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Best Wheelchairs for Elderly (2022): 4 Models for Comfort, Lightweight, Foldable & More!

By Maurice

Best Wheelchairs for Elderly

Our Top Recommendations

Chronic health conditions, such as arthritis, are common among the elderly. Muscles, joints, bones, and tissue all weaken and degenerate as humans age. Thus, you see the elderly using mobility aids such as walking canes and wheelchairs.

Where canes may be ideal for short distances, they are not suitable for long distances or for bed-bound individuals. You will have to get a wheelchair for older adults unable to take a single step without assistance.

In this article, we review some of the best available wheelchairs for the elderly. Here you will find their features, pros and cons, as well as buying advice to help determine which one is right for you.

At a Glance: The Best Wheelchairs for Elderly

Image

Name

Length

Width

Height

Weight

Best For

Header
Carex Transport Wheelchair With 19 inch Seat - Folding Transport Chair with Foot Rests - Foldable Wheel Chair for Travel and Storage, 1 Count

Carex Transport Wheelchair

33.5"

22.4"

35.4"

25 lbs

Sturdy & Comfortable

Drive Medical BLS18FBD-ELR Blue Streak Wheelchair with Flip Back Desk Arms, Elevating Leg Rests, 18 Inch Seat

Drive Medical Blue Streak Wheelchair

42"

24"

36"

41.25 lbs

Recovering from Injury

Drive Medical K320DFA-ELR Cruiser III Lightweight Folding Wheelchair with Flip Back Detachable Full Arms and Elevating Legrest, Black, 1.6 Foot

Drive Medical Cruiser III

36.5"

32.5"

12"

41 lbs

Durable design

Drive Medical Silver Sport 2 Wheelchair with Various Arms Styles and Front Rigging Options, Black, 20 Inch

Drive Medical Silver Sport 2 Wheelchair 

42"

28"

36"

45 lbs

Daily usage

Best Wheelchairs for Elderly

Carex Transport Wheelchair - 19 inch Seat - Folding Transport Chair with Foot Rests - Foldable Wheel Chair for Travel and Storage

Carex Transport Wheelchair

Length

33.5"

Width

22.4"

Height

35.4"

Weight

25 lbs

The Carex transport chair is a lightweight steel frame wheelchair. It is foldable, which ensures ease of portability.  It comes with a safety belt and removable footrests, making it a functional mobility aid for seniors.

Features include:

  • Weight capacity – 300lbs.
  • Seat – 19 inch
  • Foldable – ease of portability
  • Steel frame
  • Removable footrests
  • Safety belt included

Pros

  • The wheelchair features a foldable design which makes it easier to carry. Its compact design fits effortlessly in the car.
  • The chair comes with a safety belt to ensure optimal protection for the partially or fully immobilized seniors.
  • The removable footrests are both for comfort and safety. The older adult can rest their foot on it when seated and can move them out of the way when getting in and out of the chair.

Cons

  • The wheelchair cannot be controlled manually, so you will need to have an attendant with you at all times

Who is it Best For?

It is the perfect medical transport wheelchair. It is ideal for seniors who need to make regular visits to the hospital.

Drive Medical BLS18FBD-ELR Blue Streak Wheelchair with Flip Back Desk Arms, Elevating Leg Rests, 18 Inch Seat

Drive Medical Blue Streak Wheelchair

Length

42"

Width

24"

Height

36"

Weight

41.25 lbs

The Drive Medical wheelchair features an ergonomic design to ensure optimal functionality and comfort. The wheelchair is foldable, allowing you to carry it with you wherever you need to go. The arm and leg rests are padded and movable. You can adjust the leg rest to the position that suits and can even keep one leg elevated at 180 degrees to aid recovery.

Features include:

  • Weight capacity – 250lbs
  • Seat – 18 inches wide
  • Wheel locks included
  • Calf straps included
  • Flip-back arms
  • Movable calf and foot support

Pros

  • The chair comes with padded flippable armrests, allowing you to move them out of the way if need be.
  • The leg rests are movable, so you can adjust them at an angle that suits you best.
  • It also includes a calf strap as an additional safety feature for those with an immobile lower half.
  • The wheels come with a safety lock that operates on a push to lock mechanism. You don’t have to worry about the wheelchair rolling away.
  • The chairs’ large wheels allow the user to control it manually.
  • The chair features nylon seats and covers, which are easy to clean and maintain.

Cons

  • The assembly process has multiple steps, which can be confusing for many.

Who is it Best For?

The wheelchair by Drive Medical is ideal for those recovering from injuries. It is also ideal for wheelchair-bound individuals as its movable arms and adjustable leg rests ensure optimal comfort for the user.

Drive Medical K320DFA-ELR Cruiser III Light Weight Wheelchair with Various Flip Back Arm Styles and Front Rigging Options, Flip Back Removable Full Arms/Elevating Leg Rests, Black, 20 Inch

Drive Medical Cruiser III

Length

36.5"

Width

32.5"

Height

12"

Weight

41 lbs

Cruiser III by Drive Medical is a more advanced wheelchair with a higher weight capacity. Its dual axle, removable, safety lock, and flippable armrests provide additional ease of transfer. The chair features a wide seat, and the padded and adjustable leg and footrests provide optimal comfort to the user.

Features include:

  • Weight capacity – 350lbs.
  • Seat  - 16” x 19” x 18”
  • Flippable armrests
  • Padded arm and leg rests
  • Adjustable leg rests
  • Safety lock
  • Dual axel

Pros

  • The dual axel and safety lock ensure stability and security during patient transfer.
  • Features such as the padded arm and leg rests make the chair extremely comfortable to use.
  • The armrests and footrests are removable, which ensures additional ease of use.
  • Its large wheels allow for manual control.
  • The chair is foldable and easily transportable

Cons

  • The chair comes with multiple assembly steps, which can be confusing for many.

Who is it Best For?

The model is ideal for those who seek a lightweight, durable, and functional chair. Cruiser III by Drive Medical is the chair to buy if you are looking for something to use for the long-term.

Drive Medical Silver Sport 2 Wheelchair with Various Arms Styles and Front Rigging Options, Black, 20 Inch

Drive Medical Silver Sport 2 Wheelchair 

Length

42"

Width

28"

Height

36"

Weight

45 lbs

The Sport 2 Wheelchair is another ideal option for those looking for a wheelchair for long-term use. It features a wide, comfortable seat with a carry pocket on the back for storing your essentials. The removable footrests, padded arms, and easy to use wheel lock system all make it an excellent option for the elderly.

Features include:

  • Weight capacity – 350lbs.
  • Seat – 20” x 16” x 17.5”
  • Steel frame
  • Removable footrests
  • Push to lock
  • Carry pocket

Pros

  • The chair features a convenient storage pocket making it ideal for daily use by the elderly. They can store their essentials in the back pocket.
  • The chair’s large wheels allow the user to use it manually or have an attendant steer it for them.
  • The push to lock system keeps the wheelchair securely in place when parked
  • The wheelchair features durable nylon covers over the padded arm and leg rests. It is also easy to clean and maintain.

Cons

  • The chair’s plastic footrests are not as durable as the rest of the features.

Who is it Best For?

It is ideal for those looking for a daily use wheelchair for the long run.

FAQs –Wheelchairs for Seniors

When Is It Time for an Elderly Person to Use A Wheelchair?

There are some signs that you should look out for that can indicate whether you should get a wheelchair for the elderly in your family. Here are some indicators that can tell you whether you should invest in a wheelchair:

Ask the Doctor 

The best thing you can do is to confer with your doctor and heed their advice on the wheelchair. They might suggest that you get a wheelchair or shift from a walker. Doctors do want you to maintain independence as long as possible, so if they say it, then you should consider it seriously. Independent mobility will ensure that you retain flexibility and strength, but if you need a wheelchair, the doctor will recommend it for good reasons.

A Walker Isn’t Stable

If you use a walker and are prone to falling, it can be a serious issue for the elderly. If the seniors in your home have fallen while they are using the walker, you should consider getting one of the best wheelchairs for the elderly. Falling once or twice, without any serious consequences, isn’t that big a deal, but if you are falling or tripping regularly, wheelchairs can be important. If the senior is having trouble utilizing the walker properly, they need the switch.

In certain cases, it can be better to switch to a different walker type but if they are struggling to stay on their feet, then getting a wheelchair is a great idea.

Changes in Mobility

Life can bring some drastic and sudden changes to the mobility situation. Whether it’s a stroke, an injury, or a surgery, there can be many sudden situations that change what you require from your mobility aids. For example, a stroke that can limit your ability to support your body’s weight on the legs. This can impact whether you can walk or use a walker. A wheelchair can be a better option for you.

Extended Mobility Needs

A lot of people can walk or use the walker, but they struggle to do it for an extended period at a time. This is perfectly normal and doesn’t mean that you should never use the walker or walk on your own. If they need to sit down and take a break after walking for a minute, you may need to use a wheelchair to travel for a longer period.

If you are at home, you won’t need to walk too long to find a seat. However, you will need to use a wheelchair if you are going outside because you may not have too much time to sit and rest every once in a while. You will need a wheelchair to go around a park or travel inside an IKEA. It can increase your mobility options.

Walking Can Cause Pain

Whether it is because of arthritis or injury, if walking is causing you any excessive pain, it is time that you need to switch to wheelchairs. You should consult your doctor in such a case because they might recommend some treatment plan that can manage your pain and allow you to maintain mobility. But, if the doctor agrees that there is no real way to reduce discomfort and pain, then getting a wheelchair may improve your life by allowing you to travel pain-free.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Using A Wheelchair For Elderly?

There are many advantages to getting a wheelchair, as we have learned above, but let’s really get down to the details of the pros and cons.

Pros

  • Foldable and lightweight wheelchairs can be carried easily anywhere where you may need. They can be a great way to ensure mobility for the senior wherever they go. If they can’t walk anymore, you can just get the wheelchair out of the trunk and allow them to rest.
  • You can customize some wheelchairs so that they fit the needs of any individual. If they have some special concerns, you can get add-ons that can make the wheelchair more functional for you.
  • You don’t always need someone to push a wheelchair. There are power wheelchairs that can make you more independent in life.
  • They can increase mobility for extended periods since some seniors may just have a problem with walking too much.
  • They can increase accessibility to events and opportunities for seniors, even if they face struggles with walking.

Cons

  • Wheelchair access to certain buildings and places can be limited due to a lack of ramps and smooth walkways
  • After extensive use, you will have probably to get your wheelchair repaired

What Are The Types Of Wheelchairs For Elderly?

There are many different kinds of wheelchairs for the elderly that can depend on your needs. Here, we will explore all the types of wheelchairs that you can use to explore the world.

Lightweight Wheelchairs

There are plenty of lightweight manual wheelchairs that can weigh around 25-40lbs. They are easier to lift and carry around in your car. They can greatly enhance how you travel, even if you are just going out for some errands. The lightweight wheelchairs are made with carbon steel, titanium, or aluminum. The back wheels are large, and the front wheels are smaller. The wheelchair can be pushed by the person themselves, which is great for seniors who want a little independence. But, caregivers can also use the handles to push the senior.

Standard Wheelchairs

The standard wheelchairs also have small front wheels and larger back wheels, but they definitely weigh more than the lightweight ones. People who have plenty of upper body strength should get this type of wheelchair. Caregivers may be required to push the chair by the handles.

Heavy-Duty and Bariatric Wheelchairs

Heavy-duty wheelchairs are designed for heavier people. They usually have large seats and strong frames that can support a weight of 300-700lbs. The wheelchairs provide weight distribution and may even come with a reclining seat. It also has features that allow the caregiver to manually push any elderly without any need for excessive force, resulting in smoother travel and reduced risk of injuries.

Recliner or Tilt Wheelchairs

If the elderly person needs help from people to get onto the toilet or in and out of bed, then a reclining or tilting seat can be helpful. Such manual wheelchairs allow caretakers to lower the backseat towards the ground safely. Then you can get another person to lift the elderly out of the recliner or bed and onto the chair.

Transport Wheelchairs

Transport wheelchairs are mostly used in hospitals, but some do come for use at home. They have small wheels on the front and back, which means that the person on the wheelchair cannot propel themselves. The wheelchair needs to be pushed by someone else. Such wheelchairs are good for a short time outside and are lightweight. However, you may not be able to take them outdoors a lot since the terrain may not good enough for the short wheels.

Power or Electric Wheelchair

The power wheelchair is propelled with an electric motor instead of being pushed by someone. These motorized wheelchairs are perfect for people who cannot propel manual wheelchairs. It is also great for people who need to travel over a long distance or some rough terrain, where taking a manual chair may be hard. It may not be used by people who have more ‘traditional’ problems of mobility, but even people who get fatigued easily or have cardiovascular issues may need such chairs.

What Is The Cost Of A Wheelchair For Elderly (Price Range)?

Wheelchairs can be quite expensive, depending on the make and model of the wheelchair. Getting a hundred dollar wheelchair means paying for one that wasn’t really paid much attention to on the assembly line. This can be a reason for good-quality wheelchairs costing a lot of money, since manual labor is expensive. Wheelchairs can cost thousands of dollars depending on your needs and the model you pick out. This can lead to a huge strain on some people, especially some seniors who need power chairs that cost even more.

The more advanced the design and tech of the wheelchair is, the great the cost will be. You should take out some time to understand your needs so that you can get a more accurate price range. Wheelchairs can cost a few hundred dollars to quite a few thousand dollars, depending on your needs.


To cut down on the cost, you might consider renting a wheelchair or buying a used wheelchair

 

How to Choose a Wheelchair for Elderly?

There are a few factors that you should be looking out for when it comes to purchasing the best wheelchair for elderly people. Here are some features and accessories that can help you decide which chair to pick.

  • Drive controls

What drives the wheelchair? If it is a manual wheelchair, will the elderly person have enough upper body strength to wheel themselves? Will they need a caregiver to push the chair? If the chair is electric, the drive control will most likely be a joystick on the armrest. They are usually quite straightforward but can take some time to master properly. Will the senior be able to maneuver the chair as they wish? You will need to adjust the controls so that they aren’t under or over-sensitive. There are other types of drive controls too such as handlebar drive controllers that are usually retro-fitted to another wheelchair.

  • Batteries

If you are getting a power chair, you will need to consider the battery situation. It will need to be charged frequently, so you should check how long they take to charge. Some batteries can take up to 10 hours to charge overnight.

  • Storage

If you get a large wheelchair, you have to consider where you will be storing the chair too. It needs to be kept in an accessible location but should get in the way. Getting a lightweight chair may make it easier for you to store the chair, but some people may need the heavy-duty ones to sustain their weight. If you get an electric wheelchair, you have to consider where you will be parking it to charge.

  • Comfort

It is vital that you consider comfort, along with mobility needs while choosing a wheelchair. You definitely want to avoid any chair that will limit your movement, is uncomfortable, or will cause pressure or pain sores.

  • Size

It also needs to be the right size for you so that you can fit into the seat comfortably and transport the chair (note that some vehicles are better than others for wheelchair transport). When you are buying a chair, you should take the measurements into consideration to make sure that you can fit into it properly. The seat height, width, and depth should be taken into account. The most common width of the seat is 18 inches, but to check if that will be good for you, you should measure from hip to hip then add another two inches for good measure.

One common issue that users may face is that the wheelchair seat can feel like it is pinching against the back of the knees. The seat depth is a factor in this. You should be able to fit in three to four fingers between the back of the knee and the front of the seat.

To check whether the height of the wheelchair is proper, measure the back of the knee with the heel of the user. Then add two inches because the footrest should be a couple of inches from the floor.

 If you pick a chair that you feel like you need to squeeze into, it can make it tough for you to move around.

Where Can I Get A Free Wheelchair For Seniors In The USA?

Seniors can get a free wheelchair (or donate a wheelchair) through some sources in the USA. Here are some great places where you can apply to get a wheelchair for free.

  • Programs for Free Wheelchairs for the Disabled and Seniors

There are some communities that offer free wheelchairs for people who face issues with mobility and seniors who cannot afford to purchase one. These local programs are often run by church organizations and local charities. The money comes from fundraising drives that are used to support people in need. You can ask around in local forums, online platforms, or support groups since such programs usually market through word of mouth.

  • Assistance Programs by the Government (Medicaid and Medicare)

You should check whether you are eligible to get a free wheelchair under the Medicare Part B. This can even include an expensive electric chair in some cases. There are some requirements you may need to fulfill to qualify for the chair for free or get a discount. Something like a doctor’s note to confirm the need for a chair for mobility issues can work too.

Medicaid also covers the cost of manual and electric chairs if you need it for daily functioning. However, the eligibility criteria can differ depending on the state you live in.

Getting a manual wheelchair is easier, but getting an electric chair can require a larger process.

  • The Wheelchair Foundation

The Wheelchair Foundation is a great charity that supplies wheelchairs to those that have mobility issues but cannot afford to purchase a wheelchair by themselves. It was founded in 2000 and has given out 750,000 chairs to people in need.

  • Lifenets Wheelchair Project

The Lifenets Wheelchair Project is an online charity that is smaller than the one mentioned above, but it has been doing great work. Their website lists wheelchair donations and collects chairs. The beneficiaries can also re-gift the chair when they no longer need the chair.

  • Insurance

If you have health insurance, it can be worth it to investigate whether your provider or the policy you have can fund a wheelchair for you. There are some plans that cover the wheelchair cost when it is medically necessary. You can contact your insurance and ask them about it. Even if you don’t get one for free, there may be an option that can help you get a discount.

What Accessories Are Necessary With A Wheelchair For Elderly?

There are some common accessories that you may want to get if you are going to use a wheelchair. Here are some items that can come in handy for you.

  • Gloves

Gloves can be essential if you are going to use a manual wheelchair by yourself. If pushing the wheelchair is the primary way to move around, some good quality gloves can come in handy. The padded palm can prevent your hands from being strained or even get a cut (not to mention keeping them clean). Gloves are also necessary for the elderly who usually have a power chair but sometimes use the manual one on occasion. This will ensure that their skin doesn’t develop a blister when you are using the chair. The blisters can be quite painful and make mobility even harder for you.

  • Arm Covers

Arm covers are a must-have for the wheelchair-bound elderly as they protect the elderly’s skin from chaffing when they come in contact with the armrest, especially if the wheelchair is manual. They also add extra cushioning to make the experience a little more comfortable for the elderly. Armrests can also be a decorative element, and they add a cozy touch to the chair, especially if you opt for fur covers.

  • Seat Cushions

Sitting in one place for long can aggravate pre-existing issues such as pain in the lower back and tailbone. A seat cushion can provide relief from these issues. It can also alleviate pain associated with other medical conditions such as hemorrhoids. You should consider purchasing a gel memory foam seat cushion as it also helps keep the elderly comfortable and prevents sweat formation on the seat.

  •   Side Bag

Older adults need a lot of things at hand all the time, including medications, water, tissues, and sometimes even a change of clothes. A side bag is another must-have accessory with the wheelchair as carrying essentials and steering the wheelchair at the same time can be very challenging. The elderly can store their glasses, papers, phones, chargers, and other essentials at an arm’s reach. Side bags attach to the arm of the wheelchair and can be turned inside or outside to suit the elderly’s requirements.

  • Cup Holder 

An elderly person may always need water at hand, so a cup holder is also a must. You can get foldable or removable cup holders that you can use to store the elderly’s favorite beverage even. Having water or fluids at hand can help keep the elderly hydrated, and with a cup holder, you don’t have to worry about holding the bottle or keeping it from rolling off the wheelchair or the lap.

  • Ramp

Not all buildings are wheelchair accessible, so you will need to keep a portable ramp with you at all times. Even if a building does have an elevator, it may not have a ramp at the front. Instead of getting the elderly out of the chair and having them climb the few flights of stairs, you can use a portable ramp to make the experience as smooth as possible.   

How Can a Senior Stay Fit While Using a Wheelchair?

The wheelchair-bound lead a very sedated lifestyle and are thus at risk of gaining an unhealthy amount of weight. Lack of exercise and unhealthy weight gain can increase the risk of various other chronic diseases and can be very harmful to the elderly. Here are six exercises they can do to remain fit even when using a wheelchair.

Elderly people with limited mobility should use strength training exercises to stay healthy and fit.

  • Shoulder Retractions – These help strengthen the shoulder blades and give the upper back muscles a nice workout. Stretch out your arms straight in front of you and close your fists as if holding bicycle handles. Then pull your arms back, bending your elbows so that they extend behind your torso. In doing so, you will squeeze your shoulder blades together and give the muscles a nice workout. Make sure your back is straight, and your abs contracted at all times.
  • Chest Muscle Squeeze – Once again, sit upright with your abdominal muscles contracted to support your back and keep your spine upright. Hold a medical ball up to your chest and squeeze it with both hands. The pressure you exert on the ball mirrors onto your chest muscles, giving them a nice squeeze and workout.
  •  Chest Press Using Resistance Band – Put the resistance band around your shoulder blades and the back of the wheelchair. Make sure it falls just below your shoulder blades. Sit upright with your spine straight and your abdominal muscles contracted, and hold the ends of the band with your hands. Your arms should be at a 90-degree angle. Holding the band, extend your arms out in front of as far as you can without hurting the joints. Hold the position for 2 to 3 seconds each time.
  • Captain’s Chair – This is an effective core workout to relieve the built-up tension from the legs. Sit up straight as mentioned above and hold the arms of the wheelchair. Using the arms as support, lift both your legs up to hug your knees to your chest. Make sure you don’t overstress your muscles and exert only as much as comfortably possible. Squeeze your abdominal muscles when your knees are at the top and then slowly lower them to the floor.
  • Tummy Twist – With your back straight and abdominal muscles contracted, hold out both arms at a 90-degree angle with your forearms in front of you. Maintaining this position, twist your upper torso to one side as far as possible, then come back to center and repeat the motion on the other side.
  • Toe Taps – Sit up straight with your feet planted firmly on the ground. Lift one leg up with your toes extended to point to the ceiling and slowly lower back to the ground, and lift the second leg. Repeat the movement with each leg alternatively.
  • Side Bend Stretch – Once again, sit up straight and extend one arm above your head in a full stretch. Hold the arm in that position and bend your entire upper body in the opposite direction. So if you are holding up your left arm, you will bend towards the right. Then hold up your right arm and bend towards the left. Repeat the movement on each side, holding the alternating arm up high.
  • Knee Lifts – Knee lifts are like marching when seated. Sit up straight and lift one knee up, creating a 90-degree angle between the thigh and the leg. Repeat the movement alternating between each leg. Once you get into the motion of the movement, try to raise your knee a little higher. Make sure you don’t sprain your muscles and keep the movement comfortable.

With these exercises, a senior gets a full-body workout even when seated in the wheelchair. It can help keep their spine and muscles in optimal condition.

Conclusion

A wheelchair is a must-have for those with limited mobility. It can make life for older adults a lot more comfortable and enjoyable. With a wheelchair as a mobility aid, seniors can enjoy daily activities and even go out without having to worry about aching joints. In our article, we have provided reviews of some of the best available wheelchairs for the elderly, so you can find one that meets your requirements.


2 thoughts on “Best Wheelchairs for Elderly (2022): 4 Models for Comfort, Lightweight, Foldable & More!”

  1. Katrina Roberts

    I am looking for a small almost child’s wheelchair. 16*16 17 in floor to seat for my mom. Medicare will not cover it because she has a scooter. My father recently passed away and she has had the same wheelchair for 15 years. She is 4’10” 135lbs. Very tiny! She is independent but I would like to see her safe. I am disabled and on disability. Money is tight for me. So I am trying to find something donated like new or $100 or below. Could you please help with this in your inventory?

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