Please help me find a short hospital mattress
January 10, 2010 12:18 AM   Subscribe

Where can I find a hospital-type mattress that is shorter (78 inches or less) than the standard 80 inches in the US? We have serious bed-wetting problems with special-needs kids. Long explanation inside.

All three of my boys are autistic. Two of them, ages 15 and 11, sleep in a bunk bed together while the youngest sleeps in another bed.

My oldest son has the mentality of a three year old and may very well never learn to stay dry through an entire night. During the day, he is potty trained for urination but has never been successful at bowel training, so he often poops in his sleep as well. My middle son is higher-functioning but also has a rough time making it through the night without urinating. My youngest son is the highest functioning and does not wet the bed.

To limit the volume of urine produced each night, we have used all of the standard tricks such as limiting their fluid intake for a few hours before bedtime and making sure they urinate well before bed, but this doesn't solve the problem. We have used several training techniques suggested by their behaviorist to no avail. We tried a prescription anti-diuretic at one point with fairly good results, but their psychiatrist told us to stop since it wasn't safe with their other medications.

They wear Depends undergarments at night. Unfortunately, Depends are made for people who leak a little bit over the course of a day. They can't soak up a full bladder's worth of urine released over the course of a few minutes. We've tried more expensive adult diapers from the local home health store and they were better, but not worth the much greater extra cost since they leaked as well.

Right now, their mattresses are made up with a vinyl mattress cover, cotton/poly mattress pad, fitted sheet and a washable "pee pad" on top, placed under their midsections. Both of the boys are bouncers, i.e. they bounce their bodies hard onto their mattresses when they are happy, excited or just trying to fall asleep. Therefore, the vinyl covers always inevitably tear, allowing urine to soak into the mattresses during the night.

Once urine is in a mattress, it's there to stay. We clean them as best as we can and replace them about once every two months, buying the cheapest ($150 - $200 USD) mattresses that are acceptable to sleep on.

We'd really like to stop wasting money on mattresses, so we're looking into hospital mattresses. They are encased in tough vinyl, so they are waterproof and they look like they would tolerate a lot of abuse. The problem is that, according to Google, hospital mattresses are twin-XL, which is 80 inches long. The longest mattress we could fit into the bunk bed would have to be 78 inches or less. We need to use the bunk bed because we don't have enough room for all three to have a separate bed.

So here's the question (finally!): Does anyone know where I could find two twin sized hospital-type mattresses that are 78 inches or less? If not, does anyone know of any companies that make custom-sized mattresses that would meet our needs? My Google-fu is usually pretty strong, but I'm not finding any good answers out there. Also, we are in the Midwestern US, so getting the perfect mattresses here from someplace like New Zealand would probably be difficult (I would still look into something like that if that's the only option, though).

Thanks in advance for your answers.
posted by double block and bleed to Health & Fitness (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It seems to me that either buying a larger bunk, or building one on your own if it's not available, will be a much more fruitful pursuit than tying to get a custom sized mattress. Of course, if you can get a properly sized mattress, that may be the best option but if you can't, the solution may be to get some lumber and tools and work at it for a while. Or find a local carpenter, etc who can do it for you.
posted by bsdfish at 12:40 AM on January 10, 2010

Response by poster: bsdfish:

That's an interesting idea. It probably wouldn't be too difficult to extend the length of the rails if I can't find an appropriate mattress at a reasonable price. Thanks.


Thanks for your effort. I had seen that mattress before. One detail that I forgot in what you seem to think is an overly detailed question is that we would prefer an inner-spring mattress, since the boys' bouncing destroys foam mattresses in about a week.

I rarely ask questions here and when I do, I try to write very detailed ones to get the best answers I can. I'm not google-lazy. I've spent about three hours total on google trying to find exactly what I'm looking for. Usually I find what I need in less than 2 minutes. The closest I came was a site in an Asian language that I couldn't read.

I was actually somewhat reticient about providing so much detail about my children on the open internet, but I wanted to get my question answered and didn't feel that this was an appropriate question to ask anonymously.

If you are implying that I am fishing for sympathy, rest assured that I am not. I don't need sympathy, I need a bed that my kids won't destroy in two months or less.
posted by double block and bleed at 1:10 AM on January 10, 2010

Random possibility: call around to local upholstery shops to find out the cost on having extra-heavy duty waterproof covers made for your current mattresses using a material such as this.

(Then market a line of them to other families facing similar challenges in home-health care).
posted by jamaro at 1:30 AM on January 10, 2010

Response by poster: I actually looked deeper into the site that hal_c_on suggested and found a bed rated to 500 pounds with a 7 year warranty that would probably work. It is a foam mattress, it is waterproof (stains invalidate most mattress warranties) so I could return it if the boys did ruin it.

I'm sorry that I got so defensive. I don't go looking for the sympathy of others in regard to my sons, because no amount of sympathy is going to help them with their problems or my wife and I in raising them. That's why I get my hackles up when something like that is suggested.

Changing the length of the bed is a great idea and one I could actually do, but I'd never forgive myself if I made a mistake and someone got hurt if the bed collapsed.

I'm marking both as best answer and calling this answered, although I would welcome anyone else's insights. Thank you.
posted by double block and bleed at 1:34 AM on January 10, 2010

Response by poster: jamaro:

I tried something like that, but couldn't find a shop that could do that in my area. That would be a great solution if one could find such a place in their area.
posted by double block and bleed at 1:37 AM on January 10, 2010

Don't know if you've already tried this, but there's apparently different weights of vinyl mattress covers available, with the ones commonly found in non-speciality retail being the lightest @ ~4-gauge. Here's a vendor of premade covers that come in 7 and 8-gauge (the vinyl I linked in my previous comment is 10-gauge...bigger # = heavier/thicker).

There's also vinyl briefs, meant to be worn over adult diapers, though the feel of them might bother your sons if they have sensory issues.
posted by jamaro at 1:43 AM on January 10, 2010

Could you do something with the foam mattress linked above and a normal mattress underneath? The foam hospital mattress would protect the lower, normal mattress from the bouncing and the pee issues, and with that on top, your standard mattress covers wouldn't break so even if there were some spillage over the sides it would be fine.
posted by handee at 1:47 AM on January 10, 2010

Odd suggestion, but perhaps check with some adult-stores? I am sure there are heavy duty undersheets etc made for rough and wet play that could be repurposed for your family's needs?
posted by Iteki at 2:26 AM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

You might try calling an RV store (like Camping World), and ask who in your city custom makes mattresses for RVs. I say this because my father was a full-time RVer, and he needed a new mattress. That's when we discovered that the mattress sizes are different by just a bit, and so they need custom mattresses. He had one made to his specifications and measurements here in Houston (I can ask him which place exactly, if you are interested in having one made here and shipped to you -- just let me know).
posted by Houstonian at 2:44 AM on January 10, 2010

Two thoughts..

I suspect that, for the cost of a couple of mattresses, you could have a carpenter build a bed for you (a lot of skilled folks not working due to the economy).. a simple loft/bunk arrangement like they use in college dorms. If it is built by someone whose skills you trust, it will probably be even more sturdy than the bunk you're using now.

Or, instead of looking for a mattress, find a good upholstery shop and ask them to make a very heavy duty cover out of a waterproof material?

best wishes.
posted by HuronBob at 4:07 AM on January 10, 2010

Look for a shop that makes boat covers, they could make the mattress cover for you.
posted by HuronBob at 5:04 AM on January 10, 2010

Nthing giving upholstery shops another try. Calling some more upholstery shops further afield (include auto, boat, furniture). Eventually you should find one willing to make a heavy-duty cover from your measurements and send it to you.
posted by peanut butter milkshake at 5:33 AM on January 10, 2010

What about heavy gauge vinyl mattress covershere or here? Or really inexpensive and thus more disposable mattress sized mats?

But yeah, if you want the hospital mattresses you want, building a bunk bed is probably the way to go. Our dad built ours when we were kids and was incredibly sturdy.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:19 AM on January 10, 2010

Is there a children's hospital in your area? Have you tried contacting them? They'd probably have the same needs as you, though maybe they just put the kids in big beds...
posted by Billegible at 8:03 AM on January 10, 2010

I think a longer bed is indeed the way to go. At the university in my (midwestern) town, all the beds in the dorms are twin-XL, and a small cottage industry springs up every August to build and sell "loft" systems to dorm kids. I don't think we're unique in that respect. If you're near a college town, you likely not only could find someone who could do this, but also who has plans and has done it before.
posted by donnagirl at 8:03 AM on January 10, 2010

You could easily make an extremely durable water proof cover for any mattress with PVC or CPE shower pan liner.
posted by Mitheral at 8:09 AM on January 10, 2010

There are pediatric hospital beds that are shorter than the adult beds. I don't know where exactly you'd get one, but call local hospital supply companies and your nearest children's hospitals and ask. Get in touch with whoever does capital equipment purchasing. If you have trouble, MeMail me and I'll ask our hospital's capital equipment guru next time I see her.
posted by paanta at 8:31 AM on January 10, 2010

I work at a research station and we have twin XL bunks in our dormitory areas. This company seems to have some frames if you decide to go that route.
posted by a22lamia at 9:01 AM on January 10, 2010

We recently purchased a custom foam mattress from a local store and have been very, very happy with it in terms of quality and comfort. We also purchased a custom-sized mattress for a bench we made since they make them in any size, shape, thickness (etc) required and they offer assorted covers for their products - one of which is a waterproof cover that's a plasticized sort of thing. Apparently people often buy these to use on boats - either for sleeping berths or for padding benches - so the moist, humid air doesn't rot the inner softness. It doesn't go on like a sheet (i.e., it's not going to come off) but instead goes over the entire mattress and zips up on the bottom. It might be worth contacting a local foam store and asking about that option. Alternately, as strange as it may sound, a marine company might be able to help.
posted by VioletU at 9:28 AM on January 10, 2010

2 out of 3 of our sons are autistic (I do not send sympathy, but do feel free to memail me). We have bunk beds made out of cheap 2x4 lumber attached to the walls. We use cheap IKEA spring mattresses which I buy when they go on sale so far every other year at about $60 each. Next comes a plastic cheap table cloth which stays on because it wraps all the way around the mattress. I then use a $25 vinyl cover from Sears. I have one extra so I can change the bed to it in the night if I have to. Then comes washable pad, then sheet.

This may not be much different than what you currently do. However, my guess is that anything 'specialty'/'medical' tends to be expensive. I would recommend cheap built in bunk beds, and/or doing a home job of covering mattresses with vinyl. Heck, even bulk vinyl plus duct tape would work, and would be cheap and effective. I hear you about foam vs. springs, but really even good quality spring mattresses need to be replaced. Save your money for the many many other things that can be used to improve your quality of life with Spectrum kids.
posted by kch at 9:50 AM on January 10, 2010

This is a possible non-mattress option. When my son was two (and pre-potty training), he would almost always pee through his diaper at night. An easy solution we found was to use Depends Boost inserts. They stick into the inside of a diaper, and basically doubled the amount of liquid a diaper could hold by itself. I bought them at a local drug store, although the link is to Amazon.
posted by ShooBoo at 11:45 AM on January 10, 2010

just down the street from me here in st. louis is the maplewood mattress company; they build custom mattresses, including (it appears) hospital and homecare mattresses. i do not know any particulars--options, price, etc--but look! they have a phone number you can call. i do know a friend of mine had them build a replacement mattress for a hide-a-bed couch and was very satisfied all around.

just another option.
posted by miss patrish at 6:40 PM on January 10, 2010

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