It’s not a secret: many older adults are still working full time and many still work even past their “retirement.” There are lots of reasons for this that are probably beyond the scope of this article. But, it’s common for older seniors and elderly people to still be working office jobs or even working at home from a home office via computers and internet connection.
If you or someone you love is working in an office setting, it’s important to make sure you have the equipment you need to stay productive – while also being comfortable and addressing the needs of an older body. Your choice of office chair is a great place to start.
The Importance of Buying a Good Ergonomic Chair for Seniors
There are numerous health benefits of using a good ergonomic office chair for seniors and the elderly whether you are working in an office environment or at home on your laptop computer. Here are some of the most important ones:
Promotes the Proper Posture
As human beings, our spine isn’t perfectly straight. It has curves that support us in an upright posture while also keeping us comfortable.
A properly-designed, ergonomic office chair assists the natural curvature of our spine by curving away from the body in our upper backs but curving towards our bodies in the lower back. This supports lumbar region which is a common sore sport as we age. And, better posture means improved functioning and comfort.
Reduces Neck Strain and Stiffness
Another frequent complaint of older adults is neck strain and stiffness as we extend our necks to see our computer screens better. But, good office chairs have built-in head supports and allows us to adjust our position to reduce this strain. And, that means less neck pain and stiffness.
Reduces Back Pain
As discussed, back pain is a common complaint of seniors and elderly and is often a direct result of poor posture. A properly fit office chair with high back support, adjustable back angle, and the proper curvatures can significantly reduce this pain pressure.
Relieves Hip Pressure
For me personally, my hips show the first signs of discomfort while I am at my desk working on guides like these. Once I found the right seat for me (plus alternating with standing at times), I was able to delay and eliminate pain in my hips with a supportive seat and change in position.
Keeps Your Blood Flowing
Sitting in an incorrect position on a firm, flat surface, can reduce blood flow to your lower extremities. So, having an office chair that contours the legs and hips with a rounded front edge promotes good circulation in the lower legs instead.
Improves Comfort Which Boosts Productivity
Let’s face it, if you work for a boss, productivity matters. So, by choosing the best office chair, you will be more comfortable, will shift around less, and will feel better overall. That will directly impact how much work you get done.
And, a happy boss (even if you are the boss) will mean less stress for you which is always a good thing.
Features to Look for in an Office or Home Office Chair for Seniors
So, to get all of the benefits of a comfortable, ergonomic office chair for an older adult, here are the key options and features that you should insist on. Many of these features contribute to the overall comfort of the chair which, in turn, keeps you working happier and healthier.
Adjustability for Proper Positioning and Comfort
Above all else, the office or computer chair that you select must be adjustable to meet your individual need. Adjustability is key and should not be compromised.
Here’s what I mean. By being able to raise and lower the seat height or the height of the arms, change the angle of the back, swivel and rock, or move the position of the lumbar pad, you can customize the chair to fit you. Plus, you can make changes throughout the day as your needs change.
This is going to reduce pain from sitting in the same position and make you more productive too. So, choose an office chair that has as many adjustments as you can find. There is no such thing as too many adjustments if you find yourself sitting in a chair staring at a computer all day.
Adjustable Seat Height
This is the most common adjustment that comes on even the cheapest office chairs for seniors and the elderly. What you want is an office chair with an easy to use adjustment lever that slowly and smoothly adjusts the height while you are sitting in it. Adjust the chair until your feet are flat on the floor and your knees are a 90 degree angle.
Stay away from mechanisms that move quickly potentially throwing you off balance. Also, stay way from chair that use knobs or tools to adjust the height. An easy to pull pneumatic lever is the easiest – and safest – to use mechanism for senior adults. Especially those with arthritis.
Appropriate Seat Width and Depth
Look for a chair that will properly support your hips for optimal comfort and support. Your derriere has curves and isn’t at all flat, so choose an office chair with a curved, contoured seat profile. This can be done by contouring the seat pan or the cushion. Both are effective ways to accomplish that.
You’ll also want a seat that completely supports your hips. For most adults this will be a seat width of 18 to 20 inches. Larger adults may need a wider seating surface.
You’ll want a similar measurement for the seat depth too. Most adults will be happy with an 18 inch seat depth while shorter seniors will prefer 16 inches and taller seniors will need 20 inches or more.
I recommend that the seat depth be 1 or 2 inches shorter than the measurement from the back of your bottom to the back of your leg when you are in a seated position.
Soft Padding That Isn’t Too Soft
While we are talking about the seat and cushion, let’s look closer at padding and cushioning. You want a seating surface that is soft – but not too soft. It is important that your hips are supported as they support you throughout your work day.
You also don’t want the padding to be so soft that your bottom hits the seat pan underneath. I recommend memory foam because it is comfortable, is soft, while also keeping you from bottoming out when you sit in the chair.
Tall, Supportive Backrest
The backrest is a key element of an office chair and you should pay particular attention to it. You want a backrest that is high, coming to the tops of your shoulders, so that your back is fully supported, especially when you lean back into the chair for a stretch or to adjust your position.
You should also choose a backrest that has some flex to it and will move with you. Many high quality ergonomic office chairs have an option where you can adjust how much give the seat back has. Many of them also have recline and angle adjustment mechanisms so that you can find the best back position for your individual needs.
Finally, the best office chairs for seniors and the elderly will mimic the natural curvature of the spine as discussed above. For neck support, I also recommend the office chairs with headrests.
Adjustable Lumbar Support
To properly support your lower back and reduce the chance of developing back pain, look for an office chair that has an adjustable lumbar pad or cushion. And, it is important that it offers at least both up and down adjustments as well as in and out.
Both the height and depth should be able to be adjusted. Finally, look for an quick, tool-less adjustment option so that you can make changes throughout the day as your position naturally changes.
Several of my recommended chairs have self-adjusting lumbar pads that move with you and keep themselves in the optimal position.
Padded, Adjustable Armrests
The armrest should offer padding to reduce pressure on your elbows and forearms especially if you spend the day typing on a keyboard. Choose one with armrests that are height adjustable so that you can keep your lower arms parallel with the floor while keeping the shoulders in a relaxed but supported position.
You are going to find lots of material options out there ranging from fabric to mesh to leather. When choosing a material think about temperature and cleaning. For example, leather and vinyl covered office chairs are easy to clean but are going to be hotter to sit in and may cause sweating.
On the other hand, fabric covered chairs allow more air flow but are easier to stain and show dirt more. Mesh chairs seem to be the best choice for most people because they allow great air flow and can be wiped down and kept clean and disinfected.
Swivel and Rolling Bases: Should You?
Nearly every office chair on the market is going to have a swivel mechanism that lets the chair spin for reaching items to the side or even behind you. But, should it? For most older adults, this won’t cause any problems.
But, more elderly users who may have mobility or balance problems, this swivel action could be enough to throw you off balance. If this concerns you, discuss it with a doctor or healthcare professional.
The same goes for wheeled office chairs. It’s convenient to be able to roll around to operate the equipment around you. Just make sure you can react quickly and stabilize yourself should the chair go off kilter to reduce the chance of a fall.
Examples of the Best Ergonomic Office Chairs for Older Adults
So, now that you know more about how using an adjustable office chair can help you work better and healthier, my research has identified these as the best ergonomic office chairs for seniors and the elderly:
1. Ergoal Comfort Plus Ergonomic Adjustable Office Chair
- Adjustable Height? 16.9″ – 20″
- Adjustable Armrests? 6-way adjustments
- Adjustable Lumbar? Self-adjusting
- Ergonomic Seat and Back? Yes
- Seat Width and Depth: 19.5″ X 20.5″
- Seat Material: Memory Foam Seat & Mesh Back
- Product Weight: 39 lbs
- Weight Capacity: 300 lbs
The Ergoal Comfort Plus offers outstanding adjustablilty and ergonomic comfort right out of the box. All the key components like seat height, armrests, and lumbar can be adjusted and moved for proper support and comfort. This chair can help you easily improve your posture while sitting through the work day. Plus, it moves with you always keeping you in the optimal seated position.
For older adults who experience back pain while sitting at their desk, the self-adjusting lumber support is a huge benefit. It hugs your lumbar area providing support and reducing spinal fatigue. As a matter of fact, the entire back is made to support then natural curvature of your spine even when you are in the reclined position.
This chair also has the best armrest adjustments that I have seen. Yes, they are height adjustable, of course. But, they also adjust in and out as well as back and forth.
These adjustments mean you can get the armrests just where you need them to properly support your arms, shoulders and even your back to keep you working pain-free throughout the long day. Adding to the comfort are the memory foam cushion and breathable mesh back.
The Ergoal offers nearly every feature that I suggest – plus a few extra ones that I like. But is a premium product. However, they do offer payment plans for people who might not be able to pay upfront for a higher end product like this.
The Gabrylly Ergonomic office chair is another great choice for older adults because it offers most of the key adjustments that I recommend and even adds in an adjustable headrest. That is a great addition for people with neck pain and stiffness.
The seat and back are both made of breathable mesh which is becoming the standard material for high end office chairs like these. The seat is large and contoured with edges that curve up to support the hips. There isn’t a cushion on the seat; rather, the mesh fabric is designed to give a little when you sit on it for comfort.
The armrests of this chair flip up out of the way at the touch of a button. That way, you can push the chair all the way under your desk to keep it out of the way when it is not being used.
The only drawback I have found with the Gabrylly office chair is that the lumbar support, which is substantial, is not adjustable to custom fit the user. Assembly is easy though, taking most people less than 5 minutes to have it ready to use.
3. Hbada Ergonomic Office Desk Chair
The Hbada Ergonomic Office Desk Chair offers all the adjustments that I suggest with a nice range to fit most people. The seat is generously sized too and should accommodate most users under the weight capacity.
Let’s talk about the ergonomics and comfort for a minute. The back is extremely nice and actually hugs your back and curves around your sides. This helps support your trunk and adds upper body stability – which some elderly people may need.
The lumbar is adjustable in height and depth so that you can lock it in where you need it. Extra features include the adjustable headrest, increased recline angle and tilting mechanism.
But, one place this chair may fall short is in the seat. It is essentially a flat pan with a foam cushion on it. There isn’t much contour or hip support to it. A few have complained that the cushion is firm and doesn’t soften much with use. While that is a subjective complaint, some may want a softer seating surface.
However, this is one of the more affordable chairs on my list. Assembly time takes about 20 minutes and most people will have no problems getting it put together.
4. Serta Air Health and Wellness Executive Office Chair
Serta is a brand that it is known for comfort through their very popular mattress line. And, they have taken some of that some technology and applied it to their executive office chair.
This ergonomic chair is a great choice for seniors who want a plush, high style type of office or home computer chair. The seating surfaces are 3 inches of high quality foam covered with bonded leather and mesh trim for some breathability. Even the arm pads are covered with thick foam and leather accents. The lumbar support is an air pad that pivots and moves with you to provide continuous lumbar support.
The only potential drawback I see is that this chair may not fit shorter people well. The suggested height range is 5’4″ to 6’2″ but I think people under about 5′ 7″ will have trouble reaching the floor. This is because the seat height adjustment is on the higher end of the range partially because of that thick padded cushion. It will compress some while seated which will help.
But, generally, this chair would be best for people on the taller end of the height spectrum.
5. Duramont Ergonomic Office Chair – Adjustable Desk Chair
This ergonomic office chair from Duramont is highly adjustable. You can easily and quickly adjust the seat height, headrest height and angle, lumbar height and depth, armrest height and width, and the backrest tilt angle and tension. It is easy to get yourself into a comfortable position with this level of adjustability.
The seat has the ergonomic “w” curve to it to support the hips and is also covered by a high density foam cushion that is molded to match. It is covered with the air mesh fabric too to allow for some breathability. Opinions seem to be mixed on whether or not it’s comfortable. HR foam is a more firm foam so if you like a firmer seat, you are probably going to like it.
It does offer a higher weight capacity than some of the others. So, if you weight around 270 to 300 or so, this is a better choice for you. Note though that while this chair has exceptional reviews overall, there have been some troubles with the casters after use.
6. NEO CHAIR Ergonomic Office Swivel Desk Chair
I wanted to include a good desk chair for the budget shoppers. Not all seniors or elderly folks are in their office chairs all day long so their needs may not be the same. So, here is an affordable option that offers some good comfort features as well.
First, the seat is generously sized, has some natural contour to it, and will fit most people with some room to move. The cushion is made of a high quality foam covered with a sofa-type of fabric which gives it a more “homey” – perhaps even high end – feel. You even get 6 fabric choices.
Next, the back mimics the spinal curvature decently for a chair that costs less than $100 but it is on the shorter side with no headrest. There is a nice lumbar support but it is not adjustable. The back fabric is mesh which allows your back to breathe a little.
Of course, for the lower price, you are trading off the adjustments and some flexibility in your position. But, if you need more of a short term computer chair for seniors who use their office chair with a home computer, it may do the job.
Having a good comfortable office chair is especially important for older workers, seniors, and the elderly. It’s just a fact that as we age our body is more likely to ache when sitting in the same position for long periods of time.But you can offset all that sitting with ergonomic chairs that support the hips and back through adjustments that let you custom fit the seat and back to your body. A good office chair can make a big difference in how you feel throughout the day.
I hope you now have the information you need if you are looking for the best ergonomic chair for seniors who are still working in the 9 to 5 grind. If you have any questions about senior friendly chairs for work, please let me know in the comments below!