Lifting Cushions for the Elderly

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Is it too difficult to get up from your seat or too embarrassing because of the aid you need?  Do you suffer from arthritis, a neuromuscular disorder, or muscle weakness inhibiting your ability to rise from a chair?

Lifting cushions for the elderly are necessary for anyone with one of these conditions, especially if you feel your independence is in jeopardy.  People who are weakened because of age or illness or people who have had an injury or surgery and need assistance standing, lifting cushions are readily available at a minimal cost. 

Just because you need help to stand from a sitting position, do not give up hope.  There are aids for these common conditions.  From the reviews I have read they are well worth the investment and bring great comfort to the person in need. 

What is a Lifting Cushion?

A lifting cushion is a portable device that rests upon any chair seat.  When activated, they give the user enough of a boost to enable them to rise from the seated position without the aid of another human.

They are specially designed to aid persons who can safely walk on their own once they have risen, even if they use a walker.  These are persons who are active in their homes and communities, they just need help when standing up.

Image of four seniors setting at a park table
Candidates for the Lifting Seat Cushion

How Does a Lifting Cushion Work?

If you are like me, you are imagining the user of this cushion starts to stand and they are immediately thrust forward with such force their arms are flailing while they are trying to maintain their balance and regain their footing.  It conjures up a picture of someone being shot out of a cannon, so to speak.  Trust me, this is NOT how this device works.

Basically, these are foam-padded, cloth-covered seats atop a base with built-in hydro-pneumatic gas spring (on the same order as the lifts that raise the hatchback door of an SUV).  Once you adjust the spring to your weight category, then it’s a matter of setting on the seat.  Once seated, when you lean forward to rise, the spring engages, and the expanse of the seat gently provides a lift of up to 70% of your body weight. 

Specs and Options on Lifting Cushions

There are several questions people ask right away, so here are some of the details.  The lifting seat comes as a one-piece unit, weighing 9-12 pounds.  Its lightweight, coupled with the attached carrying handle, making them highly portable.  

The hydro-pneumatic gas spring, a pressure mechanism, gives the part you set on its lift.  Since it is a spring, this does not need batteries or electricity to function.

An important aspect of the seat is that it lifts on a level plane.  In other words, both sides of the seat raise up equally keeping your body balanced during the lifting process.

The weight range that these cushions will assist is 95-340 pounds.  (These are not recommended for persons under 95 pounds.)

The lift cushion is designed to work best in armchairs or hard-bottomed chairs such as kitchen chairs.  They can be used on couches or sofas as well.  They are not recommended for recliner chairs, office chairs or wheelchairs, but customer reviews state they have been used in all these types of seats.

There are things to be aware of concerning the surface you place them on.  If the sofa or couch has very soft cushions it may affect the performance of the lifting cushion.

Customers seem to have all different types of results with couches and recliners.  Some stated they had no problems using the device in their recliner or on their sofa, while others said they did not perform at all on these softer surfaces.

The reason these lifting cushions are not to be used with wheelchairs or office chairs is because of the chair’s wheels.  When you begin the standing process the chairs with wheels would roll on the user, creating a hazard in and of itself.

A caution concerning sofas, if the user needs to use both hands to balance themselves while rising, a sofa does not have arms on both sides for balance.  Here, again, testimonies were the same as when used with recliners.  Some persons were ok, others were weaker and needed arms on both sides in order to rise.

Please address these issues with the user before you purchase: 1) Know their condition and their assistance requirements.  2)  Know the seating area they will be using the device in.  Making the proper assessment before your purchase is vital as refunds or returns may not be an option.

The seat on the lift cushion is padded with either foam or memory foam.  Check the description for what type of foam is used.

Memory foam molds to the body, aids in preventing pressure sores, and is more resilient.  It will also increase the price.  There were fewer complaints about the comfort of the memory foam seat.

In addition to the padding, most of the lift cushions included a removable, machine washable cover for easy cleaning.  Some covers are waterproof, a great option if you intend to use it outside.  Again, if you want a waterproof cover check the description for that aspect.

While the dimensions of the product vary, they are generally, when seated, 2”-4” high, 17” deep, and 19” across.  Realize this will add height to the seated person and lower the height of the arms for the seat they are placed in.  Neither of these things is a major problem, but they are something to keep in mind.

Further, the time frame for use varied with the customer.  Many people said the cushion was comfortable for long periods of time, others not so much.  Personally, I think if this is your concern, you should purchase the memory foam model. 

Important Factors to Consider

Image of Elderly man wearing glasses, and smiling
Help me understand the different seat lifting Cushions

Upon reading the reviews and questions there were two things that seemed to be discussed the most. 

  1. What is the difference in all these models?
  2. I can’t seem to get the cushion to work, any suggestions?

For both these questions, experienced users tended to offer the same information.

What is the Difference in These Models?

This question was being asked about lifting cushions made by the same manufacturer, Carex.  But when you look at the pictures, they all look alike.  There are two models of the Up-easy Seat Assist and two models of the Up-easy Premium Seat Assist.

The two different models are designed for differing weights.  One model accommodates persons 95-220 pounds.  The other model is for persons weighing between 200-340 pounds.  (Please note persons under 95 pounds may not get the unit to function due to weight.)

The difference between the Up-easy and the Up-easy Premium is the foam and the cover.  The Up-easy seat assist is an indoor model made with standard polyurethane foam and a washable cover while the Up-easy Premium seat assist is an indoor-outdoor model made with memory foam and a waterproof washable cover.

In other words:  The Up-easy seat assist has a model shown on Amazon that handles 95-220 pounds or a model seen on Amazon that assists 200-340 pounds.  It is made with polyurethane foam and a washable cover.

The Up-easy Premium seat assist has a model seen on Amazon that assists a 95-220-pound person or a model view on Amazon that assists a 200-340 pound person.  Both the Premium models are made with memory foam and include a waterproof machine washable cover.

How to Make the Lifting Cushion Function

First and foremost, per everyone’s advice, check the gas spring to make sure it is in the proper weight slot for the user. The unit is hinged in the front.  Open the unit and make sure the gas spring is in the correct weight position for the user.

If the weight position is too high, the user may not be able to create enough pressure to force the spring to work lowering the seat.  If it is in too low a bracket the spring will not activate properly to raise the user. 

Some additional comments were that the spring is stiff initially and will loosen slightly with use.  Others recommended using it on a kitchen chair first, a hard surface they are specially designed for.  This will confirm the cushion functions and the surface you are using it on may be the problem.

Many people stated they had to be persistent with adjusting the gas spring.  Other suggestions were to press the front or hinged part of the upholstered seat cushion until the seat flexed outward releasing the mechanism and opening the lift cushion.  One even suggested standing on the hinged end of the cushion until the mechanism freed itself and you could put the gas spring into the proper weight slot.

Still, there were lots of purchasers who raved about these products and had no such problems with the lift mechanism at all. 

Electric Models

Image of plug being plugged into power strip

Yes, these lifting seats do have an electric model. View on Amazon.

To be honest I am unclear if you would need to adjust them for weight.  However, I did notice in the reviews and questions that no one answered that way if the unit was not working.  Just be sure to check that the weight limit meets the weight of the user.

These models are virtually the same in function except you need to plug them in for use, which requires electricity.  Many persons who were using them on couches found that if the cushion on the sofa was too soft, then the controls for the lift could not be reached because the cushion covered the controls.

There were far fewer customers for the electric product.  The biggest complaint:  the cushion was uncomfortable.

Warranty

The stated warranty is for 1 year from purchase and is against defects and material defects.  Having spent 18 years in furniture retail I love advising persons on warranties.

The manufacturer is the backer of the warranty.  The retailer enforces the warranty to the specs of the manufacturer.  Because this warranty is for defects and material defects you may not be able to get your money back just because the seat is not comfortable for you or you do not want it.

There were several persons who reported they got nowhere when they wanted to return the item.  Many others said they got great service and replacement or refund.  FYI, used seats of this nature may not be refundable once used for hygienic reasons.

Conclusion

One of the most stated reasons persons bought these kinds of seat lifts was because when they explored purchasing a “lift chair” the price or their space made purchasing the lift chair prohibitive.  I must say, lift chairs are an entirely different animal and are discussed in another article. 

But these are an ideal alternative for people who need a hand up no matter where they go.  These seats are highly portable and an overwhelming success to independence.

They are within everyone’s price range and are an excellent gift option for persons you know with limited income.  I think the best aspect of the lifting cushion for the elderly, is that it returns them to confidence and independence.

All of us love our independence, something we were created with so any device that keeps us independent is worth looking into.  Enjoy your life and the rewards of today’s modern treasures.  Thanks for taking the time to read our article.

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It had finally arrived. We were moved into a small retirement community. After the pain in my hips subsided, and my body revived from proper rest, I was faced with assessing my future. Not old enough to retire and not willing to give up my freedom I embarked on this new adventure: Helping Seniors. After all, I could learn a lot by helping this new age group I belonged to. Thus “Sensible Senior Living” was founded. It is my desire to help others enjoy those “golden years” we are now living in. Enjoy the site and most of all enjoy each and every day you have. In each of you is wisdom, insight and vitality that others can benefit from. You are no less valuable, you’re simply limited in your physical ability to administer that value. Do what you can, be who you are, know your limitations. and live on.

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