Is Memory Foam Mattress Good for the Elderly?

A memory foam mattress can give good quality of sleep and be a good choice for the elderly. Sleeping position and surface are important criteria to ensure a restful sleep. One naturally tends to sleep in the position one is most comfortable in and there is not much control over that. But selecting the appropriate mattress can improve the quality of your sleep tremendously.

These are some of the best memory foam mattresses on Amazon.

Zinus 12 Inch Green Tea Memory...
Linenspa 8 Inch Memory Foam...
Zinus 12 Inch Gel-Infused...
LUCID 10 Inch 2019 Gel Memory...

Last update 2020-07-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

A mattress that supports the spine and joints can prevent restlessness. Pressure relief mattress, commonly called memory foam mattress is one such mattress that provides better overnight sleep. As the name suggests, a memory foam mattress has the unique property of delayed recovery. It slowly regains its form once weight is shifted off it. This property has many benefits:

  • Supports spine’s natural curvatures
  • Responds well to body weight by providing even weight distribution and extra comfort
  • Reduces stress and fatigue and thereby reduce back and joint pain
  • Improves blood pressure and blood flow towards the brain.

(Roslim R., et.al., 20171)

A good mattress is important for restful sleep

A good mattress is important for restful sleep

What are the different varieties in memory foam mattresses?

There are primarily 3 different kinds of memory foam mattresses.

Regular memory foam mattress

Regular memory foam mattress is produced with polyurethanes (petroleum based) along with a blend of other chemicals that gives it its delayed response property. Although, compared to other mattresses, they take loner to regain their shape thus giving a sinking feeling.

Apart from not being very environmentally friendly, they can become uncomfortably warm as they tend to trap body heat. Regular memory foam mattresses do not respond to changes in temperature, becoming harder in the winter and softer in the summer. also suffer from excessive heat trapping. The chemicals they are made from, are combustible so care needs to be taken in their handling. shape, thus leaving a sinking sensation in the mattress. (Roslim R., et. al, 20171)

Cold foam mattress

A modification of regular foam mattresses are cold foam mattresses. They are made of polyurethane as well but are cut and foamed in large blocks thus preventing the additional heating of the mattress. The quality of this mattress depends on the specific gravity of foam which can vary from 20 to 55 kilograms/cubic meter. (Martin van Leen et al, 20102)

Gel memory foam mattress

It is simply gel-infused urethane which is usually bluish in color. Along with retaining all other memory foam features, the infused gel helps to pull heat away from the body to keep you cool when you are relaxing or sleeping. It tends to be more resilient than regular foam memory mattresses, allowing quicker recovery of body imprint.

On the downside, the cooling effect of the gel will depend on the quality of the mattress. Gel infused mattresses tend to be on the more expensive side.

A Cooling Gel Memory Foam Mattress

A Cooling Gel Memory Foam Mattress

Natural latex memory foam mattress

Natural latex memory foam mattresses is a new generation of mattress which offers improved quality of pressure relief. It has the additional benefit of being environmentally friendly.

Natural Latex memory foam mattresses tend to have a higher density and hence give extra support to the body. They are more suited for heavier users. It has an improved delayed response and does not give the sinking feeling that regular memory foam mattress can give. Being made of natural materials, these mattresses tend to have better ventilation and anti allergenic properties.

These mattresses tend to be more expensive that their counterparts, though. Latex is an expensive commodity and hence natural latex memory foam is much costlier.

Is memory foam mattress good for the elderly?

With growing age, there is a rise in sleep-related problems. Some of these sleep related problems can be addressed with a better quality of sleep. Memory foam mattresses provide comfort and relaxation and are a good choice for the elderly. They provide the following benefits for the elderly.

These are the most popular memory foam mattresses on Amazon.

Zinus 12 Inch Green Tea Memory...
Linenspa 8 Inch Memory Foam...
Zinus 12 Inch Gel-Infused...
LUCID 10 Inch 2019 Gel Memory...

Last update 2020-07-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

We asked Dr Mariusz Fajfer, DC, from Neurochangers Durham, if a memory foam mattress is good for the elderly. His response was:

There are varying degrees of mattresses. Some memory foam mattresses can be very soft and that makes it difficult to get out of bed. The good thing about memory foam mattresses is that they can be used with adjustable bases.

When it comes to picking the right mattress for you it is important to consider how you tend to sleep. If you sleep on your back generally people with larger curves in their spines will prefer a softer mattress as it adjusts to the curves and provides more support. Someone with less curvature in their spine will prefer a stiffer mattress. This is because the mattress will contour the spine while still giving it support and prevent the spine from being in too much of a flexed position for an 8 hour sleep.

If you tend to sleep on your side a softer mattress is more ideal as it lets your shoulders and hips sink into the mattress while still giving your spine support and having it align properly. If you’re a stomach sleeper (which I don’t recommend in general) a firmer mattress will feel better to you.

We spend a third of our life sleeping so having a mattress that suits your body and lets you get a quality sleep is important. Just as with most things, every person is different and has a different preference that is why I recommend going to a store and laying down on a mattress to see how it feels to you.

Benefits of memory foam mattresses for the elderly and otherwise

Memory foam mattresses have specific benefits, be it the elderly or otherwise. A memory foam mattress can benefit in the following cases.

Pressure ulcers or bed sores

If you stay lying down in a particular position for long periods of time, you may develop pressure ulcers or bed sores. The elderly, with their thinner and wrinkled skin might be more prone to pressure ulcers.

Pressure-relieving systems are commonly used to treat these ulcers. The use of memory foam mattresses reduces the risk of pressure ulcers and redistributed pressure over larger surface areas. A cold foam mattress can be a good system for the prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers2. Memory foam mattresses have also been extensively used in hospitals and have been found to significantly reduce the incidence of postoperative pressure ulcers3.

Chest Compression for CPR

CPR is essential for the treatment of cardiac arrest. High-quality CPR saves lives and gives good clinical outcomes even for patients with bad prognosis. CPR given on appropriate mattress influences the compression depth. Studies have shown that compression of mattress occurs during CPR which greatly affects the chest compression depth.

A memory foam mattress provides the appropriate depth required for chest compression for Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). It also reduces the workload of the person providing CPR and thereby prevents hand fatigue. This can help the CPR provider give quality compression.

Many ICUs have been making use of a memory foam mattress to reduce the overall compressibility. When a memory foam mattress is used along with a CPR backboard it provides the least compressibility and hence better results with CPR4.

As the name suggests memory foam retains its shape

As the name suggests memory foam retains its shape

Insomnia

Insomnia has been a growing concern for the elderly. Reduced sleep hours, insufficient quality sleep can lead to many behavioral and mental health problems. Non-pharmacological approach to solving this problem would be the use of an appropriate sleeping position and sleeping surface.

A memory foam mattress can significantly affect the quality of sleep and well being of life. Mean body pressure and peak body pressure significantly influence the quality of sleep and thereby in the selection of mattresses. The hardness of mattress relatives influences the sleeping comfort of individuals.

A memory foam mattress helps achieve the lowest mean body pressure while lying in a supine position compared to multi hardness mattresses. Similar results are found in other sleeping positions. Also, peak body pressure is lowest than any other mattress. All these factors show that memory foam mattresses provided a higher level of comfort in sleeping regardless of any sleeping position.

Back pain and arthritis

Arthritis is a common condition affecting seniors due to the degeneration of bones and osteoporosis. Patients can have pain in their joints and are unable to stand for long hours. Arthritis and back pain significantly affect their quality of sleep.

Constant support to the spine and joints can help patients with this pain. Sleeping position along with positioning of pillow and choice of mattress would make a difference for patients suffering from arthritis. Along with pharmacological treatment, appropriate sleep positions can also help arthritis patients.

A memory foam mattress can be good, whether you sleep on your back, side or stomach. Though, in general, sleeping on the stomach is not recommended as it is more stressful for the back and spine. The use of a knee pillow is also recommended while sleeping if you are suffering from back pain or arthritis.

Conclusion

A memory foam mattress can be a great choice for the elderly. It can give them a better quality of sleep and support the ageing joints for greater comfort. While choosing a memory foam mattress, do look at your individual requirements, budget and consult your doctor.

We hope that with this article we have been able to answer your question, whether memory foam mattresses are good for the elderly or not. We have profiled some of the best mattresses for bed ridden patients in another article that you might find useful.

References

  1. R. Roslim, M.R. Fatimah Rubaizah, K. Shamsul, K.L. Mok and M.Y. Amir Hashim, 2017. Novel Natural Rubber Latex Memory Foam. Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences, 12: 5560-5565.
  2. Martin van Leen, Steven Hovius, Jacques Neyensc, Ruud Halfensc, Jos Schols, 2010
  3. Jaul E, Barron J, Rosenzweig JP, Menczel J. An overview of co-morbidities and the development of pressure ulcers among older adults. BMC Geriatr. 2018;18(1):305. Published 2018 Dec 11. doi:10.1186/s12877-018-0997-7
  4. Lin Y, Wan B, Belanger C, et al. Reducing the impact of intensive care unit mattress compressibility during CPR: a simulation-based study. Adv Simul (Lond). 2017;2:22. Published 2017 Nov 16. doi:10.1186/s41077-017-0057-y

I am a trained medical professional by education. I have completed my bachelors in dental surgery (BDS) from D.Y. Patil University, Pune, India and I’m currently a graduate student at University of Central Florida, USA majoring in Health Service Administration (HSA). I am working on a research for medication assisted treatment for opioid drug abuse. I am interning as an issue analyst for United Nations Orlando Chapter. I have worked as a dentist for over 2 years and I have also interned as a health administrator in Fortis Hospital, India.

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