There are many different wheelchair options available on the market for seniors with limited mobility. With a little research, a new chair can greatly enhance the independence of the user and improve their quality of life.
This article provides an overview of the best wheelchair options for seniors struggling with limited mobility, while also highlighting the things you should take into consideration before purchasing a wheelchair.
Types of Wheelchairs Available for Seniors
Every senior has slightly different mobility needs. Some people may be using a wheelchair as a permanent, everyday mobility solution, while others might just need one for temporary use or for a little extra assistance during longer excursions outside the house.
Review the options below to determine which type of wheelchair will be the best fit for your specific mobility requirements.
Electric or motor-powered wheelchairs are ideal for elderly people who have limited upper body mobility. Electric wheelchairs provide additional independence on longer excursions, as they do not need to be self-propelled or pushed by a companion.
While most powerchairs are quite heavy and need to be transported in a van, there are a growing number of portable electric wheelchairs on the market – such as the WHILL Model Ci and Pride Go Chair – which disassemble for easy transport.
Standard Manual Wheelchairs
A standard manual wheelchair is often the first option that people will look at when choosing a wheelchair for themselves or a senior family member. Unlike motorized chairs, manual wheelchairs either need to be pushed from behind or self-propelled by pushing the handles on the wheels. These wheelchairs can be ideal for both independent users and users who are being cared for by a nurse or loved one.
There a many different brands and styles of standard wheelchairs. For a comfortable and dependable option that is loaded with features, check out the Blue Streak Wheelchair by Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare.
Heavy Duty Manual Wheelchairs
Heavy duty wheelchairs are ideal for seniors who need additional support from their mobility device. These wheelchairs are designed to accommodate taller or wider adults and usually have a max weight capacity of around 500 lbs. Because they can accommodate heavier people, these wheelchairs tend to be heavier as well, making them slightly more difficult to transport or store than a regular wheelchair.
The Drive Sentra Bariatric is a great all-around heavy duty wheelchair option, coming standard with a 20” to 24” seat and reinforced side frame.
Lightweight Manual Chairs
Lightweight wheelchairs for seniors are designed to fold-up and move easily. They are typically less wide than standard wheelchairs, which makes them more maneuverable in narrow hallways and other tight indoor spaces. Lightweight wheelchairs also have a lighter frame and can fit in the trunk of most car models, making them far easier to transport than electric or heavy duty wheelchairs.
The Drive Steel Transport Chair is an example of an excellent lightweight wheelchair that is both affordable and versatile.
Ultralight Manual Chairs
Ultralight wheelchairs can weigh as little as ten pounds and are ideal for seniors who will need to travel and transport their chair quite often. These chairs are not as rugged as the wheelchairs mentioned above and usually cannot accommodate heavier users.
An ultra-lightweight wheelchair like the Drive Fly-Lite Transport Wheelchair can be easily folded and lifted by most people, making it a great fit for an elderly person who has a variety of caregivers with different strength levels.
Lift chairs and reclining chairs can serve as a great complementary product for seniors who are looking to purchase a wheelchair. Lift chairs come in a variety of different sizes and weights and are great for seniors who may need additional help standing up or simply need to be resting at different angles for comfort.
The Golden Signature Imperial Chair is an example of a fantastic all-in-one lift chair that can provide additional support for your head, neck, and lower back while sitting down.
Walkers and Rollators
Walkers and rollators can be an excellent full-time mobility option for seniors who can walk without significant pain but require a little extra assistance on longer excursions. Rollators often come equipped with a seat, allowing users to take short rests as needed. A walker or rollator can also serve as a valuable secondary device for seniors who are already using a wheelchair as their primary mobility device.
The Drive Nitro Elite Carbon Fiber Rollator is an example of a strong, sleek rollator that comes equipped with a durable and comfortable seat.
For more information on available walkers and rollators, check out our blog post on the best narrow walkers for small spaces.
Things to Consider When Purchasing a Wheelchair for a Senior
There are a lot of things to consider when purchasing a wheelchair for a senior, including features, weight, transportability, and (of course) the price tag. For example, a wheelchair like the Drive Silver Sport II from Scootaround comes in three different widths and has multiple options for leg rests and arms, which can affect the price of the chair. Let’s break down some of the common wheelchair features you need to consider before making a purchase.
A wheelchair can cost anywhere from one hundred dollars to a thousand dollars or more depending on the make and model. Not everyone has the budget or need for an expensive wheelchair. Be sure to research all your options beforehand either online or in person at a mobility equipment store. It’s always a good idea to balance quality and cost when making your choice!
When purchasing a wheelchair for a senior, it’s important to consider the weight of the user and the weight of the chair itself. Heavier seniors may require heavy duty chairs that are tip resistant and built to support larger people.
It’s also a good idea to think about who will be lifting the wheelchair into a car or van for transport. If an elderly person is caring for their spouse, you may want to consider purchasing a lightweight chair that can be easily folded and put it in a vehicle.
Wheelchairs come in a variety of widths depending on the model. A wider wheelchair can often provide more comfort for seniors, which is a plus, but you’ll want to measure the door frames in your home and the width of your vehicle’s trunk before making the purchase.
If you’ll mostly be using the chair indoors, it may be a good idea to invest in a smaller transport chair or compact electric wheelchair. Check out our blog posts to learn everything you need to know about wheelchair turning radius and the best narrow wheelchairs for tight spaces and doorways!
There are a number of factors that can affect how comfortable a wheelchair is, including the upholstery and padding. A chair that is built using high-quality materials will typically be more comfortable than one that has sub-standard construction.
It’s also important to consider how the leg rests and armrests function. For example, the Drive Blue Streak Wheelchair has arms that flip back so the user can easily roll up to a desk or dinner table.
Mobility of the User
Seniors with severely restricted mobility may prefer an electric wheelchair, as they require less upper mobility to operate than a standard manual wheelchair. Powered wheelchairs can also be a good option for users who do not have a constant caregiver to help them maneuver around.
Alternatively, for seniors who can stand for longer periods and are still quite mobile, a sturdy rollator or walker may be all they need.
Many electric wheelchairs (and even some heavy duty manual chairs) need to be transported by van or SUV. If this is not possible, you may want to consider purchasing a smaller wheelchair or a powerchair that can be disassembled for greater portability.
Check out our essential tips for transporting your wheelchair, scooter or other mobility device prior to making a final decision.
What Are the Best Wheelchairs for Seniors?
The best wheelchair for seniors depends on the wants and needs of the specific user. If they will be travelling with the wheelchair frequently, a transport chair such as the Drive Poly-Fly Lightweight Wheelchair would be a great choice, while someone with limited upper mobility may want to go with an innovative electric wheelchair like the WHILL Model Ci. For larger users who require additional support from their mobility device, the Drive Bariatric Aluminum Transport Chair may be just what they’ve been looking for.
You can find these wheelchairs and other options online at Scootaround!
There are a lot of factors to take into consideration when choosing the best wheelchair for an elderly person. Be sure to consider the needs of both the chair user and the caregiver, as well as the features of the chair that you feel are most essential.
If you’re interested in learning more about which wheelchair will be best for you or a senior family member, give our sales specialists a call at 1-888-441-7575 (option 3) or email [email protected]. You can also shop online at scootaround.com/shop. Our team will be happy to assist you!
Cory Lee is a wheelchair user, travel addict, and accessible travel writer. On his blog, Curb Free with Cory Lee, he hopes to inspire others to roll out of their comfort zones and see all the beauty our world has to offer.