They might look like a normal La-Z-Boy, but lift chairs have a lot to offer seniors beyond the visible. They’re a great way to avoid injuries and accidents, get relief from the aches and pains of the day, and can help seniors stay independent for longer.
Read our quick guide to learn about the types and benefits of a lift chair for seniors, as well as how to get one covered by Medicare and Medicaid!
What is a Lift Chair?
These products often resemble standard recliners but are equipped with electric motors that can help ease the user into a standing or seated position.
These chairs are used to help people who have back, hip, and knee issues that make standing and sitting painful or difficult. Lift chairs are a great way to retain some independence and spend more of your day without needing assistance.
Lift chairs also have motors that let the user recline without having to use their muscles to push the chair backward or forward. This is helpful for seniors who could benefit from sitting in a reclined position or laying flat. Generally, unless you need to be using a hospital bed, a lift chair is the best piece of furniture for seniors with joint, bone, or muscle concerns.
What are The Main Types of Lift Chairs?
The different types of lift chairs are distinguished by how far they recline and how many different reclining positions are available. Here are the three most common types:
Two-Position Lift Chairs
The most simple type of lift chair, two-position lift chairs recline up to 45 degrees. This is a comfortable position for most people, taking some pressure off of your lower body by shifting your weight more toward your back. Two-position chairs are usually more affordable and are ideal for seniors and other people who only need assistance standing and sitting.
Three-Position Lift Chairs
These chairs can recline to a nearly flat position. They’re great for napping and sleeping as well as casual sitting. When three-position chairs are fully reclined, your body won’t be completely flat, but most of your body weight will still be placed on the backrest. This takes the pressure off of your spine and hips, allowing your body to relax and decompress.
Three-position chairs are also great for reclining in the zero-gravity position. This position puts your knees slightly above your head as you recline, placing all your body weight on the backrest. The zero-gravity position has been proven to help relieve the aches and pains that affect seniors, and is great for sleeping!
Infinite-Position Lift Chairs
Lift chairs of this category can recline completely flat, effectively turning into a bed with the touch of a button. Infinite position chairs are usually the most expensive type of lift chair, and you can also find them with different added features. Whether it be heating pads, massage functions, or even a USB outlet to charge your electronics, you can find the features you’re looking for on an infinite-position chair! Two and Three-position chairs can also have extra features, but they’re more common with high-end infinite-position chairs.
What are the Benefits of Lift Chairs?
Sitting in a lift chair, when reclined, takes a great deal of pressure off of your spine and hips. It also elevates your legs and helps reduce swelling and inflammation. Lift chairs let you sit and relax in a truly beneficial way. Your body can slowly repair itself in a way that it can’t when sitting in a regular chair. Lift chairs can help with the following health concerns, among many others:
- Arthritis: Reclining in your chair allows arthritic joints to decompress, reducing swelling and pain. It also makes sitting/standing much safer and less painful. Moreover, the massage functions included in some lift chairs can help reduce pain in people who have back pain or fibromyalgia.
- Back Pain: Massage chairs, including lift chairs that feature massage, have been shown to effectively reduce feelings of chronic back pain.
- Balance Issues: The risk of falls is reduced considerably when using a motorized lift chair.
- Mobility Issues: Going from sitting to standing may require caretaker assistance without a lift chair; using one eliminates a need for caretaker assistance without reducing safety.
- Muscle/Bone Issues: Standing and sitting can put a lot of strain on vulnerable muscles and bones, both in the arms and legs. Lift chairs reduce that strain, preventing injuries and soreness in these vulnerable areas.
The force exerted when sitting or standing can put too much strain on vulnerable joints and bones. Lift chairs eliminate that risk for seniors by doing all the work for them. They help you stand up by creating natural momentum that moves you to your feet, rather than straining your joints. Studies have shown that, even without a lift chair, using natural momentum to stand is the safest method for your joints. On top of that, lift chairs reduce the risk of falls for people who have balance issues or other mobility limitations that might make standing/sitting risky.
As you age, different injuries and medical conditions can severely limit your mobility and, therefore, your independence. Loss of muscle and joint strength has been proven to be the source of pain or difficulty while sitting and standing. An external supportive force, such as that provided by lift chairs, was the recommended solution to this problem in a study published by the journal, Advances in Affective and Pleasurable Design.
Lift chairs reduce the risk of pain and injury considerably. They also eliminate the need for you to have someone physically assist you, letting you keep just a bit more of your independence. The feeling of independence is very important for your overall quality of life; a simple item like a lift chair can contribute to this!
Reclining in your lift chair is much more comfortable than sitting on a hard chair or sofa during the day. The same is true about sitting on a hospital bed all day unless you absolutely must. Lift chairs make it possible for people with severely limited mobility to enjoy their day more than they would be sitting in a wheelchair or hospital bed.
Lift chairs used in reclining and zero-gravity positions are a wonderful way to relax, and they can even have some true physical benefit. Reclining and having your feet up reverses some of the effects that gravity has on your legs and back. If you want to relax in the best way, a lift chair is right for you!
Does Medicare/Medicaid Cover Lift Chairs?
Medicare and Medicaid consider necessary products to be something called Durable Medical Equipment (DME), which means they do cover lift chairs for seniors and other people who need them. If you are recovering from an injury or surgery, you may qualify to get a lift chair in your home. You can also get a lift chair covered if you have a permanent mobility limitation.
Getting approved for a lift chair by Medicare is a simple yet strict process. First, you must demonstrate a medical need. This is done by obtaining a prescription from a doctor (who must be a participant in Medicare). Often, you will be prescribed the appropriate medical devices when you are discharged from the hospital, so it may not even be necessary to make an appointment.
Once you’ve obtained the prescription, you can choose your lift chair from any supplier that participates in Medicare. You’ll either be able to order it using your Medicare or buy it out of pocket and submit a reimbursement form. Medicare will cover 80% of the cost of the lift chair or any other DME that is prescribed. Medicaid will usually cover the entire cost, but you should check your state Medicaid guidelines to be sure!
Lift chairs are beneficial for many seniors who need assistance getting in and out of chairs. They’re also ideal for seniors who need a way to relieve pressure on their joints and bones. You can even get a lift chair paid for by Medicare or Medicaid! Do you think you could benefit from a lift chair of your own, or have any more questions about them? Share your comments below!