Buying Guide

Selecting the Best Beds for Seniors

BEDS | Last Updated on December 03, 2020

Direct Supply Adjustable Bed

The bed is perhaps the most important furnishing in any senior’s room. Unlike residential units, beds for elderly people offer unique functions and positioning to provide maximum comfort and help ensure clinical benefits.

As you search for the best beds for older adults, keep in mind the positioning, mobility and expandability characteristics of each bed. Consider adjustable-height beds with an array of safety options, bariatric beds for your larger residents, and kits to expand the versatility of your beds by length extension and width extension .

All beds sold by Direct Supply ® meet FDA standards. Compliance with FDA entrapment guidelines can help decrease the risk of bed entrapment in your community. For more information on these guidelines, including tips for creating safe bed systems, please see our Entrapment Guide .

5 Types of Beds for Senior Living Communities

Adjustable-Height Beds

These adjustable beds for seniors offer adjustable travel heights but typically don’t go lower than 12". Most of these beds offer standard functions, including articulating head and knee sections for resident comfort.

Adjustable-Height Beds

Adjustable-Height Low Beds

Adjustable-height low beds can help you offer the best bed height for seniors. They provide the same standard functions but can be adjusted to a low height of 9" or less to help protect residents at risk of falling. They also usually go higher. For example, a bed at 30" combined with a 6" mattress provides a safer working height for caregivers.

Additionally, you can find models that offer five functions, including Trendelenburg and Reverse Trendelenburg. Adjustable-height low beds typically have the best combination of features ideal for Senior Living residents.

Adjustable-Height Low Beds

Fixed-Height Low Beds

Fixed-height low beds keep senior residents at an optimum sleeping level to help limit fall-related injuries. They’re a less-costly option than adjustable-height beds and offer a restraint-free alternative for residents at risk of falling out of bed, including those with dementia in Memory Care communities.

Fixed-Height Low Beds

Bariatric Beds

Bariatric beds are specifically designed for larger residents. They are wider and often longer than other beds, and feature a higher weight capacity — up to 1,000 lbs.

Bariatric Beds

Acute Care Beds

Acute care beds have more advanced features than many beds, including built-in fall management systems, in-bed scales, siderails with built-in controls, an angle indicator for head elevation, and advanced positioning options, such as Trendelenburg and Reverse Trendelenburg. Like their name implies, acute care, or Skilled Nursing, beds may be the best match for highest-acuity residents.

Acute Care Beds

Bed Deck Style

A quality bed deck provides Senior Living residents with a firm sleeping surface that won’t deform over time. There are three common types of bed decks:

Grid decks

Grid decks feature large diameter wire welded to a frame to provide high mattress ventilation and eliminate sharp edges.

Rib decks

Rib decks feature rectangular or square tubing to allow for easy cleaning as well as high mattress ventilation and no sharp edges.

Pan decks

Pan decks offer the best orthopedic support and are the easiest to clean, with no sharp edges. Pan decks come in two styles: perforated, which allow for high mattress ventilation, and composite, which allow for easy removal for cleaning.

Bed Width & Length

Most standard Senior Living beds are 35" or 36"W - smaller than a 39"W standard twin bed, and with less space than residents are accustomed to. A wider 39" or 42"W bed gives residents more space to sleep and reposition, reducing falls while maintaining safety and comfort.

Extra-wide beds can have:

  • A specific, fixed width
  • Built-in adjustments allowing for multiple width options
  • Detachable accessories that allow the bed to expand to other widths

Many beds are available in multiple lengths as well. Some are fixed lengths, most commonly 76", 80" or 84", while some offer a built-in adjustable length feature or have length extenders available. Larger, safer, more comfortable beds are a great way to distinguish your Senior Living community and appeal to potential residents.

Rolling Position

The two most common types of mobility options are senior beds that roll at any height and beds that roll at the lowest height only.

A bed mobile at any height is the most convenient type of bed, allowing caregivers to roll the bed without having to reposition it first. Many beds have locking mechanisms that allow a caregiver to quickly lock or unlock the wheels in a single step. Other beds require all four casters to be locked in order to secure the bed.

There is added risk if a bed that is mobile at any height is left in a mobile position, which is unsafe if a resident uses it as a support during ingress or egress.

A bed that is only mobile at the low height requires caregivers to lower the bed to its lowest position in order to transition to its casters before the bed can be moved. It is generally the safest type of bed available. Moving residents when the bed is at its lowest height helps prevent injuries and falls. It also helps reduce the risk that the bed could be left in a mobile position since the bed height indicates the wheels aren’t locked.

Bed Positioning

Auto Contour : Beds with Auto Contour technology allow the head and knee sections of the bed to move simultaneously. This keeps residents better positioned so they don’t slide down as the head section is raised. This is not only more comfortable for the resident, but reduces the potential for shear and friction injuries.

Trendelenburg Positioning : Trendelenburg positioning elevates the legs above the heart for enhanced cardiac and circulatory positioning. It also aids in postural drainage and can help reduce caregiver strain. Reverse Trendelenburg positioning raises the head above the heart to help drain the lungs in cases of pneumonia.

Trendelenburg Bed Position

Trendelenburg Bed Position

Reverse Trendelenburg Position

Reverse Trendelenburg Position

Comfort Chair Positioning : Available on beds with Reverse Trendelenburg positioning, Comfort Chair positioning is made possible by articulating the head and knee section and putting the bed in Reverse Trendelenburg. This position helps improve resident comfort by aligning the hips and shoulders. In addition to increasing comfort, this upright position also allows for easier swallowing, breathing and body circulation.

Manual Leg Lift : Some beds feature a manual lift that will elevate the foot section of the bed. This adds positioning options for residents and caregivers to administer heel care more easily and comfortably access the resident’s feet.

Bed Functions Graph

Additional Bed Features

  • Height Range : Low heights are ideal for mitigating injury in the event of a roll-out fall, while higher positions are great for reducing the risk of staff injury while providing bedside care.
  • Assists : Assist devices make repositioning, rolling over, egress and ingress hassle-free.
  • Weight Capacity : Take into account the weight of the resident as well as the weight of the bedding, mattress and all assists when considering capacities.
  • Horizontal Movement : Some height-adjustable beds can drift outward as much as 9" when raised or lowered. In smaller resident rooms with limited space, this “horizontal movement” can be an issue. It has the potential to damage walls if the bed is pushed flush with the wall and then raised or lowered. A bed with no horizontal movement can be moved in the fully raised position without drifting toward or away from the wall.

Additional Accessories

  • Underbed Light : Generally motion-activated, these lights can help reduce the risk of falls for residents getting in and out of bed.
  • USB Charging : With most wall outlets occupied equipment, these convenient ports allow residents to charge their personal devices from bed.

Direct Supply makes selecting beds for older adults easy. With the variety of choices today, including options for nursing home beds and Assisted Living beds, it can be difficult to identify the right equipment for your community. That’s why Direct Supply helps you sort through all the features and models available to find equipment that will get the job done for the right value.

Once you’ve identified the exact bed you need, we make it easy for you to place your order with delivery and installation services, budget-friendly financing options, and a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Find more helpful tips on selecting the best mattresses for seniors , or contact our team of Senior Living experts for assistance.

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