Quite often, what was a good fit when you were younger is not such a good fit now. Remember those days? There was a time when you could sleep on the floor or plop into a beanbag chair without giving it a second thought. However, you may find that older sofas and chairs are now too deep, too low, and too hard to get out of. I am in the market for a new living room set myself, and hard as it is to admit, I am going to have about what I am going to need in a few years. It is time to take some measurements and think about furniture pieces that will grow old along with us. We all need to make sure that our furniture is working for us instead of against us.
A good rule of thumb: If your knees are higher than your hips when you are seated, you are going to have a hard time standing up. Fortunately, Universal Design furniture can be attractive and stylish while providing support for the lower back and will help you sit tall. Explore some of the new furniture designs that have ergonomic features.
What are some ergonomic guidelines for chairs?
- The seat should be 18 inches high and the cushion depth should range from 19-23 inches. If a chair is too deep, it is hard to sit in and even harder to get up from.
- Arms that facilitate easy transfers. Chairs with side arms at a height of about 25 inches. The arms should extend to the front of the chair for support when trying to stand up. If they are much higher you can’t use the side arms to push off from.
- A back that has a slight incline for relaxation. A high back is good if you want support for shoulders, neck and head.
- A tube or roll pillow is handy for good lumbar support.
- An open space beneath the chair to allow you to tuck your feet underneath for leverage when pushing to a standing position.
What about revitalizing your current sofa or chairs? If you find that you can’t bear to part with your living room furniture, you will want to consider giving them a makeover. Over time cushions tend to lose plumpness and support. Soft cushions do not give your spine enough support. Soft cushions do not create a stable transfer surface. If your cushions need revitalizing or replacing, find local upholstery specialists to do the job for you.
What about buying a recliner? Reclining chairs are very popular. Nearly everyone has one for those special times when they want to feel truly relaxed. They are especially good if you have lower back problems or need to elevate your feet. You can find recliners that come with heat and massage units, or even zero gravity chairs that can elevate your legs above the level of your heart. You can even find models with push buttons lifts for those who need an extra boost after getting a little too comfortable. If you are going to splurge on one new piece of furniture a recliner would be a good choice.
Remember that no matter what the cost, ergonomically designed furniture is important if you want to be able to manage on your own.