Are Electric Chair Lifts Safe for Seniors?

For individuals who can't climb stairs or have difficulty performing movements, an electric chair lift can provide access to more areas of the home and allow more independence. But are electric chair lifts safe for seniors? According to research, falls are common among seniors aged 65 or older and are a leading cause of injuries. This guide will discuss chair lifts, preventing falls while using them, and essential things to consider before getting one for your elderly family members.

Electric chair lifts: are they safe for seniors living alone?

An electric chair lift is designed for individuals who struggle to move without assistance, especially those with limited mobility or older adults. Also called power lift recliners, electric chair lifts have a motor that helps to lift your family member from sitting to standing and back.

There are several types of electric chair lifts. For example:

  • Electric chair lifts, also known as floor lifts for the elderly, help lift a person from sitting to standing or standing to a sitting position. They often come with rechargeable batteries and don't use electric power.
  • Electric stairlifts assist a person in moving up and downstairs. These typically use electricity and may also include rechargeable batteries in case of a power outage.
  • Waterproof electric chair lifts are designed for use in bathrooms and bathtubs. They can lower a person into a tub and then bring them back up to the rim for exit.

These electric chair lifts include a remote-control button that allows the user to fully control the movements of the recliner chair.

This helps your elderly loved ones avoid having to use a lot of energy and makes it simpler for them to sit or stand without hurting their joints or muscles.

Despite being a very useful assistive device, electric chair lifts can nevertheless become risky for some people in certain circumstances. According to the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario, a case study reveals that using power chair lifts can become risky for older adults, especially those with:

  • Vision problems
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Memory issues
  • Arthritis

The risk increases when lifts are used without supervision. When seniors with certain medical conditions are supervised correctly, electric chair lifts are safe to use.

Benefits of electric chair lifts for seniors

Electric lift chairs for older people have many benefits. For instance, your loved ones might end up staying in the same chair all day if it's hard for them to sit down or stand up on their own, or they might stay in bed unless someone helps them get up.

Having an electric chair lift can make a big difference. It can keep your loved ones independent and even bring health benefits. Health and rehabilitation experts often suggest these chairs to help people stay independent and feel better. Besides, these power recliners have the following benefits:

1. Improved independence

Electric chair lifts improve independence for elderly users, but how?

It can be quite hard for your loved ones with mobility issues to get up and down stairs on their own, and they might need some support or assistance. A power lift chair gives them the ability to manage their movements independently at home.

This allows your loved ones to stay in their homes or places with minimal help for as long as they can — a concept called aging in place. Not having a chair lift often means they rely on family members to help them stand up when they're having trouble.

Using a lift chair reduces the burden on your family members, allowing them to stay stronger and healthier for a longer time.

2. Reduced expenses

According to the Aging In Place Organization, hiring a caregiver might be expensive for your loved ones and not affordable for many seniors. As a result, everyday tasks like bathing, climbing stairs, or even getting up from a chair can seem very difficult.

Having an electric chair lift may reduce the expense of hiring a caregiver, which can contribute significantly to their well-being, as they won't think of themselves as a burden to rely on anyone while performing their daily tasks.

3. Reduced risk of falls

If older adults have difficulties moving around due to different conditions like arthritis, Huntington's, Parkinson's, stroke, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, muscular dystrophy, or spinal cord injury, among others, a chair lift can greatly assist them in navigating the stairs with ease. However, it's important to note that seniors with vision problems and a history of accidents should be supervised when using an electric chair lift.

Factors to consider when selecting a chair lift for a senior’s home

Aging in place can be challenging for some seniors living alone, especially for those with the medical conditions listed above. Therefore, it’s important to note the safety of your loved ones first. When picking an electric chairlift, consider your needs and budget. There are many chairlift options, so make sure to look into them before buying.

Options to consider when shopping for an electric chair lift include:

  • Weight capacity. A lift chair's power and capacity are essential features. Ensure the chair can support the weight of the user. The electric motor that moves the lift chair can get worn out with regular use, so choosing a chair that can handle their weight without any safety issues is best.
  • Size and fit. Measure the space to ensure the chair fits well. Also, consider the user's height and size when selecting an electric chair lift. This reduces the risk of falls and makes use more comfortable.
  • Quality material. Make sure you choose a high-quality chair. Many electric chair lifts come with a warranty, so it’s best to go with the one that can last a longer time.
  • User friendly. The buttons to control the chair should be easy to understand and use. Make sure your family member knows how to use the chair safely and is comfortable with it.

Moreover, a study suggests that the chair lift for the elderly should also include the following features:

  • Flexibility. Offering the choice of using stairs or a lift.
  • Availability. Ensuring the lift is always ready on both levels and has potential aesthetic benefits when fitting the device into a home.
  • Self-powered options. It could also have emergency descent capability during power outages and self-powered options.

Chair lift installation process: how long does it usually take?

Electric floor or waterproof lifts for older adults don't require much time for installation. These are ready-to-use lifts, and you just have to find the right place for their setup. You don't need to plug it in. The chair lift has rechargeable batteries. It can work in most places, but make sure to charge the battery when needed. There are two side wings that can fold up easily to move the user from the ground to the lift chair.

When it comes to setting up electric stair lifts, it is typically fast, causing little disturbance, and can be finished in 25 hours. However, for safety concerns and a smooth experience, it is good to have it installed by an expert.

  • Requirements. First, you will need a nearby plug to connect the lift chair. The electric chair lift operates on batteries, but keeping it plugged in ensures it stays charged. Even during a power outage, the stairlift will continue to work, providing you with safety.
  • Installation process. The area needs to be prepared for the installation. This means it should have enough space for the lift to be installed safely.
  • Attaching it to stairs. Next, the platform of the chair lift is installed. This includes attaching it to the stairs using the right tools. It's necessary to make sure all components are securely tightened.
  • Attaching it to electrical components. Next, the electrical components are connected. This means linking the wiring correctly and making sure everything is securely attached following the expert's instructions.
  • Testing. Finally, the lift is tested to ensure that it works properly and that all safety features function as they should.

Common concerns and misconceptions

Some of the most common concerns and misconceptions about electric chair lists are as follows:

Concern #1: Can my insurance or Medicare cover the pay for chair lift?

Reply: Medicare might cover part of the lifting device attached to the chair, but it doesn't provide coverage for the chair itself. Can my insurance or Medicare cover the pay for chair lift?

Concern #2: What if the power runs out and I get stuck?

Reply: Most lift chairs come with a backup battery that can help you lower the footrest or get out of the chair if the power runs out. These backup batteries are usually simple 9-volt batteries and provide enough power to ensure you won't get stuck.

Misconception #1: Using an electric chair lift reduces muscle strength

Reality: Muscle strength is affected by activity levels, not by the chair itself. Sitting for long periods without any movement can lead to muscle weakness, not the chair itself.

Misconception #2: Power-lift chairs are unsafe due to their complexity and can be a risk for accidents

Reality: Companies prioritize safety in the design of power-lift chairs, especially considering that users often have limited mobility or injuries. Features like full padding on the arms and slow adjustment speeds for lift and recline functions enhance safety for all consumers.

Misconception #3: Power-lift chairs are way too expensive

Reality: While customization and additional features can increase the price, basic models without many add-ons are affordable. Online research can guide you into the cost range before making a final purchase decision.

Electric chair lifts are designed for people with mobility issues such as arthritis. It's a safe option for your elderly loved ones to get around independently. However, older adults with certain medical conditions like vision problems, arthritis, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's, stroke, or a history of accidents should be supervised to avoid falls. With many electric lift chair options, choose the one with advanced features like a battery backup system. This will ensure that the person using it doesn't get stuck in the lift chair even if power is lost.

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