Choosing a mattress for your loved one is not so straightforward.
You may be only vaguely aware of two significant problems associated with declining mobility. What do I mean? A typical sign is when you learn that daily walks cease. Walking small distances of a few hundred metres becomes exhausting. Knees seize up, hips may hurt or breathing may become laboured and the default mindset becomes move less.
My mother is 80, and Dad is 82. Both have declined in recent years and the rate of decline is an exponential thing. I want to intervene but not forcefully, to safeguard them from having accidents in their home. I have talked with most of my friends about aging parents because we are all in the same boat. What I find is that some are really good at planning for the inevitable effects of aging and others aren’t. My parents are not.
We are reminded of the high number of hospital admissions from falls. As a child of independent and stubborn parents I know my influence is at best marginal. I want to sleep well and feel better knowing I have said my piece. So often the adage “You can lead a horse to water but cant make it drink”. Horses may not speak but crikey they are good at body language.
I have suggested attaching rails to walls, rails beside steps or ramps instead of stairs. Non slip mats, night light sensors, low clothes lines, wedges where lips between rooms are a trip hazard, sos alert technology etc. If the money is available a stair lift can be a great fix or even a lift if the house is 2 storeys and the sentimental value has an vice like grip on the decision to stay… ‘where I have so many lovely memories with Dad and you boys’. So if we put these things in place you are dramatically reducing the chance of a fall.
Another area that requires thought is the risk of pressure ulcers. Bums on seats is a concern as is the sacral and heel zone when laying on a couch or bed. As we get older our skin gets drier as less oil is produced from the glands. Slighter built have less padding from the subcutaneous fat, that is the deepest layer of the skin. Other factors that contribute negatively include medications and high PH levels in urine from incontinence. But the greatest factor is ones level of mobility. Not exercise but movement. Simple movement to take away pressure from the buttocks for example will lower the risk of skin tissue dieing.
Suggesting the use of a recliner to promote movement out of a chair is a good start. A proper seat cushion capable of immersing the buttocks enough to relocate pressure away from the one place on each buttock prone to terminating blood flow the most – the ischial tuberosities. The skeleton image shows the prominent boney points extending down into our bottoms
If we look at the bedroom where we spend most of our lives preventing pressure sores is equally important to preventing falls. I think falling over and breaking a hip, shoulder or getting a head injury for example are more obvious when we can see our Mother or Father unstable on their feet. So we install bedsticks, elephant feet to raise the bed, install an electric bed perhaps or invest in a bed wedge.
But equally important is having a mattress that is comfortable and made of materials that have skin protection as central to the design. A mattress that is modular is a great idea. Systam has developed the Evolutiv. It has removable sections that can be exchanged dependant upon an individual’s own circumstances. In this way you needn’t buy an expensive mattress 1st up. You don’t replace the whole mattress if their condition worsens. Just simply buy the Polyair pad and place in the cutout rectaginal hole where the skin breakdown has been assessed by a health professional as progressing from minor to a higher risk alert level.
Don’t forget that Protective Comfort and Quality of Life go hand in hand with loved ones getting old. Heeding this advice often bring stress levels for you the sibling down from ‘off the chart’ to more manageable level.