Do you have an older friend, relative, or loved one who spends quite a bit of time seated? If so, you might be looking into finding the best chairs for the elderly. Well, a good chair should not only provide comfort but also facilitate good sitting posture.
Right from infancy through to our senior years, proper sitting posture is essential for overall good health. The body is always fighting against gravity, whether we are in a seated, standing, or lying position. In the case of sitting, the joints at the ankles, knees, hips, and elbows join forces with the shoulder, back, core, butt, thigh, and leg muscles to counteract the force of gravity and keep the body in an upright-seated position.
Proper sitting posture distributes the force of gravity evenly throughout the body, ensuring that no part remains overstressed. On the other hand, poor sitting posture results in the opposite. It puts more stress on the neck, shoulders, and back muscles, as well as the spine and knees.
This Guide At a Glance:
- What Damage Can Improper Seating Cause?
- The Importance Of Specialist Seating For The Elderly
- What Options Are Available?
- How Can I Choose The Best Chair For An Elderly Relative Or Friend?
- Top Features To Select When Shopping For Chairs For The Elderly
What Damage Can Improper Seating Cause?
For the elderly though, sore joints and pain in the back muscles are the least of the consequences of improper sitting position. Since our muscles weaken over time, the elderly get tired more quickly, which can cause them to lean to one side, slouch forward, or slump down into the chair. These awkward unsupported sitting positions can cause skin and soft tissue damage, which leads to pressure sores.
Besides causing postural pain syndrome, sitting in awkward positions can lead to an older adult sliding off the chair entirely and land on the floor. Consequently, this may invoke feelings of fear and anxiety. Also, poor posture can cause health problems such as urinary tract, chest & lung infections, not to mention hypertension. Much of this is brought on by blood not flowing properly throughout the body.
The good news though is that the pain, health-related downsides, and anxiety brought about by poor sitting posture in the elderly, can all be eliminated with the right chair.
The Importance Of Specialist Seating For The Elderly
Chairs designed for the elderly or specialist seating, as also referred to, focus on three critical points associated with sitting – comfort, posture control, and relief of pressure. For posture control, the chairs provide additional support for the head, neck, shoulders, or back. They help the elderly maintain an upright posture, which consequently aids in improving overall health and preventing issues like slouching or sliding off the chair.
Extra comfort is another common feature of these chairs. They provide cushioning along pressure points of the body (e.g. seat, armrest, and back areas). The cushioning can come in the form of air, gel, water, or memory foam fillings within the chair or extra padding on cushions. Some even feature built-in pressure relief features such as heat or vibration massage.
Since pain along joints and general weakness are typical among older adults, some specialist seating chairs also help the elderly get on and off more easily. They eliminate design flaws like low height, reclined backrest, increased seat compressibility, among others that make it difficult for the old to rise from a chair.
This Weeks Most Popular Chairs For The Elderly
- The stunning brand new Eaton Manual Recliner Armchair has been developed to the highest standards,...
- Comfortably padded, gives comfort and support where it's needed the most. This model offers soft...
- High quality Push Back Recliner Mechanism, place your hands on the arm rests of the recliner and in...
- Medium to firm support, soft hard wearing material
- 6 colours available PLUM, BROWN, BEIGE,LIME, TEAL, LIGHT GREEN
- Measurements seat depth 13cm. Top of back to floor 114cm. Width of back 63cm. Height from seat to...
- Single motor mechanism provides a raise & recline function and supplied with two button handset for...
- Raises to an almost standing position and reclines to a comfortable snooze position to suit you
- Ideal for those who require assistance when transferring from the chair
Prices & information last updated on 2020-01-17
What Options Are Available?
There are several chairs for the elderly in the market, each type with its intended functionality and set of advantages. Understanding what various options have to offer is the first step to choosing the best senior chair for your loved one.
1 Recliner/Lift Chair
Recliner lift chairs are a top choice of specialist chairs for many. They offer comfort, pressure relief, and posture management all in one package. The chairs come heavily padded right from the backrest area through to the armrest and seat parts. Some even come equipped with heat and massage functions for the ultimate comfort and muscle relaxation.
Adjustability is the most significant advantage of recliner chairs. As the name implies, these chairs feature a tilt in space function that enables you to lower the back of the seat or lift the front area. When reclining, the bottom part of the chair, where the legs usually hang, unfolds into a footrest. When popped up, the leg rest lets the user sit in a comfortable laid out position. On the flipside, lifting the chair sends it into a sort of a tip-over angle, which enables older adults to get on their feet comfortably.
The tilting of lift chairs can either be mechanical (where user leans back to lower the chair or pulls on a lever) or remote-controlled. The angles of recline also vary between chairs. Some recliner seats only offer two adjustable positions. Others have three or even an infinite number of recline angles.
2 High Back Chairs
As the name indicates, these chairs feature an elongated back area. The purpose of this design is to promote proper posture. Users get good head, neck, shoulders, and back support thanks to the high rear surface. Some of these chairs come fitted with wings to offer extra support for the head, neck, and shoulders.
In addition to protecting the spine and upper body muscles from strain, high back chairs have a therapeutic nature. They relax the body, reducing tension in already overstretched areas. It is also common for high back chairs to feature padded back and armrests for enhancing comfort.
3 Bariatric Chair
At first glance, bariatric chairs look like your regular armchair. They have armrests, padded seating, and a generous backrest area. There is however a distinct difference to bariatric chairs in the form of an oversized seating area which typically covers a width of 24 to 30 inches.
Bariatric seats have a wide surface area, which helps to distribute weight evenly and counteract the force of gravity that pulls the body forward. As a result, the sitter can maintain an upright posture for longer since bodyweight is not weighing down on the back area. The large seat also helps to reduce interface pressure, thereby reducing the risk of sores.
One thing to note about bariatric chairs is that they target large people, hence the spacious seating area. These chairs are intended to support at least 300 pounds with some promising a load limit of 750lbs or even 1000lbs. They typically feature long and sturdy armrests to support the weight of a person when getting up from the chair.
4 Orthopaedic Chairs
Orthopaedic or therapeutic chairs are designed to accommodate the elderly and those suffering from back pain problems. The chairs come in all manner of looks and designs but mostly focus on providing optimal support for the spine and skeletal area to prevent the sitter from slouching or hunching the shoulders.
Another advantage of orthopaedic chairs is that they also offer pressure management for the whole body. More than one feature can help to provide this benefit. For instance, cushioning at the bum and hips may be offered to reduce pressure in these areas. A footrest may be included to keep the legs and knees from getting fatigued. Some models feature a swivel function that enables users to engage in physical activities without overextending the body.
For the elderly who have mobility issues, a wheelchair is an option worth looking into for specialist seating. Wheelchairs have a 2-in-1 advantage as they make it possible for the user to move around the house independently and double up as a means of travelling outdoors.
Although there are several wheelchair designs, geriatric chairs and motorized versions are the more suitable options when it comes to the elderly.
Motorized wheelchairs offer several great features. A few examples include ample support for the spine, comfortable padded seating, headrest area, adjustable footrest, and a joystick control panel.
On the other hand, geriatric chairs come with a roomier seat for added comfort and swivel rear wheels for easy maneuverability. These chairs usually feature extra padding on the headrest, armrest, and seat plus extra-large footplates to give the user more support.
There are also geriatric chair models that offer recline capabilities where the sitter can adjust over three positions. For the elderly, this is a handy feature to have. It helps keep the blood flowing well, thereby reducing discomfort during extended periods of sitting.
How Can I Choose The Best Chair For An Elderly Relative Or Friend?
Selecting the best chair for elderly persons need not be a daunting task. Here is what you need to consider when looking at different brands and models in the market.
1 Individual Needs
What is the condition of the elderly relative or friend who needs the chair? Is the person unable to maintain a stable upright position?
If so, a simple high back would be suitable. Perhaps they have muscle weakness or mobility issues that make it highly difficult or impossible to shift sitting positions. In this case, an option like the recliner chair with adjustable seat angles would be a better fit.
Simply put, make sure to weigh the health and physical condition of your loved carefully one before making the final choice on specialist seating option.
2 Long-Term Use
A specialist seat is something that can last for years. So, you must ensure that it will continue to remain relevant for the rest of the user’s life.
Does the intended user have a medical condition that will cause muscles to deteriorate with time? If so, consider the long-term requirements of the person and shop accordingly.
Generally, a chair with adjustable features should be able to provide lengthy use. Therapeutic chairs, for instance, tend to be highly flexible where you can adjust seat width, height, and depth to fit the user.
While this may not cross your mind as you shop for senior chairs, it plays a significant role in determining overall comfort. If a chair is too broad, using the armrests becomes uncomfortable. The extra-wide seat might cause elderly persons to leaning to one side of the chair or lay their hands clumsily at the sides.
On the other hand, a chair that is too deep or high can force the user into an awkward position as they try to lean into the backrest. Such a poor sizing defeats the chair’s purpose of helping maintain proper posture. To avoid this, make sure that the body shape and height of the user is proportionate to the depth and height of the chair you intend to buy.
Top Features To Select When Shopping For Chairs For The Elderly
When choosing a chair for an older adult, comfort and support are the two critical things to look for in every product you consider. A seat that is hard, stiff, or lacks proper head and lateral support will be of no value.
That said, there a few other features that are worth having. These include:
With a specialist chair having to bear the brunt of daily use, it should be made of sturdy materials that can keep up with heavy usage for years.
The choice of chair fabric goes beyond looking at the colour or feel of the texture. You should also check whether the material is easy to clean, breathable enough to keep the person dry and comfortable, as well as waterproof.
Any additional functions that will make the life of the user easier or more comfortable should factor in on your final purchase decision. For example, a footrest is a tool that can help alleviate the pressure of sitting since about 19% of our body weight goes through the feet. It also helps maintain the stability needed to keep an upright posture.
Other options include features like thick padding all over the chair, built-in stand-up crane, anti-slip upholstery for preventing sliding, cup holders, and pockets for holding small items such as a TV remote.
Getting a chair specifically designed for the elderly could very well be a thoughtful gift to give a relative, friend, or family member. It will allow your loved one to sit in comfort for longer. As a result, the chair would make activities like reading, watching TV, and chatting the day away enjoyable. And, this will trickle down to improve on health, resulting in a better quality of life for the older adult.
One thing you should know beforehand is that motorized wheelchairs fall on the expensive side of the price spectrum, with prices going as high as £1000 or more. The rest have relatively similar price tags. You can pick one up with a budget of between £300 and £700+ depending on overall quality.