My grandfather lent us his high-end recliner for my spinal surgery recovery. This way I could avoid the stairs to my bedroom. What passed for high-end 40 years ago would be considered entry-level today. We have excellent devices to help standing, sitting, and lying down. Learn about six of them here.
Do you have trouble getting to a standing or sitting position? Is an upcoming surgery prompting you to setup bedroom on the first floor? A Lift Chair Recliner is a comfy recliner on steroids, ready to assist you in every area. Or use simpler devices that help with sitting standing, such as a Seat Assist, a Stand Assist, a Transport Stand Assist, a Toilet Safety Rail, and a Transfer Pole.
Here are six ideas to help you sit, stand, and recovery from surgery in the living room, bedroom, and bathroom.
Update October 23, 2019: We are no longer recommending the transfer pole solution. View that section for more information.
Use a Lift Chair Recliner for Assistance Sitting, Standing, and for Surgery Recovery
Lift chair recliners make it easier to sit down and to stand up. They are super hero recliners that give you a comfortable, adjustable place to lie down when recovering from surgery.
If your leg muscles and joints make it difficult to sit or stand, the lift mechanism can help. A lift chair is a power recliner with some new moves. It uses a motor to both lift the seat higher and angle it toward the floor. Using the lift mechanism to sit and stand requires less joint and muscle use. The lifting mechanism does the work your thigh muscles and knee joints usually do.
If you have ever had hernia surgery then you know that sitting down and standing up are both difficult. The lift chair gives you assistance getting up and down. If you are avoiding using an upstairs bedroom until you recover, then you want a Three Position or Infinite Position chair to create a sleeping position.
If you use the internet to search for a lift chair, you might search by some of lift chair’s other names. You can search for:
- Lift Chair
- Lift Recliner
- Lift Chair Recliner
- Two Position Recliner
- Three Position Recliner
- Infinite Position Recliner
- Bariatric Lift Chair
The Difference Between a Lift Chair Recliner and a Regular Recliner
A lift chair recliners has all the features of a regular recliner, plus the lifting mechanism to help you get up and to sit down.
Just as with regular recliners, lift chairs need some space from the wall behind them. Lift chairs usually need about 22 inches of space to avoid hitting the wall. Wall Hugger models reduce the space required to only 6 inches.
Starter lift chairs help you to get up and sit down, and recline in a sitting position. Higher end models have more recliner positions. All lift chairs have the lifting mechanism to help you to stand up and to sit down.
The Lowest Price Lift Chair for Sitting and Standing Assistance
A Two Position lift chair can lean back in a sitting position. Its two positions are sitting upright and leaning back. It does not have a position for lying flat.
A Two Position lift chair footrest moves with the recline feature. As you go back, the footrest comes out. When you sit up, the footrest goes back down.
The Two Position lift chair is the cheapest design that will still get you the built-in lifting function. It is only appropriate for surgery recovery if you only need to lean back, but not to lie down.
The Lowest-Priced Lift Chair for Sitting and Standing Assistance, and for Post Surgery Recovery
A Three Position lift chair leans back to a sitting position, and leans back farther to a sleeping position. Its three positions are upright, leaning, and lying flat.
The Three Position lift chair footrest comes up when you recline, and goes back down when you sit up.
The Three Position lift chair is the next level up from the Two Position. It is better for surgery recovery because you can lie down on it as if it were a bed.
The Best Lift Chair for Help Sitting and Standing, for Surgery Recovery, and for Comfort
An Infinite Position lift chair can recline in any position from sitting straight up to lying flat with your head lower than your body.
The Infinite Position lift chair allows you to sit up, lean back, lie down, and to lie down with your blood rushing to your head.
The footrest is independent of the recliner back. You can leave the footrest down or bring it up.
The Infinite Position lift chair is the best type for surgery recovery. You can get into many more positions than in the Three Position or Two Position chairs. You can better change your position to relieve pressure. This makes them more comfortable.
Infinite Position lift chairs usually have some programmed positions known as Sleep Recline, Zero Gravity, and the Trendelenburg position.
Sleep Recline position is like a bed. The chair is parallel to the floor. Sleep Recline gives you a relatively flat back and leg setting. In some chairs, the Sleep Position puts the head a little higher than the feet. With an Infinite Position chair, you can adjust the back and feet after choosing the Sleep Position on the remote.
Zero Gravity is a marketing term, so do not get too excited about being weightless. “Zero Gravity” refers to the even weight distribution of your upper and lower body.
The Zero Gravity position puts your butt a little lower than your back and legs. Your back and legs are at the same height off the floor, and your butt is lower than them.
The goal is to distribute your weight evenly across the entire length of the chair. This position relieves pain and pressure for some people.
Despite what you might read elsewhere, the Zero Gravity position does not put you in the Trendelenburg Position (see immediately below). In Zero Gravity mode, your legs and head are at the same level. In the Trendelenburg Position, your head is lower than your legs.
The Trendelenburg Position puts your head lower than your body and legs. Blood flows away from the feet and toward the head. Use it only if it feels good and is safe for you. Check with your doctor. It helps some people. People with brain or heart issues should ask their doctor before using this position.
Lift Chair Recliner Features
Lift Chair Recliners have all the features that regular recliners have. That includes USB charging ports, various fabrics, lumbar pillows, heat, massage, storage pockets, battery backup, and arm covers.
A power headrest moves the headrest backward and forward.
A power lumbar feature moves the lower area of the set back backward and forward. A USB charger allows you to use the chair’s connection to the electrical outlet to recharge your phone.
The USB charger port is usually in the chair’s remote control unit. A footrest extension lengthens the standard footrest another couple of inches.
The heat function supplies warmth throughout the chair. Lift chair massage functions vary in design and usefulness.
Massage is often vibration and I do not think it is that effective.
Some chairs have massage features that truly soothe the muscles.
You will find that only in the highest end models.
Look for these functions in lower-priced and higher-end lift chairs:
Lower Price and Higher Price Lift Chair Differences
This is a generalized list of what you can expect to find. Different chairs will have combinations of these features.
Does Medicare Pay for a Lift Chair?
Medicare might cover your lift chair as “durable equipment,” but there is controversy because some sellers abused the benefit. Check with your doctor and the rules before assuming Medicare will cover your lift chair. At a minimum, you will need to fill out this “Certificate of Medical Necessity.”
Use a Seat Assist for Help Sitting Down and Standing Up
A Seat Assist is a portable device that helps you to sit down and to stand up. It uses a hydraulic or pneumatic spring to compensate for weak legs or knees.
If you search the internet for a Seat Assist, you might get better results searching for it by its alternative names:
- Chair Lift
- Lift Seat
- Seat Lift Assistance
- Seat Assistance
Types of Seat Assist Devices
Seat Assists come in manual and electric models. There are two types movement. Some Seat Assist devices lift up and lean forward, the same way the Chair Lift Recliners do. In addition, some lift up without leaning forward.
Seat Assists are adjustable to give you different levels of support. The heavier you are, the higher setting you need.
Who Can Safely Use a Seat Assist Device
A Seat Assist is a good device for a moderately active adult who is able to walk. Moderately frail or weak users should choose the electric model over the mechanical kind. With the mechanical or manual Seat Assist, the device pushes when you shift your weight forward. It will push a moderately weak user higher. This can feel destabilizing. The electric model moves by remote control, so shifting one’s weight does not activate the device. Therefore, the electric Seat Assist is safer.
A manual Seat Assist will also activate if the user leans forward. It is important not to pick something up off the floor, because the weight shift will activate the lifting mechanism.
Particularly frail people should not use a seat assist.
Where to Safely Use a Seat Assist Device
Different Seat Assist devices have different restrictions. Some companies instruct users to put their devices only on hard chairs, but not sofas or recliners. Others give the opposite instructions. Do not assume that all seat assist devices are the same. The restrictions depend on the design, so you have to check the instructions for suitability to your needs.
The user’s feet should sit flat on the floor. If the feet are hanging above the ground, the seat assist device is too high.
Seat Assists also come with different weight limits. Different models accept people weighing from 80 lb. to 350 lb.
Portable Seat Assists
Most Seat Assist devices fold up for sitting and so are portable. Your Seat Assist might feel a little heavy, though. An average device weight is around 10 lb.
You can take your Seat Assist to the theater or a restaurant. You will want to ensure that the target seat is wide enough for your Seat Assist model.
Seat Assist Comfort
When you use a Seat Assist device, you are sitting on the device instead of the chair. Even if its foam covered, a Seat Assist device might not be as comfortable as the chair underneath it. Seat Assist devices are harder than Chair Lift Recliner cushions.
Use a Simple Stand Assist Device to Push Yourself to a Standing Position
A Stand Assist device helps you to stand up from a seated position. A Simple Stand Assist device acts like the arms of a chair. You use your arm strength to leverage yourself into a standing position. Simple Stand Assist devices help people who are recovering from surgery, or who have minor impairments. Simple Stand Assist devices offer either one or two handles.
Use a Simple Stand Assist for Hip and Knee Replacement Recovery
The simple type of “push off” Stand Assist is a good choice for someone who has had a hip or knee replacement. The user must have good arm strength.
The Under Seat Pillow Stand Assist
One kind of Stand Asscist fits under the seat pillow. It works on any seat cushion that you can sit on. You need it to be under the pillow or cushion to stabilize the device as you lean on it.
You use this type of Stand Assist device as you would use built-in chair arms. Lean on the handles and push to stand up. You can use this type of Stand Assist device with a Chair Lift Recliner, couch or chair, so long as there’s a pillow to tuck it under.
You cannot use a lift like this with a simple chair that does not have a seat cushion.
How to Search for a Simple Stand Assist
If you are searching for a simple stand assist device, they are also known as:
- Couch Standing Aid
- Mobility Standing Aid Rail
- Portable Couch Standing Aid
- Portable Chair Assist
- Universal Stand Assist
- Standing Mobility Aid
- Stand Assist Handles
A Standing Handle One-Armed Floor Stand Assist
Another type is a one-armed device that does not require seat pillows for leverage. Instead, you put the feet of the chair or couch on top of a Standing Handle to pin it down. The weight of the chair or couch gives it stability.
The handle sits just in front of the chair. You grab and push it for leverage as you stand up.
You can use a Standing Handle for leverage even if the seat doesn’t have a pillow. On the other hand, you cannot use a Standing Handle with a Lift Recliner. As the recliner footrest moves forward, it will knock into a Standing Handle.
How to Search for a Standing Handle Assist
To search for a Standing Handle assistance device, use these phrases:
- Standing Handle Assist
- CouchCane (brand name)
- Living Room Standing Aid
- EZ-Riser Mobility Tool (brand name)
Use a Transport Stand Assist for Standing and Transport Assistance
A Transport Stand Assist device helps a person who has more severe disabilities. It helps the user to stand on its platform.
A second person then pulls the platform to transport the user. It is an alternative to an electric Hoyer Lift and a wheelchair.
A Transport Stand Assist has casters that lock in place to give it stability. It has a platform to stand on, and a pad to lean against, one you are standing upright.
A Transport Stand has padding, usually in the seat, knee area, and shin area.
How to Safely Use a Transport Stand Assist
You always need a helper to use a Transport Stand Assist.
He or she needs to bring the assist to where you are sitting, and then lock the casters in place.
Then you use your arms to pull yourself upright.
You stand on the device’s platform, and lean against the seat.
The helper then unlocks the casters, and pulls the device to the destination.
Who Can Safely Use a Transport Stand Assist
The Transport Stand Assist device is good for someone who has arm strength. You must pull yourself up. You also some leg strength to stand on the platform while leaning on the seat pad.
You must be strong enough to pull yourself up to use this device. You also must be tall enough so that your behind leans on the seat. The seat holds the person on the platform while the helper rolls it along.
You can combine a Lift Chair Recliner or Seat Assist with the Stand Assist. The Lift Chair or Seat Assist will help you stand while you pull yourself onto the Transport.
A Transport Seat Assist requires more user strength than a Hoyer Lift.
The user has to be comfortable in a semi-standing position, feet on the platform, leaning on the seat.
Transport Stand Assist Device Pros and Cons
The Transport Stand Assist requires two people to operate.
The user must have enough strength to pull herself up and to lean on the pad.
It is easier on the caregiver than a Hoyer Lift or wheelchair transport.
It is also less expensive than either of those devices.
How to Search for a Transport Stand Assist Device
To search for a Transport Assist, you can use any of these phrases:
- Transport Stand Assist
- Stand Assist Patient Transport
- Hydraulic Stand-Up Lift
- Sit to Stand Lift
Use a Toilet Safety Rail Push Yourself to a Standing Position
A Toilet Safety Rail is like a Stand Assist.
It gives you arms to push on as you are standing up.
Some models straddle the toilet, while others attach the hinge area of the toilet lid. It gives stability to both sitting and standing.
Who Can Safely Use a Toilet Safety Rail
The Toilet Safety Rail is helpful for someone who can use arm strength to gain leverage.
It is not for someone who is too weak to use the toilet unassisted.
A Toilet Safety Rail is a helpful for people who have had surgery, including knee and hip replacements.
The Rail is useful for people with arthritis and balance issues.
How to Use a Toilet Safety Rail
The Toilet Safety Rail should have enough load capacity and the correct height for the person using it.
Rails usually hold up to 300 lb.
The arm height is usually adjustable.
If your toilet has an elongated seat or a bidet, you should check the Safety Rail measurements.
The Toilet Safety Rail you like might not be wide enough for special toilets.
Toilet Safety Rail Pros and Cons
A Toilet Safety Rail is simple to assemble and provides stability in the bathroom.
It sits over the toilet, so it does not take up much room.
There must be enough room on either side of the toilet for the Toilet Safety Rail legs.
It is one more thing in the room, so the benefit it provides has to outweigh that slight inconvenience.
The Toilet Safety Rail will need cleaning along with the bathroom floor, sink and toilet.
How to Search for a Toilet Safety Rail
Toilet Safety Rails go by a few names. To search for one on the internet, try these phrases:
- Commode Safety Frame Handle
- Safety Toilet Rail
- Toilet Grab Bar
- Toilet Rail
- Toilet Rail Grab Bar
- Toilet Safety Frame
- Toilet Safety Frame Rail Bar
- Toilet Safety Rail
Use a Tension-Mounted Transfer Pole as a Bathroom, Bedroom, or Living Room Grab Bar
Oct. 2019 Update: We no longer recommend a tension-mounted transfer bar. These are dangerous as their entire floor grip depends on a tension rod.
After we published this article, a reader mentioned that a friend’s mother got seriously hurt using a tension mounted transfer pole. She started to slip. As she looked for stability, she grabbed the bottom of the transfer pole. The pole detached from its position and the resulting lack of stability added to the mom’s injuries. Lesson learned. Only grab completely stable support that cannot be pulled out with little force!
A Tension-Mounted Transfer Pole helps the user both to stand up and to sit down. It uses tension rather than screws to lock into place. The height is adjustable. As you adjust the height, the rubber grips grab into the ceiling and floor. Undo the tension to move the pole to another location. It can be placed near furniture, the bathtub or the toilet. Some are safe to install in the shower itself. Some Transfer Poles are straight vertical poles. Others have grab bars to add surface area for you to grip. How to Safely Use a Tension-Mounted Transfer Pole You must ensure that the pole is properly locked into place. You should feel no instability when grabbing the pole for stability. Place the pole where you need support. You can grab it to stand up or to sit down from a chair or the toilet. You can use it to transfer in and out of the tub or shower. Who Should Use a Tension-Mounted Transfer Pole A Transfer Pole is useful to anyone who can grab it for support. It’s helpful when recovering from surgery, especially when balance is affected. A Transfer Pole is especially useful in the bathroom, because so many older people have bad falls near the toilet and shower. How to Search for a Transfer Pole When searching the internet for a Transfer Pole, you can try these phrases in your search: Elderly Rotating Ladder Assist Handle Elderly Transfer Pole Floor to Ceiling Grab Bar Tension-Mounted Transfer Pole Transfer Pole