Equipment for getting in and out of bed

If you find getting in and out of bed difficult, there is a range of equipment available to help you and your carer, if you have one.

Satin sheets can help you to turn over in bed. You can buy specially designed sheets with satin panels or off-the-shelf satin sheets. Some people prefer to have a panel of satin going across the middle of the bed where their hips would rest.

If you use satin sheets or panels, make sure there is an area of friction either at the end or sides of the bed, so you can get some grip. 

Wearing satin pyjamas may also help, but you should avoid using satin sheets and satin pyjamas at the same time. Together, they can increase the risk of sliding out of bed too quickly. 

You can use these rails to adjust your position in bed, to help yourself out of bed and to lower yourself into bed independently. 

You will need moderate upper body strength to be able to use bedside grab rails. An occupational therapist or physiotherapist will be able to show you the easiest ways to use them. 

Bed raisers are used to lift the whole bed a few inches, making it easier to get in and out of it. It's important the bed is not raised up too high as it might make it difficult for you to lift your legs onto the bed or get out of bed safely. 

Bed raisers come in various heights, usually between 3 and 6 inches, and different materials such as wood, plastic and metal, to match the existing bed legs.

Any bed raisers you have should be stable and well supported. Also make sure that the legs of your bed sit deep within the bed raisers and don't just rest on top of them where they may slip off. 

A mattress raiser can help lift you up into a seated position, making it easier for you to get out of bed. There are different types of mattress raiser:

Mechanical – these can be set to a certain degree of elevation but can’t be repositioned easily.

Electric – these allow you to raise and lower the bed using a handheld control. 

Pneumatic – these use air to inflate a pillow-like device under the mattress to raise and lower it. This can also be set to inflate only on one side, turning you at the same time.

Choosing your mattress raiser

Raisers are more effective if the mattress is fairly thin. Thicker mattresses are difficult to bend and can scrunch up in the middle, which can be uncomfortable and make it more difficult to get out of bed. 

Check that the controls are simple to use – single button controls might be easier. Also check how noisy a mattress raiser is.

Comfort and safety tips

  • Make sure electric cords, feeding lines or bedding won’t get caught when the raiser is in motion. 
  • If your bed has a bedside rail or bed lever, it should be positioned so that it goes up and down with the mattress. 
  • Be aware that in the raised position, a mattress raiser can cause you to slide down and out of the bed. 

An electric profiling or hospital bed can be used to help you sit up from lying down. Some people find it reduces dizziness and ankle swelling.  

Hospital beds are usually height-adjustable and may have side rails. They may have casters or wheels, which allow the bed to be moved. 

Electric profiling beds tend to look more like an ordinary bed. Both types of bed usually allow you to raise and lower the mattress at the head and knees.

If you have a partner and they want the bed in a different position, some styles of electric profiling beds split the mattress, so each person can adjust the mattress to the position they want. 

Comfort and safety tips

  • Make sure there are no electric cords, feeding lines or bedding that will get caught up when the mattress is being raised. 
  • Take extra care if the bed has heavy sides that go up and down as it may be easy for your fingers and hands to get caught, especially if the rail comes down suddenly.
  • Make sure the controls can be reached easily when you are lying down.

A hoist can be used to lift you between your bed and wheelchair, or your bed and a commode. Usually social services will recommend or provide a hoist.

There are several different types available. You can talk to an occupational therapist about whether this equipment is suitable for you. 

Bars (over-bed trapezes) and ropes can be hung over the bed above the head. These allow a person to pull themselves up from a lying to a sitting position. 

You need a lot of upper body strength to use these devices so they don’t suit most people with Parkinson’s. An occupational therapist will be able to advise you about whether this piece of equipment is suitable for you.

Choosing the right bed and mattress

When shopping for a bed or mattress, it’s important to consider your individual needs, just as you would when looking at other aids or items of equipment. Not every type will suit your specific needs, or be right for you.

Occupational therapist Emma Bracher shares her top tips for choosing the right bed and mattress when you have Parkinson’s.

Last updated October 2020. We review all our information within 3 years. If you'd like to find out more about how we put our information together, including references and the sources of evidence we use, please contact us at [email protected]