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How Do You Prevent Someone With Dementia From Falling Out of Bed?

To prevent someone with dementia from falling out of bed, families can use a number of products, including bed rails, bolsters or specially designed mattress covers or mattresses. Some of these products may be covered through Medicare’s Durable Medical Equipment coverage program. 

Seniors with dementia often experience cognitive impairments that make them unaware of their mobility issues or current location, particularly when they wake up in the middle of the night. Products such as bolsters and other subtle impediments can keep these seniors from inadvertently rolling or falling off the bed.

Adjustable Bed Rails and Hospital Beds for Fall Prevention

Adjustable bed rails can be an effective barrier for seniors with dementia. They come in a wide range of styles and are usually defined by whether or not they have supporting legs.

Legless bed rails slip between the mattress and bed springs of a bed to provide an impasse for seniors who tend to roll in their sleep. They also serve as a point of focus to help seniors get their bearings if they wake up confused.

Bed rails with legs provide an additional level of support for seniors who need assistance getting out of bed. Some brands of legged bed rails also come with straps that better secure the rails to the bed frame. Most adjustable bed rails don’t fit the criteria set forth by Medicare to be considered durable medical equipment and must be paid for by consumers.

A hospital bed includes permanent bed rails that can be raised or lowered as needed, which is convenient for seniors who have both cognitive and physical impairments. Hospital beds are expensive, however, and are only covered by Medicare if a family can prove that their loved one needs one to function on a daily basis. A written prescription from the senior’s doctor can serve as proof of medical necessity. Once this is provided, Medicare covers 80% of the cost to rent or purchase a hospital bed.

If a senior has a medical bed without rails, they may be able to purchase hospital bed rails that can be installed on their bed. These bed rails are also covered by Medicare, as they’re considered durable medical equipment.

Other Ways to Prevent Seniors From Falls

While bed rails are one of the most popular and common products to use to keep seniors with dementia from falling out of bed, they’re not the only available option. Bolsters are usually used as positioning devices for seniors with neck or back problems, but they can also be a useful tool for keeping seniors from rolling in bed. A raised-edge mattress features a concave design with a raised perimeter to keep seniors from straying too far from the center, but these specialized mattresses can be expensive. As an alternative, a mattress cover with raised bolsters along the perimeter can serve the same function at a more affordable cost.

Bolsters and raised-perimeter mattresses or mattress covers aren’t covered by Medicare, but families may be able to receive financial assistance to pay for these products through Medicaid’s Home and Community Based Services programs or other state-funded agencies.