What Is a Lift Chair and How to Choose the Right One for You?

In this post, we'll delve into how a lift chair works, its features and how to choose the right lift char for your needs.
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Last updatedLast updated: July 26, 2022
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According to the CDC, 61 million people Trusted Source Disability Impacts All of Us Infographic | CDC 61 million adults in the United States live with a disability. View an infographic snapshot of disability in the United States. Learn more facts about how disability impacts us all. www.cdc.gov in the US have some type of disability. While people often consider accessibility in public spaces, the biggest issues may be in your own home. While there may be ramps and handrails on public buildings, if you struggle in your home, your quality of life will be severely diminished.

So, if you’ve started to struggle getting up and down from your favorite chair, it may be time to consider a lift chair. In this article, we’ll explore answers to the question, what is a lift chair? We’ll also provide guidance on how to choose the best lift chair for specific needs.

How do lift chairs work?

What Is a Lift Chair and How to Choose the Right One for You?

Lift chairs closely resemble recliners. They are cushioned pieces of seating furniture, but the key difference is that if you’re experiencing mobility issues, the chair can help you to reach a semi standing position.

These chairs are designed for comfort, but when you’re wondering how this type of chair works, you’re likely to be thinking about the mechanics of the motion. To fully understand the engineering of this, you will need to be aware that there are different types of lift chairs.

The best lift chair recliners have a built-in stand that creates an up and down motion that allows you to “sit to stand”. This is a common term used with this type of chair which encapsulates the movement needed if you’re struggling to get up out of the chair or have difficulty sitting down. However, there is more than one type of lift chair and this impacts how they work.

Two position chairs recline a few inches, sliding the seat backwards to allow a slightly stretched out position. This is normally the type of position you would experience with a Lazy Boy recliner. There is a single motor that runs the recline and lift with a toggle switch to control everything.

So, what is a 3-position lift chair? Functionally speaking, these lift chairs can also transform into a sleeping recliner with an independently operated footrest. This allows the feet to be elevated above the heart to help reduce body stress or alleviate breathing issues.

Infinite Position chairs can recline flat, so you can lie parallel to the floor. The seat position allows the body to lie in an “S” position. Higher end models have padding all the way across the seat and ottoman with no gaps.

Finally, zero gravity lift chairs allow your thighs and lower legs to raise higher than the torso, reducing stress on your spine. This can alleviate back pain discomfort, but because of the motor, you don’t need to worry about getting back up from this prone position. This can be a fantastic type of lift recliner for elderly people who struggle with back pain and mobility issues.

Lift chairs: main and extra features

Once you discover the type of lift chair that works best for you, you can have your pick of extra features. Models have a choice of buttons, levers or touchscreens to take you to the various positions and lifts. Some even have built in speakers or slots for headphones.

If you’re struggling with pain issues, you’re likely to appreciate pressure relief cushions. If you like to have everything on hand, you should look for a lift chair with pockets on the side and cup holders so you can have remote controls, snacks and drinks close by.

High end models like the Mcombo also feature massage and heat functions, which can provide light relief from back and joint pain, so you can truly relax.

How to choose the right lift chair for you

With so many options on the market, choosing the best lift chair can seem a little overwhelming. So, it is important to consider what you need from your lift chair to choose the best model for you. Before you start serious shopping, there are several questions you need to answer to narrow down the options.

How do you plan on using the chair?

The first thing you need to consider is how you plan on using the chair. Not all lift chairs have infinite positions. They may have a limited selection of preprogrammed settings.

If you only plan to sit in your chair, a two-position lift chair is likely to suffice. However, if your chair will be used for napping or you may need to spend the night in the chair, a two-position chair is not going to work for you.

If you suffer from back issues and pain, you need to familiarize yourself with what is a 0 gravity position in a lift recliner chair. We’ve touched on this above, but zero gravity allows you to recline in a neutral position, which alleviates pressure on your spine.

So, think about how you will use your chair, so you can shop for one that meets your specific needs.

How much space do you have?

What Is a Lift Chair and How to Choose the Right One for You?

Ideally, your furniture should not block off access to areas of your living space or create a narrow walkway that may hinder your mobility. So, you will need to carefully consider how much space you have for your new chair.

Power lift chairs need some room to elevate and tilt forward when you move into a standing position. This means that they cannot be positioned against a wall. For example, the Irene House lift chair needs to be approximately two feet away from the wall to function properly.

Additionally, if you want a zero gravity chair or three position chair, you will need sufficient space for the chair to drop into an almost flat position.

Fortunately, most manufacturers provide sizing details for the seated and reclined positions. This will allow you to measure your space and ensure that your chosen chair will fit.

Your weight

All lift chairs have a recommended maximum weight. If you exceed this weight capacity, it will place too much pressure on the mechanized joints and the chair frame, which will cause excess wear and tear.

So, be honest about your weight and choose a chair that can accommodate you.

Do you like to eat and drink in your chair?

Some people will only use their chair as a comfortable way to destress at the end of the day, while others may substitute their bed for a lift chair. However, if you’re planning on using the chair throughout the day to watch television, read or relax, with help sitting and standing, you may use your chair to eat meals or enjoy drinks.

If this sounds like you, it is a good idea to consider easy clean, spill proof upholstery. Even with the greatest care, it is very easy to spill drinks or scatter crumbs on your chair, so you’ll need a model that can easily be wiped down.

Do you have pets?

What Is a Lift Chair and How to Choose the Right One for You?

Pets are a fantastic companion, but they do need to be considered when shopping for a lift chair. When you’re wondering “what is a lift chair recliner?”, the last thing on your mind may be your cat or dog. But, your pet could influence which is the best chair for you.

For example, pet hair can be difficult to clean from certain types of fabric. You also need to be aware if your cat has a tendency to sharpen its claws on your furniture. Considering these factors will help you to choose a chair with the best type of fabric to offer sufficient durability.

Additionally, if you like to cuddle up with your pet while sitting, you may prefer a wider seat, or if you have a larger pet, one that can accommodate more weight. Try to keep your pets in mind before you make a purchase decision, to ensure that your lift chair is the right fit in your home.


Are lift chairs eligible for Medicare?

Because lift chairs are mobility tools and can also play a role as a relaxation aid, you may wonder if Medicare will cover your new chair.

There are extensive regulations and laws relating to Medicare coverage, particularly when it comes to elderly chairs and mobility tools. The short answer to this question is “yes”, but there are some rules that you need to adhere to relating to the purchase and prescription of the chair.

For example, if the lift chair is prescribed in response to conditions such as neuromuscular disorders or severe arthritis, the doctor will need to be Medicare enrolled.

You will need to meet and follow the guidelines for Medicare support. However, if you adhere to these rules, you may be able to receive coverage for up to 80% of the purchase cost.

If you’re unsure, look into your specific Medicare eligibility, so you can make an informed purchase decision.

What is a gas lift chair?

When many people consider gas lift chairs, they often think about office chairs. These types of chairs allow the user to adjust the sitting height to the desk height for comfort and an increase in the ergonomic benefits.

However, there are gas lift recliner chairs that can aid mobility. While many models of lift chairs are electric powered, there are some gas lift models.

Final thoughts

Lift chairs are a great option for those who have difficulties getting up or sitting down in their chair. If you do have mobility issues, you shouldn’t need to sacrifice comfort to achieve usability. Lift chairs can offer the best of both worlds. As a sit to stand solution, lift chairs allow you to enjoy the comfort of an armchair or recliner without worrying about how you will get back up.

When you start to investigate “what is a lift chair”, you will find that there are numerous types of lift chairs that offer different benefits. From two position chairs that simply provide help standing from an armchair to zero gravity lift chairs that allow you to recline into a neutral position, there is a lift chair to suit your specific requirements.

So, if you are having mobility difficulties, a lift chair is worth the investment. The right lift chair will provide mobility, rest and comfort, so you can continue to sit and enjoy your favorite activities in the comfort of your own home.


Disability Impacts All of Us Infographic | CDC
61 million adults in the United States live with a disability. View an infographic snapshot of disability in the United States. Learn more facts about how disability impacts us all.
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