2010-10-06 / Seniors

Senior-Friendly Furniture

Dear Savvy Senior,

I’m in the market for some seniorfriendly furniture and could use some help. My husband and I have arthritis and have gotten to the point where getting up from a seated position–especially from our living room couch and recliners–has become a real chore. Can you recommend some good cushioned lift chairs or furniture accessories that can help us?

Can’t Get Up

Dear Can’t:

The task of sitting down and/or getting up from soft, cushioned furniture is a common problem for many seniors who struggle with arthritis pain and mobility issues. Fortunately, there is a variety of home furnishing products and accessories that can help give you a boost.

Lift Recliners

Having been around for nearly 30 years now, electric recliner lift chairs are one of the most popular types of senior-friendly furniture on the market today. While they look just like regular recliner chairs, lift recliners come with a built-in motor that actually raises and lowers the entire chair, which makes sitting down and getting up much easier.

How to Choose

With literally dozens of different types and styles of lift recliners to choose among, here are some key points to help you cut through all the options and select a good fit for you and your husband.

Chair size. The recliner needs to fit the person setting in it, so your or your husband’s body size (height and weight), will actually determine the size of chair you need.

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 to only about 45 degrees, which makes them ideal for watching television or reading. If you plan to nap, you’ll probably want a three-position or infinite-position chair that reclines almost completely horizontally.

Fabric and features. You’ll also need to choose the type of fabric and color 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.

Where to Shop

While there are many companies that make lift recliners – such as Med-Lift, NexIdea, Health Circle, Catnapper, Berkline, Franklin and even La-z-boy – Pride Mobility (www.pridemobility.com) and Golden Technologies (www. goldentech. com) have been around the longest and have the best reputation. With prices typically ranging between $600 and $2,000, you can find lift recliners at many medical supply stores and online. You’ll also need 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 the lift recliners don’t appeal to you, here are several other products on the market that might.

Risedale chairs. These are openlegged, wing back chairs that are very different from lift recliners because only the seat cushion lifts instead of the whole chair. Made by Uplift Technologies (www.up-lift.com, 800-387-0896), the Risedale retails for around $500. Uplift also sells a variety of portable seat lifts that can work with any chair in your home or that can be taken long when you travel.

Couch Cane. Made by Standers, this nifty tool acts as a support handle that makes sitting and standing much easier and it works on both couches and recliners. The base fits directly under the feet of the furniture for sturdy support. Couch Canes sell for around $100 and are sold online at medical equipment sites like medexsupply.com (888-433-2300) and activeforever.com (800-377-8033).

Furniture risers. Increasing the height of your existing furniture a few inches is another inexpensive way to make it more accessible. Furniture risers typically range from 2 to 5 inches in height, are made of heavy duty plastic or wood, and are inserted on the base of the legs or supports of your furniture. Costs range from a few dollars up to $50. Risers can be purchased at Walmart and Target, or online at amazon. com and mobilityhome.com.

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit www.savvysenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to “The NBC Today Show” and author of The Savvy Senior books.

The Gazette does not endorse the contents of The Savvy Senior. Check with professionals about the contents of this column.

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