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

9 answers | Last updated: Dec 01, 2015
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 Answers

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'.


Community Answers

Lclgrannynanny answered...

Our situation is very similar. Having the mattress down low would not work as she has already had knee replacement and hip replacement surgery so she needs to be high enough to be able to stand up. We are looking for solutions to buy us time to get to her when she starts getting up.


A fellow caregiver answered...

A hospital bed that allows enough height for bathing etc, but can also be lowered VERY low is a very good solution. In the low position the elderly person can't get up with out assistance and if they do fall, the distance is short. There are various bed alarms to let you know that the person is trying to get up and rubber mats that you can use next to the bed to protect against a short fall. Hope this helps someone...this is such a common problem!


Greg's mom answered...

swimmers noodle placed under the edge of the mattress creates an incline for the person to navigate. if it does not stop them it definitely slows them down. also put another mattress next to the bed in the event they do get up. if U don't know what a swimers noodle is a rolled up blanket or a piece of foam wedge from your local fabric store can also do the trick.


Jasper's mom answered...

My mother has Alzheimer's and nothing stops her. We have a hospital bed with rails and she manages to climb down to the end where she will slip through the bars and fall on the floor. The hospital bed goes up and down, but not that low that she could roll onto another mattress. I don't think a security alarm would work as the type that register no movement would mean she had already fallen out and the type that registers movement would go off constantly because she is constantly moving, throwing her legs over the rail etc. I thought of trying a sleeping bag to keep her from throwing her blankets on the floor and try to restrict her from easily moving around. Don't know if it will work, but running out of ideas.


Fellow caregiver answered...

Have you looked at the Posey Company's enclosed bed?


Sandrab answered...

We have just found ourselves in the same situation with my 93-year-old mother. My room is at the other end of the hallway from hers. We bought a sensor mat that senses when she gets up. The monitor is in our room. We put the pressure sensor under her shoulders. When her shoulders are off the mat, the alarm goes off. That gives me the few needed seconds - while she gets her balance - to get to her, so far. I went in to find her sitting on the edge of her bed a couple of times. So, I'm going to move the pad up higher to her head and shoulders. I'm hoping that will awaken me before she sits up. I like the idea of the pool noodles under the edges of the mattress. I'll have to try that.


Linda959 answered...

I wish someone would be on the side of those with Alzheimers. My mother is 74, in final stages of alzheimers/dementia and fell and broke her him, the doctor put 3 pins in her hip with instructions to not put any weight on that leg for 6 - 8 weeks. Are you kidding?? This woman walks from the time she wakes up until the time we go to bed. Keeping her in a bed and not being able to sleep, yet go to work, is exhausting. She does not always sleep at night. Texas laws state a vail bed is a type of restraint and so is rails...so all we can do is take turns staying awake at night so she won't try to get up. There is no help here that we can find in Texas. I have called my senator so that we might be able in the future to have an exception to those laws for those people who cannot make the decision for themselves to not get up and walk and break another leg or two.


Becareful75 answered...

I've been taking care of my mother with the Dementir for 6 years and what I've learned is the baby Bed rails that have mesh side covers.slide under Which help alot. Also foam rubber for tables ideas for dressers and tables around the bed and walk corners