Adjustable Beds for Seniors

Adjustable beds can provide comfort, improve sleep quality and reduce aches and pains as you age. They work by elevating the head and feet, taking pressure off air passages, nerves, joints and muscles. There are several types of adjustable beds, which are typically more expensive than ordinary beds.

Terry Turner, writer and researcher for RetireGuide
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APA Turner, T. (2022, July 27). Adjustable Beds for Seniors. RetireGuide.com. Retrieved August 14, 2022, from https://www.retireguide.com/retirement-life-leisure/senior-safety/home-safety/adjustable-beds/

MLA Turner, Terry. "Adjustable Beds for Seniors." RetireGuide.com, 27 Jul 2022, https://www.retireguide.com/retirement-life-leisure/senior-safety/home-safety/adjustable-beds/.

Chicago Turner, Terry. "Adjustable Beds for Seniors." RetireGuide.com. Last modified July 27, 2022. https://www.retireguide.com/retirement-life-leisure/senior-safety/home-safety/adjustable-beds/.

What Are Adjustable Beds?

Adjustable beds feature a specially designed mattress on a motorized frame or foundation. The combination allows the head or feet portion of the bed to tilt into a wide variety of sleep positions.

Other Names for Adjustable Beds
  • Adjustable bed frames
  • Electric beds
  • Power bases
  • Power beds

Adjustable beds are designed to provide comfort and ease certain conditions. For instance, raising the head position can ease acid reflux and reduce snoring, while raising the feet position may help with blood circulation. Raising both the head and feet positions can reduce pressure on the lumbar section of the spine.

Adjustable beds are not hospital beds. Hospital beds are designed to raise and lower a patient’s body and come with permanent rails to prevent the patient from falling out of bed. But adjustable beds may offer some of the same senior safety qualities — particularly by making it easier to get in and out of bed, which may prevent falls.

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Pros and Cons of Adjustable Beds for Seniors

There are several pros and cons to consider when deciding whether to buy an adjustable bed. You should think about the reasons you are considering the purchase and how these will play into your health, comfort, convenience and budget.

Pros and Cons of Adjustable Beds
PROS
  • Addresses health conditions by providing better circulation, reduced acid reflux symptoms and lessened joint, muscle and nerve pain
  • A sense of independence among older adults by making it easier to get in and out of bed as you lose mobility with age
  • Eases pressure on areas of your body with muscle or joint pain resulting in less sleep interruptions
  • Increased comfort resulting from variable sleeping positions
  • Reduced snoring from elevating your head to keep airways open
  • Wide variety of models and options to choose from
CONS
  • Because sections of the bed may be raised or lowered, your movement in the bed may be restricted.
  • Can be extremely heavy — up to three times the weight of a standard bed
  • Different models or brands have different levels of quality depending on the options you want.
  • Electric motors can be louder than expected, and the frame can be noisy as you move or shift your body.
  • More expensive — up to thousands of dollars more than a regular bed depending on options
  • Requires a specially designed mattress that may only fit your adjustable bed’s frame

How to Choose an Adjustable Bed

When choosing an adjustable bed that’s right for you, you’ll need to compare the types, features and cost of various options.

Types of Adjustable Beds

There is a wide variety of adjustable beds to choose from. But each tends to fall into at least one of five types.

Common Types of Adjustable Beds
Standard
Standard adjustable beds are the bare bones models with the fewest features — though they typically include a remote and back or leg massage features. They are also the most affordable. Standard adjustable beds can elevate your legs and/or head. If you share the bed with another person, you both have to use the same setting.
Head Tilt
Adjustable beds and mattresses have points that hinge to raise or lower the upper body and feet. Head-tilt adjustable beds have an extra articulation point at your head. This allows you to further adjust the tilt of your head by a few degrees, increasing your comfort level and addressing issues such as acid reflux and snoring.
Split King/Split Queen
Unlike a standard adjustable bed, a split-king or split-queen adjustable bed allows two people to independently adjust their side of the bed to their individual elevations. These two separate power bases combine to form a king- or queen-size bed.
Wall-hugger
Wall-hugger adjustable beds keep your head near the wall when you raise the head portion of the bed. This keeps your nightstand within easy reach. Adjustable beds without the wall-hugger feature tend to move your head farther away from the wall as you elevate them.

Some models of adjustable beds may combine elements of each of these different types.

Adjustable Bed Features

Adjustable beds also come with several options that can be incorporated into the latest smart-home tech or provide added convenience. These options can help you tailor a bed to fit your needs.

Examples of Adjustable Bed Options
  • Audio speakers
  • Battery backup in the event of a power outage
  • Bluetooth
  • Heat settings
  • Massage features
  • Presets for favorite positions
  • Programmable lighting
  • Quiet lift systems
  • Remote controls
  • Sleep monitoring
  • Under-bed lighting
  • USB ports
  • Voice assistance (such as Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant)

Cost of Adjustable Beds

Adjustable beds can range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. The less expensive models may require you to make adjustments by hand. Added features and options — even the type of mattress — can add to an adjustable bed’s cost.

There is a wide range of adjustable beds on the market. You should shop around to find the type that offers the most features you want at a price that meets your budget.

Does Medicare Cover Adjustable Beds?

Medicare covers adjustable beds as a durable medical equipment rental or purchase if you have a documented medical need for it.

Medicare Part B medical insurance covers a portion of the cost if your doctor prescribes an adjustable bed for your medical condition. Medicare may also require additional medical records that show you need an adjustable bed.

Examples of Conditions Medicare May Require for Adjustable Bed Coverage
  • Fractured hip or other injury to lower extremities
  • Multiple limb amputations
  • Severe arthritis
  • Severe heart conditions
  • Spinal cord injuries including quadriplegia and paraplegia
  • Stroke
  • Other severely debilitating conditions
You may qualify for Medicare coverage if your doctor determines you meet either or both of two conditions:
  1. Your condition requires your body to be repositioned for medical needs such as relieving pain, promoting body alignment, avoiding respiratory infections or to prevent contractures in ways that are not possible in an ordinary bed.
  2. You require a special attachment that cannot be attached and used with an ordinary bed.

Powered adjustable beds that raise and lower the feet or head may be covered if the medical staff of the Medicare Administrative Contractor determines you may require an immediate change in position or require frequent repositioning.

Medicare will only cover the cost if your doctor and bed supplier are both enrolled in Medicare.

If you meet Medicare’s requirements, you will be responsible for your Medicare Part B deductible and 20% of the cost to buy or rent the adjustable bed. Medicare will cover the remaining 80% of the cost after your deductible has been paid.

Last Modified: July 27, 2022

7 Cited Research Articles

  1. Rae, H. (2018, April 20). Is an Adjustable Bed Frame Right for You? Retrieved from https://www.consumerreports.org/mattresses/adjustable-bed-frame-a5623890769/
  2. Ancuelle, V., et al. (2015, September 25). Effects of an adapted mattress in musculoskeletal pain and sleep quality in institutionalized elders. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4688575/
  3. Wilder, J. (2022). Best Adjustable Beds for Seniors (2022): Buying Guide + Top Beds Ranked. Retrieved from https://seniorsmobility.org/bedroom/adjustable-beds/best-adjustable-beds-for-seniors/
  4. Definition of Adjustable Bed. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.furniture.com/mattress/guide/glossary/adjustable-bed
  5. Does Medicare Cover Adjustable Beds? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/medicare/adjustable-beds-covered-by-medicare#definition
  6. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Hospital beds. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/hospital-beds
  7. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Hospital Beds; National Coverage Determination (NCD). Retrieved from https://www.cms.gov/medicare-coverage-database/view/ncd.aspx?NCDId=227