Hospital Beds for Senior Home Care

Many times when seniors are ill they wish to stay at home and be cared for at home rather than seeking care elsewhere. This can mean that nursing care and special medical equipment are needed to help make it more comfortable for them at home. A hospital bed is one of those items that may be on the list.

What is a Hospital Bed?

A hospital bed is a special bed that can be adjusted at the head and foot of the bed. As their name suggests, these are the types of beds typically used for patients in the hospital, but can be rented or bought for home use as well.

Hospital beds are usually reserved for handicapped people and those who may spend a lot of time in bed due to an illness. Hospital beds come in many styles and sizes depending on the patient’s size and medical needs.

Different Types of Hospital Beds

Not all hospital beds are made the same. Quite the contrary; there are several different types with some catering to patients with specific illnesses.

  • Electric Bed. This is the typical modern hospital bed. Buttons on the side rails raise and lower the bed to different positions. If patients are well enough they can usually adjust the bed themselves.
  • Gatch Bed. These beds have no electrical capabilities and are adjusted using hand cranks at the foot of the bed underneath the mattress. These need to be adjusted by a caretaker given the position of the cranks and the strength needed to adjust the bed properly.
  • Low Beds. As their name suggests, these beds are lower to the ground than typical hospital beds. They are meant for people who may be more prone to fall out of bed even though there are side rails. They are typically no more than two feet off of the ground. Many of these beds only offer the option to raise and lower the head or foot of the bed.
  • Low Air Lose Beds. Designed for burn patients and those with skin grafts, these types of hospital beds keep patients cool by blowing air into special sacs in the mattress. This type of bed is also ideal for those with circulatory problems and those prone to pressure ulcers because the mattresses help take pressure off of the skin.
  • Circo-Electric Beds. These beds are able to rotate to move patients who are either in traction or have severe burns or a severe skin condition. Patients who also have spinal injuries may also use this bed if they cannot move but still must be turned to avoid bed sores.
  • Clinitron Beds. Another specialty hospital bed, this model is also geared towards those with skin conditions or pressure ulcers. The mattress is filled with material that feels like sand. Warm air circulates through to maintain a constant temperature and to support the patient’s body weight.

Things to Consider Before Getting a Hospital Bed

Since there are several different types of hospital beds, it’s important to get the one that’s most suitable for the intended user. Here are some things to consider:

  • How long is the patient going to spend in the bed daily? If the patient is injured or bed-ridden, you’ll want an electric bed to make adjustments easier on everyone involved. If there is an injury, a specialized bed (like one of those mentioned above) may also be appropriate.
  • How long is the patient going to need the bed? This will help determine whether renting or buying is the better option. If the bed is going to be permanent, you may want to look into purchasing one and seeing what the insurance will cover.
  • Can the patient move in and out of the bed? This will determine whether a low bed or standard height bed should be used. If the patient can’t get in and out on his own, then a standard height bed may be the better choice.
  • How large is the patient? Many standard hospital beds are 36 inches wide and 80 inches long. If a patient is larger, you may want to look into a bariatric hospital bed. These measurements will also help determine whether a hospital bed will fit in the home.

Cost and Insurance Options

The cost of buying a hospital bed can range anywhere from $800 to thousands of dollars depending on the type of bed and how many bells and whistles that are desired. Renting a hospital bed can cost anywhere from $200 to $500 a month.

A hospital bed is considered a piece of durable medical equipment and can be partially covered under Medicare with a doctor’s order. Typically, Medicare will cover 80% of the cost, leaving the patient with 20% of the bill. Sometimes that remainder will be covered by a supplemental insurance, like Medigap. It’s important to look into what your insurance covers so you know what you may have to pay out of pocket.

Medicare also covers hospital bed rentals. After renting the bed for 13 months, you may in fact own the bed.

Since Medicaid coverage is determined state by state, there are no standard guidelines when it comes to paying for durable medical equipment. It’s best to check on the policy where you live.

Veterans’ benefits may also be able to be used towards the expense of buying or renting a hospital bed. Check to see what your benefits include.

If you cannot afford a hospital bed, look into non-profit agencies and charities in your area. Sometimes they have extra equipment that they would be more than happy to donate to you.

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