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The Best Chairs For The Elderly

Updated on March 19, 2013

As we get older we become less flexible, less mobile and may develop some health problems.

Some elderly people could find sitting and standing harder, bending down painful or have problems with their back and joints. Because of these difficulties, chairs and beds need to be suitable for their comfort and safety.

When choosing furniture for older people there may be other factors to consider. These may include:

Poor eyesight

If your eyesight begins to fail it will affect your judgment when it comes to finding your chair.

Dementia

There are many forms of dementia, some of which affect sight. Dark colors look like holes or gaps and it can be confusing to try to sit in a dark colored chair. White looks invisible, especially against a white floor. Chairs and toilet seats need to be bright to be seen more clearly.

Loss of mobility

If an older person is unable to move and stays in one position for a length of time it can cause discomfort, slouching, marks on the skin or sores.

Height

Very tall people may find getting up and down even harder.

Chairs for the Living Room

In order to provide comfort and safety for an elderly person, a chair should have plenty of room, have arms to pull up on and a high back to rest against. It should be upholstered with fabric (in accordance to fire safety standards) and cushioned. Extra cushions for the back and arms provide extra comfort and support.

Chairs can be purchased custom made, which means having a chair suitable for your height.

If an existing chair is comfortable but too low to get in and out of, it can be made higher by placing it in a chair raiser. These are sturdy and grip to the floor for health and safety reasons.

Carver dining chair
Carver dining chair
Wet room
Wet room
The stair lift folds up
The stair lift folds up

Pressure Cushions

Pressure cushions are specially designed to prevent elderly people getting bedsores from sitting on a hard surface. They can be the same shape and size as the cushion on the armchair and simply swapped. They are also recommended for wheelchair users, and put on the wheelchair even if the individual is only in it for a short period of time.

Dining Chairs

It is important to have the right height chair and table to be able to dine with ease. Having a cushioned seat, high back and cushioned back will again help with those needing the support.

loose cushions on wooded seats are slippery and dangerous and can cause a risk of a fall.

Carver dining chairs are ideal for those needing arms on the chair to pull up.

Shower and Bath Chairs

For safety reasons it is an ideal solution to have a special chair designed for showering and bathing.

For step in showers there are many different designs of seat. Some are four legged stools and some have arms and backs. If the elderly person needs assistance with their shower, a chair can be wheeled into the shower. The breaks must stay on at all time whilst they are in the shower.

If the elderly person is able to step into a bath, they can have a bath chair placed in the bath, either secured with suckers to the bottom or with grips which hang over the side. Some bath chairs swivel round to make life easier.

Walk in baths are great for those unable to climb in. The door simply opens and the seat is built in.

For the less mobile, bath lifts are a better choice. They simply lift the individual up when they are seated then turn and lower into the bath. This means the older person doesn't have to struggle at all.

Toilet Seats

Going to the toilet can be a difficult task for someone who finds sitting down low a problem. But by placing a seat over the top can make all the difference.

Some look like frames with a seat and they simply go over the top of the toilet. They have wheels for movability, but need to be locked when in place.

Other seats are like 'top hats' and they screw onto the toilet. They make a big difference to the height of the toilet, so that sitting and standing is easier.

Recliners

Reclining chairs and beds are incredibly helpful for those with mobility problems or those suffering from aches and pains. Most recliners have remote controls so they can lie back as far as the individual wishes, or sit far forward to make getting out easier.

Recliners come in different materials from leather to fabric and come in a selection of styles and heights. They are wonderful to raise tired or swollen legs, and good for those in the later stages of dementia who can no longer sit up straight.

Massage Chairs

These chairs are good to ease muscle pain. They have a remote control to switch on the level required to vibrate and massage the back and legs.

Stair Lifts

Ideal for an elderly person still living in their own home. If they can no longer use the stairs, then a stair lift can be fitted.

It will have a controller on it, and simply takes the user up the stairs at a steady pace. They fold up neatly to make the stairs safe to use for other people in the home.


Although specialized chairs are expensive, some elderly people may be entitled to free or discounted equipment by their local authority.



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    • profile image

      Ravi Kaushik... 6 months ago

      Niceee Yar......

    • Emma Harvey profile image
      Author

      Emma Harvey 3 years ago from Berkshire, UK

      Thanks Tony for your comment. Glad you found this hub useful.

    • profile image

      Tony 3 years ago

      Found this article whilst searching for a chair for my grandfather (96) - I appreciate the advice, some of the things you've discussed I didn't even consider (like eyesight/depth perception).

      I thought I might add a tip too, the carer said that most people in the UK who need a riser recliner chair are entitled to a VAT exemption, I found these guys http://www.oriental-leather.com/quick-links/vat-ex... - who actually let you order without the VAT attached - so no claiming back.

      Thanks again -

      T.

    • Emma Harvey profile image
      Author

      Emma Harvey 5 years ago from Berkshire, UK

      Absolutely, it's an issue that affects many elderly people.

      I might need to write a hub on that topic...

      Thanks for your comment :)

    • profile image

      Julia1412 5 years ago

      Along with mobility issues, you talked about poor eyesight. Family members need to be focused on falling, or tripping on mats and rugs. Falls also happen when the elderly people use medications at night, then need to get out of bed to go to the washroom. Preventive measures need to be taken, using a walker, or having handrails in the home.

    • Emma Harvey profile image
      Author

      Emma Harvey 5 years ago from Berkshire, UK

      Hi Simone - I've worked with the elderly for many years so know that it's not just arm chairs for the front room to consider!

      ;-)

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I've never really needed to care for an elderly person, so I hadn't considered all of the special considerations one must make when selecting furniture for them. Goodness me, there are so many potential issues- and this Hub is only discussing those related to chairs!

      You've really got me thinking. O_O

    • Emma Harvey profile image
      Author

      Emma Harvey 5 years ago from Berkshire, UK

      Ah what a shame they had to move in the end - stair lifts must be a God send to people who cannot get up the stairs but want to stay in their homes.

      Thanks for commenting leah :)

    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      This is an excellent guide! My grandparents had a house with three flights of stairs - the stair lift got a LOT of use! They had to move once they could no longer manage the interior staircase (the stairs to the front door had the lift).

    • Emma Harvey profile image
      Author

      Emma Harvey 5 years ago from Berkshire, UK

      That's a good idea Om Paramapoonya - she obviously likes the couch better, so getting a new chair may be a waste of time. But pressure cushions are a great solution. You can move them around as she goes to different rooms.

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

      Very nice advice! My grandma is getting very old now. She doesn't walk around so much anymore, but sits and watches TV or reads most of the time. She seems to like the couch she has a lot, but we might get pressure cushions for her to use in the dining room or on the outdoor bench. :)

    • Emma Harvey profile image
      Author

      Emma Harvey 5 years ago from Berkshire, UK

      Hi meloncauli - yes electric recliner chairs are great. I have worked with the elderly for many years and see the importance in comfort and swollen feet.

      Thanks ercramer36 for your comment also :)

    • ercramer36 profile image

      Eric Cramer 5 years ago from Chicagoland

      Great hub with a lot of great information.

    • meloncauli profile image

      meloncauli 5 years ago from UK

      Very good, useful hub. My dad has just purchased an electric upholstered chair because he can no longer get comfortable low down on a normal sofa. He has breathing difficulties and daren't lie in a bed any more so at least he can sleep in a reclining position that suits him now. He also needs his feet up regularly for swollen ankle problems so this kind of chair suits that also.