Riser Recliner Chairs for Elderly People: All You Need to Know

Riser Recliner Chairs for Elderly People: All You Need to Know

For people with back problems or other physical conditions inhibiting mobility, raising and lowering oneself to and from a seating position can be challenging. Stiffness or reduced strength often leads to discomfort and a new assortment of practical obstacles.

Armchairs and sofas in the living room may be difficult to get up from. This type of furniture tends to involve a low sitting position, making the distance of travel from sitting to standing up again fairly significant.

Essential Aids supplies a range of products which tackle this problem in different ways. Some have the objective of raising the height of the user’s sitting position, while others provide a point of leverage to help the user pull themselves up.

Chair and bed raisers

These items are positioned beneath the chair or bed immediately under the legs or feet. They are substantial ‘blocks’ of either wood or robust plastic and have a cut-out where the feet of the furniture can sit without sliding around.

The net effect of this is to raise the height of the item of furniture by the size of the block. Essential Aids supplies the ‘Wooden Bed/Chair Raisers’ which are available in blocks of 10cm or 15cm and are sold in packs of four.

A plastic alternative is the plastic ‘Leg-X Furniture Raisers’. These are tubes which fit over the furniture’s feet, with internal removable blocks making provision to set the height at the required point. The maximum height for these raisers is 9cm.

Booster cushions

As the name suggests, these are extra thick, extra firm cushions which boost the height of a sofa or armchair. The ‘Harley Booster Cushion’ is a good example of this type of product.

Made from dense polyurethane foam and available in two thickness options, it can boost the height of a seat by either 10cm or 13cm.

Mechanical riser cushions

These devices physically lower or ‘push’ the user from a sitting position into a standing one. Most are either electric or hydraulic powered.

The ‘UpEasy Powered Lifting Cushion’ for example effectively turns a regular chair into an automatic rising chair. Its hinged mechanism supports 100% of the user’s bodyweight, up to a maximum of 21 stone.

It has a non-slip base which stays in position while the user is gently lifted. A hand-held panel enables easy control of the lift while it's in action.

The seat is intuitive to operate, needing only gentle upward pressure on either of the power levers as it lifts the user effortlessly towards a standing position.

An alternative to the plug-in UpEasy Cushion is the standard ‘UpEasy Lifting Cushion’. Rather than using electric power, this device deploys an internal hydraulic arm which provides the necessary push to help you stand up from a sitting position.

It is most useful when using an armchair, where the person is able to rest their hands on the arms in order to maintain balance.

Because the UpEasy Lifting Cushion doesn’t need external power, it is an excellent choice for someone who may need it away from the home. Weighing in at just 5.4kg and with an integral carry handle, it is a practical and portable riser cushion.

It comes with a washable and wipe-clean blue cover and has internal padding to improve comfort.

Armchairs which tilt the user forwards

If you’re looking for a more substantial piece of furniture which helps you stand up, riser recliner chairs may be worth consideration.

Some of these aids for mobility have in-built seating cushions which, similar to the Upeasy portable devices, physically push the sitter upwards as they stand up.

One such example is the ‘Longfield Easy Riser Lounge Chair’. With its high back and armrests, it offers excellent support, but its key feature is the seat rising functionality.

It has a smooth, spring-loaded mechanism which gently lifts the user as they rise.

As with the riser cushions, the user needs to rest their hands on the armrests in order to maintain balance.

If you’re looking for a powered option, the ‘Rise and Recline Chair with Dual Motor’ is a premium piece of furniture which both reclines and fully tilts upwards and forwards as required.

If you have restrictions in your movement, this makes getting up from a sitting position a much easier process.

The chair features a battery back-up and the mechanics are both smooth and quiet. It is highly practical for use both in domestic settings or in care homes.

The extensive padding is constructed using memory foam, allowing it to mould to the contours of the body, enhancing comfort and support while reducing pressure on localised areas. This feature is excellent it is likely to be used for sustained periods of time.

This mechanism of this chair allows it to lift up and tip forward with smooth efficiency, providing an easy, no-effort route from sitting to standing.

It is suitable for users weighing up to 23 stone and is available in four attractive colours. As well as the tilting action, it also reclines, all controlled by means of an intuitive hand control unit.

Support rails for armchairs and sofas

Using a rail or grab handle in front of you is one way of getting up from a sitting position. We’ll come onto this in relation to the bedroom shortly, but there are also support rails available which assist in the living room.

Fitting a rail in a suitable spot for a sofa or armchair is a challenge, as wall mounted rails, unless they protrude significantly into the room, are unlikely to be practical.

The inventive ‘CouchCane’ finds a way around this problem by using the weight of the chair itself to provide a stable foundation for the support handle.

This product has a horizontal section which fits under both the front and back legs on one side of the chair. This is attached to an upright pole of around three quarters of a metre in height.

The horizontal section uses the weight of the furniture to hold the CouchCane in place. The vertical bar has a robust handle at the top, giving the user something solid and stable to hold as they lower themselves into the chair.

As they rise to their feet, the user can use the handle to pull themselves upwards and forwards.

The key feature of the CouchCane is that it provides support in just the right place - in front of the user. This enables them to use their upper body strength to pull themselves from a sitting position to a standing one.

The handle itself is cushioned to the touch and is adjustable in height between 725 and 800mm.

Getting up from a sitting position in bed

While the CouchCane and riser recliner chairs are excellent products to help with getting to one’s feet in the living room, in the bedroom, different equipment is needed.

Transferring from a sitting position to standing or from sitting on the side of the bed to standing up can be a real challenge for some people living with certain conditions limiting their mobility.

If the individual has enough upper body strength, sometimes a ‘bed rope ladder’ may make a difference in getting from lying down to sitting up.

It attaches to the foot of the bed and extends horizontally on top of the bedclothes. The person in bed then uses the rungs to gradually pull themselves into a sitting position.

While the ladder is an excellent and inexpensive bed mobility aid, you might want to use it in conjunction with other equipment.

Handles which fix to the bed and protrude vertically for example may make a big difference both with getting into bed and getting out of it again.

Essential Aids supplies a wide range of this type of product. What most of them share in common is providing a firm hand hold, assisting balance as the person transfers to or from the bed.

The popular ‘Smart Rail’ for example fits to the bed and is supported by two vertical legs resting on the floor. They support a horizontal grab rail which is positioned midway along the length of the bed.

The rail uses straps to fix securely to the bed - fitting beneath the mattress, creating a firm hold and secure balance point.

The handle part of the rail extends around 18 inches across while the overall height is 30 inches from the floor.

This particular rail, along with other similar items, can also be used as an aid to sit up in bed after laying down flat.

If you are away from home and need to bring a portable rail with you, the ‘Bed Rail Advantage Traveller’ is worth consideration.

This device uses the weight of the mattress to secure it in place and provides an upside down ‘U-shaped’ support rail.

Its beauty is that it requires no assembly to use. Simply unfold and slide the horizontal section between the bed and mattress and rail section protrudes upwards as required.

It is 22 inches high from the bottom of the mattress and is 17 inches wide. The Advantage Rail also comes with pockets, useful for books, remote controls etc.

Aids for mobility like the Advantage Rail - which are inexpensive and easy to transport - may make a practical difference to people’s lives.

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Sally Madeley-Carr, OT

Sally Madeley-Carr, OT

Sally qualified as an Occupational Therapist in 1996 and is a well-respected professional in the field of rehabilitation equipment and living aids. She has worked in private practice and within the NHS, developing a broad experience with adults and children. Click here for Sally's registration with the Health and Care Professions Council. The HCPC regulates health, physchological and social work professionals in the UK.

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