Choosing The Right Riser Recliner Chair

Elderly woman sat on riser recliner chair
This article is written in partnership with HWB Mobility

How long does your mum or dad spend sitting down in their favourite chair? A lot, I’d guess. Which is why making the right chair choice is so important – and that’s where a riser recliner chair comes in.

Buying one of these electric powered armchairs is a big investment and at ElWell we always like to give you a really thorough understanding of a product. So we’ve teamed up with HWB Mobility to find out what to look for when it comes to buying a riser recliner chairs.

We think HWB Mobility’s great. A family run business, they’ve been offering made-to-measure riser recliner chairs (and adaptive beds) in the UK since 2006. They pride themselves on offering the best quality with the lowest price available – so it made perfect sense to get them to answer all our riser recliner questions!

What Is A Riser Recliner Chair?

Essentially, a riser recliner chair is an electric powered armchair that improves seated comfort and helps older adults stand up from the chair safely and independently.

They don’t look that different to a typical armchair (both in dimensions and aesthetics) but it’s the mechanism inside that sets it apart. A rise and recliner chair can provide maximum comfort, support and distribution of pressure for your elderly parent.

You might also hear them called a rise and recline chair or power recliner chairs but they’re all the same!

Does your parent struggle to get in and out of bed easily? Our physiotherapist Nancy has written about inexpensive aids and other tips to help make it easier. Or have a read of our article on the best beds for the elderly.

Who Needs A Rise And Recline Chair?

These chairs are ideal for older adults who are finding it harder to get out of their seat unaided. This is completely natural – as we age, we lose muscle mass and don’t have as much strength and power to easily push ourselves up.

They can also help people who find it difficult to sit down – a custom recliner chair will ensure the seat is at the optimum height for your parent.

Electric recliner chairs can also benefit:

  • Someone with chronic pain, such as arthritis.
  • Anyone who regularly naps in their chair. The reclining function means they will be more supported and more comfortable.
  • An individual who has fluid retention (oedema) in their legs and needs to keep them elevated.
  • People who have vertigo or are prone to falling over, as they have more support when moving positions.

How Are Recliner Chairs Measured?

There’s no such thing as one size fits all so measuring before you buy is important – what works for someone who is petite won’t be right for someone taller or heavier.

The internal dimensions of the chair (the seat height, width and depth and backrest height) are the most important measurements when it comes to rise and recliners.

You can use the below as a guide and measure your parent in their current armchair to find the correct measurements for them. This will help them be as comfortable and supported as possible in the made-to-measure riser recliner chair you do buy.

Seat Height

The seat height determines how easy it is to get in and out of the chair. What you want is for both feet to be easily on the floor when seated.

As a general guide the seat height can be calculated by measuring the distance from the floor to the crease at the back of the knees. When seated, the hips and knees should be at right angles whilst feet are flat on the floor

A seat that’s too high may feel uncomfortable (no one wants their feet dangling in mid-air for a long time) and, from a safety point of view could tip your parent forward when the mechanism starts to move.

If the riser recliner seat is too low it will be more difficult to get out of and will direct pressure towards the pelvis rather than evenly distributing it.

If your parent uses a pressure cushion, you don’t need to take this into account when measuring. They compress a lot when sat on so don’t increase the height dramatically.

Seat Width

The seat should be wide enough to sit comfortably, but narrow enough for both arms to use the arm rests at the same time (you want the full length of the forearms supported without raising or dropping the shoulders).

Ideally, the chair seat should be the width of the hips plus a couple of inches on either side.

Seat Depth

This is from the front of the seat to the backrest. The seat needs to be deep enough to support the full length of the thighs.

Too deep and your parent will have to lean back to provide support for the shoulders. This may cause them to slump in the chair and the cushion may rub behind the knees. A deep seat may also cause the bottom to slide forwards in the chair.

If the riser recliner seat is too shallow, your parent’s thighs won’t be supported properly which may be uncomfortable.

To calculate the correct depth, measure the distance from the back of the bottom, along the thighs to approximately 3cm behind the back of the knees. When seated you should be able to place two fingers together between the edge of the seat and the back of the knee.

A greater depth should be allowed if your parent needs any back support or additional cushions.

Back Height

This is really important if head support is needed (for example, they have arthritic shoulders). To measure this, the electric riser recliner chair needs to be in proportion to your parent’s trunk height so it can properly support their head.

Recliner Weight Capacity

Lots of retailers only offer a few weight options (e.g. 20 stone, 35 stone), but ideally you want to find somewhere that caters to a wider weight range (from 15 stone for petite recliner chairs up to 70 stone for bariatric riser recliner chairs).

Why is this important? Well, if it’s designed to suit a much heavier weight than your parent, the seat cushion will be extremely dense and feel like sitting on a brick. And no one wants that!

Looking for other products to make life easier for older adults? We’ve rounded up our favourite and most-used gadgets here. Or read our article on devices to hear the TV better.

What Are The Different Types Of Rise And Recline Chairs?

Now we know how to measure for a bespoke chair, let’s look at the types available.

You can get single and dual motor riser recliner chairs – essentially this refers to the number of motors in a chair, and the movements they can make.

Some mobility chairs are ‘tilt-in space’ which isn’t as futuristic as it sounds! Tilt-in space is a reclining function that tilts you backwards and redistributes body weight and centre of gravity. As the chair moves, it keeps your back, hip and ankle angle at 90 degrees making it a seamless movement that doesn’t put pressure on painful joints. 

Single Motor Tilt-In Space Riser Recliner

As the name suggests, a single motor riser recliner has just one motor to control the backrest, footrest and riser, via a simple remote control.

To recline, the leg rest will come up to horizontal first before the back starts to move. To return to seated and stand up, you just keep your finger on the button on the remote control and the chair will start to raise you.

You can stop the movement, stand up and walk away from the chair at any time.

A good option is this Repose riser recliner, called Rimini. You can actually get this model in all types of riser recliner, as well as a bariatric riser recliner.

Repose Riser Recliner Chair

Dual Motor Riser Recliner Chairs

Dual motor riser recliners have two motors that work independently – so you can recline the back (to almost lying flat if wanted) and not have the footrest up, or vice versa.

Dual Motor Tilt-In Space Riser Recliner

This is the crème de la crème of rise and recliners! There’s the widest range of sitting and reclining positions because as well as the tilt-in space movement, the back of the chair can move independently.

This Marbella riser recliner chair by Repose is specially designed for improved lumbar support.

Lumbar support chair for elderly

Dual Motor Riser Recliner

This standard riser recliner is a good option for people who have more body strength or need less support and want to relieve pressure build up. One thing to be aware of though is that as the leg and back move independently and don’t tilt-in space, the body weight isn’t spread evenly.

Say your parent moves the chair back to seating – they would be pushed down into the chair and need to readjust. If they can do this, then it’s a good solution but it’s something to consider (especially if you consider this to be a long-term purchase).

This Kelbrook riser recliner by Furmanac is a great option to look at here.

Dual motor Riser Recliner

Wall Hugger Recliner Chair

For the other rise and recliners above, there needs to be adequate space in front of and behind for the extension (about 24 inches). But if your parent is limited on space then a small wall hugger recliner chair is the answer.

Like the name suggests, it’s placed close to a wall (there only needs to be a minimum of a six inch gap between the wall and the back of the chair). It sits on a track, so as you recline back it actually moves forward and away from the wall, and can reach a full recline if your parent wants to nap. The legs can go up without the back reclining if wanted.

They will still need space in front of them, so keep that in mind if there’s a coffee table for example.

This Chatsworth wall hugger riser recliner is a good place to start looking!

Blue wallhugger riser recliner chair in living room

How Does A Riser Recliner Chair Work?

The armchair needs to be plugged in to a socket. Extension leads can be used – just make sure that wires aren’t left on the floor as this could be a trip hazard.  They could always be tacked up around door frames and walls if needed.

If this isn’t possible then choose a riser recliner that has a battery pack. This allows your mum or dad to plug it in and charge it overnight, then unplug for the day.  It will usually last for 20 cycles (different movements) but check when ordering.

The chairs are heavy so aren’t designed to be moved around. When it comes to installation, two delivery people could be there and the chair will be provided in two parts (the back cushion is separate to the mechanism) so there’s no issue with getting it in to the front door.

ElWell finds out about the best riser recliner chairs

Recliner Chair Accessories

We’ve learnt that getting made to measure riser recliner chairs are important for the right level of comfort and support. But it also means you can get the style and accessories you want. After all, if it’s going to be a feature in the living room, it needs to go with the décor!

Choose a supplier that offers a range of fabrics. HWB Mobility works with Ross Fabrics, so you can select from an array of colours and textures, as well as leather riser recliner chairs (and faux leather).

For the chair, you can also add on arm covers, scatter cushions and an antimassacar which can protect it from getting dirty (especially great if your parent has a pet).

Some chairs let you add on a USB charging port, and you can also choose to have heat (aimed at the lower back) and massage controls too. Or go for a reading lamp attached to the chair to help your parent’s vision when reading.

If you’re worried about incontinence, it’s worth using a chair pad for extra protection too. Or you can look into specialist seating with hygienic vapour permeable fabrics. Specialist chairs are also recommended for people who need more back support – they have extra built in support and pressure-relieving features.

The feet of the chair depends on the flooring in the room. For wooden floors opt for glides – those invisible bits at the bottom of chair legs that protect the floor. Castors are usually used for carpet. This is completely safe – when the chair is rising, the mechanism locks it to the floor so it can’t move out of place.

Sleeping In A Recliner Chair

Power recliner chairs are fantastic for giving that extra support if your parent takes a nap but sleeping in them for extended periods of time isn’t recommended. If their current bed isn’t suitable for their needs and they need help getting out of bed, consider an adapted bed.

Can I Hire A Recliner Chair?

While some companies do offer recliner chairs for hire, we wouldn’t recommend it.

Bespoke riser recliner chairs are made for your parent’s specific measurements, so they’re as comfortable and safe as possible. Hiring one wouldn’t take this into account. So unless it perfectly matches your parent’s requirements, it’s a no from us.


Who would have thought there would be so much to consider when it came to the best chairs for the elderly? Made to measure riser recliner chairs are an investment but they can really help to improve your parent’s quality of life and independence. We hope this has been helpful – let us know what you think!

To find out more about HWB Mobility or to order a riser recliner chair from them, visit

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