Considering a Power Chair for a loved one, lift chairs for the elderly can be a blessing, but is a lift chair right for your loved one or not?
The question should really be addressed based on two things..
Functionality Vs. Safety.
If your loved one has sore knees or an aching back, and the pain is exacerbated by getting in and out of a favorite chair, then a lift chair might be a good idea.
On the other hand, if you don’t put in the effort to get around from place to place (know as Self Transfers), you or your loved one are at risk for further physical decline.
Let me give you my perspective as a rehab therapist in Occupational Therapy.
Before you decide whether lift chairs are right for you or your loved one, let me give you my point of view as a therapist and then you decide from there.
Please know that I completely understand what it’s like to live with chronic pain, and medical devices that assist with mobility, at times, are absolutely necessary.
Lift Chairs for the Elderly: Yes or No?
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 as well as help us…
- Conserve energy
- Ease the burden of care on caregivers or family members
- Increase safety from falls that occur when getting in or out of bed
Recliner lift chairs that have the Zero Gravity Position do a great job of controlling swelling in the lower legs post surgery.
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.
But there is a flip side we mentioned earlier, it’s about using power recliner chairs versus your own body.
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.
Now if you’re rolling your eyes while reading this post and you’re thinking; “This young whipper snapper doesn’t know what he’s talking about”.
Let me just respond by reminding you that yes, I do understand that it gets tougher to move as we age, and yes it is unfair.
We should be like fine wine that gets better with time.
But that’s not the reality of life and in fact, 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 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! :'(
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 when your mobility is declining, if you practice these simple movements you can perform self transfers with more Independence and Safety.
Hopefully you can see the importance of keeping your body intact using good body mechanics versus relying on mechanical lifts to do the job.
You’ll keep your body more active and physically fit if you use what God gave you 😉
To Use A Lift Chair or Not: That is the question..
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, a bed, whatever, 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 the sit to stand 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 life.
It all depends on what stage your at physically in life.
For example, if you or your loved one has a cold and their strength is down, then this would be a perfect time to use your lift recliner chair.
Then on the days that they’re feeling better, go back to my training video, get the muscles and mechanics working, and return to more independent living.
Where to Buy Power Lift Chairs?
I haven’t gotten a chance to review one particular power lift chair but eventually hope to.
I did do a couple days worth of investigation at Amazon and found the Top Ranked Power Recliners and I created this list based on a couple of things..
- Overall customer experience and satisfaction of using the 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.
Consider Lift Chairs For the Following:
If you or your loved one has extensive disability involving decreased mobility or motor planning 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.
However, if you or your loved one have…
- Arthritis that is manageable
- Dementia where motor planning 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 sitting position to a standing position so that your body continues to work properly.
If you are helping a spouse with dementia, repetition is the key.
Follow my video and nail down the steps in the sit to stand transfer.
Then practice it with your loved one. They will normally follow tactile (touch) cues better than verbal instructions.
Try a simple gentle cue to the hips with your hand when scooting forward, or at the back to have them lean forward.
Sometimes you need to help with hand placement, but with repetition, this motor skill can be regained.
Another great suggestion when performing the transfer is to use a gait belt to ensure safety and control when going from place to place.
Have Experience with Lift Chairs? Let’s Hear It
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 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.