Your typical wheelchair that comes as a recommendation from the doctor or the insurance isn’t going to cut it, more often than not.
Comfort, as a quality, is hard to measure and quantify. Wheelchair comfort is, thus, not a variable anyone will factor in. But don’t worry, that’s what we’re going to take care of for you.
In this piece, we’re going to talk about the most comfortable wheelchairs for elderly so that you could have a nice time and an easier life.
The parameters for comfort include the ease of use, assembly, how compact the wheelchair becomes after folding, seat cushioning, armrest padding, backrest cushioning, foot support, headrest unit, and so on.
In a hurry?
We already have the most wholesome wheelchair figured out for you. Want to skip on the research? Here’s the “too long, didn’t read” version: buy the MDS806550E from Medline and thank us later. This wheelchair is simply the best when it comes to overall comfort without compromising on quality. It’s lightweight, has flip-back armrests, elevating footrests, and super-comfortable upholstery.
It even has support in the leg frame, which is something most manufacturers don’t bother themselves with. And the MDS806550E from Medline isn’t all about comfort. It’s one of the most well-functioning, ergonomically designed self-propelled wheelchairs, in general, out there. It might sound too good to be true, but Medline has really aced the game here.
OUR TOP PICK
Drive Medical Silver Sport (SSP20RBDDA)
It’s a comfortable, durable, sturdy, premium, and high-performance wheelchair from all perspectives. And it comes at a great price too.
- Lightweight yet very durable. Powerful frame.
- High-quality, breathable, and soft nylon upholstery.
- Flip-back, desk-length armrests that get out of the way during transfer.
- Elevating footrests with extra support. These are removable.
- Very easy to put together and user-friendly.
- Comes with Mag-style wheels that roll smooth.
- 300 pounds weight capacity.
OUR TOP PICK
This is a particularly special model. MDS806550E from Medline has come after many years of improvements. This model itself has seen several improvements now. It’s safe to claim that at this point in time, the MDS806550E is one of the most comfortable Medline wheelchairs. It doesn’t have any tall claims or out-of-this-world features. It does what a wheelchair is supposed to do. And it does that reliably, safely, and effectively. Starting from the welding and the frame to the upholstery and the quality of different parts – the MDS806550E delivers high performance. It’s a premium wheelchair without the price tag.
It’s hard to imagine anyone finding it difficult to use this particular model.
- Breathable, soft, high-quality upholstery provides a lot of comfort and lasts long. It’s also easy to clean.
- The armrests can be flipped back and removed. Going under tables or transferring to or from vehicles is made easy. These armrests are desk-length.
- A durable and sturdy steel main frame that supports up to 300 lbs.
- Rear wheels work on any type of surface, including uneven surfaces outdoors, smoothly.
- Elevating leg rests rise and fall with your feet – making it an even more comfortable wheelchair.
- The seat back and the arms can be raised and lowered depending on your convenience. Adjusting for varying support can help enhance the comfort.
- No known drawbacks.
Drive Medical Silver Sport
The Silver Sport, model SSP20RBDDA, is a reclining self-propelled wheelchair. Recliner wheelchairs are arguably more comfortable than non-recliners. The Silver Sport has made many elderlies happy, allowing them to return to their normal lives and partake in social events, going shopping, or watching a basketball game. It’s a well-designed wheelchair with plenty of usefulness and good function, and as a result, it’s also our Editor’s Choice for comfortable wheelchairs for elderly.
It has all the features that a good wheelchair needs and then some.
- Swing away and swing in elevating leg rests (yes, both). The footplates are durable.
- Comes with anti-tippers for added safety.
- Cushioned head immobilizer and padded armrests improve the wheelchair’s comfort.
- 90 to 180 degrees – you can adjust the angle to any degree you want from fully vertical to fully horizontal. The reclining works on a hydraulic system and it’s effortlessly easy to transition to and from sitting and lying down positions.
- Easy to clean, soft, and lightweight upholstery.
- The carbon steel frame is fairly sturdy, and not very heavy.
- Doesn’t include a seat belt.
- People with longer legs might find the footrest length insufficient.
Carex FGA33677 0000
The FGA33677 0000 from Carex is a transport wheelchair under $90. In terms of overall durability, ergonomics, comfort, and safety, you cannot get any other wheelchair better than this one here at this price point. Recommended for people with chronic medical conditions or those recovering from injuries, this Carex model is well-received among older adults.
- Comes with adjustable swing away and removable footrests.
- No assembly is required besides popping the wheels.
- It’s very compact when folded.
- 19 inches seating area.
- Durable 8-inch wheels.
- Only weighs 25 lbs – very lightweight.
- Sitting for long hours isn’t recommended. Not the most comfortable wheelchair out there. It’s great for occasional use though.
- Permanently welded armrests – they don’t move out of the way for convenience.
Karman Healthcare Ergo Flight
The Ergo Series from Karman Healthcare always ends up on our top lists. The selling point of this series is the meticulousness, craftsmanship, and design value it provides. Ergo Flight is no different. It highly ergonomic and allows the user to distribute their weight equally, thus making sitting in it extremely comfortable.
- Weighs 19.8 lbs. Very easy to carry around, lift up inside the trunk, and get out of the car as and when needed.
- AEGIS upholstery that’s very comfortable and lightweight.
- Detachable footrests with heel loops to keep feet in place.
- Made out of aircraft-grade T6 aluminum which is durable and light.
- Ergonomic build – meaning the seat isn’t flat, but instead in an S-shape, which allows the body’s weight to be exerted equally through the bottoms, thighs, and hamstrings, thus relieving additional pressure on the bottoms.
- The entire design is with comfort in mind. The hand-rim, for example, is made for better grip and ergonomics.
- Doesn’t have an elevating leg rest.
The seat becomes jammed in some cases. How frequent is this problem is not yet known.
Drive Medical Cruiser III
From the moment you sit in it, you’ll feel comfort as never before. The Cruiser III is a great product. The reason why it’s so low on the list has to do with its almost unfair pricing and lack of additional support in the leg rest.
Cruiser III is very comfortable, built using high-quality materials and parts, and comes with a strong carbon steel main frame.
- Durable, comfortable, and soft nylon upholstery.
- Adjustable seat depth from 16 inches to 18 inches.
- Weights under 36 pounds, not too heavy neither very light.
- 3-position adjustable Mag-style wheels that are 8 inches and maintenance-free.
- It’s a compact wheelchair and you won’t find it difficult to enter rooms while in it.
- It comes pre-assembled, except for the legs, which you can easily put on.
- In some cases, the quality of the plastic parts has been questionable.
- Pre-assembly is not perfect, it’s recommended that you check all screws and tighten any loose ones.
Best comfortable wheelchairs for elderly buying guide
Recliner and tilt-in-space wheelchairs
It’s generally said that recliner (or reclining) wheelchairs and tilt-in-space (or simply tilting) wheelchairs are much more comfortable than normal ones. However, that’s not true and very subjective. The reclining wheelchairs allow you to take it from a (nearly) fully vertical position to a (nearly) fully horizontal position. Tilting wheelchairs, on the other hand, allow the frame to tilt back up to 50 degrees.
Most elderlies find normal wheelchairs to be much more comfortable, as there’s no additional hassle. At the same time, reclining and tilting wheelchairs become heavier and larger as a result of more parts. This can also hamper getting in and out of rooms or cause fitting problems in car trunks.
Apart from hunting for the most comfortable wheelchairs for elderly, you should also have a look at seat cushions and other types of padding for chairs. Seat cushions improve the comfort of the wheelchair by a lot. Some manufacturers also make seat cushions with memory foam, which further increases comfort.
Weight and its impact on comfort
The wheelchair’s weight is directly linked with the comfort it can provide. It’s not just sitting that you’ll be doing in the wheelchair. A good chunk of your time will go into moving around in it. And it’s easier to drive a lighter wheelchair. As a result, you’ll have a more comfortable time moving around in a light or ultralight wheelchair. However, lighter wheelchairs are not ideal if you’re going to be outside – as they can tip over or not feel as great on uneven surfaces. That’s where heavier frames work. As a general rule of thumb, you can go for a light wheelchair if it’ll be mostly used at home.
Always know the seat size
Knowing the seat size is key to having a comfortable wheelchair experience. If the seat size is smaller and you feel snug, there’s a chance that using the wheelchair won’t be as comfortable. Knowing the right size, therefore, is extremely crucial.
Transport wheelchairs increase the comfort
Transport or transit wheelchairs are pushed by a caregiver and not self-propelled. So, this of course alleviates the pain to some degree, but in general, a transport wheelchair is much easier to push and maneuver. They have small wheels that can be used to take comfortable turns. You should look into getting a transport wheelchair if you can manage a caregiver. It will surely be a more comfortable experience.
Frequently asked questions
What do I need to pay attention to when buying a comfortable wheelchair?
First, you should pay attention to the available seat sizes. If you can’t find a size appropriate for you, there’s little reason to even consider it, right?
After that, the seat’s quality, height, and depth are important considerations.
The chair’s total height, width, and most importantly, its total weight are all extremely important features to pay attention to. If they don’t feel okay to you for your use, it won’t be a comfortable experience at all.
Armrests, leg rests, backrest, and headrest – all these parts should have padding and good upholstery. It’s extremely important for comfort. If they don’t, you might end up having to buy a number of various accessories such as side padding and seat cushions.
Last but not the least; the wheels are also very important. You need to see whether they are durable wheels or not. In self-propelled wheelchairs, all-metal wheels are better if you’ll be going outdoors a lot.
How do ergonomics affect comfort?
Ergonomics might be the most important factor in deciding the comfort level of a wheelchair. Wheelchairs with good ergonomics have seats and armrests (and probably other parts as well) designed in a shape that allows for equal weight distribution. Equal weight distribution helps increase comfort and reduce pressure on some parts, like the bottoms while sitting.
Footrests: should I go for swing away rests or elevating rests?
Mostly, wheelchairs will either have swing away footrests or elevating footrests. On rare occasions, they might have both or none. In terms of comfort, which one should you go for? The primary job of swing away foot (and leg) rests is to make it effortlessly easy to get in and out of the wheelchair. On the other hand, elevating leg rests are what improve comfort. In addition to comfort, they also let you raise and extend your leg position as you see fit, which in turn helps relieve pressure and prevent swelling or sores.
What upholstery should I go for?
Different types of upholsteries in wheelchairs have different qualities. Two of the most used upholstery materials are nylon and vinyl. They are both good for different reasons.
- Vinyl is very easy to clean, tear-resistant, and very durable. You can wipe it clean with minimal effort.
- On the other hand, nylon upholstery is very comfortable, soft, breathable, and supportive. It’s also lighter. So, if comfort is your thing, then we recommend nylon. That’s why you’ll find only nylon upholstery recommendations in this review.
Are wheels important for comfort?
Absolutely. You should always pay attention to the wheel quality. The better the wheels, the smoother your drives will be. It’s true that if you’re only going to use the wheelchair in an interior setting such as a hospital or your home, then you have little to worry about even with wheels that aren’t very good. But overall, the wheel quality and size determines how comfortable your drive is going to be. Always double-check reviews and try to find out what the quality of the wheels is.
Does my height play a role in deciding how comfortable will I feel in a particular wheelchair?
Ideally, it should not as most manufacturers sell multiple sizes. But if you do get stuck with a wheelchair that’s unable to fully accommodate your legs, then yes, things will be pretty uncomfortable. Keeping your legs even slightly folded for long durations is not recommended. In this case, the first option you have is to return the wheelchair and get a new one. If that’s not an option, you might want to remove the footrests and use a simple band in its place instead.
What other things can I invest in to make my wheelchair even more comfortable?
Apart from seat cushions, you can have:
- Lumbar support,
- Cushioned armrests,
- Backrest padding,
- Lateral side supports,
And several other types of padding. Sitting with your legs crossed is more comfortable than sitting with them hanging. Also, you need to perfectly adjust the footrest before you start using your wheelchair for maximum comfort. Avoid bulky clothing while in the wheelchair.
So, with that, you have the answer to the most pressing of questions. Buying comfortable wheelchairs for elderly isn’t an easy task. There are so many options to choose from, and an equal amount of claims. Good wheelchairs from trustworthy brands might fail sometimes, while cheaper alternatives might fit the bill just right.
It all depends on the amount of research you do. We’ve distilled a lot of our research into this piece and as a result, you have the best options available for you. Make your choice, and may you have a great experience with the wheelchair you buy!
Last update on 2023-03-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API