How to choose the best bed for Seniors (older adults) with mobility issues

As many of us get older we might experience reduced flexibility, a bit of stiffness or pain, or develop other medical conditions that can make getting up and down from chairs, getting in and out of bed and turning over in bed more difficult. Importantly, and annoyingly, these things might also make it hard to get comfortable in bed and to enjoy a restorative and enjoyable sleep!


The good news is that there are lots of things that you can do to help with that – and that’s coming from a person who is very keen on sleep but traditionally quite bad at it!
I have trialled many solutions and I recognise how much the quality of sleep can affect our enjoyment of life as well as our energy levels to do the things we need and want to do.



In talking about the best beds for older adults, especially those with mobility issues, this will depend on individual needs and preferences, but there is a bit of a 'checklist' I like to review with people to make sure that all needs are considered to help you make the best choice.


Firstly, we want our bed to provide support for the position we like to sleep in.


Do you like to lie flat or propped up on a stack of pillows?

If you have any respiratory condition where breathing may be impaired, acid reflux, tend to snore, experience allergies with a stuffy nose and sinuses, or other discomfort worsened by lying flat, then a bed with an adjustable back rest, or using a wedge to create a 'lift', may be of assistance. That stack of slippery pillows might not be doing the best job!



Do you have trouble getting your legs into a comfortable position?

Some people have restless legs, arthritis, back pain, or injuries to an ankle, knee, or hip, that makes it hard to find a position that feels good.
An adjustable bed with a ‘knee break’ - like a hospital style bed where the bed creates a supportive hump under the knees, or a specially designed knee relaxer pillow, can help relieve pressure on the back, reduce the stretch at the back of your legs, and feel restful for painful joints. Positioning a knee pillow between the legs for side sleepers might also help.


When choosing the best bed the height and size are important.

If you have reduced strength or mobility issues, I recommend choosing a higher bed as it will be easier to sit down onto in a controlled way. It is important that you don’t fall onto the bed to avoid injury or strain. Also, it will be easier to transition from sitting on the bed to standing if the top of the mattress you are sitting on is higher than the crease at the back of your knee (a neat little tip for working out if a chair will be easy to get out of too). Higher beds are also easier to make – another thing worth considering!


If you are having trouble swinging your legs into and out of the bed due to arthritis, Parkinson’s, or another neurological condition, an adjustable electric bed such as the iCare IC333 with a back rest, knee bend and tilting function might be worth considering. The bed can be positioned almost to a sitting position with the foot end tilted downward so that your feet are closer to the floor (& lower than your hips) and you also have a backrest to lean against which makes the swing in and out so much easier – you’ll be surprised!

icare333 beds with black and stone colours


What sized bed is best?

Some of this is personal choice and may be determined by the space you have available but it is important to consider the need to move about in bed.


Many people find it hard to “shuffle” back to the middle of the bed after turning over. This means that in a single bed you could find yourself precariously close to the edge.


A King Single bed will give more room to turn over and stay where you end up rather than needing to shuffle back without taking up a lot of space in the room.


A double bed gives you even more room enabling freer movement and side tossing with less effort.


Keep in mind though, that if you need Carer or Nursing service, they need to be able to assist you from close by and a bed larger than a King Single could make things more difficult.



How to choose the right mattress for seniors and people with mobility issues.

Choosing the right mattress is personal choice, however it should always provide a firm core to support your spine in an appropriate rather than 'banana' position.


If you have had the same mattress for years and years and have bent it to your will, it might seem like an old friend, but it might be time to part ways and invest in the new technologies that position you well. You could also consider picking one with a cushioned top to relieve the pressure points on any boney bits (reducing the need to toss and turn which will disrupt your sleep).


There are many mattresses to choose from and the best mattress for you will depend on your body type, any support needs, and how freely you’re able to move around. 


Making it easier to move about in bed:

Many people find they are not so agile in moving about and repositioning during the night for comfort. The firmness of the mattress and the cushioning on top of the mattress is important for comfort and pain relief, and for freer movement. A thicker ‘pillow-top’ layer will aid pain relief and comfort but may increase the challenges in re-positioning if too soft so may not be suitable if moving around is a challenge for you.


Here are a few of my other favourite tips for comfort and movement in bed.


  • Satin sheets used to be a fashion choice, but they are also a great assistance to movement. If you are using flannelette sheets and maybe wearing flannelette PJs, then you might be effectively gluing yourself in the one spot! Try slinky bedwear (or none at all!) and silky sheets, and see how much more movement and freedom is possible. 

  • Use light weight bedsheets – there are various warmth ranges in very lightweight options – getting overheated in bed will often mean you wake up and disrupt your sleep unnecessarily.

  • Use bed supports to keep bedsheets off parts of the body if it is painful – for example, a small frame positioned at the end of the bed to hold your bedsheets above the feet can make a world of difference.

  • Sleep can sometimes be improved by training the body into a regular sleep/wake cycle (ideally matching your circadian rhythm) so that our brains know when to 'expect' to go to sleep. Following the same routine at the same time each night, and avoiding caffeinated drinks from late afternoon, may also assist.

  • Try to set up your environment to be conducive to sleeping. Choose the temperature you like, all of the comfort accessories you need, appropriate support (mattress and pillows), comfortable, lightweight pyjamas, and bedsheets that you can easily move around in.



I hope these tips helps to aid more blissful nights of slumber.


However, if you would like more personalised advice, or help with choosing the best bed for you, pop into a Leef independent living store and speak to one of our expert team members. They can assist you with trying out a few options – you might be surprised how far bed, mattress, and pillow technology has come since you last purchased a bed.

Sleep well!

- Cathie



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