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Should I Buy A Lift Chair For My Elderly Parents? (How To Decide And Choose)

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Lift chairs (aka Power Lift Recliners) are an amazing product for seniors who have difficulty getting up from a sitting position.  I have several recliner lift chairelderly relatives who use them and love them and honestly, I can’t imagine a better gift to give to any elderly person who needs help getting up from a chair.

But, they are not exactly inexpensive so the question is…

Should I buy a lift chair for my elderly parents?  The independence of an individual, especially a senior is very important.  For caregivers, however, safety is the number one consideration.  A lift chair provides both.  If you have the funds and the space for a recliner lift chair and your elderly parents have problems getting up from a seated position then I would recommend to purchase and use a recliner lift chair.

As our parents grow older each year and their mobility becomes compromised, we want to help them to not only stay independent but to be as safe as possible.

In this article I’ll be talking about lift chairs, their benefits, can you get funding for them, how to choose one and if you should consider buying one.

The Benefits Of A Lift Chair For Your Aging Parents

Many of us with elderly parents can see how difficult it can be to grow older and lose your mobility.  As their children and oftentimes, caregivers, we want to help them keep as much independence as possible but also keep our main focus on safety.

After all, falls are the most common causes of injuries in the elderly population.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Each year, 3 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries.
  • Each year at least 300,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures.
  • More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling, usually by falling sideways.
  • Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

Does Medicare Or Medicaid Pay For Lift Chair Recliners?

The coverage of lift chairs by Medicare and/or Medicaid are a bit complicated so bear with me as I lay out the facts for you here.

The short answers are…

  • Yes – Medicare does pay, partially, for lift chairs if you meet certain criteria and if you purchase it from a DME (Durable Medical Equipment) supplier or other seller that is enrolled in the Medicare program.  If you have questions, you can call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227.
  • Yes – Medicaid may pay for a lift chair, depending on regulations for the Medicaid program in your state.  Find the phone number for your state’s program here.

Medicare Part B covers a portion of your lift chair purchase if your doctor prescribes it and for certain situations which are listed below.

According to Medicare.com:

You may be eligible for Medicare coverage of a seat lift if:

  • You have severe arthritis in your hip or knee
  • You have muscular dystrophy or another type of neuromuscular disease.
  • Your doctor determines that regular movement is medically necessary and that the seat lift may improve your condition or prevent it from getting worse. The seat lift must be prescribed as part of your treatment plan.
  • Because of your condition, you are unable to stand up and would otherwise be confined to a chair or bed without the equipment.
  • You’re able to control the seat lift yourself, the device operates smoothly, and the equipment helps you sit or stand without other help.

Medicare sees a lift chair as being made up of 2 components, the chair itself and the lift mechanism of the seat.  The portion that they pay for is the lift mechanism, but only if it’s a powered mechanism, not if it’s a spring-release (like you would find in a recliner).

Are Stair Lifts Covered By Insurance?

Like Medicare and Medicaid insurance – most private health insurance policies partially cover (or no coverage at all) for the purchase and/or installation of stair lifts.

Some policies allow individuals to use benefits to cover home modifications if it means the beneficiary can avoid entering an assisted living facility or nursing home. Lifeway Mobility

We recommend that if you are covered by a private health insurance to contact them and ask for information on their policy on coverage for stair lifts.

Can You Convert A Recliner To A Lift Chair?

Yes, with the installation of a Universal Lift Frame – you can convert a standard recliner to a lift chair!

I found several patents listed online for universal lift frames that can convert standard recliners into lift chairs.  But only one seemed to be in production at this time.  It’s called The Enhansit and you can see it at Liftmychair.com.

This product sits underneath the recliner and when it’s activated, it pushes the back of the recliner up which helps the person sitting to slowly stand up.

The cost is a few hundred dollars and it may be less than purchasing a lift chair but you must add in the cost of labor to install the lift frame (if you are unable to do it yourself).

You may be tempted to use a product like the Carex Upeasy Seat Assist Plus on Amazon but the company does NOT recommend using this type of product on a recliner.

What Are The Different Types of Lift Chairs?

There are essentially 3 different types of recliner lift chairs:

  • Two position – these have a 45 degree reclining range.
  • Three position – these can recline almost flat but can stop anywhere in between sitting up straight and almost flat.  These are sometimes called sleeper recliners.
  • Infinite – these are aka Zero Gravity recliners.  They can recline completely flat and of course, anything in between.  Personally, I do not recommend the Infinite model for seniors simply because the chances of them falling off of it are higher.

How To Choose A Recliner Lift Chair

Recliners come in a large variety of designs.  Lift recliners have more limited design features but there are still many to choose from.  An example of a standard but elegant lift recliner is the Bonzy Lift Recliner Classic.

There is not much difference in choosing a recliner or one that has a lift chair component to it.   Many of the decision making process is the same.  You want something that is comfortable, easy to use and fits in your space.

The types of things you need to be looking at are the features that each model comes equipped with.  Features such as:

  • Type of controls – make sure that whomever is going to be using this chair can manage the controls.  Are the buttons big enough?  Does it take some strength to push them or move them?  Some chairs can be programmed so that once the controls are “set” they don’t have to be done again.
  • Backrest – just like the process of choosing any other recliner chair, you want to make sure that the seat and back are comfortable for the intended user.
  • Footrest – of course you want to seating and footrest to be comfortable and easy to use.  The user should be able to set up the degree of recline and the footrest easily.
  • Material – you want to choose a material that is easy to maintain and to clean.  Especially if you are purchasing the chair for an elderly person who may be incontinent from time to time.
  • Heat or Massage – yes, some models do come with heat and/or massaging features which may be useful for the person who will be using this type of chair.  The massage features can work on the shoulders, lower back and the buttocks.
  • Size – it’s important to know the space the recliner is going in.  You can purchase standard models or wall hugger models for smaller spaces.

For more information on the types of chair lifts available contact a local store near you.  Here’s a list of stores in each state.

Related Questions

Can you rent a lift chair? Yes, you certainly can rent a lift chair to see if you like the product or if you just need to get one for a visiting friend or relative.  Simply go to Google and type in “lift chair rentals near me” or Click Here and you should see a list of medical supply stores near you that offer lift chair rentals.

Are there other tools to help the elderly to stand up?  Yes, there are several products that can be used to help someone get up from a chair, a sofa or other seated position.  I listed my favorite of these tools in our Recommended Products section.


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