Whether you are choosing a  wheelchair for yourself or an elderly member of your family, it’s always going to be a big decision! There are many different types of wheelchairs on the market and just as many variations in the needs of wheelchair users. It is important to carefully consider what your needs are and how different chair models can satisfy them.

Depending on the lifestyle and mobility of the wheelchair user, getting into a new chair can either greatly improve their lives, or just serve as a cumbersome piece of machinery for them and their family to haul around.

Today we are breaking down the different types of wheelchairs available for seniors, as well as the things you should take into consideration before investing in a wheelchair.

Types of Wheelchairs Available for the Elderly

Not all seniors have the same needs. Some people may be looking for a permanent, everyday mobility solution, while others might just need a wheelchair for short-term use or to aid in mobility on long days out of the house.

Electric Wheelchairs

Electric or motor-powered wheelchairs are ideal for elderly people with limited upper-body mobility who require more independence. These wheelchairs are great for getting around the house or going around town. They are typically quite heavy and often need to be transported by van.

Manual Wheelchairs

There are many types of manual wheelchairs that are suitable for the elderly. Manual wheelchairs either need to be pushed from behind or moved by the chair user by pushing the handles on the wheels. These types of wheelchairs can be ideal for both extremely independent users and users who are under constant care by a nurse or loved one. There are a lot of different types of manual chairs, and it is important to make sure you think about which one is right for you before making a purchase.

Heavy Duty Wheelchairs

Heavy-duty wheelchairs are ideal for larger elderly people. These wheelchairs are designed to accommodate taller or wider adults who need mobility assistance. Because they can accommodate heavier people, the chairs tend to be heavier as well. This can sometimes make heavy-duty wheelchairs more difficult to transport in a vehicle.

Most heavy-duty chairs are adjustable and built with anti-tip features.

Lightweight Chairs

Lightweight wheelchairs for the elderly are designed to fold up and move easily. They have a lighter frame and can typically fit in the trunk of a car, making them far easier to transport than electric or heavy-duty wheelchairs. The  Merit Glacier is an example of a lightweight, foldable chair that is both affordable and versatile.

Ultralight Chairs

Ultralight wheelchairs can weigh as little as ten pounds. They are not as rugged as the chairs mentioned above and usually cannot accommodate heavier users. However, ultralight wheelchairs are ideal for travel and transport and can easily be folded and lifted by a caregiver. An ultralight chair may be a great fit for elderly people who have a variety of caregivers with different strength levels.

Reclining Chairs

There are many reclining chairs on the market, including ones in a variety of different sizes and weights. Reclining chairs are great for seniors who may need to receive medical treatments in their chairs, those who suffer from sores, or those who simply need to be resting at different angles for comfort.


Not all elderly people need to have a wheelchair. Many modern walkers and rollators come equipped with a chair so the user can stop and take a rest. The mobility support from a walker combined with an optional chair to use when stationary may be sufficient for many elderly people who don’t feel comfortable using a chair just yet.