We don’t often think about the height of a bed we plan to buy. Beds average around 25 inches from the floor to the deck, and vary in total height depending on the type of bed and the thickness of the mattress. That’s fine for the healthy, though often awkward for smaller people, but those with health problems and their caregivers should carefully consider the height of a bed before they buy.
People with mobility limitations frequently fall when getting into and out of a bed of the wrong height. Transferring to a wheelchair from a bed higher or lower than the wheelchair’s seat may require more strength and stability than a patient can manage. When a patient’s bed is too high or too low, physiotherapy and day-to-day care routines injure caregivers’ backs and strain their muscles.
Doctors recommend patients who can get out of bed do so often to maintain muscle strength and heart health. A patient’s health may suffer if it is difficult to get into and out of bed because it is too high or low.
In this article, we look at some of the factors you should think about when you choose the height of your bed, and why a home hospital bed with a height adjustment is the best choice for many patients and caregivers.
What Height is Right for Your Bed?
The perfect bed height depends on the patient and their care and treatment needs. It is important to emphasize that you should consider the total height of the bed, including the height of the mattress. A mattress designed for a home hospital bed adds six to seven inches to the total height. A consumer-grade mattress can add much more.
How tall is the patient?
A healthy person barely notices if their feet don’t quite reach the ground when sitting on the edge of their bed, but a frail person or a person with mobility issues certainly notices. They should be able to sit on the bed with their feet flat on the floor. If they can’t, the risk of falls increases significantly.
A bed that is too low also causes problems. When you stand up, gravity tries to pull you back down. The effort and exertion of standing up increases enormously when your starting point is too low.
Does the patient use a wheelchair?
Wheelchair transfers are safer and easier when the bed is at the same level as the seat of the wheelchair, as we explained in our article How to Transfer a Patient From a Wheelchair to a Home Hospital Bed and Back Again. The average height of a wheelchair in the U.S. is around 19.5 inches, although it may be different depending on the model and the patient. The height of the bed and the mattress should be as close to the seat height as possible.
Does the patient require caregiver treatment on the bed?
Caregivers should not have to bend, stoop, or reach when providing treatment, especially if they have to move the patient or otherwise exert themselves. A bed at the wrong height often results in caregiver back and muscle injuries. The correct height depends on the caregiver, but occupational health professionals recommend hip height or slightly higher.
Does the patient need a lift for transfers?
Caregivers use a Hoyer lift—or hydraulic lift—when it is not safe for patients to transfer themselves. Lifts of this type have upper and lower lifting ranges, which may not be compatible with a bed that is too low. For example, a non-adjustable low-profile bed with a total height of 24 inches is not suitable for use with a lift that has a minimum lift height of 28 inches.
Why Choose an Adjustable Hospital Bed?
While reading the above, you may come to the conclusion that it’s impossible to buy a bed of the perfect height, and you’d be right. A bed that is low enough for a patient to safely stand up may be too low for a caregiver to provide treatment. A bed at the ideal height for a wheelchair transfer may not work with a particular Hoyer lift.
That’s why many caregivers and patients opt for height-adjustable home hospital beds, also known as Hi-Low adjustable beds. Transfer Master manufactures a wide range of height-adjustable hospital beds, including the Supernal Hi-Low and our flagship adjustable bed, the Supernal 5, which has a deck-to-floor range of 12 inches to 24 inches, as well as head, foot, Trendelenburg, and Reverse Trendelenburg adjustments.
If you would like to talk to an expert about the best height-adjustable home hospital bed for your circumstances, contact us today by phone or email.