How To Help Elderly Get Into Bed

Due to many reasons, the elderly may have trouble getting into bed. 

This article will explore the factors that affect why there may be trouble with hopping in and ways to overcome this difficulty.

Why Do Some Seniors Struggle With Getting Into Bed?

A common complaint amongst the elderly is that they have leg weaknesses, which can affect the ability to get into bed.

Overall decreases in strength can lower the ability to bend at the knees or lower flexibility at other joints. This can make it harder to perform certain body motions and sustain positions required during a bed transfer.

Some of these challenges may be due to age related health conditions or frailty, but they can also be attributed to weakness after an extended hospital stay, bodily injuries from a fall or other physical trauma.

Ways To Improve Bed Transfers

These are some of the common bedroom modifications and strategies that can help improve the ability to get into bed:

  1. Exercise – strengthen and condition muscle groups involved in bed transfers

A carefully guided exercise plan can enhance range of motion and flexibility at the knees and other joints. Furthermore, it may help improve the ability to bear weight through the legs and feet. Additionally, exercise programs can also lead to better balance.

In essence, building muscle endurance and overall strength can boost one’s physical capabilities. In turn, this can make attempts at stepping into bed more successful.

  1. Use supportive transfer aids – assistive devices are tools that can be used to get into bed with greater ease and more safely

There are many supportive aids that can be used to help a senior get into bed. These are some of the most common bed transfer aids:

  • Bed rail

While a bed rail is typically used to get out of bed, it can also help someone get into bed.


Some people benefit from having a guide to show them to where the bed is located when they back up to the bed to sit down. Searching for and grabbing the railing can act as that guide and position someone near the bed, close enough to sit down onto it safely.

From there, the railing can also be used to reposition within bed and adjust one’s body to be lying down on their preferred side or back.

  • Leg Lifter

If one needs help getting legs into bed, a leg lifter can be used to pull one’s lower body up into bed.


A leg lifter’s strap loops over one foot at a time, while the strength in the arms pull the handle to move the leg up.

With one leg in the bed, the strap is removed and attached to the other leg to repeat the process.

  • Wall Mounted Safety Railing

In the bedroom, safety railings are typically wall mounted into studs or other securement points.

The bed is then placed near the grab handle, where someone can use it to push on to get up onto the bed.

  • Security Pole

A security pole is a sturdy device that is placed in almost any room with a ceiling lower than 9 feet. This pole is secured in position by tension between the floor and ceiling, although it can be installed permanently in some cases. 


To help with bed transfers, a pole is typically placed at the bedside and held for support while getting up onto a bed.

When a security pole has an additional horizontal bar that rotates, the bar can be put over the bed’s surface and used to reposition more easily within bed.

  • Bedside Step Stool

Putting a step stool beside the bed can provide a platform for someone to step on so they stand a little taller.


This can make it easier to get into beds that are higher than average.

  • Trapeze Bar

A hand hold that rests above the head of the bed. This device can be grabbed and pulled on for support to readjust one’s position within bed when needed.


Depending on the model, securing this device can occur in several ways: 

a) Connected to the bed frame

b) Placed underneath the mattress and held in place by the weight of the individual and mattress

c) Freestanding weighted base with feet resting on the floor

d) Securely drilled into the ceiling

e) Connected to a tensioned floor to ceiling pole

  • Patient Lift

Some individuals may be unable to bear any weight through their feet and have very poor muscle tone to keep them standing up. 

These individuals may require the use of a mechanical patient lift to pick them up while they sit in a sling, and position them down on top of the bed. Once positioned in bed, the sling can be removed by a caregiver with careful weight shifting from side to side.


Using this device requires one person to operate the patient lift, and another individual to stand by for support in case any difficulties arise. Training is required to safely use this equipment as an assistive lift can be dangerous or deadly if not performed correctly.

It is also important that slings and equipment be checked frequently for wear and tear, and maintained in good working condition for optimal functioning.

Depending on the model, patient lifts can roll around the floor on wheels, or it can be mounted and glide along an overhead ceiling track. 

Floor models require more space to maneuver, however they are less expensive when compared to installing a ceiling track. Another advantage, is that floor models can easily move from one room to another, provided that the floor is smooth and flat.

Ceiling tracks take up less space, but tend to be more expensive to install. Another disadvantage is that a person can only be moved from one position to another along the track. As a result, careful planning and organization of the home, bed and other transfer surfaces need to be considered prior to installing any overhead track systems.

  • Furniture Risers

When bed surfaces are too low to get in easily, a furniture risers placed underneath the frame’s feet can help increase the height of the bed.

  • Hospital Bed

Hospital beds can be adjusted and customized in a number of ways to better support someone trying to get into bed. 


The height of a hospital bed can be lowered or raised as needed. The head rest can also be positioned in a variety of angles ranging from fully flat or at a raised angle for sitting upright. Additionally, hospital beds can be customized with a variety of rails that can assist with transfers and repositioning.

Together these features can allow the hospital bed to be positioned in an optimal setup to support bed transfers either into bed or out of it.

  1. Change the bed height – adjusting the bed height can make it easier to get onto the mattress

Beds and their mattresses can be at one of the following heights:

  • Too low (less than 20 inches)

Any bed that is too low will not only make it difficult to get out, but will also have a large drop from a standing position until someone sits down on it. This drop can be particularly scary for those that have poor trunk control or a history of falls, as they may lose their sense of balance while sitting down.

Strategies to get into a low bed more easily:

a) Use furniture risers to raise the height of the bed

b) Purchase a thicker mattress

  • Just right (approximately 20 to 23 inches)

On average, most seniors find the ideal bed height for the frame and mattress to be approximately 20 to 23 inches from the ground.

When the bed is at the ideal height, little or no modifications will need to be made to get in.

  • Too high (more than 23 inches)

For beds that are too high, it can be a challenge to step into them, especially for those with weaker legs that need to raise up higher to get on top of the mattress.

Strategies to get into a high bed more easily:

a) Use a bedside step stool to stand taller before getting into bed

b) Purchase a thinner mattress

c) Get a box spring with a lower profile

d) Find a different bed frame that is lower to the ground