The Best Type of Mattress For an Elderly Person?

I asked 15 elderly people to answer this question as I am curious about what to expect as I enter my mid-50s.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate the power of restful sleep even more. If you’re a senior citizen or merely moving toward your golden years, you may wonder which mattress is best for you.

For the sake of discovery, I asked 15 senior citizens I know and searched online for advice for established experts. The following guide to your next bliss-inducing bed will help you size up your options before you invest.

The best type of mattress for an elderly person is the one he/she is currently using. Elderly people keep their mattresses longer than younger sleepers. Respondents stated reasons included too much money to replace the mattress, getting comfortable with the existing one and don’t want to try a new one, nobody to help install a new mattress.

A Primer on Mattress Materials

If you’re thinking of purchasing another mattress, you’ll see a variety of materials ranging from high-tech foam to coconut coir. While I enjoy daydreaming about life in a tropical hut, most commercially available mattresses are not made from such natural materials. Instead,

I’ll focus on memory foam, innerspring, and air mattresses, which are the three most popular mattress types available for purchase today.

Memory Foam Mattresses

Memory foam mattresses seem to be everywhere, yet few people know what is in this mystery foam. Since I’m committed to finding you accurate information, I’ve gone where many bloggers have feared to go: to the manufacturers themselves.

Most memory foam mattresses seem to be constructed using layers of foam. These multiple layers are what make this mattress move in response to your body weight.

To help decide on a potential new mattress I wrote an article about if organic mattresses are worth it, check it out before buying one here.

Scott Boyd

This gradual movement makes you feel as though you’re sinking into this type of mattress. Manufacturers of foam mattresses tend to make them from polyurethane. Although its bounce might make you think it’s rubber, polyurethane is actually a kind of plastic.

Since polyurethane can be processed to be a hard or soft material, manufacturers can also use it to make shoe soles, refrigerator insulation, and a wide range of products. In addition to polyurethane, memory foam mattress makers use natural latex rubber.

Latex is a milky fluid that is extracted from plant cells. Although many latex-producing plants originated in the South American Amazon, most latex is currently produced in Malaysia.

Polyurethane and latex mattresses are very similar. In fact, many people can’t tell them apart. They both provide the same body-cradling experience and tend to retain heat. If you find memory foam too warm, you can always purchase one made with a cooling gel topper to counteract this tendency.

Latex foam feels a bit bouncier than polyurethane, so you might consider latex if you like to be able to change position in bed easily.

Innerspring Mattresses

Innerspring mattresses are the traditional mattresses that come to mind when I first think of a mattress. According to a recent survey from Consumer Reports, I am not alone.

Sixty percent of mattresses sold fall into this category, so they’re still fairly popular. Innerspring mattresses are mattresses that contain springy steel coils for support and movement.

These coils are housed within a metal frame and can be arranged in various designs to provide support where it is needed. Such configurations can also change the firmness of this mattress type.

These mattresses are available in traditional and hybrid configurations. Traditional models contain the coils, frame and are topped with padding.

Hybrid models feature memory foam instead of conventional padding. A hybrid mattress may contain one or several layers of foam that reduces the bounciness of these mattresses.

Air Mattresses

While I love a good air mattress for camping or unexpected guests, air mattresses are also available for everyday use. Air mattresses typically contain adjustable pockets of air called air bladders.

Foam material surrounds the bladders for added cushioning. You can adjust an air mattress’s firmness by changing the air pressure using a pump on the bed, remote control, or smartphone.

When you increase the firmness, you’re adding more air to the system. Decreasing the air pressure makes the mattress less firm. Such air mattresses are available with customizable zones.

A popular configuration allows you to adjust each side of the bed to different firmness levels. This is helpful if you and your partner can’t agree on mattress firmness.

Unfortunately, there is no way to silence the rather noisy air pumps these mattresses have so that any middle-of-the-night adjustment may wake your partner or even someone in the next room.

Every Mattress Can Be Someone’s Best Mattress

While it might seem logical that memory foam or air mattresses are superior to traditional innerspring models, you might be mistaken. You should choose a mattress to meet your needs. A memory foam mattress, for example, might be helpful for those with:

  • A partner who tosses and turns
  • Arthritis
  • Trouble sleeping due to mattress movement
  • A need for the quietest mattress type available

You can’t assume, however, that memory foam is the best mattress material for senior citizens. Since memory foam mattresses don’t transfer motion, they can make it hard to change positions.

This includes changing positions to get out of bed. If you tend to get up during the night to use the bathroom, you might want to consider a traditional innerspring mattress.

Another benefit of conventional innerspring mattresses, according to a recent poll of 1,000 people, is that it’s the best choice for physical intimacy. Air mattresses allow you to adjust the firmness and are frequently used in medical settings.

Since such mattresses can vary the pressure between your skin and the mattress, specialized medical air mattresses are used to help reduce redness, sores, and other skin injuries caused by resting on an area for too long.

In your home, a commercially available air mattress can help you and your partner enjoy your preferred level of firmness while sharing the same bed.

A Size for (Almost) Every Situation

In addition to preferring a firmer mattress, the people I spoke with generally stated they now prefer a larger mattress than when they were younger. This isn’t the case for everyone, but most people appreciate a bit more room. The most common reason for this is sharing a bed, although one unpartnered respondent said they enjoy more space even though they sleep alone.

Money Matters and Mattresses

The average cost of a queen-sized mattress among those I spoke with was $1,000. According to an online research firm, the average price of a new queen-sized mattress was $1,050 for an innerspring or foam mattress. This average for this exact size jumped to $2,000 for latex foam and $2,050 for hybrid models.

Although mattress prices might first sound expensive, once you consider you spend thousands of hours sleeping each year, they seem less excessive.

An average traditional mattress costs about three dollars per night if you buy a new mattress every year. Since your mattress probably won’t need replacing after a year, your mattress costs less than this per night.

Replacement Redux

Many of my respondents didn’t remember when they last replaced their mattresses. One individual said that they bought a new mattress every ten years or so. While it can be easy to think of a mattress as a permanent fixture in your home, the experts state that you should replace a mattress every six to eight years.

Since the purpose of a mattress is to help you get a good night’s sleep, you should replace your mattress sooner if it isn’t doing the job. Some signs your mattress is failing you include:

  • Getting higher-quality rest at a hotel or friend’s house
  • Waking with new aches and pains
  • Worn or sagging areas on the mattress
  • Extra creaking or other noises coming from the mattress
  • Worsening asthma or allergy symptoms in the morning

What Makes a Marvelous Mattress?

After reading this guide, I hope you have more information about mattresses. However, the best test is trying a mattress at a store, friend’s house, or hotel. I’d love to hear your thoughts about mattresses. Please leave a comment about your mattress experiences or any other tips for getting high-quality sleep.



Science Direct



Consumer Reports

Magonline Library

Sleep Foundation

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