My 90 year old dad broke his back in January, resulting in surgery and a two week hospital/rehabilitation stay. He lives alone and up until the fall he was very active, independent, and healthy. Since getting home, he hasn’t been quite the same: very tired and clumsy on his feet (although in PT) and today he fell again. We took him to the ED and no injuries so they sent him home. I am spending the night and he is sleeping in his recliner. He got up to go the bathroom and was quite tired/in pain, and getting into bed sounded difficult, so I let him sleep in his recliner. Did I do the right thing? I’m trying to stay up so if he wakes up and needs to go to bed I can help. I am quite close with my dad (he raised me as a single dad since I was 11) and I am always very anxious about him. I hate seeing him in so much pain.

I have talked to many people and they say the recliner is more comfortable than the bed. And it is easier to get in and out of.
I think many do not want a "hospital bed" because it has what might seem like a stigma to are in a hospital bed because you are sick, old, feeble, dying....
So lets not call it a "hospital bed" lets call it an adjustable bed.
You can raise and lower it.
You can raise the head
You can raise the foot of the bed.
So ask your Dad if he wants an adjustable bed. And it could be on a trial basis.
Ask that the mattress be an air flow or alternating pressure mattress as that would probably be easier on his back.
Side note ask if he would consider using a urinal to relieve himself at night. That way he would not have to get up and risk falling. the urinal can be emptied in the morning and rinsed out. (more acceptable to men than the bedside commode at this point)
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Reply to Grandma1954

Before my mom became completely disabled, she was sleeping in a recliner. She refused to get a hospital bed. It was so much easier for her to get up.
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Reply to mollymoose

After my Grandmother had surgery for a broken hip she slept in a recliner for the rest of her life, she said it was more comfortable. Many, many years late after she had a stroke and had to go to rehab / skilled nursing we had to get / give special permission to the nursing home to let her sleep in her recliner and remove the standard issue bed. As long as he gets up and walks around during the day and is not developing pressure sores, let it go.
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Reply to plum9195

Do be sure to watch dad close for his pain. My mom fell, was sent home with no injury found on the X-ray. She was in extreme pain the next day. Turns out when I took her to second ER that she did have a fracture. It just didn’t show up on the first X-ray. I have since read on this forum that the fracture showing up later is not uncommon. Lidocaine patches and ice packs really helped my mom. Ice helps some. Heat helps others. Rotating is sometimes a good idea. He needs to stay out of pain so he can do his Pt. My mom said as long as she was still she didn’t hurt but she knew she had to move.
I hope he’s better soon.
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Reply to 97yroldmom

I have heard that a person needs to get up and walk around after sitting for a long period of time, like in an air craft, to prevent possible blood clots in the legs. I would check with a Dr about the amount of exercise and when it should be done, just in case. A recliner may not cause this problem since the legs will be elevated a bit.
Best of luck to you.
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Reply to OldSailor

My husband was actually advised by his surgeon to sleep in a recliner after his back surgery. It’s more comfortable on the back.
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Reply to worriedinCali

I mostly want to check if my reply to this question will post - it's been something like a year and a half since I've written anything here.

I started sleeping the night in my recliner several months ago. Best sleeps I've ever had!, can sleep right through the night most nights. I have back pain, both hips hurt esp lying on them, sciatica, restless legs, heart burn, I was flailing (is that the word?) around all night when in my bed - heart burn, etc. all keeping me awake. I say, whatever makes for a better night's sleep, do that. 😴 And I'd check with my doctor if I had concerns. I'll try to post this now.
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Reply to LifesNotOver

Is this something you can ask his PT or doctor about? In general it may not be a problem and may actually be the most comfortable position for him but there is also the possibility that sleeping in that position is causing some of his pain, not keeping his back in the proper position for healing or causing other issues but it's so dependent on his particular injury and any other issues that really only one of his medial professionals that knows his injury and recovery well can know about well enough. I remember my FIL was having terrible issues with pain in his back and hip, sciatica being a part of it. This went on for quite a while until one of us noticed his wallet which was jam packed with receipts and stuff that it was bulging out of his rear pants pocket where he always kept it including while driving. Just so happened that the side he kept his wallet was the very same side his back pain radiated to, same leg his sciatica radiated down... It was the comfortable spot for him during the day, nothing else felt right but it was causing this other terrible pain that was particularly bad by the end of the day. Not the same thing, your dad had back surgery but there are possible parallels.
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Reply to Lymie61
97yroldmom Jun 14, 2019
Chiropractors will tell men to not carry their wallet in their rear pocket. It puts the body out of alignment.
My MIL suffered from hip problems and slept in a recliner every night.

Actually, I think the recliner would be better for a bad back. A bed, has no support when sleeping on your side. My Aunt used to sleep on her couch because she had the back for support. Does Dads chair have a handle on the side? If so, there are extenders. It was recommended for my Mom after a back procedure. They didn't want her bend too far over.

Your Dad is 90. Going under is really not good for the elderly. It takes them a while to get over the anethesia. He really shouldn't be in pain. He may need a pain specialist to help find the right combo of Meds.

If he continues to want to sleep in the recliner, you may want to look into a lift one. Will make it easier to get in and out.

If he returns to his bed, there are small bed rails for helping him sit up. This was also recommended for my Mom.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to JoAnn29

The only worry I can see is if he continues to sleep in his chair at night and sit in it during the day he may develop pressure sores, you'll have to be on the lookout for that.
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Reply to cwillie

There is nothing wrong with sleeping the night in a recliner. It gives options for feet and knees up, back supported etc, can be really comfortable. It can be more difficult to 'turn over' in the night, and it is a good idea to have some little pillows that help to prop you if you want to roll onto your side. Make sure to have some covering under the legs, which can get quite cold. Getting out of and into a recliner can be a bit tricky, so practice first. My own back problem has made me sleep sitting up many times, and I have learned a lot of tricks to stay comfortable. Best wishes, Margaret
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Reply to MargaretMcKen

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