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12. Getting Up Without Struggle

Getting Up Without Struggle

When I go into senior’s homes for Home Safety Evaluations, I specifically look at how easily the individual can get up and down from the easy chair/recliner.  Often I see a familiar scene:  standing up from the chair is slow, difficult, and even painful.  Some people have those nifty, electric E-Z Lift chairs that rise with the push of a button.  Many people cannot afford those chairs and instead sit there and do nothing.

There is a simple solution, and the impact on improving the quality of life is surprisingly large.  The answer is a wood riser placed under the chair.  This simple device, made from 2X4’s and a piece of plywood, raises the height of the chair by about four inches.  This makes the hip height a little higher than the knees when the user transitions from sitting to standing.  And that translates to a much easier, faster, and less painful transfer. 

It may seem obvious how a riser would help.  But what isn’t immediately apparent is the significant impact on the health and wellness of the person following the placement of the riser.  For some folks, standing up from the chair is so inconvenient that instead the individual remains seated perhaps for hours and hours.  It is easier to sit there and watch TV.  And so it goes; all day every day.  I have met people caught up in this insidious cycle to such an extent that they slowly curtail food and drink so that they frequent the bathroom less often.  So they are literally compromised with nutrition and hydration, kidney function, and GI function.  Even the dog isn’t let out as often as he should be.  Sitting and watching TV all day is not good for the mind as well.

“That’s the best thing to come into my house in the last two years!” was the comment made by my last patient after I made and placed a riser under his recliner chair.  Instead of getting up from his chair only two or three times per day, now he gets up eight or 10 times per day.  He’s more active, up going to the kitchen or bathroom, and answering the door.  Even the dog goes out more often.

If you or someone you know struggles to stand from their favorite chair, there may be a simple and affordable solution that actually improves overall quality of life. 

Written by Flint Stearns, OTR/L

Published August 2011

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