For an elderly person with limited mobility, alongside their bed, they usually spend the majority of their time in a chair. Today’s market is filled with cheap, inadequate, ugly rise and recline chairs that may suffice as occasional chairs, but are hardly a fitting solution for someone who spends most of their time sitting down. The following step-by-step process is designed to help you through the journey of buying a mobility chair designed for elderly users in the home, focussing on what to look out for and the key points to consider
Identify your loved one’s need
The very first thing to contemplate when looking to buy a mobility chair is, quite simply, what do I need the chair to do for me or the person in my care? Assessing your/the user’s mobility will enable you to clearly identify the functions you want the chair to perform, e.g. Will it rise to a standing position? Is the chair portable?
Create a list of features you require
Write a list of key features you need your chair to have, and also a list of features that are less essential but would be beneficial. This list will help you to narrow down the options, singling out a chair that is best for your needs.
Establish a budget
This is possibly the most important part of the process. Specialist chairs don’t come cheap, and for most they are a once-in-a-lifetime investment. Bear this in mind when deciding how much you are prepared to spend. Try and seek external funding and contribution, and remember that your/the user’s disability is likely to mean they are eligible for VAT relief.
Browsing the types of chair
There are four different varieties of mobility chairs for the elderly.
Rise and recline chairs
By far the most popular chair for the elderly, rise and recline chairs are ideal if you have limited but relative mobility and are looking for a comfort chair you can sit in throughout the day.
Rise recliners are available in a vast range of styles and fabrics, but all perform much the same functions: rise to an upright position; backrest reclines; and footrest lifts up. Some companies will allow you to choose different fabrics for upholstering your chair, an excellent option if you want your chair to blend in with existing interiors.
Helpful guide: All You Need to Know About Rise and Recline Chairs
Porter chairs are, in short, a mobility chair on wheels. They are particularly well suited to a patient who receives a lot of external assistance and care. These mobile chairs function normally when they stand alone, but when the occupant needs to be transferred, rather than being moved out of the chair, the porter chair can be moved by a carer/assistant to transport the patient from one location to another. Porter chairs have a push grab-handle on the back and rest on four castors, usually all four can be braked.
Specialist care chairs
Specialist care chairs provide advanced functionality in all of the main aspects of a care chair: comfort, posture control, pressure relief, and mobility. These chairs address care needs such as incontinence and spinal weakness through the likes of waterproof upholstery and lumbar support cushioning.
Specialist chairs will include manoeuvrability functions such as the ability to be transformed into a horizontal surface as well as a standing position. They are ideally suited to patients with highly restricted mobility and poor posture control.
A posture chair is suitable in only a few circumstances. When a user has extremely limited posture control, they require supportive aids to maintain a position. Posture chairs are specially shaped and moulded to provide maximum support to the occupant. They will usually provide a sort of cocoon that the user can be held securely in. Soft upholstery and pressure relief is essential, as the occupant is likely to spend long periods of time in the same position. Posture chairs are also usually mobile to reduce the ordeal of transferring the user from one location to another.
Ensuring the right size
Ideally you need to try out chairs before you commit to purchasing one. However, in today’s world, an increasing amount of mobility chairs are purchased online and this usually works out well providing your supplier is able to answer any questions you have and give you comprehensive information about your chair. They should be able to provide you with detailed dimensions of the chair and sometimes they will provide you with a measuring guide that tells you how to measure up the user to check that the chair is suitable. Another helpful way of checking that the chair size will be suitable is to compare the dimensions of the mobility chair against the dimension of a chair you/your loved one currently finds comfortable. Never purchase a chair without ensuring the sizing will be suitable.
There is a stereotype of a hospital-like feel and lack of cosiness surrounding mobility chairs, but it doesn’t need to be the case. The more advanced, specialist chairs are rightly centred on functionality and accommodating care needs, but the less specialist chairs should have a more unassuming, attractive appearance that fits unobtrusively into the home environment. Take time choosing a design, request fabric samples, and you’ll be sure to enjoy the practical functions of a mobility chair without sacrificing the cosy-look you get with an ordinary lounge chair.
Choosing a supplier
There are hundreds of mobility chair suppliers, both local and national. Choose a company that you are confident will give you a great buying experience and help you through the buying process. Online is a great place to start looking for mobility chairs and gain ideas and direction. When you have settled on a supplier, think too of aftercare and ensure they have a maintenance service that is able maintain and repair your chair.