Tips on Buying a Wheelchair for Seniors who are Overweight

Updated on March 22, 2021
Smiling senior patient sitting on wheelchair with nurse supporting her. Doctor looking at elderly patient on a wheelchair in the garden. Nurse holding hand of mature woman outside pension home.

One of the most used medical accessories in the market is the wheelchair. Various conditions would require a person to use a wheelchair, whether temporarily or permanently. People who will spend a long time sitting down on the wheelchair may encounter some discomfort after some time; hence, a wheelchair should have the right features to make them feel more comfortable. If you know someone with a condition that necessitates a wheelchair but is a bit leaning on the heavier side, you can refer to this guide to get the most suitable model for you. 

A Useful Guide to Buying Wheelchairs for Overweight Seniors

People in their golden ages already require specific features in a wheelchair; those who are overweight and are in their old age will need more. Therefore, it is essential to know how to buy a wheelchair that is specific for them.

Wheelchair Features

Tilting Seat Mechanism

Overweight people usually have a hard time sitting for prolonged hours because of the amount of pressure their weight holds against their joints. Therefore, a bariatric wheelchair is created with a design that allows easy adjusting and tilting features. These features play a part in weight distribution and the chair’s ability to hold a person’s weight. It is important for a chair to have a tilting mechanism because it allows a better center of gravity and prevents the person’s weight on one area, hence making it prone to breakage. 

Adjustable Seat Height

Another important feature in a bariatric wheelchair is that the seat is adjustable. This should be able to raise up and down for better comfort. When used along with the tilt function, the person sitting will be positioned in a manner that gives it better posture. This will help improve their breathing and relieve other pains that obesity brings. 

Foot and Leg Rests

Seniors, let alone those who are overweight, may have trouble lifting their legs up. This is why it is good to find a bariatric chair with a feature that lets the person sitting raise his legs and foot up. Lifting a leg takes off the pressure in their legs and joints. This also prevents the chances of the person developing sores in his body.

Durable Tires

The good thing in a wheelchair that has solid tires is that it can take the person to places without the chances of breaking down and causing injuries and accidents. A popped tire can be a problem, especially for those who need mobility throughout the day. While standard wheelchairs utilize air-filled tires, bariatric chairs usually use solid tires. Hence, it gives a more solid structure and support to the wheelchair.

High-Quality Cushions

This is the cornerstone of a wheelchair for seniors. Standard wheelchairs may not have the kind of cushioning that an overweight person needs. Apart from being able to add comfort to them while sitting, this helps ease the pains they are experiencing, lessening the pressure in the spine area, and preventing the formation of sores from prolonged sitting.

Wide Seating

A standard wheelchair will accommodate a person with a small to large build; however, obese people will need one that has enough space for their body to be comfortable for a long time. Since seniors who are obese are expected to be larger, a bariatric wheelchair is necessary to give their bodies enough breathing space and circulation throughout the day. Standard wheelchairs may have around 20-inch width, but the bariatric chair can range from 32 inches to 40 inches in terms of chair width.

Weight Capacity

When we are dealing with overweight seniors, a standard wheelchair will not do. Hence, bariatric chairs can hold up to 850 pounds compared to traditional chairs that only offer 350 to 600 pounds weight capacity. This has a lot to do with the chair’s durability as prolonged seating in a chair that cannot hold your weight will wear out the entire chair immediately.

Portability Factor

There will be moments when you will not be needing the wheelchair. It may be because of travel or any other purpose. When it comes to this, the last thing you need is a huge and hard-to-transport wheelchair. So, to make your life a breeze, you can opt to get bariatric chairs that can be folded easily. Apart from better mobility, you have to invest in your convenience too, especially if you do not have enough people to help you carry loads when traveling. In relation to this, you also have to consider its ability to fit your cars and the amount of space it needs when being stored. You would not want a wheelchair that is too bulky to make it hard to bring with you if you need to be mobile and travel-ready.


A wheelchair is an innovation that improves a person’s quality of life. Fortunately, this has been improved and redesigned to cater not only to standard-sized individuals but to those who are on the heavy to overweight population as well. If you are someone or with a person who has a condition that needs assistance for mobility and support, finding the right type of wheelchair is essential. Those in their golden ages who have grown to be bigger than an average-sized person can find comfort and ease with big or bariatric wheelchairs. Hopefully, the list of factors we mentioned above can give you a head start with your search for the correct wheelchair that will improve your life.

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