How to Select a Mattress for the Elderly

How to Select a Mattress for the Elderly

Posted on December 13, 2011 by Elder Care Bay Area in Bedding / Mattress, Caregiver Education

Mattress selection can be an intimidating process. It becomes more so for the elderly. According to the Mayo Clinic, insomnia increases as a person ages. Elderly people often experience difficulty sleeping due to discomfort caused by arthritis. Take time to make the right choice when selecting a mattress for the elderly. It is an expensive purchase, and the right mattress affects both your sleep and awake hours.

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  1. Visit the mattress store on a day when you have plenty of time to test the mattresses. Go on a weekday afternoon when there are usually fewer customers in the store. This will give you more privacy and allow your salesperson to spend more time answering your questions. Wear comfortable, loose clothing.
  2. Try out different degrees of mattress firmness and style. Lie on each one for at least 10 minutes. Lie on the mattress in the same manner you sleep at home. If you are a back sleeper, lie on your back.
  3. Ask your salesperson to explain the advantages and disadvantages of each mattress, particularly as they relate to the elderly.
  4. Check the height of the mattress. The elderly often find it difficult getting into a mattress that is too high off the floor. Low-profile box springs also are available to keep the mattress height lower.
  5. Determine how the mattress conforms to your body. It should fill in the arch of your back so there is no space between your body and the mattress. This eliminates excess pressure on arthritic joints.
  6. Notice how your body feels when lying on the mattresses. The elderly often experience an increase in joint pain, due to age and a decrease in bone density. Pay particular attention to the pressure points on your body, such as hips, shoulders, elbows and knees. The right mattress will cradle those areas, relieving pressure and pain.
  7. Avoid pillow-top mattresses, as they are more likely to form body impressions over time. This creates a dip in the mattress that makes it difficult for elderly people to roll out of.
  8. Consider a memory foam mattress. This material conforms to the body as you sleep. The memory foam material also stays warmer, which can keep elderly joints and muscles loosened up.
  9. Ask about comfort guarantees and warranties. Ideally, you want to be able to return the mattress if it does not feel good when you sleep on it. You may be required to pay a fee, but you won’t be stuck sleeping on a mattress you don’t like.

Tips & Warnings

  • Take your spouse with you if he shares your bed. It’s important that you are in agreement.
  • If your salesperson seems hurried or does not appear knowledgeable, do not hesitate to ask for someone else.

By Kate Daniels