Disclosure: Some links may be affiliate links. If you buy an item via links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
For many people, a stable, supportive, and comfortable chair is a must. This is true of seniors with physical conditions and those with disabilities.
According to statistics, we spend a third of our life sitting down, and the amount of time spent sitting increases as we age. Finding the right chair is essential, but there are many types to consider.
Types of Senior-Friendly Chairs
Certain chairs may not be suitable for older users as they do not have features that promote the best level of comfort and support as well as usability. The following types of chairs are all safe and suitable for senior users.
Power Lift Recliner Chair
A power lift chair features a mechanical system that tilts the chair making it easier for the user to get in and out. Many have additional features such as a massage function as well as a reclining back so that the user can change position. However, there are different types of power lift recliners, and it’s important to understand the difference to help you make the right choice.
Two-Position Lift Chair
As its name suggests, a two position lift chair can be set to one of two positions; upright and reclining to around 45 degrees. This is a basic model that usually also features a raised footrest which will automatically move into position as you recline the back. However, the two cannot be moved independently.
A two-position lift chair is suitable for moderate use and is ideal for things like watching TV and reading. We wouldn’t recommend using them for longer than four hours at a time, and they are not ideal for sleeping like some other types of power recliners.
They are a good option if you have a small room as they typically have a more compact design.
Three-Position Lift Chair
If you are looking for a reclining chair that is suitable for sleeping, then you would need to opt for a three-position lift chair as these allow the user to recline back to 180 degrees. This additional feature does mean that they are a little more costly than their two-position counterparts, but they’re ideal for users who need something more advanced.
There are several three-position chairs that have extra features such as heat and massage which is excellent for people who suffer from pain or discomfort. Moreover, the footrest will move with the backrest to allow the feet to be elevated.
Infinite/Zero-Gravity Lift Chair
In terms of comfort and therapeutic value, an infinite-position lift chair provides the most options as these chairs often have massage and heat options. Moreover, unlike other types of power recliners, the back and footrest can be moved independently, allowing for a wider choice of positions.
Depending on the model you go for, the padding may be very comfortable, with some zero-gravity chairs having a mattress-like cushioning, making them ideal for sleeping. They are also suitable for people who will use the chair for many hours each day.
As you may have guessed, these chairs allow for multiple reclined positions, including zero-gravity which has many health benefits. These included improved blood flow, reduced anxiety, immune system improvements, and relaxing sore muscles, among other things.
Benefits of Power Lift Recliners for Seniors
While there isn’t a lot of research that covers the benefits of power lift recliners, one small study demonstrated that post-op patients recovered more quickly and were ready to return home sooner when using this type of seat compared to those recovering in a hospital bed. But this is far from being the only benefit.
- Standing up from a seat can be dangerous for older people or those with physical impairments, but a power recliner can move you into almost a standing position without any strain or pressure on your body. This is ideal for those with balance issues or problems with muscle strength and may help to retain independence.
- When caregivers must make transfers between a chair and another location, a power lift chair can make the task easier and safer.
- Falls among seniors is a common problem, but thanks to the ability to raise and lower safely in the chair, the risk is reduced.
- These comfortable chairs allow seniors to perform a wide range of activities including, but not limited to sitting, watching TV, eating, napping, or reading.
- For seniors who experience swelling in the lower limbs, the ability to raise the legs can reduce this problem. With infinite lift chairs, adopting the Trendelenburg position means that circulation is vastly improved.
- Users that have problems with pain in the back or neck will find that this type of chair lessens the pressure on the spine, therefore alleviating pain. This is ideal for people with musculoskeletal conditions.
- Owing to the pressure relief, the chest can open and lung capacity is increased; ideal for patients with respiratory conditions.
- Since the power lift chair has so many comfort and adjustability features, it may be suitable for users that are prone to pressure sores.
A high-back armchair offers excellent lateral support and comes in a wide range of styles and designs to fit in with your home decor. Types of high-back arm chairs include:
Standard High-Back Armchair
If the senior needs additional support, then a standard high-back armchair is an excellent option. These chairs provide excellent comfort and allow the user to sit in a position that is posturally beneficial, particularly handy for those recovering from surgery or an injury.
They usually feature easy-to-clean fabrics and a soft padded seat as well as stable armrests. They’re normally used in a clinical setting but are a good choice for home use for users who need extra support.
Adjustable Height High-Back Armchair
The height that suits each user may vary and so choosing an adjustable high-back armchair allows you to tailor the seat to your needs. They will provide you with a comfortable and supportive seated position which can be changed as your needs alter.
If you want a combination between style and practicality, then a wingback armchair is ideal. While they are quite large and so require adequate space, they feature a high-back that gives superior support. What’s more, the winged sides offer excellent lateral support, and the whole design is stylish and aesthetically pleasing.
Benefits of High-Back Arm Chairs for Seniors
Armrests are imperative in helping senior users safely get into and out of their chair and high-back chairs have some of the most stable and supportive armrests of all chairs. Of course, there are a few more benefits to be aware of.
- One of the best things about high-back chairs is that they usually come with more design options, so you can choose something that fits in with the style of your home. There are choices in terms of color, fabric, and size.
- Varying back heights make these chairs suitable for a wide range of users. It’s easy to find a chair that meets your needs and height. Many chairs also come with removable seat cushions to allow for further customization.
- For users that suffer with a bad back, the height of the backrest is far superior to a low rise chair which does not offer the same level of lumbar support.
- Since the high-back offers full spinal support, these chairs will ensure the best seated position which is excellent for your posture and will feel comfortable when doing activities like reading or watching TV.
You may sometimes hear the Geri chair being referred to by its full name; the geriatric chair. These chairs are perfect for people with limited mobility and are also a good option for anyone recovering from surgery.
As with other chairs, Geri chairs come in various types.
Three-Position Geri Chair
Unlike a standard Geri chair which doesn’t offer much adjustability, a three-position Geri chair allows you to choose between three positions, including sitting, reclined, or seated with the legs raised. We would recommend these chairs for users who have mild mobility problems.
The three-position Geri chair is extremely comfortable thanks to adequate padding and is great for people who are post-op or recovering from an injury. They feature wheels so they can be moved from room to room which is helpful for caregivers.
Four-Position Geri Chair
If the user has currently undergone surgery then a four-position Geri chair will provide a suitable place to rest while recovering. This is largely because they promote good circulation and allow the user to recline into a zero-gravity position with the feet elevated above the head. Not only is this good post-op but is also ideal for people suffering from vascular conditions and swelling.
Tilt-In-Space Geri Chair
For people who are prone to pressure sores, a tilt-in-space Geri chair offers excellent relief. Rather than moving the feet independently, the entire seat tilts backward, meaning that the user does not have to shift about to change position.
These chairs are excellent for those who are immobile or for people who feel pain when moving. For patients who tend to lean forwards when seated, tilting the chair back can provide them with much safer and more comfortable support.
Benefits of Geri Chairs for Seniors
There are several benefits to the Geri chair, and it is a good choice for a wide range of users, especially those recovering from an injury or operation.
- With multiple options in terms of how the chair reclines, a Geri chair offers superior comfort. If the user is going to be seated for long periods of time, accessories such as activity trays add to this comfort and ease of use.
- Most Geri chairs have a headrest that can be fully adjusted, allowing the user to tailor the neck support to their needs.
- Since Geri chairs have wheels, it is much safer and easier to transport the user from one location to another. If the senior has mobility issues, this is perfect as it can reduce the risk of falls and make life easier for the caregiver. The narrow design makes it much easier to navigate doorways and corridors.
- When making transfers, a Geri chair is ideal as the armrests usually swing away so the caregiver can easily move the user into a wheelchair, the bed, or another place.
- Geri chairs are heavily cushioned and made from pressure relieving materials, meaning that they are suitable for reducing the risk of pressure sores.
- Most Geri chairs are made from wipe-clean materials, which makes them incredibly hygienic, especially for users who may struggle with incontinence or whose dexterity means there may be a risk of spilling food or drinks.
A hip chair is often called a perching stool, and its main function is to aid people who have recently undergone knee or hip surgery. They’re ideal for use in rooms where you need to complete tasks but don’t want to do this standing, such as cooking in the kitchen or grooming in the bathroom.
Fixed-Height Hip Chair
A fixed-height hip chair features a sloping seat so that the user can perch atop them without putting strain on the hips. This allows you to continue to do your daily activities even if your balance or strength is lacking. In addition to this, the slope of the seat allows you to get closer to the workspace, which wouldn’t be possible with a flat seat.
Height-Adjustable Hip Chair
If you need a hip chair to work at several different surfaces of varying heights, then you may require an adjustable hip chair. These are ideal for tailoring the height of the chair to match your height and comfort needs. However, you should ensure that, after adjusting, the pelvis is tilted upright, and your feet can rest firmly on the ground.
Folding Hip Chair
You will likely be using your hip chair in various locations around the home, in which case, a folding chair is required. This lessens the size and makes it easier to move from room to room. Moreover, the chair can be easily stored when not in use.
Benefits of Hip Chairs for Seniors
Hip chairs offer a simple, practical, and convenient solution for those who have limited mobility, and the benefits are clear.
- A hip chair makes it far easier to get on and off the seat without assistance, which is perfect for people who want to remain independent.
- Sitting on a higher chair like this can relieve joint pressure.
- After hip surgery, it is advised not to bend at the hip where possible. This type of seat allows for an optimal recovery position as well as limiting the strain on the joints when getting on and off the chair.
- Since a hip chair offers an easy way to independently seat oneself, there is a lower risk of falling.
- Hip chairs mean that users can remain independent and still carry out day-to-day standing tasks without actually having to stand.
Geriatric Massage Chair
Massage is the perfect way to unwind, relax, and relieve aches and pains but going for a regular massage with a therapist can be time-consuming and costly. A geriatric massage chair provides an at-home solution.
Shiatsu Massage Chair
Shiatsu is a type of massage that provides deep pressure and ultimate relief. Many compare this type of massage to someone walking on your back but of course, having the therapy via a chair is much safer and just as effective.
These chairs offer a full-body Shiatsu massage and feature rollers that are perfectly designed to perform in the same way as fingers and hands, providing a realistic massage. The pressure is consistent and continuous, and this releases tensions and soothes pain.
Zero-Gravity Massage Chair
Standard massage chairs have a reclining option, but this is usually limited to one position. A zero-gravity massage chair, on the other hand, allows you to recline into a zero-gravity position which is excellent for improving circulation. When you sit like this, you’ll almost feel as though you are floating.
Infinity Massage Chair
Infinity is one of the most well-respected and sought-after brands of massage chairs and offers a wide range of chairs for different users. For seniors, they provide chairs that aim to improve circulation, range of motion, and flexibility. Their chairs are also ideal for people looking to relieve chronic pain.
Benefits of Geriatric Massage Chairs for Seniors
Choosing a geriatric massage chair not only provides you with a comfortable and supportive place to sit, but it also comes with therapeutic benefits.
- Massage chairs can be very effective in relieving pain. One study demonstrated that, when compared to physiotherapy, the use of a massage chair in targeting lower back pain was observed to be more effective.
- Stress is a huge part of many of our lives, but using a massage chair may counteract this. There is evidence to suggest that this therapy lowers blood pressure which is a serious concern of stress, therefore, lowering overall stress levels. Not to mention, it simply feels nice to sit back and relax away from the strains of life for a few minutes.
- There have been studies that have shown that through using a massage chair, anxiety levels are significantly decreased.
- If you suffer from headaches, this could be a result of tension in the head, neck, and shoulders. Using a massage chair can relieve this and lessen the chances of getting regular headaches.
- In one study, it was noted that the positive effects on muscle tension after using a massage chair could last up to 72 hours. As blood flow to the muscles is stimulated, this stops them from being tight and can also go a long way in improving your range of movement.
- Massage chairs help to improve circulation, which is great for people with cardiovascular conditions.
- Massage chairs are known to increase your levels of serotonin which may contribute to a better night’s sleep.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Chair for Seniors
Choosing the right type of chair for a senior comes with a lot of decisions. It’s essential to think about various factors to ensure that the chair meets the needs of the user as closely as possible.
Seat Height, Depth & Angle
The depth of the seat is important in terms of comfort. If it is too narrow, then the user will likely find it uncomfortable and unsupportive. The legs may feel restricted, and the user may feel as though they are unable to move about freely. On the other hand, a chair that is too deep may cause the legs to rub, which may result in pressure sores.
The height of the seat is also another important factor because if it is too low then a senior with limited mobility may find it challenging to get in and out of the chair. Not to mention that this can put pressure on the joints and comes with a risk of falling. Conversely, if the seat is too high, shorter people may not be able to reach the ground with their feet which can be uncomfortable and lessen the level of support.
Backrest Height & Angle
Many chairs have a reclining back, but this does mean that you have to find a suitable location for the chair where the reclining back won’t interfere with walls, furniture, or other obstacles. For smaller rooms, this doesn’t mean that you cannot have a reclining chair, but you may need to opt for a wall hugger, which takes up less space.
Regardless of whether the backrest reclines or not, it is important to consider the shape and height as this will determine the type of support it offers. If you need more support, then opting for something higher is a wise choice. Finding a chair with a contoured back will be much more stable and supportive for users with impaired upper body strength.
Many seniors have problems with balance which can make it difficult to get out of their chairs. Having solid, wide armrests will provide them with somewhere to grab onto, making it much safer to get out of the chair, preventing a potentially fatal fall.
Moreover, having armrests will prevent the user from chafing on the chair when they move in and out, which can prevent damage to the skin and pressure sores.
If the senior has problems getting in and out of the chair, then a side transfer makes things easier, especially when moving into a wheelchair or patient lift. Not only is this safer and more comfortable for the user, but it also makes it easier for the caregiver. However, to perform a side transfer, the chair must have removable armrests or those that lift up or down.
Some seniors may have problems with remaining in an upright position when seated. This could be related to issues such as reduced upper body strength. In this case, you must source a chair that can provide the right level of support. This means looking for things like sturdy armrests and good head support.
A contoured seat fits the shape of the body, and this provides much greater support than a chair that doesn’t mold to your shape.
Choosing a chair with these features will help in preventing the user from sliding out of position, or worse, falling out of the chair. What’s more, it’ll improve posture by preventing slouching.
What feels comfortable for each user will be different, and this largely depends on any physical problems they may have. For example, if the user has problems with joint or back pain, then additional cushioning may be needed.
You’ll also need to think about the firmness of the cushioning since some users need something firmer and more supportive while others will opt for a soft feel. Different chairs are more suited to different needs, so it’s worth checking out several products and testing their comfort before settling on an option.
If you are caring for a senior whose mobility is limited, then you may wish to consider a chair that sits on wheels so that you can move them between rooms more freely. Of course, you will need to make sure that the chair is designed for this purpose and a Geri chair is the ideal solution.
Breathable fabric is especially important if the chair will be in use for long hours. This will ensure that the person does not sweat or overheat, which also goes a long way in the prevention of pressure sores.
You might also wish to consider how easy the fabric is to clean, particularly for users that may have problems with incontinence. In this case, you will need to look for wipe-clean fabrics as this is far more hygienic. But when choosing this material, you must keep in mind that breathability will be lost. Moreover, wipe-clean fabrics tend to be more slippery, which can cause the user to slide out of position more easily.
Not everyone will find the same position comfortable or beneficial. If the senior will be using the chair for long periods of time, then they may wish to shift position, but this isn’t possible without the correct adjustment options. For people who want a vast array of adjustment options, looking for a zero-gravity lift chair will provide this. These chairs allow you to move into several positions, including the Trendelenburg position, which raises the legs above the head and may improve circulation and blood pressure.
For users who have paralysis or who have suffered a stroke and are unable to move their own body, many chairs have simple adjustment controls that require only the push of a button. This allows the user to sit in various positions over the course of the day, reducing the risk of pressure sores.
If the senior using the chair is prone to bedsores, then you will need to find a chair that prevents this. Chairs with the correct cushioning are essential, and this means looking for something with a gel or memory foam seat is the best option. This is also important for seniors who will be using the seat for long hours as this makes the risk of pressure sores much higher.
Many older adults have problems with poor circulation, yet this can be helped by elevating the legs. When choosing a chair, it is worth looking for those that allow the user to raise their feet and therefore improve circulation.
Fit for Function
Before purchasing a chair for a senior, you must first consider the main purpose of the chair. For example, if you’re looking for somewhere to sit when working in the kitchen or when grooming yourself in the bathroom, then a hip chair may be the right option. On the other hand, a power recliner is an ideal choice for seniors who want somewhere comfortable and supportive to relax while reading or watching TV.
You should also consider how many hours at a time you intend to use the chair, as this will determine the right level of comfort and support. A chair that will be used for long hours every day needs to be more padded to prevent pressure sores and have features designed for lengthier use.
For older people who suffer from cognitive impairments, certain chairs may be challenging to use because of the controls. In this case, it is important to look for chairs whose controls are simple and easy to understand.
Moreover, many seniors experience problems with their eyesight, so it’s essential that the controls are easily visible with large, clear text showing what each button does. If the user has problems with dexterity, you should ensure that the controls are not stiff or too fiddly.
It is of the utmost importance that, when choosing a chair, you opt for one that is compatible with your weight. While this can be a difficult subject to approach for many people, going for a chair that will support your weight ensures safety and adequate support.