Daily Living

Taking the weight off – chairs for adults with disabilities

The end of a busy day, and you just want to sit down, relax, read, surf the web, watch TV. But there’s a problem.  Your chair isn’t comfortable.  You struggle to get into it.  It’s even worse when you try to get up.
Ok, so you’ve managed to sit down.  But after a few minutes, you start to get aches and niggles. Your neck hurts. Your back hurts. You have pins and needles in your legs.
Your dream of a relaxing evening drifts away…..
If you can relate to this, it might be worth buying an accessible chair.  This post looks at what’s on offer.

I suffer from arthritis and it mainly affects my knees and hips.  This makes sitting down, and standing up, a painful and difficult experience for me.  I also have arthritis in my neck, which frequently aches, especially if it is not supported.

A few years ago, we had a suite that we loved.  Big squashy sofa with a low back.  An extra wide ‘snuggler’ chair, designed to let you tuck your legs under you, so you could snuggle up and relax. And a contrasting velvet chair with no arms.  The suite was expensive and I loved it.  Only one problem – I couldn’t get comfortable on it, and I couldn’t get up from it without assistance!

So, after being stuck way too many times, we decided to replace our sitting room furniture.  We took our time choosing our new suite.  In fact, I think we were in danger of being charged rent in one shop, we sat on a suite for such a long time!

Eventually we chose a much more upright suite in cream leather.  It has a high back.  The seat height is further from the ground.  The armchair is a lot smaller, so the armrests can be used together to help raise me up.

Do I love it as much as my old suite?  Honestly, no, not aesthetically.  But for comfort, it’s a big yes.  The high back supports my neck and the straighter back stops my back from aching.  But best of all, I can safely sit down without jarring my joints.  And I can get up whenever I want.  I’m glad I made the switch. 

And my old suite?  It went to a good home with a family with no joint problems.


Fireside Chairs

Fireside chairs are high-backed chairs offering good support with a raised seating position.

High back chairs help you maintain a straighter seating position. This offers head, neck and lower back support. The higher seat makes it easier to get in and out of the chair.

If you still struggle to get in and out of the chair, even with the higher seat.  Then it is possible to get a fireside chair with a built-in power lift.  Basically, this helps you get onto your feet, and it lowers you down when you want to sit.


Rise and Recline Chairs

A rise and a recline chair offers several different benefits.  The whole chair lifts upwards and tilts forwards to enable you to get out more safely.  And it does these two actions in reverse to help you sit. Watch the video below to see it in action.

The back rest of the chair also reclines, so that you can obtain a comfortable resting position.  And there is an adjustable footrest to lift your feet.  This can help with pain, and if you have swollen feet or ankles.

Single motor and dual motor

You will see both single motor, and dual motor chairs being advertised.  The difference between them is simple.  A single motor chair means there is one motor that operates all the chair’s electrical functions. 

A dual motor means that the chair has two motors.  One operates the back rest.  The second motor operates the footrest and the riser function.  The benefits of the dual motor chairs are that you have more flexibility to position the chair so it is exactly right for you.

Single motor chairs are usually cheaper.  Click here for more information on the difference between the two types of motors. 


Inbuilt accessories

It is possible to purchase rise and recline chairs with a whole host of inbuilt accessories.  Each chair will have controls to operate the electrical functions.  This could be in the form of a wired handset.  This is on an extendable chord, so it is handy when you need it.  Or some models have the operational buttons build into the chair arm.

Optional extras include built in reading lights. Storage in the chair arm (handy for spectacles, remote controls, a secret bar of chocolate). Some have an inbuilt USB port, so that you can attach your digital items to your chair.

There are also chairs that come with built-in heating and/or massage functions.  Sounds great if you have had a hard day and you’re feeling tired and aching.  Might make me want to sit a bit too long, that’s the only danger!


Perching stools

If you find it uncomfortable to stand while doing household tasks, then a perching stool may be a useful item for you. 

A perching stool has a sloped seat, so you ‘perch’ in a semi-seated position.  This helps you to get up and down.  But it’s also useful if you are doing jobs around the house such as cooking or ironing, as you ‘perch’ at a suitable height.  This means you can complete your tasks without suffering the pain of standing.

Perching stools come in a range of designs. Some are traditional stools, i.e. four legs and a seat.  Others come with backrests or armrests, which make them more comfortable and they give you something to hold onto when getting up and down.

If space is short, then a folding stool may be suitable. And lightweight stools are also available to help you move the stool from place to place easily.

Click this link to view a range of perching stools. 

Bariatric chairs

It is possible to obtain bariatric and extra wide versions of all the chairs mentioned.  These are suitable for heavier or larger people.  They are fitted with stronger motors, and often have pressure-relieving padding to ensure ongoing comfort and wellbeing.


For example, the Oxford Advanced Strength Riser Recliner comes in three models, suitable for people weighing up to 35 stones, 40 stones and 50 stones. 


And the Marianne Fireside Chair has a weight capacity of up to 35 stones. 



This perching stool is suitable for people who weigh up to 40 stones. It can also be used in the shower. 


Specialist chairs

For people with severely restricted mobility, there is a range of specialist chairs available.

These offer many features including posture control and advanced pressure relief. They are often portable, and have controls that can be operated by carers or personal assistants.

A stylish example, in a range of vibrant colours, is the Harmony Porta Chair.  This offers a number of different seating/reclining positions.  It also has sturdy wheels, enabling it to be moved around.  This is useful to help transfer people from bed into the chair.

Chairs with skids

A chair with skids basically has sledge-like runners on the bottom.  This helps you to slide the chair closer to a table or desk.  It makes the chair much easier to pull up and push away. This is ideal if you struggle to move a chair into position. 

But be careful, a chair with skids can move when you sit or stand.


Chairs with drop arms

If you want to transfer from a wheelchair into another chair, then a chair with drop arms may be ideal.  This is a standard chair where one or both arms drop down, to make a level surface for you to move across from your wheelchair.   

Accessible chairs are available from a range of manufacturers.  There are many different options in terms of upholstery, fabrics, and accessories.  If you have a chair that you really like, why not share it with the community below?
If you’re struggling with your existing furniture but don’t want to buy something new, there may be other options.  Check out this post on seating accessories for some more ideas.

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