Best Wheelchairs For Elderly in 2021

Wheelchairs are a great mobility aid.

Assistive seating is a daily life aid that’s recommended more often than any other type of assistance for the elderly or adults with health issues.

The market is oversaturated with many brands fighting for the limelight, bringing in new technologies and innovation in the way we use these mobility aids.

As such, making the right decision when buying a wheelchair is often difficult and many ask what are the best wheelchairs for elderly.

We’ll help you de-clutter and focus on what’s relevant. Through a total of six wheelchair options, we’ll enable you to find the perfect wheelchair for your needs.

best wheelchairs for elderly

In a hurry?

Of course, you might not have the time to go through all this research and have a look at all the options we have for you. In that case, we recommend the Ultralight Transport Wheelchair from Medline. It’s almost an industry benchmark and people from all walks of life have appreciated the quality and comfort of this product. In our usage, we were able to figure out just why the Ultralight Transport from Medline is so good even in 2020.

OUR TOP PICK

Medline Ultralight Transport Wheelchair with 19” Wide Seat, Folding Transport Chair with Permanent Desk-Length Arms, Red Frame

Medline Ultralight Transport Wheelchair

EDITORS CHOICE

NOVA Lightweight Transport Chair with Locking Hand Brakes, 12' Rear Wheels, Removable & Flip Up Arms for Easy Transfer, Anti-Tippers Included, Blue

NOVA 352B Lightweight Transport Chair

BEST VALUE

Drive Medical TR39E-SV Lightweight Steel Transport Wheelchair, Fixed Full Arms, 19' Seat, Silver

Drive Medical TR39E-SV Lightweight Steel Transport Wheelchair

Indeed, the red color of this wheelchair is absolutely stunning, but sadly, the secret lies elsewhere. It’s very durable and comfortable. It sits at a decent price point. All in all, it’s simply the best wheelchair you can buy.

  • Can carry 300 pounds of weight.
  • Very lightweight (weighs less than 15 pounds) but yet very durable.
  • Its compact build and folding mechanism make it very easy to transport in vehicles.
  • The footrests can be locked to the sides of the wheelchair, thus saving even more space when transporting the chair somewhere.
  • Longer armrests are great for elderlies who will be spending long hours in them.

OUR TOP PICK

Medline Ultralight Transport Wheelchair

Medline Ultralight Transport Wheelchair with 19” Wide Seat, Folding Transport Chair with Permanent Desk-Length Arms, Red Frame

Medline’s Ultralight Transport Wheelchair is not your traditional wheelchair. It’s so much better than that. It very easy to put together, and much easier to use. It has a cup holder, footrests, and a very lightweight yet durable build. All this goes into making the Ultralight Transport one of the best wheelchairs out there for elderlies. Fits easily in the trunk of a car or on the back seat for easier transport. Although you’ll find many wheelchairs that are durable, high-quality, and can accommodate 300 lbs, it’s extremely rare to find one that’s not in the 20-40 lbs range. That kind of weight is not easy to lift in and out of a car. On contrary, the Ultralight Transport is less than 15 lbs – which is precisely its selling point.

Pros

  • One of the bestselling lightweight, foldable transport wheelchairs out there.
  • Weighs less than 15 lbs, making it one of the lightest high-quality wheelchairs.
  • Permanent desk-length arms make day-to-day tasks easier.
  • Overall, this transport wheelchair is very comfortable and easy to use.
  • Hassle-free assembly.
  • 19 inches wide seat will accommodate most people.
  • Premium nylon upholstery with plenty of padding.
  • Easy forward and reverse movements with durable 8 inches rear wheels.

Cons

  • No known drawbacks.

EDITORS CHOICE

NOVA 352B Lightweight Transport Chair

NOVA Lightweight Transport Chair with Locking Hand Brakes, 12' Rear Wheels, Removable & Flip Up Arms for Easy Transfer, Anti-Tippers Included, Blue

A 27 pounds transport chair with 20 inches seat height and 300-pound weight capacity, the 352B from NOVA is clearly a robust, durable, and sturdy transport wheelchair. It’s very comfortable and easy to assemble. In case you don’t need the foot loops, you can easily remove them. The inclusion of hand brakes single-handedly improve the driver’s experience by a lot. Controlling the pace and parking the wheelchair has never been easier. Yes, the brakes will start to run out of juice after a few months of usage, in which case you’ll need to tighten the screws just below the handles.

Pros

  • Hand brakes. It has them.
  • It’s very easy to fold the chair. Becomes very compact upon folding.
  • The swing away footrest is removable. You can flexibly adjust them for the best fit. They also come with heel loops to keep the feet in place. The footrest plate is non-skid.
  • The aluminum frame is extremely durable and sturdy.
  • “Feather Touch” hand brakes are easy to deploy in slopes or bumpy terrain. Controlling the speed of the chair and locking the brakes while parking are both effortlessly easy.
  • The desk arms are flip-up, not permanent, and make the transfer to and from vehicles easier by getting out of the way.
  • An adjustable seat belt adds another layer of security.

Cons

  • This chair weighs 27 pounds, which can be difficult for some to lift in and out of a car.
  • Ergonomically, prolonged sitting can cause discomfort.

BEST VALUE

Drive Medical TR39E-SV Lightweight Steel Transport Wheelchair

Drive Medical TR39E-SV Lightweight Steel Transport Wheelchair, Fixed Full Arms, 19' Seat, Silver

TR39E-SV is one of the lesser-known affordable wheelchairs. Throughout our research, we found many affordable options for a good lightweight transport wheelchair. Drive Medical’s TR39E-SV was the clear winner. It’s a high-quality, well-built transport wheelchair with great overall ergonomics and comfort. It’s easy to assemble and use.

Pros

  • Extensively used without much complaining.
  • The durable steel frame provides satisfactory stability.
  • Low price point.
  • Swing away footrests, padded armrests, comfortable seat, and a great backrest.
  • Maintenance-free 8 inches composite wheels.

Cons

  • Weight capacity is 250 lbs, which will suffice in most cases but might not be for everyone.
  • Nylon upholstery doesn’t inspire trust – it’s not of the highest quality.
  • Both front and rear wheels (casters and rears) are 8 inches. Without a large back wheel set, it’s hard to maneuver this chair on uneven terrain.

RUNNER UP 1

Medline Lightweight Transport Chair

Medline Transport Wheelchair with Lightweight Steel Frame, Microban Antimicrobial Protection, Folding Chair is Portable, Large 12 inch Back Wheels, 19 inch Wide Seat, Red

Medline’s Lightweight Transport differs from the Ultralight Transport mainly in weight. It weighs 34 lbs, which can be quite difficult to lift for many. This transport chair is easy to assemble, easily foldable, gets into a car easily, and has a durable build. Overall, it’s a good design and frame.

Pros

  • Durable and sturdy.
  • Has sway away footrests.
  • Easy to assemble, fold, and transport.
  • Decent comfort.

Cons

  • Wheels are not of great quality.
  • Maneuvering in aisles can be a tad bit tricky what with the larger-than-normal back handle.

RUNNER UP 2

Karman Healthcare Ergo Flight

Karman Healthcare 19.8 lbs Ergonomic Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair, Pearl Silver, 18'x17'

Ergo Flight from Karman Healthcare is an 18 x 17 inches ultra-lightweight wheelchair. It’s super-comfortable, premium-grade, and very easy to use. The only reason it’s not sitting higher up in this review is because of its high price. The chair weighs less than 20 lbs, which is neither too light nor too heavy – just the right weight to ensure stability in a design like this one.

Pros

  • Good quality upholstery.
  • Lightweight and durable frame that’s stylish, well-designed, and ergonomically well-built.
  • Very comfortable and easy to use.
  • Removable footrests with heel loops.
  • Made out of T6 aluminum – an aircraft-grade material.
  • Hand brakes remove the need to bend down to stop the wheelchair.
  • The back folds down.

Cons

  • Price is significantly higher than normal transport wheelchairs.
  • Self-propelling will take extra effort as the diameter of the rear wheels is just 20 inches.

RUNNER UP 3

Drive Medical Blue Streak Wheelchair

Drive Medical Blue Streak Wheelchair with Flip Back Desk Arms, Swing Away Footrests, 18 Inch Seat

Blue Streak’s 75% 5-star rating out of nearly 4,800 ratings on Amazon is a feat in itself. It’s a great product and has been so for years now. This model has seen countless improvements in terms of design and ergonomics. With flip-back desk arms and swing away footrests, this 18 inches seat wheelchair can be self-propelled or propelled by a caregiver. The all-metal wheel design is truly an industry-standard, pioneered by Drive Medical.

Pros

  • It’s one of those wheelchairs that you can use for long hours.
  • Well-made and easy to put together.
  • It offers a very ergonomic and comfortable design.
  • The wheelchair is very easy to use and maneuver.

Cons

  • There’s an issue with the chair in that it stops folding/unfolding after a few uses in some cases. The remedy is straightforward. You need lubrication from the beginning, even if you don’t face the problem currently. Lube on the shiny slider pipes at the front of the seats, which go in and out of the frame, will keep it working smoothly.

Wheelchairs for elderly buying guide

Using wheelchairs in the supermarket

The supermarket is full of narrow aisles. Being able to effortlessly maneuver the wheelchair or turn back in case you missed something will save time and effort. However, not all wheelchairs are good for maneuvering in narrow spaces. A wheelchair needs to have straight handles, not a lot of unnecessary width, wheels with adequate radii, etc. in order to move around effectively. Take note of all these features before you buy if you’re going to be in the supermarket or similar places a lot.

Carrying your wheelchair

You need to plan ahead on how you’re going to carry the wheelchair around when not in use. Not all transport wheelchairs will fit smaller trunks or back seats of vehicles. Although nearly all wheelchairs are folding and you’re highly unlikely to ever get one that isn’t, folding might not solve the problem in and of itself. Always check the total size of the wheelchair when folded and compare it with the space you have.

Ensuring comfort while in the wheelchair

A wheelchair can only be so comfortable. Although the manufacturers try their best by adding padding or using higher-quality upholstery, they also need to ensure proper folding, cleaning, weight, and maneuverability of the chair. As such, you might find a wheelchair lacking in comfort. To ensure comfort, always go with a reputed brand that works with high-quality upholstery in their transport wheelchairs. You can also go for seat cushions. If you desire a high level of comfort, only choose from wheelchairs that have longer padding on their armrests. The seat width also needs to be taken into consideration. If you’re stuck with a wheelchair that’s even a little bit snug, the metal frame can hurt your back. Your entire body has to be supported by the backrest for best comfort.

Frequently asked questions

Does a wheelchair make getting around easier?

If you need assistance in maneuvering due to health issues then a wheelchair is a godsend. It not only allows you to cover the distance but makes your life easier in general. The additional features that most of the transport wheelchairs possess further help the user or their caregiver have an easier time using it.

Are wheelchairs easy to maneuver?

Yes and no. Some wheelchairs are not meant for rugged, uneven terrain like stone pathways and would feel very uncomfortable. On the other hand, some are designed to tackle a variety of surfaces but aren’t as comfortable when stationary. Maneuvering a wheelchair yourself will take time to get used to. On the other hand, if you’re a caregiver, then know that some wheelchairs are significantly more mobile and easy to maneuver than others. Some wheelchairs can take tighter turns, have better all-metal wheels, and a light body – which makes them extremely easy to maneuver. But heavier frames (for stability and comfort), bicycle wheels (to save area), or longer/angled handles (which make taking narrow turns harder) can all make your maneuvering experience a bit tiresome.

What’s the difference between a transport chair and a traditional wheelchair?

A traditional wheelchair is what you’d typically imagine when thinking of wheelchairs in general. Two big rear wheels, nylon seat, chrome frame, and possibly footrests. A transport wheelchair is different. It has four wheels of the same size and is essentially meant to be driven by someone else besides the patient. Additionally, better upholstery, sturdier build, a more ergonomic design, sway away footrests, ample padding, and possibly slide-up armrests are common in transport wheelchairs.

How powerful are the hand brakes on transport wheelchairs?

Surely you won’t get very powerful brakes on a wheelchair, but these are very sufficient and effective for the usual speeds a wheelchair finds itself in. Hand brakes are always a great addition to a transport wheelchair as they eliminate the need for the caregiver or driver to bend in order to stop. In the case of self-propelling wheelchairs, the hand brakes on the back handles are useless, in which case you’d only be using the wheel locks.

Is it easy to fit a transport wheelchair in the trunk of my car?

Yes. Transport wheelchairs are easily foldable. Once folded, they become very compact and as a result, it’s easy to fit them on the back seat or the trunk of a car. In some cases, you might need to additionally remove or fold the footrests, armrests, or headrest.

I don’t want the footrests, can I remove them?

Yes, no modern transport wheelchair has what you’d call permanent footrests. Footrests can almost always be removed. In fact, many prefer their wheelchair without any footrest so that they can perform slight pushes and pulls with their legs or one leg.

Should I go for a lightweight wheelchair? Or are they very weak?

Transport wheelchairs above 40 lbs are considered to be heavy. Whether you’re a user or a caregiver, it’ll be difficult to move around with a wheelchair that’s, let’s say, 42 lbs. 35-40 lbs is still considered slightly heavy. 15-25 is what you’d call lightweight. Those that are closer to 15 or below it are dubbed “ultralight”. The ultralight ones can be a little difficult to maneuver on slopes or uneven terrain. If you have a wheelchair that’s 20-25 lbs in weight, you have a stable chair to sit on.

How do I care for my wheelchair?

Transport wheelchairs are pretty low maintenance. In many cases, you’ll end up with no maintenance wheels. But cleaning the upholstery and lubricating the folding mechanism and brakes are vital. Proper caring can go a long way and increase the longevity of the product. The wheels can also collect dust and hair, so cleaning them from time to time is recommended.

Final thoughts

Hopefully, this piece has given you plenty of value in your hunt for the most suitable wheelchair. Note that a wheelchair or transport wheelchair can be one of two types: self-propelled or not. Although even self-propelled ones have back handles so that others can move you around, they’re primarily meant for the user to move. The self-propelled ones are distinguished by a fairly large set of rear wheels with permanent axles.

 Depending on your requirements, you have many options to choose from. The ones on this list are the best of the best across the mobility aid category. 

Last update on 2021-07-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API