Peter Wingrave of AAT, the mobility innovation specialists, offers some advice on choosing assistive technology for seating.
One of the inevitables as we age is we become less strong, which affects our ability to do even basic daily activities. Indeed, a report by the British Medical Journal states : “ in the English National Fitness Survey, nearly half of women and 15% of men aged 70-74 years had a power to weight ratio (for extension of the lower limb) too low to be confident of being able to mount a 30 cm step without a hand rail.”
Imagine how that impacts on our ability to do basics- not just mounting a step, but getting up from the chair, doing the housework.
The more active people remain, the less likely they are to fall, according to the Chartered Institute of Phyisotherapy(1). Moving also encourages blood circulation, lung activation, and stimulates muscle tone.
Anecdotal evidence also highlights that the more you move about in the day, even getting up to make a cup of tea, the less soporific you actually feel, and it helps retain strength and mobility.
So how do you make a start, if we’re struggling to get up from the chair? We run through the options, but your choice will depend on your own ability to move, how you live daily life, and your design/ aesthetic preferences. Do note that many of these items of equipment are available via your local social services (depending on your own circumstances). If you utilise that route, don’t forget you do still have the right of choice, and can have a say in what is provided.
The options include:
A seat raiser is basically a deep firm cushion that goes on the seat of the chair or settee, reducing the height variation from sit to stand and vice versa. It’s better for taller people, as many of us may feel “perched” and unstable. It can be moved from chair to chair. There is no mechanism to hold it in place.
A walking frame provides a firm hold and lever point to help support you from standing to sitting and vice versa, and has the dual purpose of giving you a support whilst you move around. Stability as you lean on it can be an issue. Wheeled versions may propel away from you if not used correctly. It can move to any seat you choose to use, at home or away.
A riser recliner is an electric powered armchair. You stand in front with your bottom against the seat; at the push of a button the whole seat moves to lower you to sitting, or raise you to standing. The seating position itself is posturally correct and erect, giving good back support although some people find this too uncomfortable to use for long periods of time. It also means that is the only chair you can use- at home or if you go visiting.
All of the above are commonly known about. There are other, lesser known practical alternatives.
Sit n Stand is a battery-powered inflatable shaped cushion. At the push of a button, it smoothly tilt in space and inflates to raise you up, or deflates to lower you onto your favourite chair or settee. The cycle pattern means that, having helped the user up from one seat, the cushion is in the correct position to lower them back down onto that seat- or wherever they have chosen to move it to.
Lightweight and with its integrated soft self-shaping back, Sit n Stand can be safely used with/moved onto any domestic seat with a back, without any need for fixing. So you can move it around your home as you need, and even out and about.
The cover is washable too.
The battery is capable of delivering up to 90 inflated rounds from one charge- sufficient for a week of typical use, and recharges within six hours.
See how it works here: