Dear Savvy Senior,
I am interested in purchasing a recliner that lifts and lowers off the ground, or some other type of senior-friendly furniture that can help my elderly father. He's arthritic and overweight and struggles mightily with getting up from most of the cushioned furniture in the house. What can you recommend?
-- Need a Boost
The task of sitting down and/or getting up from soft cushioned furniture is a problem for many seniors who struggle with excessive weight, arthritis or other mobility issues. Here are some different product solutions that can help.
One of the most popular types of cushioned furniture on the market today for mobility challenged seniors is an electric recliner lift chair. While they look just like regular recliners, powerlift recliners come with a built-in motor that raises and lowers the entire chair, which makes sitting down and getting up much easier.
- Chair size: The recliner needs to fit the person sitting in it, so your dad's height and weight will determine the size of chair he needs.
- Reclining options: Aside from the lifting system, the degree in which the chair reclines is your choice too. Most lift recliners are sold as either two-position, three-position or infinite-position lift chairs. The two-position chairs recline only to about 45 degrees, which makes them ideal for watching TV or reading. But if your dad wants to nap, he'll probably want a three-position or infinite-position chair that reclines almost completely horizontally.
- Style and features: You'll also need to choose the type of fabric, color and back style you want the chair to be, or if you want any extra features like built-in heating or massage elements, or a wall hugging chair which is great if you're tight on space.
While there are many companies that make lift recliners -- such as Med-Lift, NexIdea, Catnapper, Berkline, Franklin and La-z-boy - Pride Mobility and Golden Technologies have been around the longest and have some of the best reputations. With prices typically ranging between $600 and $2,000, you can find lift recliners at many medical supply stores and online.
You'll also be happy to know that Medicare provides some help purchasing a lift chair. They cover the lift mechanism portion, which equates to around $300 towards your purchase.
If powerlift recliners don't appeal to your dad, another option to consider is a Risedale chair. These are open-legged, wing back chairs that are different from lift recliners because only the seat cushion lifts instead of the whole chair. Sold by Carex Health Brands, the Risedale costs $725.
If you're looking for something less expensive, or if your dad doesn't want different furniture, there are also a number of assistive products that can be added to his current furniture that can help too, like the Stander CouchCane or EZ Stand-N-Go.
These products provide support handles that make sitting down and standing up a little easier, and they both work on couches and recliners. Available online at Amazon.com, the CouchCanes sell for around $110, and the EZ Stand-N-Go costs $129.
Another way to make your dad's furniture more accessible is by increasing its height with furniture risers. These typically range from 2 to 5 inches in height, are made of heavy-duty plastic or wood, and are inserted under the base of the legs or supports of his furniture. Costs typically range from a few dollars up to $50 or more and can be purchased at retail stores like Walmart and Target, or online at Amazon.com.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of "The Savvy Senior" book.