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Wheelchairs for Elderly Individuals: The Best Wheelchairs for Senior Review 2020

William Rivers
 | 
December 28, 2020
Wheelchair

Senior citizens make up a good portion of the population of The United States. According to the Population Reference Bureau, in 2018, there are 52 million Americans aged 65 and older. This number is expected to rise to 95 million by the year 2060. As they age, seniors require assistance in mobility. In fact, more and more are making use of wheelchairs for elderly individuals and other mobility tools.

Indeed, at a certain age, seniors will start encountering difficulties when performing certain tasks and activities. Unfortunately, many of them live alone. Elderly individuals living alone comprise 27% of adults age 60 and above in the United States.

Senior home care is an excellent alternative for people who don’t want to transfer to assisted living facilities. With senior home care, a senior citizen can maintain a degree of independence while receiving vital day-to-day assistance. It's even possible for those with injuries or illnesses.

It's important to note that senior home care is not the same as home health care. The former includes services such as chores and housekeeping duties, while the latter is medical in nature. Although home healthcare may include some home care duties, its focus is on helping an elderly individual recover from illness or injuries.

Home health care services may include physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy. Professionals who provide home health care are often therapists, licensed nurses, or home health aides. These professionals often come from home health agencies, public health departments, or hospitals.

The presence of proper tools and equipment can help ensure that an older person can make the most of senior home care. These include wheelchairs, medical alert systems, duty chairs, and transport wheelchairs.

Transport wheelchairs and duty chairs are vital, but they always require a home care professional's assistance. Wheelchairs are more advantageous since they can be used alone, unlike transport wheelchairs and duty chairs.

Best Wheelchair Review for Seniors

A wheelchair is a mobility device that can help seniors move around even when unassisted. Wheelchair reviews have different ways of choosing which wheelchairs will earn a spot in their top picks. This particular review considered the following factors in choosing the best wheelchairs for seniors.

Pricing

The price of any equipment is always a key factor when choosing the best product. In making this list, we look into the pricing in relation to the mobility chair features. Although some wheelchairs are more expensive compared to others, they are considered value-for-money purchases if their numerous features justify their pricing.

We also make sure that extra wheelchair options are affordable. For example, most wheelchairs come with fixed arm rests, and leg rests. If a wheelchair offers a flip back arm rest as an option, we make sure that the added cost is justifiable.

Most wheelchairs come with fixed desk length arms. Another might offer retractable or extendable desk length arms without an additional cost.

Comfort

Comfort is one of the main considerations when choosing wheelchairs for seniors. We looked at wheelchairs that have comfortable seats and padded armrests, since they are more comfortable compared to bare ones.

A comfortable wheelchair offers comfort with the use of different types of materials. The type of material for the seat will depend on user preference. Some prefer nylon upholstery due to its breathability, while others prefer memory foam because it easily contours to the body shape of the user.

We also considered wheelchairs with adjustable seat widths. A chair with an adjustable seat width is more comfortable and practical. The right seat width can also help prevent accidental falls of a loved one that can result in serious injuries.

The seat height or seat depth is also important since a shallow height or depth can also cause the user to fall off. A chair with the right seat height can also help prevent fatigue since the user can comfortably rest on the seatback.

Durability

Since wheelchairs serve the daily mobility needs of seniors, a chair should last long. Most wheelchairs are used during an entire day, so they should be made of high-quality materials.

A durable wheelchair offers a means of transportation to a person with limited mobility. A person with limited mobility will use a chair not just inside the house but during errands outside of the house as well. This means that the chair will be subjected to indoor and outdoor conditions.

An excellent and durable wheelchair can make sure that a person with limited mobility has a piece of functioning equipment for a long time.

Ease of use

When making our list, we make sure that the entries are both easy to use and helpful. Useful but complicated features may not be accommodating at all if the user will encounter difficulties while using them.

Aside from ease of use, an excellent chair should be easy to clean. Since most users take their wheelchairs outdoors, dirt can accumulate, especially on the front and rear wheels. An easy to clean chair can help prolong its usable life and protect the user from diseases.

Additional Features

This list also considered those with additional chair features that are beneficial for the elderly people who will use them.

For example, some users prefer mobility equipment that has storage space underneath. Such features can help them avoid using a shopping cart while at the grocery. The user can just stow items under the mobility device with ease.

Top 10 Best Wheelchairs for Seniors

1.) Karman Healthcare 19.8 lbs Ergonomic Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair

This is a heavy-duty yet ultra-lightweight mobility device. It features Aegis Upholstery that provides seating comfort for the user.

2.) Drive Medical SSP118FA-SF Silver Sport 1

Drive Medical Silver Sport 1 features full arms and swing-away removable footrests. This Drive Medical chair has heavy-duty Urethane tires to complement the composite wheels that can handle almost any surface.

3.) Majestic Buvan 2020 Limited Edition Remote Control Foldable Electric Wheelchair Mobility Aid

This power wheelchair is airline-approved and is an ideal travel companion. It folds within just 3 seconds and fits on even small storage spaces.

4.) Golden Technologies Scooter Powered-Wheelchair GP162

This is an ideal mobility aid for people looking for cheap power wheelchairs. It is also light and easy to disassemble.

5.) Smart Electric Wheelchair Premium Grade Heavy Duty Lightweight Foldable Power Wheelchair for Adults

This is a great option for older people who are looking for a powerful electric wheelchair. It can handle more than 300 lbs. of weight because of its 500-watt Motor Power.

6.) Medline Strong and Sturdy Wheelchair with Desk-Length Arms and Swing-Away Leg Rests

This chair has a tig-welded frame that can handle up to 300 lbs. of weight. It has mag wheels and flat-free tires to ensure smooth movements. Swing-away leg rests make this a more comfortable wheelchair.

7.) ZXL Wheelchair

This is an ideal mobility aid for those who need a comfortable wheelchair that reclines. Users can adjust the seat in 6 positions to ensure maximum comfort.

8.) Karman VIP-515-18 Foldable Tilt in Space

This tilt wheelchair is also ergonomic. The tilt and ergonomic design help users who are prone to pressure sores.

9.) Karman Healthcare S-115 Ergonomic Ultra Lightweight Manual Wheelchair

This ergonomic manual wheelchair is designed for maximum comfort. The armrests and hand rims are also ergonomic. 

10.) Carex Wheelchair with Large 18” Padded Seat

This is a no-frills manual mobility chair that gets the job done at a competitive price. It has adjustable foot, and leg rests for comfort and support.

Not All Wheelchairs Are Created Equal

Although manufacturers try to market their chair products as the best in the market for almost everything that seniors need, the truth is that some wheelchairs perform better for some activities compared to others.

Here are some chair selections that seniors might want to consider for specific needs.

Best Wheelchairs for Outdoor Use

Some seniors love to be active and roam around the neighborhood or visit parks. They want to explore local sights as a pastime, or visit a loved one who lives nearby.

These mobility devices should have sturdy rear wheels that can provide stability. This can help make sure that the user is safe while outdoors and possibly alone. Additionally, excellent rear wheels can help make sure that road obstacles will not further impair the user's mobility.

Outdoor mobility chairs should have some features that will make using them comfortable. For one, the seat height should be just right for the user. Some models also offer wheelchair options like flip back arm rests and adjustable seat height or seat width.

For these people, the ideal mobility chair should be able to stand the rigors of navigating rough and uneven terrains. A great mobility chair for outdoor use should also be comfortable to use. A comfortable user can run over small obstacles like pebbles or rough concrete without jarring the user.

1.) Porto Mobility Ranger D09

This is an excellent chair for elderly outdoor enthusiasts because of its waterproof design. It has a powerful motor for navigating rough terrains.

2.) Majestic Buvan 2020 Model Fold and Travel

A lightweight wheelchair that’s easy to fold and carry. This wheelchair has a Lithium Battery that can last up to 13 miles with a full charge.

3.) NOVA Lightweight Transport Chair

This lightweight wheelchair is designed for all terrains. It is lightweight and has a compact design that makes it easy to transport.

4.) Carex Transport Wheelchair

Carex’s Transport Wheelchair is an ideal chair for outdoor use because of its sturdy steel frame. This chair has a 19-inch seat that makes it a comfortable travel companion.

5.) Invacare Tracer IV Wheelchair

This bariatric wheelchair has a weight capacity of up to 450 lbs. weight capacity. This chair has 14-gauge steel cross braces that makes it ideal for people who need the support of a heavy-duty frame.

6.) ProBasics K7 Heavy-Duty Wheelchair

This ProBasics chair has a slide tube silver vein steel frame that can support up to 450 lbs. weight capacity. Its double-embossed seats make it comfortable to use during outdoor activities.

7.) Vinmax Foldable Electric Wheelchair

These are easy-to-control electric wheelchairs that use waterproof intelligent joysticks. These electric wheelchairs have rear anti roller mechanisms that can help people avoid injuries from rollovers. 

8.) BXZ Wheelchair Sport Lightweight

BXZ Wheelchair’s double brakes make it a safe chair of choice for those who love the outdoors. The seat of this chair is ergonomically-designed for maximum comfort even after long hours of use.

9.) Karman Ergonomic Wheelchair

Ergonomic armrest pads and hand rim makes this wheelchair easy to operate. The Aegis upholstery is anti-microbial and can help protect against germs and microbes.

10.) Rao Smiles Electric Wheelchair for Adults

Made from high-quality materials such as ABS plastic and aerospace aluminum. Its breathable cushion seat and an adjustable backrest that makes it comfortable to use.

Best Wheelchair for Indoor Use

The majority of elderly people spend their time indoors. They need chairs that can easily navigate tight spaces. It is also important to have chairs that work well on wood, tiles, and carpeted floors.

A comfortable wheelchair for indoor use should have a good turning ratio. This means that the user can turn the chair around without requiring too much space. This can help prevent the chair from banging into household furniture or appliances.

A good indoor chair should also have flip back arm rests and swing-away leg rests. These wheelchair features will allow the user to move freely in confined spaces.

1.) Drive Medical Blue Streak Wheelchair

The Drive Medical Blue Streak Wheelchair makes independent mobility enjoyable for elderly individuals. It has durable wheels that can navigate almost all indoor floor materials.

2.) Invacare- TRSX58FBP / T93HCP Tracer SX5

This reclining wheelchair is a great piece of equipment for elderly individuals who spend most of their time in wheelchairs. This is a high-quality and lightweight manual wheelchair that can accommodate up to 300 lbs. of weight.

3.) Invacare- 9RC_38254 9000 XT

Invacare’s 9000 XT are excellent products for those who live in small homes. It has a sleek and compact design that allows the user to easily move around tight and confined spaces.

4.) Drive Medical Cruiser III

The Drive Medical Cruiser III is a durable wheelchair that can withstand the punishments of everyday use. It has many wheelchair options that make it easy to customize. It also has an attractive silver vein finish.

5.) Medline - MDS806550E

This Medline wheelchair uses breathable nylon upholstery that’s soft and comfortable to sit on. It has smooth-rolling mag wheels that allow smooth and reliable navigation around the house.

6.) Pride Mobility Jazzy Passport

If you need an electronic wheelchair that can make sharp turns without a problem, this wheelchair might just be what you need. It is foldable and the compact design makes it easy to store in closets and small crawlspaces.

7.) Medline Premium Ultra-Lightweight Wheelchair

This bariatric wheelchair has low-maintenance and flat-free tires that can effortlessly move over tiles, wood, or cement floors. It is durable and has a 350 lbs. capacity.

8.) NOVA Ultra Lightweight Transport Chair

This wheelchair sports comfortable padded desk arms that allow the user to roll up to a desk or dining table. The 8-inch wheels provide a smooth ride that using this wheelchair enjoyable.

9.) Everest & Jennings Advantage LX Wheelchair

The Advantage LX Wheelchair has black padded upholstery that makes it comfortable to sit on. It has adjustable swing-away footrests that help keep the user’s feet safely off the ground.

10.) McKesson Reclining Wheelchair and Detachable Desk Arms

This is a great choice for those who need reclining wheelchairs for indoor use. It has Urethane tires that provide durability to the wheels and make riding over most spaces easy and smooth.

Best Wheelchair Features for the Elderly

Different wheelchair reviews rarely come up with the same set of the best senior wheelchairs. This is because there are many types of wheelchairs for seniors individuals and coming up with a list with all these types included is a tall order.

The best elderly wheelchair will depend on the needs of a particular user. This is due to the different lifestyles that seniors have. However, if for those who are on the lookout for the best senior wheelchairs available in the market, some features are important to take note of.

Manual Wheelchairs

Manual wheelchairs are what most will call regular wheelchairs, as they don’t have engines to make them work. Seniors who want to use manual wheelchairs need to use their hands and arms to make the wheelchair move and steer it around.

A manual wheelchair looks like a transport chair as they have similar-looking features. Both of them have leg rests, and they have just about the same seat width. The difference is with their wheels. A manual wheelchair has a hand rim that allows the user to propel the chair forward. On the other hand, a transport chair needs to get pushed by another person.

Manual wheelchairs are ideal for everyday use and for individuals who spend most of their time inside their homes. These chairs are suitable for traveling short distances, like when an elderly individual visits a neighbor. With the help of manual wheelchairs, elderly individuals can continue social interactions with other members of the community.

Excellent manual wheelchairs should be easy to propel. Since most seniors have limited upper body strength, a manual wheelchair should not be too heavy. A lightweight manual wheelchair can help a senior user move around without being too tiring to use.

Manual wheelchairs should also have appropriate tires and wheels. A great set of tires can make propelling the chair easy. The best manual wheelchairs should also have tires that can easily move over common home floor surfaces such as tiles, wood, and concrete. Wheels that can quickly move over soil and gravel are also desirable.

Powered Wheelchairs

Powered wheelchairs are also known as electric wheelchairs. These have electric motors that help propel them, and are great for seniors who are unable to propel a wheelchair manually.

These are also great for those who love to use their wheelchairs over great distances. The type of battery is the main consideration when choosing an electric wheelchair. The best power wheelchair has a battery that can propel the wheelchair for long distances. A great battery should also be easy to charge.

Power wheelchairs should also be easy to maintain. Having a service center near the user’s residence means that repairs can be done quickly in case of issues with the wheelchair. This will also reduce the period before repairs are carried out.

It is best to consider a company that has a national presence. This can help ensure that it will have several service centers that can repair a broken wheelchair. Most large companies also have a customer service team that assists customers who need help with the company’s products. 

The best electric wheelchair should also be easy to control. Fortunately, most electric wheelchairs use joysticks for navigation. A powered wheelchair that is easy to steer can make using the wheelchair safer and more enjoyable, while also reducing the learning curve for new users.

Aside from joysticks, there are also powered wheelchairs that use touchpads and finger control systems. There are also special mobility devices that use sip and puff controls. When choosing the type of control system, it is crucial to consider the physical condition of the user. For example, sip and puff controls are for users who have no function in their body.

Ergonomic Lightweight Wheelchairs

Ergonomic senior wheelchairs are excellent for those who spend the entire day on their chairs. The main draw of ergonomic wheelchairs is the comfort levels that they provide. An ergonomic chair is a comfortable wheelchair because it is almost molded to the shape of the user’s body.

Ergonomic wheelchairs can help prevent sores. Sores are common in elderly individuals who spend extended periods sitting in a wheelchair. Most ergonomic wheelchairs have contoured seats that allow proper ventilation that can help prevent sores and rashes.

Another advantage of an ergonomic lightweight wheelchair is it is an easy wheelchair for people who have limited strength. They are light enough to propel with just a simple turn of the wheel. The best ergonomic, lightweight wheelchair should have wheels that are light but can last long.

The best ergonomic lightweight wheelchairs are those made with light yet heavy-duty materials. Most ultra-lightweight have compact designs, which make them ideal for those who love to travel. They are easy to fold and stow in a car’s trunk. Some are even compact enough to be stored on the overhead bin of an airplane.

Ergonomic Ultra lightweight wheelchairs often have padded seats and armrests. When looking for the best wheelchair, look for seats and armrest materials that are dirt and stain-resistant. There are also those that use materials that help repel microbes. Such materials can help safeguard the health of the user.

Bariatric Wheelchairs

Bariatric wheelchairs are wheelchairs made specifically for the benefit of bariatric individuals. Bariatric people are those who weigh over 350 lbs. They are often overweight by more than 100 lbs.

Bariatric wheelchairs can help improve the quality of life of elderly individuals. With the help of bariatric wheelchairs, individuals can freely move around and perform daily tasks and chores. They can go to the grocery and other commercial centers for their personal needs.

Bariatric wheelchairs can also help improve an individual’s social life. Using bariatric wheelchairs, elderly individuals can visit a family member, friends, and neighbors. This can help increase their social interaction, which can be great for their mental and emotional well-being.

Due to the nature of the user, the best bariatric wheelchair should be made of heavy-duty materials. A sturdy wheelchair can help ensure that the wheelchair user is safe. Durable wheelchairs also last longer and can be economical. Most bariatric wheelchairs have a carbon steel frame for extra strength. A carbon steel frame is sturdy yet light.

If the wheelchair user has pulmonary or cardiovascular issues, an ideal bariatric wheelchair will have a back rest that tilts. This will allow the user to find a specific position that will allow them to breathe better.

The best bariatric wheelchairs have multiple levels of adjustment. This will help ensure that the wheelchair can easily conform to the size and weight of the person using it. It will be best to look for a wheelchair with a seat that’s a couple of sizes too big to ensure that the user can be comfortable at all times.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best wheelchair for seniors?

The best wheelchair for seniors will depend on the elderly individual who will use it, as they have their own needs and medical requirements. This means that the best wheelchair for one senior may not fit the needs of another.

In general, the best wheelchair is a wheelchair that is durable and can last for a long time. The wheelchair should be sturdy enough for everyday use. The best wheelchair for seniors should also be comfortable to use.

When we talk about comfort, we are not just referring to how comfortable it is to sit down on a wheelchair seat. A wheelchair should be comfortable to use and easy to maneuver.

The best wheelchair for a senior should be able to provide security and safety for the user. A safe and secure wheelchair should prevent the user from falling. It should be easy to stop especially when going down an incline.

How do you stop an older person from falling out of a wheelchair?

Falling out of a wheelchair can result in injuries. These injuries can be serious for elderly users. The National Council on Aging reports that one adult is treated in an emergency room for a fall every 11 seconds. The same report also indicated that one elderly adult dies from a fall every 19 minutes

One of the ways that an older person can avoid falling out of a wheelchair is by ensuring that the elderly individual is using the right size of the wheelchair. A wheelchair should be big enough to allow the user to sit comfortably but not too large that the user might slip or fall off.

Using a harness or a seat belt can help prevent accidental falls from a wheelchair. Seniors who have dementia will benefit from the security that harnesses or belts provide. However, the use of these contraptions can be uncomfortable for some.

Non-slip pads and wedge cushions can also help prevent an elderly individual from falling out of a wheelchair. These are ideal for those who don’t like restraining tools like belts or harnesses. These also add an additional layer of comfort for the user.

How many wheelchairs will Medicare pay for?

Medicare covers wheelchairs as long as the user’s doctor states that it is required because of the user’s medical condition. Medicare Part B covers 80% of the wheelchair’s cost. The user will shoulder the remaining 20%. Medicare covers the replacement for lost or damaged wheelchairs. This applies to those who have Original Medicare.

What is the most difficult thing for wheelchair users?

Ease of mobility is the most difficult thing for wheelchair users. This does not pertain to just how difficult a wheelchair is to maneuver. Wheelchair users also have a hard time navigating public spaces.

Wheelchair users often encounter small doorways, narrow hallways, or inclined spaces. They even find it difficult to use public restrooms even if there are accessible public toilets. Accessing these spaces are compounded if the user has a chair that is bulky or has large wheels.

Reviews

Eagle Power Folding Wheelchair - “It takes only about half an hour to four hours to charge the battery!“ - Quick N Mobile Mobility

Medline Ultralight Transport Wheelchair - “Medline Ultralight Transport Chair With Mobility is the lightest chair of its kind”- Best Home Shopping Reviews

Karman S-305 Ergonomic Wheelchair - “The Karman S-305 Ergonomic Wheelchair is a fantastic design!” – Chair Institute

EZ Lite Cruiser Deluxe DX12 - “An excellent, light-weight electric wheelchair at an amazing price-point!” - Margaret Sellars

Drive Medical Lightweight Transport Wheelchair – “Superior maneuverability” – Gaurav Dhir

Giantex Store lightweight Wheelchair - “This is an ideal travel wheelchair option for those looking for something easy enough to transport in a car or flying with durability and independent use”. – Ritesh Saxena

Additional Resources

Older Adults and The Importance Of Social Interaction

Most seniors use wheelchairs to visit a family member, a neighbor, and friends. This article underscores the importance of social interactions and how they affect the health and well-being of the elderly.

A Guide to Using Your Manual Wheelchair Safely

A comprehensive guide for first-time users of manual wheelchairs. The article provides helpful information about the safe use of manual wheelchairs for beginners.

Wheelchairs and Scooters

This article contains everything that you need to know about wheelchairs and Medicare. The article outlines the requirements for the coverage of wheelchairs as well as what to do in case a wheelchair gets damaged or lost.

Tips and Tricks to Help You Perform Maintenance On Your Wheelchair

An article that teaches how to properly maintain a wheelchair. This article also identifies common wheelchair problems and how to fix them. 

For more information on senior care and the best senior products, check out the rest of our resources on SeniorStrongtoday!

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