Wheelchair Buying Guide for Seniors

Aging, the biological process of growing old, is inevitable and irreversible. Cellular degeneration over time causes aging. It is a process which varies for each individual and is ongoing. Some of the common effects of aging witnessed are decreased motor skills, impaired senses, slower reaction time, painful and stiff muscles and joints, weakened body functions, and systems. Old age is marked by medical problems such as arthritis, dementia, osteoporosis, diabetes, hypertension, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and cardiovascular concerns. These conditions cause gait and balance disorders because they cause pain, imbalance, reduced strength, poor posture, fatigue and decreased sensory perception. Certain medications such as antihypertensive drugs can also result in gait instability. Incidences of falls are very common which sometimes result in major injuries. Consequently, independent mobility becomes a challenge for the aged.

Any restriction on their mobility further calls for a sedentary or an indoors bound lifestyle. It also limits their outdoor activities, social interaction, etc. all of which is very essential for a healthy body and mind.

It is here that wheelchairs prove to be a boon to the lives of the elderly. It proves wonders for them in the following aspects –

  • Mobility is regained both in the indoor and outdoor spaces.
  • Feel of independence is assured. For those who can manage by themselves, self-propelled wheelchairs can be used, ruling out the need to have someone to push the wheelchair. In case of inability to push the wheelchair by themselves, electric ones can be used.
  • Ultimate comfort and safety is assured while using a wheelchair.
  • Increased outdoor activities are assured. The elderly can go grocery shopping, visit friends, dine outside, watch movies outside, visit parks, etc. Better socialization enables a healthy and happy mind.


We now look at the choices available for the elderly and the key considerations to be observed while investing in a wheelchair.

Lightweight wheelchairs

Most popular among the elderly, they weigh between 29 to 34 lbs. pounds. They are made of high-quality material which gives extra strength and shock tolerance. Different seat-to-floor positions are possible for comfort. Padded armrests, adjustable and swing-away footrests are other useful features. The back can be reclined to different angles allowing different seating positions. They are foldable and thus can be easily transported.

The Invacare Tracer SX5 Recliner Wheelchair is a lightweight manual wheelchair with an added advantage of a full reclining back which allows different comfortable seating positions. It is available in different seat widths, arm styles, and front riggings. Urethane tires are mounted on no-flex wheels for a superior performance.

Invacare Tracer SX5 Recliner Wheelchair

Transport wheelchairs

These are lightweight mobility chairs which combine the function of a power or electric wheelchair with the portability of a rollator. They are lightweight (weigh a maximum of 20 pounds), smaller in size and compact when compared to a standard wheelchair. This makes them portable, especially the foldable models which get a further compact to be easily placed in a vehicle. They have smaller wheels and thus cannot be self-propelled, like a standard wheelchair, and needs to be pushed around by a companion. They also have the other common features such as adjustable footrest, padded armrest, seat-to-floor height adjustment, reclining back, etc.

Drive Poly-Fly Lightweight Transport Chair Wheelchair

The Drive Poly-Fly Lightweight Transport Chair Wheelchair is a combination of a self-propelled wheelchair as well as a transport chair. The quick release 24 inches wheels can be removed for converting from a standard wheelchair to a transport chair. It has two sets of brakes – one for the wheelchair and one for the transport chair. The back-release folds down the backrest making it compact for the ease of storage and transportation.

Bariatric wheelchairs

Also, known as heavy-duty or extra-wide wheelchairs, they have a higher weight capacity accommodate overweight individuals. They also have larger dimensions to accommodate larger users. While most of their features are similar to the normal wheelchairs focusing on user’s safety and comfort, the primary difference lies in their construction. They are made of heavy-duty PVC or reinforced metal tubing and provide added reinforcement due to their heavyweight vinyl or upholstery material.

The Drive Sentra Extra Heavy-Duty Wheelchair, has a durable, heavy gauge, reinforced naugahyde upholstery. The carbon steel frame has a triple coated chrome for a long-lasting finish. The front and rear sealed wheel bearings ensure a superior performance. Push to lock wheel locks give the necessary safety.

 Drive Sentra Extra Heavy Duty Wheelchair
Invacare Mariner Rehab Shower Commode Chair with 18 Inches Seat

The Invacare Mariner Rehab Shower Commode Chair , has an aluminum frame and stainless-steel hardware which is corrosion-resistant, making it ideal for use in showers. It offers different seat widths and wheel options for a customized fit. Flip-back padded arms which have a locking feature, swing-away front riggings, adjustable footrest and a four-position padded seat are the other useful features.

So, while we age and face the inevitable, let us decide to age gracefully and in a healthy manner. Keep a positive attitude and focus on the good things in life. Reap the rewards of having entered the golden years of your life. Live in the moment and hold on to these glorious years!! Using a wheelchair is the best choice when faced with an impaired mobility. Maintain your mobility with full confidence, self-esteem, pride, and independence.