How to Create a Safe Sleep Space for Elderly Parents

Tips for setting up a comfortable, accident-proof bedroom for aging parents in your home.

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

Nearly one in three elderly people in need daily assistance live with a family member who is looking after them. If you fill that role for your parents, figuring out how to create a safe and comfortable sleeping arrangement for them is important. This is especially true for the 44 percent of older adults who experience insomnia, which could include moving around during the night. To create the best possible sleep environment for elderly parents in your home, consider these other tips:

Clear the Room
Make sure there’s enough space in the area where your parent will be sleeping to accommodate a walker, wheelchair, and other mobility devices. Assess the height of closet shelves and the hanging rod to be certain both can be reached easily (and adjust them accordingly if not).

Light the Way
Placing a nightlight near their bed and making sure the hallway is well lit can help avoid the risk of tripping or falling. Find a bedside table or reading lamp bright enough to light the way for trips to the bathroom and for reading when sleep doesn’t come easily. A good option: A light that turns on and off with a single touch, rather than a tiny knob that needs pushing or twisting. Along with a nightlight, consider placing a flashlight near the bed in case of a power outage.

Install a Line
In an emergency, it’s important that your parents can pick up the phone and dial for help. If there isn’t one in this room already, add it within reach of the bed along with a cell phone charger. Post a list of emergency contacts near the phone area so your parents won’t have to search if they need to call someone quickly.

Remove Hazards
Fluffy area rugs, lamp cords, ottomans, and other low-to-the-ground furniture should be taken out of the sleep space to reduce the risk of tripping. Make sure bathroom rugs and bathmats are non-skid or secured to the floor with a no-slip backing or double-sided tape.

Stay on One Level
If possible, locate your parents in a room on the same floor as the bathroom to avoid middle-of-the-night stair climbs. Along with adding nightlights to illuminate the hallway, consider adding secure handlebars along the walls to help them catch their balance or steady themselves if necessary.

Bringing your parents into your home can be a great opportunity for bonding, and bringing peace of mind to both of you. With these smart tips, you will both rest easier knowing their new bedroom is set up for safe sleeping.