People with limited mobility may have difficulty getting out of a chair or sitting down. Lift chairs are mobility aids that were designed to remedy this problem by giving users the ability to gradually raise or lower themselves into either a sitting or standing position. The first “advanced” lift chairs were basic 2 position chairs that offered basic lifting and lowering capabilities. Today’s modern lift chairs offer dual motors that allow the user to position themselves at virtually any angle as well as offering options such as leather, heat, and massage. The chairs look and feel like a normal recliner and can be upholstered to match your other furniture and home decor. Lift chair manufacturers offer a variety of different sizes, colors, and fabric options.
Looking at a lift chair from the inside and you’ll notice similarities between it and a typical recliner. Both offer a wood frame with pivoting back and leg supports. Manufacturers will typically utilize Northern Maple in the frame for its strength and durability and then added padded foam and upholstery. The similarities end when you look under the lift chair to find either 1 or 2 powerful motors. The motors and scissor mechanism provides the basic lift functionality that is needed to raise and lower yourself in your chair safely and comfortably. Many lift chairs also offer a battery backup system that can return your chair to a sitting position if the power should suddenly go out.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before making a decision
- Height of person using lift chair?
- Weight of user? Most will hold 375lbs-450lbs
- Specific functionality like heat or massage?
- 2 or 3 position chair, infinite position, or zero gravity lift chair?
- Will the lift chair be used for sleeping?
- Seat depth and width requirements?
- Where in your home would you put the chair?
- Single or dual motors?
- Upholstery and colors?
Types of Lift Chairs
Every lift chair type will get you to a standing position. The major differences will ultimately depend on the needs of the user and the options they prefer.
2 Position lift chairs have a lift position and a slight recline position. As you recline in a two position lift chair your thighs and back stay at about a 90-degree angle. They do not recline fully for sleeping.
3 Position lift chairs almost reach a full recline but should allow the user to sleep comfortably. It gives you a wider variety of positions and allows the user to position their feet above the heart.
Infinite Position lift chairs have a dual motor system that gives the user the ability to recline the chair and move the footrest independently. And since they can recline fully, they can be used for sleeping.
Zero gravity lift chairs give users the most freedom in chair positioning and movement and gives you the ability to position your legs above your heart. This position puts your back in the correct resting alignment, relieving most, if not all pressure, on your lower back.
What is the Trendelenburg position?
This position is recommended by doctors for patients that have experienced congestive heart failure, edema or other circulatory conditions that requires the patient to raise their legs above their heart for certain periods of time each day. Most zero gravity lift chairs offer this position. Be sure to ask your doctor to verify if this position would be beneficial to your particular condition.
According to Golden Technologies, “The zero gravity position approximates the weightless conditions of outer space, in which the body experiences an absolute minimum of internal and external stresses”. The benefits of resting in the zero gravity position include:
- Correct Spinal Alignment
- Back Pressure Relief
- Expanded Lung Capacity
- Improved Circulation
- The Neutral Position
Medicare and Lift Chairs
Medicare stopped lift chair reimbursement in the early 90’s and now will only reimburse for the chair’s lift mechanism and motor. This will usually come out to be about $275 – $300. Be sure to also verify that the lift chair supplier is Medicare approved before a purchase is made.
Leading Lift Chair Manufacturers
Golden Technologies – is a Family-owned Manufacturing Firm in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The company is led by Mr. Richard J Golden, CEO. He began working at Golden in 1986 with his father and founder, Robert Golden and founding partner, Fred Kiwak. See The Golden Technologies Home Page
Pride Mobility Products Corp – is an industry leader in the design, development and manufacture of mobility products—power chairs, scooters and lift chairs—is an enduring organization comprised of persons committed to the service of individuals with disabilities and mobility impairments. See The Pride Mobility Home Page
Guide to Buying Lift Chairs – From Spinlife