require that the user have a certain level of strength and dexterity – which can be improved via tai chi for seniors as there are many misconceptions about the elderly and exercise that can be overcome. However, if this is not possible other options such as hoists may prove a better option.

If unsure, please seek the advice of an occupational therapist who will be able to fully assess the most suitable option to meet your needs.

If you have any questions then please let us know in the comments below.

About the author

Carol Robinson works with Manage at Home mobility aids and cares for her husband at home. She has seen it and done it, as it were, and hopes to pass on some of her knowledge to the readers of Inside Elder Care.

Make Your Elderly Parent More Secure At Home

While your elderly relative still has what it takes to live independently, they might be lacking the skills and functions it takes to deal with unusual or even emergency circumstances.  For these special cases, it’s a good idea to take preventative measures to make sure he or she will have the support they need—no matter what.

From the everyday to the rainy-day, here are some measures everyone with a live-at-home senior loved one should think about:

High-tech sensors

There’s a stereotype that older people don’t like to fuss with electronic gadgetry and, in some cases, it’s confirmed in reality; however, today’s technology is so consumer oriented, so they don’t even need to deal with the logistics of the many devices that can attend to their needs.

  • Fall detectors.  If your relative is having problems with balance or has particularly fragile bones, fall detectors are a must.  While the older “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” variety of home alerts needed the victim to push a button, the latest technology provides gyroscopes that can sense dramatic changes in position and alert backup, even if the person is not conscious.
  • Medical monitors.  One of the most recurring reasons for resorting to outpatient care for the elderly is the battery of ongoing physical testing they may require. With a number of home detection systems, many of these tests can be performed easily at home.  Health-e-Chair, for example, is equipped with an array of   biosensors that keeps track of every vital sign you can think of (and some—such as blood oxygen saturation—that you might not).
  • Smart appliances. In addition to being easier to use than conventional electronic fare, special appliances designed for seniors come equipped with fail safe switches that will shut off automatically and prevent fires or other mishaps.

Simple handyman maintenance

You don’t need state-of-the art technology to make sure mom or dad is safe.  A few literal nuts and bolts may do the trick after you’ve given their house the once-over for any high-risk areas.

  • Emergency exits.  If your relative is in a wheelchair or uses a walker, the house should surely be equipped with a ramp anyway; however, even if mobility is not that obvious of a problem, make sure that all entrances are easy to get to and easy to open.  Investing in a new set of power-hinges could make the difference between life and death.
  • Remove clutter.  For similar reasons, having too much stuff in the house can be dangerous.  Consider a storage facility or for the especially nostalgic, space-smart storage solutions.
  • Grab bars.  For high-risk areas, such as stairs and shower, grab-bars are highly recommended.  For these, spending some time with your relative might be a good idea to look for target areas as well as the heights to install the bars.

Social support

While mom or dad may not need to go to a home, there are some areas in which other humans can’t be substituted.

  • Social interaction technologyIt’s essential that older people have plenty of mental stimulation and the best way to get it is from other people. New programs, such as Seniorama-Pointer, allow for seniors to easily Skype, use email and even play interactive games with little fuss.
  • In-house care.  Especially if you’re debating whether or not to resort to care outside the home, a visiting or even live-in caregiver is truly worth considering. Hiring a company to screen caregivers for background checks, licenses and the like can give seniors confidence in the care they’re receiving, while allowing them the benefit of staying at home, and feeling more connected to the life they’ve grown used to.

Finally, because older people can be sensitive about being given “special treatment,” be certain to administer to their special needs in an open, caring, and rational way.

If mom or dad’s reflexes or senses are not what they used to be, it’s no cause for shame; patronizing will only make matters worse; however, with some foresight and tact, you’ll give your loved one the security network they deserve—and the peace of mind that goes with it.

About the Author

Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer in the Los Angeles area whose writing covers several different industries, including health, technology and marketing. In order to make her parents feel as comfortable as possible, she keeps these tips in mind to make them feel more secure.