Dementia and Falling Out of Bed

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Tips for Preventing People Living with Dementia from Falling Out of Bed

People who are living with dementia are prone to falling out of bed. In fact, 28% of severe falls in memory care communities happen when a resident is rolling out of bed or transferring to or from a bed.

There are a number of factors that contribute to people living with dementia falling out of bed. Those living with cognitive impairment may become unaware of their physical limitations. They often will attempt to get out of bed even though they may lack the ability to walk on their own, leading to a fall or roll out of bed onto the floor.

In addition, incontinence is very common in people living with dementia; however, the instinct to get up and go to the bathroom remains. This very often causes people to try to get up on their own and try to navigate to the restroom in a darkened room while sleepy. 

Dementia and Falling Out of Bed: Understanding Why

To help prevent memory care residents from falling out of bed, it is important to understand why they are restless or why they are attempting to get up. 

    • Do they need a different bedtime? Examine the number of hours in bed; you may find residents are going to bed too early.
    • Are their medications being given to them at the appropriate time?
    • Are their continence care needs being met effectively and frequently enough? 
    • Is the lighting appropriate for sleep?
    • Is the environment too loud? Consider noise in the hallways, televisions etc.
    • Is their bed comfortable? Examine the mattress, pillows, blankets, etc.
    • Examine the level of engagement throughout the day and monitor for frequent napping or excessive time in bed during daytime hours.

Dementia and Falling Out of Bed: Prevention Tips

If a resident is falling or rolling out of bed frequently, consider implementing the following measures: 

    • Lowering the bed
    • Adding a fall mat to the floor at the bedside to prevent injury
    • Providing transfer enablers, such as a bed cane, halo or transfer pole can be helpful for residents that are usually able to self-transfer
    • Using a pool noodle under the sheet or adding bolsters on the sides of the bed to emphasize the edge of the bed can support residents who accidentally fall out of bed
    • Using perimeter mattress for those that roll out of bed
    • Removing nightstands or other hazards from the bedside

Success Story: Prevent Falling Out of Bed with AI-enabled Video

More than half of falls detected by SafelyYou’s artificial intelligence-enabled cameras are “intentional falls” in which memory care residents intentionally lower themselves to the ground. The technology detects a fall by analyzing the video feed from cameras placed in a resident’s room, stores video only when a fall is detected and sends alerts when a fall occurs. 

Prior to a pilot program with SafelyYou, a resident in a memory care community had fallen five times and fell three times during the pilot. Video of the falls revealed that the resident was using her headboard to intentionally lower herself out of bed and was found in the same area for prior falls. The resident was approved for a hospital bed with a quarter length bed rail. At first, the resident had a hard time adjusting to the new bed, but she finally adapted to it and there have been no additional falls since changes were made.  

Helpful Resources to Prevent Falling Out of Bed

Causes, Risks, and Solutions for Seniors Falling Out of Bed

Prevention of Falls in the Dementia Resident

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