Buying a Lift Chair for Someone Else? What to Consider Before Clicking the “Buy” Button
If you are a caregiver for someone with limited mobility, you are intimately familiar with the personal struggles that go with it. It’s not always easy caring for someone who is losing their physical independence. You have experienced what it feels like to have someone more and more physically dependent on you. You have probably endured your own aches and pains as you constantly exert yourself helping a loved one to stand or sit or spending your time doing the physical tasks that person once did. You also understand the emotional hardship in watching someone you love suffer in pain as he or she moves through the most basic movements. Just the act of standing can be a monumental task full of grimaces and strain.
You know how it feels to watch someone you love lose the ability to walk without a cane—or perhaps at all—and to live a progressively sedentary lifestyle out of necessity. Perhaps you recognize and worry that as your loved one becomes less mobile, he or she will only compound the problem. You understand that if the body sits for too long, muscles begin to atrophy, and circulation suffers. Chronic issues such as arthritis and neuropathy and other degenerative disorders only get worse under these circumstances. In addition, the sense of losing one’s physical freedom creates discouragement and can lead to depression, which moves the person even further into this cycle of suffering.
Witness all of this can be especially hard for you if this is a parent—someone who once held, bounced, and carried you while you were a dependent. It can be difficult to watch the roles reverse more and more each day.
Even if the person you’re thinking of does not yet need a full-time caretaker but is spending long hours or days alone, perhaps you recognize that person’s growing struggle to do the little things and you want to help in some way or take precautions against them falling and getting injured when he or she doesn’t have someone there to help. Maybe you’re just looking down the short road ahead and anticipating these kinds of problems approaching faster than either of you would like them to.
The good news is that you don’t just have to take a back seat to all of this. As the caregiver or child of an aging loved one, you can be proactive in taking a roll in maintaining and restoring that person’s physical freedoms.
The lift chair does just this. As the name suggests, it is an electric recliner that raises and lowers its occupant into a standing or sitting position with the touch of button. It is a slow, controlled movement, so there is no threat that the person will be thrown or jarred in the process. There are a wide variety of models for a wide variety of shapes and sizes, so the shopping process can feel a bit overwhelming if you don’t know where to begin.
There are several things you need to consider before you press the “buy” button to make sure you don’t need to press the “return” button later. Here, you will find a quick guide to:
How to Buy a Lift Chair for Someone Else
1. How will the chair be used?
Lifting and sitting is the obvious answer, but what else would you like it to do? This is a very important question because you want to make sure you’re choosing the product that is going to be the best fit for its occupant. If the person you’re buying for already has a recliner (lift or not), how is that being used? This will perhaps give you the best clues as to which model will be ideal. Is she sitting in it most of the day? Is he using it while napping? Is she sleeping in it at night? Is he just sitting there off and on to watch TV or read a book?
You don’t want to under-buy or over-buy, and you want to make sure you’re getting a product that will be well used. For instance, let’s say the person you’re buying for is your aging mother who already has a standard recliner she loves. She spends most of her daytime hours in the chair watching TV or napping, and her current piece of furniture reclines almost completely flat so that she can sleep comfortably. In this instance, you should probably lean toward at least a three-position lift chair, if not an infinite position or zero-gravity lift chair, to make sure you’re purchasing a unit that is comparable to or better than what she’s already using.
You don’t want to be so focused on her being able to stand and sit with ease that you overlook the importance of ensuring her comfort while she’s using the seat as just a chair. If she feels like you’ve replaced her well-loved piece of furniture with something that is less comfortable or accommodating than what she’s used to, you can expect a lot of complaints and frustration to follow. That’s the last thing you want to happen when you’re obviously out to help and to improve her situation—plain and simple.
2. What do you need the chair to do in the future?
As you consider what you need the chair to do now, it’s also sensible to think about what it may need to be used for you five years from now. Lift chairs are an investment. Although worthwhile, you don’t want to have to replace your purchase in a couple of years if you can help it. The best way to make sure that your chair is going to be a good fit for years to come is to plan ahead. For instance, if you are caring for someone who is mostly using his current recliner for a few hours a day to watch TV or read but he also has a degenerative arthritis, then you can be almost certain that he is going to be using the chair more and more over time. It’s better to make an investment into something that does more than you need it to do now so that you know it will do enough later.
In the case of the above example, it would be better to, say, buy an infinite position lift chair, which reclines to a completely-flat position ideal for sleeping and long periods of rest than to buy a two-position lift chair that only reclines up to 45 degrees. If you plan ahead now, you will be ahead of the game later.
3. What amenities do you need?
This is similar to what you need the chair to do—but it’s more along the lines of what you want it to do. Most models come with a range of amenities and add-on luxuries that will make the recliner-time a bit more comfortable and practical. For instance, if you’re planning a purchase for an elderly woman who is going to be spending most of her time planted in that seat and eating meals there, it may be worth it to upgrade to a high-performance fabric that protects against stains and spills. If you’re shopping for someone with arthritis, you may want to consider adding on the zoned heating options that will target and relieve aches and pains in select areas of the body.
There are all kinds of features to choose from, such as adding a footrest extension to accommodate taller users, storage compartments, adding a comprehensive heat and massage feature, or having the chair constructed with a left hand remote. Some of these features are only available on select models and/or SKU numbers, so be sure to do your research to see how you can further customize the lift recliner for your loved one.
4. What is the size of the person you’re buying for?
Know the answer to this question as exactly as possible. Don’t guess and don’t round. There is a wide selection of sizes for each model, ranging from petite and extra-small all the way up to extra-large and heavy duty, and each one is for a select body size and type. Purchasing the wrong-sized chair could completely defeat the purpose of getting the lift device in the first place. It should be as close to a perfect fit as possible. The more perfect the fit, the more perfect the experience.
If the chair is made for someone much taller, then her feet are going to dangle while in the sitting position and won’t come flush with the floor when the chair is raised. She will have to “hop down” to get out of the chair, which could lead to more discomfort and an increased chance of injury than if she was just getting to her feet by herself in the first place. One other hand, if the furniture is too small for the person you’re buying for, then his knees are going to tower above the seat when he’s sitting, and his feet and ankles will dangle off the end of the footrest when he’s reclined.
All of these factors—whether the chair is too big or too small—are going to affect every other point of comfort as well. If it’s too small, there will be more strain on the back and legs. If it’s too big, the person will have to scoot backwards to get the back support they need, putting even more strain on the legs. If it’s to wide, the user will likely lean to one side, causing problems with posture and back strain. If it’s too narrow, the occupant will feel pinched and uncomfortable.
Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when taking your loved one’s measurements. They should all be taken while the person is in a seated position. If you’re making the purchase for someone else, it’s best to get (or at least to witness) the measurements yourself. It’s not really a one-person job anyway, so the person you care for will likely appreciate the help.
A special word about weight: In all things, you must also consider the person’s weight. Again, please don’t guess. If you buy a chair that is not built to support the occupant’s weight, it is certain to underperform, it’s not going to last as long, and the warranties will be voided.
5. Where is the chair going to go?
Don’t get so wrapped up in the what that you don’t give any attention to the where. Is this something you are purchasing for a small bedroom or a large living room? If it’s going to be in a small space or if it has to squeeze through a small entryway or around corners, you will want to consider buying a space saver or “wall hugger” lift chair. Otherwise, the chair will lose some of its functionality if it is in a space that is too small for its design. If it’s going to be sitting in the middle of your elderly mother’s living room where she has intentionally matched every piece of furniture just so, then you need to consider the aesthetics a little more heavily than if it was going to be tucked away in a bedroom. Some of these things may be more important to the person you’re buying for than they are to you, so take the time to find out which details matter. Again, you don’t want to invest in something that the person you’re gifting it to is going to hate looking at or is uncomfortable using.
6. Is it better to buy online or in the store?
There are pros and cons to each venue. The brick and mortar stores will give you the opportunity to “try before you buy.” This is good because you get a test run. However, if you’re buying the chair for someone else, it probably doesn’t matter how you like the sitting experience. Alternatively, if the person you’re shopping for is coming along but has limited mobility, are you really going to drag him or her around town from store to store? No, you’re not. That means that you are either shopping without that person there anyway—in which case, why not save time by buying online—or if you are shopping together, you’re probably not going to make it to more than one store before exhaustion and pain sets in. So, it’s likely that this will become a long, drawn out buying process or that you will go to exactly one store and settle for the best you can find—which may not a very good “best” at all.
Online shopping is by far the best way to go when you’re buying a lift chair for someone else. You won’t get a chance to nestle into the cushions before you hand over your cash, but you don’t really need to anyway. You can cover far more ground in mere minutes. You will have more options to choose from. You can make custom orders right from your keyboard. You can invite your loved one to participate in the shopping experience from the comfort of the recliner being replaced. And perhaps most important of all, you can expect to pay far less, without compromising on value, because online retailers have much lower overhead.
7. What is the return policy?
Let’s face it. Even if you take the utmost care in attending to all of these factors, you could still end up with a chair that is not a good fit for your loved one. Maybe you misgauged how that particular color is going to look in your mother’s formal living room. Maybe it ended up being too big for the space it’s in. Maybe your measurements were off and your dad needs something built for someone a few inches taller.
There are several factors that could lead to you or your loved one deciding you need a different model. Therefore, it’s important to mitigate your risks by looking into the product’s return policy—just in case. Reputable suppliers will always offer to replace the unit, free of charge, in the event that it is comes broken or you receive the wrong product. However, you can expect there to be some fees tagged on to your return or replacement if it’s simply based on your changing preferences. That being said, the online shopping option is still going to be the most cost-effective way to go just because the brick and mortar suppliers have such an exorbitant overhead that those fees are basically already being billed to you either way.
As you can see, there are several things to consider when you considering how to buy a lift chair for someone else. If you are at the point that you want to do that—whether because you want to improve someone’s quality of life now or you are aiming to preserve that person’s existing quality of life for as long as possible and into the years ahead—you are obviously coming from a place of love and consideration. Therefore, it just makes sense for you to take the time to be just as careful and intentional in weighing these considerations as you have been in your attentive care for that person up until now. As you do so, you will create a win-win experience all around. You will be certain that you have gifted a valuable item to someone you love, and that person will experience the freeing experience of greater mobility and comfort for years to come.
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