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What’s the Difference Between Lift Chairs and Recliners?

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If you have been wondering what the difference between medical lift chairs and recliners from furniture store is, you arrived at the right place. At a point in their lives, many individuals find it increasingly hard to get in or out of their lounging chairs or sofas. At that time, the question of whether they will need a device to assist them in doing so often comes up.

As our population ages, the demand for such loungers and recliners continues to increase. Naturally, now both medically-focused and non-medical companies have stakes in this industry. So should you go with a lift chair from a home health care products company? Or should you stick to a recliner from a furniture store? Below are some key differences to help you understand how the two are different – and, which is right for you.

Do a medical lift chair and a recliner move the same way?

Even thought both terms are sometimes used interchangeably, lift chairs and recliners are not the same device. Most recliners from furniture stores have one purpose: to help you lounge comfortably. They feature a manually-operated lever that takes the chair from a seating to a lounging position with one move – the back goes back and the leg-rest comes up to help you watch TV, read a book or nap in comfort. Later models offer electronic operation of these features, too. Some recliners are equipped with massage features.

Medical lift chairs, in contrast, move with a hand pendant. They too, feature the ability to lower and raise the backrest and leg-rest. However, lift recliners, have the crucial task of helping the person stand up and sit down. At the touch of a button, your lift chair will slowly raise and tilt forward to help you out of the chair. This stand-out feature is what puts the “lift” in the “lift chair”.

Are lift chairs and recliners medical devices?

Whereas lift chairs manufactured by healthcare companies are classified as medical devices, furniture recliners are not. What does this mean for the consumer?

If you are purchasing a medical lift chair from Pride Mobility or Golden Technologies for example, that purchase will qualify for a tax exemption. This means that with a note from a doctor, occupational therapist or physiotherapist, you will not pay tax when you buy your device. Given that a quality medical lift chair in Canada costs an average of $2000, this can represent significant savings for the patient.

A furniture recliner on the other hand, does not serve a medical purpose. Therefore, they are taxed the same as a sofa, table or bed.

How are Lift Chairs and Recliners upholstered?

Upholstery is another key difference between medical lift chairs and standard recliners. Medical lift chairs are made to last. Manufacturers know that a person requiring such device will likely spend many hours lounging on their lift chair. Whether they need it for reading or watching TV or sleeping during the day or night, individuals subject lift chairs to heavy use.

That is the reason why lift chairs are upholstered in heavy duty materials. From cozy and easy to clean chenille fabrics to beautiful faux leather, these durable fabrics guarantee years of enjoyment.

On the other hand, the upholstery of recliners is often real leather. This material is not ideal for use with lift chairs as it is slippery and can easily crack under heavy usage.

So, should you buy a recliner or a lift chair?

To decide the best course of action, you should think ahead – a few months, or even a few years. What do you anticipate your mobility to be like? If you already have a hard time getting in and out of your couch, a lift chair could be a game-changer. If sitting and standing is slowly becoming more challenging, a lift chair will grow with you. Their excellent comfort positions and available headrest and lumbar control may be all you presently need. But given their 7-year warranties, they may be a worthy investment as the lifting may become useful in the future. If your mobility will sustain you getting up and down unassisted, then a furniture recliner will likely suffice.

We hope this guide helps you decide which device is right for you. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us.

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