Ideal Bed Height for Elderly

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Ideal Bed Height for Elderly

Are you confused or don’t know what the ideal bed height for elderly is? Although the ideal height varies from one user to the other, the Disability Rights Defense and Education Fund (DRDEF) recommends that the ideal bed height for seniors be 20 to 23 inches from the mattress top to the floor.

To be clear, the bed height itself is not essential. However, what’s important with a senior’s bed is getting in easily. And, of course, the ease of getting out has everything to do with the height of your mattress.

Why Is the Bed Height Important for the Elderly?

A drop or increase in height can make the difference when you go to bed and get out of bed. This is especially true if other factors like arthritis, muscle aches, back problems, shortness of breath, etc.

The optimal height should be chosen so that the sleeper can simply reach the floor with their feet when sitting on the bed. This makes it easy to stand up. However, if too high, getting into the bed is a little more difficult, and getting off it is unsafe.

If too low, getting off the bed can cause backache as the back will get into a more arched position.

What Can Be Considered the Best Bed Height for Elderly?

According to the DRDEF, the ideal bed height for seniors should be 20 to 23 inches from the mattress top to the floor. Note that 16 to 24 inches is generally considered the ideal range for those who aren’t seniors, according to Mattress Clarity.

Ideally, the most comfortable and safest bed height is where the older user can sit with the feet firmly placed on the floor. So the industry standard will change based on the individual height.

Bed height comfort is not an absolute number, as it depends on the length of the lower leg. Tall people, therefore, need a higher bed than short people, which makes sense.

Therefore, it is best to know the length of the senior’s leg so that you know the ideal height for them.

How to Calculate the Ideal Bed Height for a Senior

It’s pretty simple. Make the elderly sit barefoot on a chair. Measure the distance between the ground and the top of their knee with tape.

In this case, the height is height X. As your mattress always sags when you sit down, take a sag height of 2 inches for an average mattress. Then, add the 2 inches to the measured height X.

Therefore, your ideal comfort height for sleeping is X inches + 2 inches.

For example, if you measure 21 inches from the floor to the top of the knee (when sitting on a chair), you add 2 inches to compensate for the sag of the mattress, then your ideal senior bed (21 inches + 2 inches) is 23 inches high.

Of course, the bed does not have to fit this calculated size perfectly. For example, you can add a margin of +/- 1.5 inches to be able to enter and exit the bed comfortably.

If, as in the example, you arrive at an ideal height of 23 inches, then in your case, it is better to opt for a sleeping height between 22 inches and 25 inches.

Who Should Opt for a Lower Bed?

Ideal Bed Height for Elderly

A lower bed makes the bedroom look more spacious. Therefore, it’s more suitable for contemporary-style bedrooms and shorter seniors. However, the main benefit of a lower bed is the aesthetics.

However, lower beds are safer because there’s no risk of falling while getting out. Also, they don’t require bed rails. After all, it’s lower, and falling out of it is the equivalent of rolling off to the floor (for beds under 20 inches).

Advantages

  • It’s ideal for shorter people
  • Suitable for a contemporary setting
  • Your grandkids or pets can even join you in bed
  • Safer and ideal for those scared of heights
  • No need for bed rails

Drawbacks

  • Getting out from it stresses the back
  • No storage space underneath
  • It’s harder to clean under the bed

Who Should Opt for a Higher Bed?

Ideal Bed Height for Elderly

Senior beds are available in taller heights for particularly tall people. The larger space created under the bed due to the special height can be used to store away objects. This is particularly useful if you live in a small apartment and don’t have enough space to store things.

Higher beds of around 23 inches from the floor to the mattress level are easier to get out from, especially for taller persons. It’s ideal for those who want a bed that’s easy to get in and out without having a sore back or risk of falling.

Advantages

  • Easy to get out from and into a wheelchair
  • A lot of storage space underneath
  • Ideal for tall persons
  • No chance of having a bad back while getting out of it

Drawbacks

  • Some seniors and people with disabilities will need help getting off them
  • Risk of falling
  • Not quite aesthetic; consumes room space

The video below compares high and low beds in detail.

Tips for Changing the Bed Height

Perhaps you already have a bed that is too high or too low. The good news is you can adjust the height easily, either by changing the mattress, adding or removing some beddings, adding bed accessories, and more.

How to Make a Bed Lower

Ideal Bed Height for Elderly

If you have a bed with a set of high legs, the solution could be to cut some inches off the legs. But this works best if the legs are wooden.

If they aren’t, or if the legs are made of metal, you may decide to remove the bed frames, the box spring, or the wheels. You may also remove the mattress topper or change the mattress to one lower in profile.

How to Make a Bed Higher

Ideal Bed Height for Elderly

To raise your bed, you have the choice between different methods. Depending on your DIY skills, you can buy what you need or make it yourself.

It is possible to find mattress boosters on the market. These are foam inclined planes that slide between the box spring and the mattress at the foot or the head of the bed, as needed.

Bed risers, boosters, or bed wedges are very reliable and allow you to enjoy an ideal height increment. This solution makes it possible to raise the bed, whether at the level of the feet, the head, or its entirety, with exactly the same height on each side. 

This type of booster is available in different materials. It can be metal, plastic, or wood. Wooden wedges are more expensive but also of better quality than plastic ones. They are also heavier. You will have your choice of height ranging from 1 inch to 12 inches.

When buying your risers, an important point to check is the weight they can support. This information is usually given on the packaging. You must therefore consider the weight of the person or persons occupying the bed, the all-inclusive bed, that is to say, the box spring, the mattress, the bed frame, etc.

Then taking into account this weight criterion, you can choose the model you like depending on the result you want to obtain from an aesthetic point of view.

They are available in neutral but also in more original colors. However, don’t forget that you always have the possibility of hiding them with the help of a plaid, a box spring cover, etc.

Two people are recommended to install them.

  1. First, remove the mattress to lighten the bed and be able to lift it more easily.
  2. Raise the bed and place the blocks in the center of each leg of the bed if you want to raise it in its entirety or only at the two legs at the end of the bed to raise only the part of the legs.
  3. Gently replace the box spring, ensuring that each wedge is firmly installed and that your bed is perfectly stable.

What’s the Best Type of Bed to Pick for Elderly

Ideal Bed Height for Elderly

An adjustable bed is the most suitable for the elderly. It has the particularity of being able to raise the mattress at the level of the head and the feet, thanks to a remote control, with the touch of a button or pull of a lever. 

It guarantees incomparable comfort and helps you get out of bed by raising the backrest. This bed type is particularly suitable for people suffering from blood circulation disorders. By raising the legs, venous return is improved.

With an electric bed, the elderly can choose the inclination of their head and their feet themselves to find the position.

Using an adjustable bed has many benefits. First, it offers the most comfort. There is also the manual adjustable bed, but for the elderly, an electric model is more practical.

It assists in getting up and if they want to change position during the night, for example.

Safety Tips

  1. The optimal height of the bed should be chosen so that when sitting on the bed, you can just barely reach the floor with your feet. This makes it easy to stand up. If too high, getting into the bed will be a little more difficult, and getting out of it may not be safe without help since the feet will not touch the ground.
  2. We recommend installing a bed rail or guard if you’ve chosen a high bed. It assists in getting up and out of bed and prevents the bed user from falling during sleep and while getting down.
  3. It’s also advisable to install a grab bar at the bedside. For example, if the bed is too high and the legs are dangling while trying to get down, they can use the grab bar to get down.
  4. Ensure the bed isn’t too low. A low bed can aggravate a back problem as you have to bend so low to get up or on the bed.

Final Thoughts

The correct height of the senior bed depends on the body size and is based on the personal seat or wheelchair height. Depending on your height, the ideal bed height for elderly is about 20 to 23 inches. Specialist retailers, however, only refer to beds with a height of 20 inches as senior beds.

Meanwhile, if we advise you on what type of bed would be the best for an elderly, you have to go for an adjustable bed like hospital beds. This is because the height can be increased and lowered depending on the user’s height and needs.

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