1300 885 886 Independent Living Centres Advisory Service

Choosing a Lounge or Dining Chair

Choosing a comfortable and functional chair requires consideration of personal taste, the intended use of the chair and the requirements of the user. This article offers some guidelines that may be used to inform this important decision. Consultation with an Occupational Therapist is recommended for personalised and detailed advice on which is the best chair to select. An important consideration is that lounge chairs are generally used for relaxing and doing sedentary activities like watching television, reading or discussing, while on the other hand, dining chairs are intended to make eating, drinking and other tabletop activities like card playing or writing easier.

Features to Consider

Seat Height

The user should be able to sit down and stand up easily. Feet should be supported flatly on the floor or on a footrest when in use. If required, chair raising block can raise the height of an existing chair.
For a dining chair used at the table, the forearms should rest at about a right angle (90 degrees) on the table. Some chairs feature height adjustment which makes them suitable for several users.
An alternative to consider is adjusting the height of the table. Tables with adjustable leg heights are available.

Firmness

The seat cushion should be relatively firm to make rising easier and to support good posture but also to provide comfort and pressure management.

Seat Depth

The seat should be deep enough to support the length of the buttocks and the thighs., with a rounded front to avoid pressure behind the knees. Some chairs offer adjustable seat depth.

Seat Width

The width of the seat should allow for sufficient space on each side of the thighs to avoid rubbing.

Supportive Backrest

The backrest should support the natural curves in the back. A lounge chair should also provide support for the head and neck.

Legrests

A leg rest can be used in conjunction with a reclining backrest to raise the legs and avoid strain on the lower back.

Armrests

Position

The armrests should be close to the user's sides to allow comfortable support of the forearm and relaxation of the shoulders. The elbows should rest at about a right angle (90 degrees) when the shoulders are relaxed.
On a dining chair, the armrests should be in a position to allow the user to sit close to the table. Some chairs feature adjustable height armrests or swing-away armrests.

Purpose

The armrests should assist with sitting down and standing up. They should be long enough to be level with the front of the seat. This also allows the full length of the forearms and hands to be supported.

Padding

Padding on the armrests can increase comfort but should be firm enough to provide stability when assisting with sitting and standing.

Footrests

Personal preference and medical advice often dictate the most suitable type of footrest. Many brands of chairs offer an optional footrest. There are many styles of footrest, some offering support only to the feet and some also offering support to the lower legs.

Lifting Chairs/Lift and Recline Chairs

These chairs are available in manual or electric models and may come with a reclining backrest. They can differ in maximum user weights according to model and brand - this should be considered and checked with the supplier.

Manual Models

These help the user into a standing position. The user is still required to move into a standing position but the chair gives them a "boost", often providing to momentum needed. Spring Tension can easily be adjusted according to the user's weight and ability.
Caution must be adhered to during the use of this kind of chair and consultation with an Occupational Therapist is recommended.

Electric Models

These models raise the user into a standing position with minimal effort from the person. The control switches are located on a hand-held unit or are incorporated into the chair on the armrest. These electric chairs plug into standard household power points.

Require assistance?

If you require advice or assistance in choosing relevant AT products for your needs, please call our national ILC Infoline 1300 885 886. You will be connected to your local state/territory ILC for the cost of a local phone call.

** NT callers are automatically directed to ILC in South Australia.