How do I keep my mom safe at night if she gets out of bed?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother, age 95, has dementia. She stays awake at night. She is under the care of a geriatric specialist. I haven't seen much caregiving information about this topic. We have a bedside alarm and have recently ordered a bed rail to keep her from getting up in the middle of the night. My mom has had a history of falls. She has severe arthritis in her knees. She does have episodes of hallucination and this is when she attempts walking without assistance. Do you have any suggestion. Thanks.

Expert Answer

Joanne Koenig Coste is a nationally recognized expert on Alzheimer's care and an outspoken advocate for patient and family care. She is the author of Learning to Speak Alzheimer's. Also, she currently is in private practice as an Alzheimer's family therapist. Ms. Koenig Coste also serves as President of Alzheimer Consulting Associates, implementing state-of-the-art Alzheimer care throughout the United States.

It sounds as if you have done all the right things, so far, to prepare for the possibility of another fall. I would caution you to think hard about installing side railings on her bed. Frequently a memory-impaired adult, not comprehending the rails, will attempt to climb out over them causing more bodily damage than would have occured without the added railings. I believe the best impediment to nightime falls is to put the mattress itself on the floor or to put an additional mattress on the floor beside the bed. This way, if she losses balance upon arising, she has a nice soft landing. Clip an alarm to the mattress to alert you if she attempts to get up. The Alzheimer's Store carries a nice selection of this kind of 'warning system'.