Lift chairs (aka Power Lift Recliners or simply Power Chair) are an amazing product for elderly people and disabled who have difficulty going to and from a sitting position to a standing position from their chair. I have several elderly relatives with mobility issues who use them and love them.
I can’t imagine a better gift to give to any elderly person who needs help getting up from a chair. With a simple push of a button they are able to get up easily and safely.
But, they are not exactly inexpensive so the question is…
Should I buy a power lift chair for my elderly parents? The independence of an individual, especially a senior is very important. For family members and 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. Products like stair lifts and chair lifts can help to give your senior loved ones that independence.
In this article I’ll be talking about lift chairs, their benefits, can you get funding for them, how to choose the best lift chair for your loved one.
Are Lift Chairs Good for the Elderly?
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 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).
These lift chairs can help to decreases the chances of your elderly loved one falling.
Some wonderful features that they have are…
- Some can be controlled by remote control
- Some have built in cup holders
- Some have lumbar support (which is a great option)
- Some newer chairs also have usb ports to plug in your laptop, tablet or phone
Are Lift Chairs Worth the Money?
For someone who can’t get up from a chair on their own, lift chairs can be an invaluable investment. They can help people who experience physical limitations or mobility issues in performing daily tasks with relative ease.
Lift chairs provide a comfortable place to rest and also help the user in getting up from seated positions with minimal effort.
It can help to keep an otherwise dependent person more independent in their own home.
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 medially 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).
Who Should Use a Lift Chair?
The bottom line is that the persons who are best suited for using a lift chair are ones who have a great deal of difficulty getting up and down from a seated position safely. But there’s more.
Many older adults enjoy using a recliner, in fact there are some seniors who prefer to sleep in a recliner than in a bed for a variety of reasons.
My late father-in-law certainly did and you could almost always find him sacked out in the living room when we visited! But – he had bad knees and had a very hard time getting up from the recliner, so for Christmas one year, we got him a lift chair. Problem solved.
Adding the feature of a lift chair to a recliner makes it much easier for your senior loved one to enjoy their favorite chair for much longer, like my father-in-law did as he continued to grow older.
One piece of advice I can give you is that if you are considering a lift chair for any medical condition, consult with an occupational of physical therapist about the features you should be looking for.
When I was an occupational therapist, there were some types I wouldn’t recommend to my patients (you’ll see why in the section below, What Are The Different Types Of Lift Chairs).
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 in the chair 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 but the company does NOT recommend using this type of product on a recliner.
What Are the Different Types of Lift Chairs?
You an help yourself to make the best choice of lift chair by first knowing the different positions that the models of chairs offer. There are essentially 3 different types of recliner lift chairs:
- Two position – the two-position lift chairs have a 45 degree reclining range.
- Three-position – the benefit of a three-position lift chair is that it can provide a full recline, which means it can lay almost flat but can also 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. From my personal experience as an OT, I do not recommend the Infinite model for seniors simply because the chances of them falling off of it are higher.
- You can see a full range of Lift Chairs here at Electric Wheelchairs, USA
The best option for you regarding position will depend on any medical conditions you may have, what you consider a comfortable position is and how you want to use your chair.
How to Choose a Recliner Lift Chair
Recliners come in a large variety of designs which makes it easier to find one that can fit nicely in your living room.
An example of a standard but elegant lift recliner is the Irene House 9188 Lift Chair.
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:
- Comfort – one of the most important factors to consider is the comfort of the chair for the user. This means not only the material of the chair but also the height, width and depth of the seat.
- 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.
- Positions – as I mentioned above, there are lift chair models that you can purchase with different position capabilities. If your medical condition requires you to occasionally position your legs above the level of your heart, then you will want to look for a recliner that offers a trendelenburg position.
- 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.
- Dual motor option – some lift chairs are equipped with dual motors. One motor is used for lifting the chair, the second motor is used to control the backrest, footrest, etc.
- 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.
- Weight capacity – most models can accommodate individuals who weight up to 350 lbs but you can also find some that have weight capacities up to 500 lbs.
- Quality – a well constructed lift chair can last a long time. Whether it’s a new chair or a used one, buying a well made product will be worth it.
For more information on the types of chair lifts available contact a local store near you.
Frequently Asked 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” 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.