Recliner Chair Beds

If the chair is used as a bed, it’s best to get one that reclines to a horizontal position. Most recliner chairs only partially recline, making it hard for the body to maintain a healthy sleeping position. The person could wind up having problems, like stiff and painful joints. Some recliner chairs are made for sleeping purposes and recline to an almost flat sleeping position.

Because these chairs take up a great deal of space, make sure there is enough room behind and in front of the chair so that it can be operated safely. If the person refuses to sleep in a bed you should ask-

  • Is something in the person’s view from the bed frightening them? For example, in a dark room, a large leafy plant may look like a stranger crouching. If so, remove the object and try using more nightlights.
  • Is he or she experiencing more pain getting in and out of bed? If so, perhaps a physical therapy evaluation would help. Or an adjustable hospital bed would allow you to raise/lower the bed to the easiest transfer height.
  • Is the bed too hard or too soft and in need of replacing? If so, take a look at our section on mattresses and bed heights.

Motorized, lift-up chairs can be extremely helpful when the person has severely limited movement. It can make transferring safer for the person and for you. Physically helping a person out of a chair is the main cause of caregiver back injury. And the more difficult a person is to transfer, the greater the tendency to allow the person to sit for longer stretches – which can cause all kinds of problems, including pressure sores, back pain, and agitation due to boredom. A lift-up chair can encourage the person to change position and move more, so essential to health and well-being.

Lift up chairs come in a staggering array of styles and options so it can be daunting figuring out which chair to get to meet the needs of the person you care for. Here are a few guidelines to help you sort through the maze.

Types of Lift-up Chairs

Chairs vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so be sure to ask if the chair has the features you need before you buy.

By Position

Get a 2-position chair if you only want:

  • A sitting up straight position (no foot elevation)
  • A partial recline (around 40-45 degree angle), while elevating the feet for relaxing, reading, or watching TV
  • And the lift-up position

Get a 3-position chair if you want:

  • A sitting up straight position (no foot elevation)
  • A choice of reclining positions, including a “napping position” (about a 66 degree angle), while elevating the feet. This position may help to reduce lower back pain, relieve muscle tension and swelling in legs, ankles, & feet

Get a 3-position chair with an “Infinity Position” and dual (2) motors if you want:

  • • A sitting up straight position (WITH foot elevation)
  • The widest choice of reclining positions, while elevating the feet
  • A sleeping recline
  • And the lift-up position

By Size

Get the right size for the person – including the right height. For example, if the chair is too tall, the person’s feet won’t touch the ground when in the lift up mode, and the person could fall.

By Type of Cushion

  • Overall– Some chairs have more overall cushioning than others and are therefore more comfortable.
  • Back- There are several types of back cushions, each with its pros and cons. Ask the chair dealer (who, hopefully, has a lot of experience) for the right type of cushioning for the person you care for. For example, if the person has arthritis, horizontal rolls in the chair’s back may be uncomfortable. Some chairs have built-in flexibility and allow you to take out or add fill for an individualized fit.
  • Seat- Some chairs offer memory foam, which may be more comfortable and create less pressure for persons who sit for extended periods of time.
  • Extra Support- Depending on the chair and the person, some individuals will need extra support (neck, back, or lumbar cushion) to avoid neck strain or slouching when in the chair.

What is a 2-Motor or Dual Motor Feature?

A 2-motor chair allows you to control the footrest and the back independently. This feature costs more, but it can be helpful. The person has the option to sit up straight or with a slight recline, keeping their feet elevated, while visiting with family or watching the TV.

With a 1-motor chair, the person must be in a recline position in order for the footrest to be elevated. Depending on the person and the chair’s recline, the recline can make some people fall asleep.

What Are Some Special Concerns for Persons with Dementia?

The person will probably not be able to use the chair independently. A lift up chair is best used with you, the caregiver, present as the controls will be too difficult for most persons to use. A fall could occur when a person attempts to climb out of the chair that is in the reclining position.

The person may be frightened if the chair starts to move without warning, so be sure you tell them what will happen before you use the controls!

Make sure the person has the appropriate strength to use the chair safely. For example, if the person’s legs are too weak, he or she could slip down as the chair rises. Some chairs offer a heating option. To reduce the chances of a burn, be sure that you can adjust the temperature (some models only have an “on/off” switch, while others allow you to set a temperature, such as “low”) and that  there’s an automatic safety shut off (some models shut off after 15 minutes).

Some persons may refuse to sleep in the bed. There are recliner chairs that are made for sleeping purposes and recline to a flat sleeping position.

What Happens During a Power Outage?

Most chairs have a backup battery, but it only brings the person from a reclining position to a sitting up position. It DOES NOT bring the person to a standing position. If there is a power outage, someone needs to be able to help the person safely get up from the chair.

What Else Do I Need to Know?

Check how far away from the wall the chair needs to be to recline the chair completely. Some chairs needs 27 or more inches for a full recline. There are “chair hugger” models that only need 4 to 6 inches to operate, but these have a limited recline (usually a 33-degree angle).

Check the house entrance and the door to the room to make sure the chair can fit through. Some chairs are shipped with the sidearm removed and are attached by the delivery person once the chair is in place. You may have to remove a door (or even a doorframe) to get the chair inside.

Make sure you ask what type of delivery is included. Some companies ONLY ship to the curbside (we made this mistake testing our model) putting you in a pickle if the driver refuses to deliver inside. And some companies offer what they call “White Glove Delivery.” It will cost you, but it usually includes inside delivery (check on how many flights of stairs are included in this price), unboxing, and setting up in the room of choice.