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Expert Interview Series: Bill Laidlaw of Nine Clouds on Bedding Options for the Elderly

[fa icon="calendar"] Dec 7, 2016 11:43:00 AM / by First Choice

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Bedding options for the elderly

Bill Laidlaw, president of Nine Cloud Beds, has three decades of experience expert in the bedding industry.

We recently checked in with Bill to learn more about bedding options for bedridden, elderly and disabled individuals. Here's what he had to say:

What is the market for home hospital beds right now? How popular are they?

The market for home hospital beds has grown 5 to 10 percent per year over the last decade as our population has aged. This growth is forecasted to continue until at least 2050.

Can you give us an overview of the bedding options available to individuals who are bedridden, elderly, disabled, etc.?

As a general rule people prefer a pressure point relieving mattress as they age and their body aches and pains increase. Beds that elevate the head, taking stress of one's back and elevate the feet, providing improved body circulation, are very helpful.

Home hospital beds are best suited for individuals who are less mobile or may need almost constant attention from a caretaker. There are mattresses in both categories that will be helpful to people who are bedridden. They range from memory foam and talalay latex to pump driven air flow mattresses that best reduce the possibility of bed sores.

What is the difference between an adjustable bed and a home hospital bed?

Both types of beds will let you raise the head and foot section of your bed. A hospital bed's head section goes up to a 70 degree angle (being more upright makes getting in and out easier) while an adjustable bed raises to only 60 degrees.

The key distinctions between a hospital bed and an adjustable bed are as follows:

A hospital bed comes only almost exclusively in one size: 36" wide by 80" long. This special size requirement limits your choice of mattress because traditional manufacturers do not build in this size. Importantly, hospital beds all come with a variety of side rails which can be utilized for keeping a user within the bed and be used to support the person as they climb in and out of the hospital bed.

The other key benefit of a hospital bed is that the whole sleeping surface can be raised or lowered electrically by motor. This will make getting in and out of bed (two different heights could be best) much less difficult and also makes a caregiver's job much less physically difficult because the bed can be set at the height that puts the least amount of stress on their backs when helping move a patient.

An adjustable bed differs in that it does come in all sizes, even queen size, which allows two people to remain sleeping in the bed. You have a significantly larger selection of mattress comfort choices, as well. Importantly, while an adjustable bed does not allow you to raise and lower the sleeping surface it can be set up very close to your preferred height by qualified delivery people who have access to a number of different leg height options.

What considerations should these individuals make when searching for an adjustable bed or a home hospital bed?

The size of bed is critical when making your choice because individuals vary greatly in body weight and height. Unless the end user is shorter than five feet tall they will benefit greatly from an 80-inch long bed because the usable size of a bed shrinks when the head portion is raised to the 60 degree up right position. The width of bed is an important consideration for both the end user and the caregiver (if needed). The user may want the space but too much width may make it difficult for a caregiver to reach deep into the bed to help move a user.

What types of mattresses are ideal for someone who is elderly, disabled or bedridden?

Memory foam mattresses with cool gel are often the most comfortable but because of their slow, molding-to-the-body nature can make it difficult for users with less mobility to get in and out of bed. Talalay latex mattresses are likely the best compromise for those who wish to reduce the pressure points caused by spring mattresses while still allowing easy movement in and out of bed because of the natural quick recovery nature of a layer of latex.

What are the risks to elderly, disabled, bedridden, etc. individuals of sleeping in the wrong bed?

The risks are similar in nature to those experienced by anyone choosing a new mattress in that you have to select what you find comfortable. Some people end up choosing an adjustable bed instead of a hospital bed because of the clinical look and the negative connotations of a hospital bed. While this is completely understandable it often leads to the need for a second expensive purchase.

What other types of accessories (pads, pillows, linens, etc.) would be useful to this population?

Popular accessories include waterproof mattress covers even though hospital beds come with mattresses already covered in vinyl, just as an added layer of security from staining. With many adjustable beds and hospital beds you'll need non-standard size sheets sets such as 36x80, 39x80 and 54x80.

Over the bed tables with wheels are often purchased to allow books or laptops to easily rest in front of the end users and then roll out of the way quickly. Floor-to-ceiling poles or hanging trapezes are often chosen as grabbing devices for patients capable of pulling themselves out of bed without outside help.

Are you looking for compassionate support and personalized care services for an elderly or disabled loved one? Contact us.

Topics: Special Needs, Caregiver, Questions, Expert Interview

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