While lift chairs for the elderly can be a blessing, there are some potential negative aspects to consider before you commit to buying a chair.
I’m talking things that can negatively impact your health and quality of life. That is if you decide to forgo the daily sit-stand movement and let the mechanical chair do the work for you.
As an Occupational Therapist who’s worked with 1,000’s of patients to help them live independently at home, it comes down to a couple of questions.
- How safely can we transfer from sitting down and standing up from a chair.
- And how that effects our quality of life.
In today’s article, we’ll cover these topics and show you the proper body mechanics when getting in and out of a recliner chair (see video below).
Lift Chairs for the Elderly: Yes or No?
It’s a good question. If you or a loved one has sore knees or an aching back, and the pain is increased by getting in and out of your favorite chair, then a power lift chair is perfect.
On the other hand, if you don’t put in the effort to get around from place to place, you’re at risk for further physical decline.
When to Consider a Power Lift Chair:
If you or your loved one has extensive disability involving decreased mobility or planning of movement as seen with…
- Advanced Dementia, Severe Alzheimer’s Disease
- Congestive Heart Failure or Coronary Vascular Disease
- Severe Arthritis in your arms or legs
Then you may want to look at a power recliner chair to ease the burden of care for yourself and your loved one.
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When to Maybe NOT Consider a Power Lift Chair:
If you or your loved one have…
- Arthritis that is manageable
- Dementia where planning of movement is still intact or just starting to decrease
- Or you are 3 months past any cardiovascular surgery
Then you want to keep using your own body (and mind) to get you from a sit to stand position so that your body continues to work properly.
Let’s look at the pros and cons to using lift chairs in the next sections.
Power Lift Chairs Pros:
The Pros of using a lift chair to get up and down can be wonderful.
With worn out knees that go snap, crackle, pop, a lift chair can help avoid overuse of arthritic and painful joints.
Other pros to using a chair are:
1. Conserve Energy:
We only have so much energy in any given day. As we get older that level goes down. If you or your loved one has congestive heart failure or experienced a past stroke, conserving one’s energy becomes even more important.
Simple getting out of bed and getting dressed can require more time, rest breaks and so forth.
So in this case, having a power chair might be perfect so that we don’t have to spend our energy getting up and down, we can do things that are more important like preparing the next meal or activity.
2. Ease the Burden of Care on Caregivers:
If you’ve lost the ability to perform a transfer in and out of your recliner chair then you’ll need help. As any caregiver can attest, transferring someone that needs max to total assistance can be a heavy task to say the least. Even with proper transfer training, it can be a challenge.
So by having a power lift chair that can help with the transfer, this can make a big difference in the amount of care needed as well as the safety and health of the caregiver’s body.
Especially their lower back health.
Speaking of low back health, if you need help with your’s, check out our post on lower back pain relief exercises.
3. Increased Safety with Self Transfers:
Falls that occur when getting in and out of bed can be devastating. Instead, some people opt for sleeping in their favorite power recliner and avoid the risk of a traditional bed.
Recliner lift chairs that have the Zero Gravity Position are easy to fall asleep in and they make getting up and down much easier.
They also do a great job of controlling swelling in the lower legs after surgery or in chronic disorders like peripheral vascular disease or coronary artery disease. This is done by elevating your legs and feet above your heart.
You can also sleep comfortably in recliner chairs that have the Infinite Position (fully reclined horizontal position).
This can help if you have a hard time sleeping in a regular bed or if you have trouble getting in and out of bed.
So those are all positive aspects worth considering.
But there is a flip side we mentioned earlier, it’s about using power recliner chairs versus your own body to perform daily self transfers.
The Cons of Lift Chairs:
Lift Chairs, Reclining Lift Chairs, Scooters and almost anything automatic can hinder our opportunity for physical exercise and normal movement that occurs throughout our daily tasks.
It’s like the old saying, if we don’t use it, WE LOSE IT!
If we don’t get our bodies moving, if we don’t keep pushing ourselves to get up and out of bed each day, we can enter a downward spiral both physically and emotionally.
As this occurs, we can actually increase symptoms of our disability.
With Less Movement, We Get Decreased…
- Tolerance to Activities
- Balance – both static and dynamic Sitting and Standing Balance
- Ability to plan movements (motor planning)
And we INCREASE our risk for falls!
Sometimes it Just Takes Practice:
In the video below, I break down good body mechanics for getting out of a traditional recliner lift chair.
It’s quite simple I know, but still take a look at it in case you need to teach it to a loved one or practice it yourself.
Hopefully you can see the importance of keeping your body intact using good body mechanics versus relying on mechanical lifts to do the job.
When your mobility is declining, if you practice these simple movements you can perform self transfers with more independence and safety.
You can actually take a Sit to Stand Activity and practice it to increase your strength, safety and performance. Do it anywhere from 2 – 10 times and build up to them.
If your loved one or yourself needs help, ask someone to stand by you for safety. You’ll keep your body more active and physically fit if you use it.
What’s the Solution?
If you can safely get in and out of a recliner chair, walk stairs, and walk with as little restriction as possible, then do it.
However, if you are having trouble getting safely in and out of your recliner chair, take a look at my video and review the basic sit to stand body mechanics.
If you take a little time to practice good mechanics with these transfers each day (give yourself 10-15 minutes of continual practice), you might be surprised at how easy it is to get around again.
On the Other Hand…
If getting in and out of a recliner chair causes increased pain..
You are unable to complete daily tasks because you don’t have the energy, then a recliner lift chair would be perfectly appropriate.
That’s when these devises can greatly benefit the quality of our lives. It all depends on what stage your at physically in life.
Power Recliner Chairs and Therapy:
If you or your loved one has a cold and your strength is down on a particular day, then this would be a perfect time to use your lift recliner chair.
Then on the days that your feeling better, go back to my training video, get the muscles and mechanics working, and return to more independent living.
You can always grade the transfer and make it easier by having the chair lift up 75% of the way on one day, then on the next day the chair assists 50% of the transfer. Then 25% on to zero assistance.
If you are helping a spouse with dementia, simple and calm repetition are the key.
Follow my video above and nail down the steps in the sit to stand transfer.
Then practice it yourself or with your loved one. People with dementia will normally follow tactile (touch) cues better than verbal instructions.
Try a simple gentle cue to the hips with your hands when scooting forward, or at the back to have them lean forward.
Sometimes you need to help with hand placement, but with repetition, these movements can be regained.
Another great suggestion when performing the transfer is to use a gait belt to ensure safety and control.
Where to Buy a Power Recliner Lift Chair?
After investigating on Amazon I found and made a list of the Top Ranked Power Recliners and I created this list based on a couple of things..
- Overall customer experience and satisfaction of using the lift chair.
- Comfort of sleeping in the chair.
- Safety of the chair.
Special Note: For delivery, make sure you inquire if the Free Delivery means just to the front door, or inside with install included.
Most of the companies deliver to your front door, and they may charge extra for delivery inside as well as putting the chair together.
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Have Experience with Lift Chairs? Let Us Know
The key to decide if it’s time to invest in a lift chair depends on one’s level of disability.
A disability doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to be as independent as you safely can be.
Our bodies need movement, and mechanical lifts impede this. So consider this when deciding if it’s time to buy yourself or a loved one a power recliner lift chair.
Take care and thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this post, please share it using the social share buttons or by email.
And if you have any experience with lift chairs for the elderly, please share it below.