Thinking about getting a bean bag to use for the senior in an aged care facility, but not sure if it is a good idea?
Bean bags work well in medical or hospital settings, including aged care. Studies have shown this is due to therapeutic reasons, including the safety they offer, the level of comfort and relaxation the person sitting in them feels, as well as health benefits.
In this post I will go over the do’s and don’ts of using bean bags in aged care facilities – mainly, the various ways they help, and suggestions on how to use them best.
Let’s get started.
Pros for Using Bean Bags in Aged Care
Bean bags can be a perfect addition to a medical or hospital environment, such as an aged care facility.
One of the main reasons for this is the safety they offer.
Safety is obviously a main point of interest when it comes to healthcare for seniors. One of the main causes of injury in these patients comes from falling. So more frequently are government authorities and aged care facilities looking for original ways that they can try and put a stop to this.
The Best Practice Guidelines for Australian Residential Aged Care Facilities, which was printed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC), states that bean bag chairs can be used as a handy device that prevent seniors from falling out of their beds.
There are also other reasons that bean bags are used in medical settings, other than the safety they offer. These include those listed below.
They are vibrant, their colour adding a spark of fun and happiness to the aged care facility.
Occupational Therapy Usage
They work well as an occupational therapy device, as the senior is more likely to participate and progress if they feel safe and calm. Bean bags will provide the senior this level of comfort. Studies performed by clinical psychologists actually show that patients are generally more relaxed and open when they are sitting in bean bag chairs.
The even pressure that the bean bag puts upon the body from their filling adjusting around the seniors’ weight and shape encourages self-activating emotions, putting the nervous system at ease and lowering stress levels. This means that the senior will be more cooperative and eager to contribute throughout their day.
Pretty much any bean bag can be used an occupational therapy device.
A senior in aged care often sits in the same place for several hours, which can be bad for their back health, leading to back pain, joint problems, and more. Bean bags provide somewhere for them to sit which moulds to them, solving this problem.
Bean bags are good for back health as they are comfortable, relaxing, and the way they shape themselves around your own body shape when sitting on them is good for both your back and your posture. This helps to ease any joint and muscle pain and to soothe any aches and pains the senior may be feeling.
General/Overall Health Reasons
Bean bags are healthy for many other reasons. As well as helping your back, they are a place to relax and unwind, reducing any pressure in your back as they contour to every part of your body. If the senior has trouble sitting in any other chair, the flexibility of the bean bag works with their body shape.
As the bean bag is malleable, it is also so supportive. Everyone feels stress in their life, causing them to tense up, then feeling tense all over the body. The flexible nature of bean bags reduces tension headaches that the senior might otherwise get from stress, or from sitting in a chair that makes them tense their muscles.
Our Bliss Bean Bag chairs will even suit those seniors who have to use mobility equipment.
The supportive nature of the bean bag benefits the mind as well as the body, as it provides a substantial amount of emotional support for the senior, as well as physical support.
It is important to keep the aged care facility clean, and to not allow dirt or bacteria to build up, protecting the senior against infections. Our own Bliss Bean Bags are treated with Microguard, which prevents the development of mildew and mould upon them.
Bean bags are also very easy to clean, which is highly important in an aged care facility. You can simply wipe them down with warm water after use, or take their cover off to wash.
Accidents happen, but bean bags are tough, they are built to withstand these. If using one in aged care, it is important to ensure you have a dirt and water repellent bean bag, and that it is stitched correctly. It is also important to look at the zip, and ensure this is good quality, so there is less chance of it breaking. Luckily, our Bliss Bean bags are resistant and durable and will withstand any loads of burden and strain that may come their way.
Cons for Using Bean Bags in Aged Care
Now you know the pros of using bean bags in aged care, let’s go over the cons.
Bean bags can be a great option for many needs, but not always the most suitable choice for every senior in every situation, so it’s important you know their disadvantages, which I will run through now.
Getting Up and Down
The main thing you should think about is bean bags can be difficult for those with mobility problems to get up and down from. This is especially the case for elderly who suffer from these problems. It can be even more difficult for them if the bean bag is very soft and low to the ground. As we tend to sink into a soft bean bag, it’s easy to strain a muscle when getting out of one if not careful, so this is definitely something must be aware of.
An ideal bean bag for the elderly in aged care is something larger in size, that has the capacity to hold their entire body.
A lot of the time these are similar to the ones used for pregnant women, such as these.
These are extra-large, putting pressure over the entire body so not ‘too’ soft, whilst also higher off the ground, so easier to get up and down from.
They may actually be too comfortable. Seniors are more likely to fall asleep as it is, and they will be even more likely to sleep more if they are comfortable in the bean bag. This could mean they could sleep all day and not sleep properly at night.
They can be bad for the posture. Yes, I know I said that they are good for the posture, but anything can be bad for the posture if they are sat on for too long without getting up, or in the incorrect way. It is still important that the senior move from the bean bag.
Yes, I know we have gone over this in the upsides as well, but it is important that you know the downsides.
As the senior will be sitting on them a lot in an aged care facility, the filling will get squashed, going flat probably quicker than it tends to if they are only used on a casual basis. When this happens the bean bag will no longer be providing them with the support they need. So, the filling will need replacing – making the bean bag not as long-lasting as other furniture. Though please do read over this blog of ours, it will help give you some advice on how to make this filling last longer.
These beans are hidden costs. When purchasing a bean bag, it does not come with the filling – the beans you need. However, these are not expensive, and we have already discussed how to replace them in future.
Many bean bags contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which are toxic to humans. Those in aged care may have a lot of visitors, so it is important that the bean bag in the facility does not contain a range of VOCs including formaldehyde, benzenes and trichloroethylene, as these have been linked to many health concerns.
Bean bags have been around the home for a long time now, with people finding them very relaxing and comfortable to sit in.
Healthcare workers are now finding that they can take advantage of this comfort and relaxation, using them in medical environments, including aged care facilities.
As our bean bags are highly durable, and you have many different bright, happy colours to choose from that are easy to clean, Bliss Bean Bags are ideal for using in aged care.
Feel free to contact us, we will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about using bean bags in your aged care, or any medical facility.