If you hear the term “lift chair”, you might think it’s related to a stairlift.  Actually, a lift chair is something completely different – but it can be just as effective at helping seniors maintain independence and safely age in place!

Lift chairs (also called rise-and-lift chairs, or lift recliners) are innovative medical appliances that look just like your standard, everyday reclining chair. Unlike a normal recliner, though, this chair does more than just tilt the backrest. The chair is designed to slowly move forward and upward from the base as well as the back, to enable the chair user to rise easily from a sitting to a standing position.  

Lift chairs for elderly or disabled people can really help with mobility or balance issues. Their ability to help you move when you want to goes beyond just helping you stand. They also have therapeutic massage and heating functions that relieve stiffness and soreness. What could be more luxurious than pampering your joints and muscles, right in your living room?

Whatever activity you like to do, a lift chair can accommodate you. You can elevate your feet and legs just like in your standard La-Z-Boy. Many users even find that sleeping in their lift chair is more comfortable than lying in bed, because of the many positions it allows.

Lift Chair Features

Chair positions

Lift chairs come in a wide range of sizes and designs. Some chairs have optional features that further enhance your comfort and mobility. It’s important to figure out exactly what kind of chair you should opt for, according to your specific needs.

Lift chairs are available in two-position, three-position, or many-position models. If your main uses for the chair will be reading, watching TV and using your computer, a two-position model should be fine. If you plan to spend time napping in the chair as well, you should choose a chair that can assume three or more positions.

Chair size

If you are a larger person, or you just want more space to feel relaxed, lift chairs come in a variety of dimensions and weight capacities. Size is also a consideration if you want your chair to fit neatly into a smaller seating area.

Chair upholstery

You can select from a range of upholstery options that will suit your décor, as well as the kind of “traffic” your household experiences. Children and pets can be pretty rough on furniture – hard-wearing fabric will help your lift chair maintain its good looks!

Lower back support

Some lift recliner chairs have a compartmentalized backrest that can be adjusted for maximum comfort and support. This is known as a Zero Gravity backrest, and it’s like a fully adjustable car seat in a luxury car.

Wheelchair transfers

Mobility chair users often find that moving from one seat to another can be extremely difficult. Lift chairs are designed to allow safe wheelchair transfers without assistance.

Lift chairs for stairs

If you have a platform lift installed at home, you have the option of using your lift chair on the platform. This enables you to avoid the risks of climbing your staircase, and stand up easily once you reach your destination!

Extra features

Besides assisting your balance and mobility, lift chairs have options such as heated seats, massage panels, and memory foam cushions. If you don’t mind paying extra, these chairs don’t skimp on comfort and luxury.

Lift chair price range

Lift chairs for elderly or disabled people are relatively inexpensive compared to many other mobility aids on the market. However, because of their specialized mechanisms and features, they cost somewhat more than your average recliner.

Medicare may cover lift chairs as durable medical equipment in certain situations, such as if you have severe hip or knee arthritis.

We investigated a number of chair types and brands, and came up with the following price range. Note that this is merely a basic guide, and doesn’t take into account expensive tastes in upholstery!

Type of Lift Chair Features Price Range
Two-Position Reclines to a limited degree, basic up and down lift $400 – $800
Three-Position Reclines to a nearly flat position, includes up and down lift $500 – $1,000
Infinite Position Fully reclines flat, independent motor controls for back and legs $600 – $2,000
Zero Gravity Provides a position that reduces stress on the spine, includes up and down lift $1,000 – $2,500
Heavy Duty Designed for higher weight capacities, includes up and down lift $800 – $2,500
Custom Customizable features, fabrics, and sizes Varies widely


Lift chair safety

A lift chair has motorized parts, which are controlled electronically. This means that it isn’t a completely safe, inert piece of furniture – you will need to take some safety precautions when you use the chair.

The motorized lift unit, the backrest, and the footrest should NOT come into contact with liquids. Spills can cause electric shocks!

Don’t plug your chair into an adaptor or extension cord – make sure it’s plugged into a proper electrical outlet. Besides increasing the risk of overheating, an extension cord is a trip hazard.

If you are thinking of buying a lift chair for a loved one or patient with impaired cognition, bear in mind that they will need supervision to prevent accidents. You will also probably need to operate the chair remote control yourself.

Another risk of lift chairs isn’t quite as obvious as electricity. Some physiotherapists believe that a chair that takes the work away from your legs can lead to weakened muscles over time. However, many therapists think it depends on the individual user. After all, being able to get up more easily from your armchair might encourage you to stand and walk more than usual!

In any case, it’s important to consult with a physiotherapist if you have limited mobility, to keep up your strength and range of motion.


If you’re someone with mobility and balance issues, a lift chair can be a boon. They are a relatively affordable mobility aid that you can install without having to renovate your home.

As long as you keep safety factors in mind, a lift chair has way more advantages than disadvantages when it comes to maintaining independence as you age at home.