A Guide to Styling Bedrooms for Nighttime Safety
By Lisa Smalls
The population of older adults living independently is growing, making home safety an increasingly important public health issue. One-third of adults over the age of 65 will fall once a year, making falls the the most common accident across the elderly population by far. Thirty to 50 percent of falls result in a minor injury, while ten percent result in major injuries, such as fractures and traumatic brain injuries.
Falls are more common as we age because overtime our strength and balance weaken. Vision becomes impaired and foot/leg pain becomes far more common.
Although some falls are caused by health issues like dementia, vision impairments and low blood pressure, it’s not uncommon for them to be caused by environmental factors. Fifty-five percent of falls happen in the home; 30 percent of those falls happen in the bedroom.
In order to prevent a fall or injury, consider these safety tips when styling your bedroom for safe sleep:
- Nix the Clutter
If clutter in broad daylight can pose a threat of tripping, how much more can it put older adults at risk of a fall come nighttime when vision is most impaired? To decrease the likelihood of a fall, keep the bedroom picked up at all times. If anything, make sure there is a clear path to the bathroom or exit before going to sleep.
- Choose the Right Mattress
Contrary to popular belief, the bed you sleep on plays a big role in bedroom safety. Older adults want to look for a mattress that they can easily climb in and out of. If a mattress is causing aches and pains, making it more difficult to get up, it might be time for an upgrade.
Using an adjustable base is a great way to help older adults get in and out of bed easily. Sleeping slightly elevated can prevent acid reflux, snoring and provide pain management. Adults that suffer from overnight leg swelling and fluid buildup benefit from adjustable beds because they can elevate their legs. This elevation is known to minimize swelling and stiffness, making morning movement a bit easier.
Finally, also consider installing bed rails to minimize the chance of a fall.
- Turn on a Nightlight
Not only should walking paths in the bedroom and bathroom be clear, but they should also be lit. Use nightlights throughout the sleep space to reduce the risk of falling in the middle of the night.
- Limit Dangerous Decor
Finally, consider the actual pieces used to furnish a bedroom. While rugs and long drapes pose a threat to falling, furnishing with sharp corners may also cause harm (especially when in a dark space). Opt for rounded tables and pieces with soft curves. Look for plush couches and seating. These will minimize the risk of an accidental cut.
Safety trumps style, especially if living alone. Make sure the environment is free of tripping hazards that may cause a freak accident. While there are some health risks out of anyone’s control, a home is a place that doesn’t have to be dangerous.