If you are challenged with buying furniture for yourself or for an elderly person, there are a few things you should keep in mind as you start your search. It is important to find a chair that “fits.” And I’ll be the first to say that what “fits” you, may be TOTALLY different than what “fits” someone else.
There are several things you want to consider, before ultimately realizing: in the end the final decision comes from personal preference, aesthetics and budget.
First Consider Health Conditions/Function
Is there a chronic condition? Is this an Acute (new) condition?
-> Do you need to consider the features of this chair for LIFE, or just for a short while?
What is the prognosis?
-> Will these conditions get worse, stay the same or get better?
-> For someone with Multiple sclerosis they may be able to stand now, but have bad days, meaning a chair may benefit from extra features for those bad days.
-> For someone with Arthritis, their strength may get worse, so a lever may be too difficult as time goes on.
-> For someone with Diabetes, they may lose sensation in their legs or fingers, this mean locating small buttons may be a challenge.
How is their strength?
-> Can they pull a lever or do they need a button? Can they hold the controller?
Are there any sensation/vision issues?
-> Will they be able to feel the buttons? Can they SEE the buttons?
Can he or she easily rise from and sit down into a chair?
->If not, furniture with special options are available.
Manual vs. automatic?
->Seats of some chairs and recliners rise to a higher level with the push of a button. People can simply back against the chair and then lower themselves down to a seated position by the push of a button. Or, If they have the trunk support, leg support, or the might of sheer will, they can recline with the use of a lever, or their legs.
Second, Consider the Fabric/Upholstery
If the elderly person tends to slide out of seating easily, slick leather upholstery might not be as good a choice as one with a textured fabric. The texture of the fabric can help prevent slipping out of the seating.
Make sure the furniture you pick out is easy to clean. If they have other health issues that might mean occasional soiling of the furniture, they will need to be able to clean it quickly and thoroughly.
Third, Consider the Aesthetics
Most important when buying furniture is to remember that even though you want to consider the function the furniture, it can still be appealing. With technology the way it is, an abundance of online shopping there is no reason to settle for something that doesn’t fit the aesthetic.
If you are buying furniture for an elderly or special needs person, ask questions of your furniture rep, or ask your Occupational Therapist for considerations. Tell them about your special needs and concerns. Furniture sales reps are trained to help you fill your needs, and Occupational Therapists are masters of function. If your local furniture store doesn’t carry what you need, chances are the salesperson/ Occupational Therapist can refer you to a website or medical supply store that does.
If ordering furniture from a website, be sure you know all the shipping and handling costs up front. Also, find out warranty information. Don’t overlook medical supply stores in your furniture quest, or even hiring an OT to help you research. In addition to medical necessities such as oxygen tanks, portable toilets and wheelchairs, many medical supply companies carry furniture items like lift chairs and recliners that can greatly improve comfort and quality of life.
If at all possible, take the user on your shopping trip. Ask for input. This will insure your furniture purchase is one you’ll be happy with for a long time.