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Best Seat Cushion for Elderly People

   This post has been quality checked in line with our Editorial and Research Policy.

Best Seat Cushion for Elderly People

As people age their movement slows down which means they might have difficulty doing tasks that require them to move around like cleaning up after themselves or going grocery shopping on their own. Sometimes having just one hand injury can slow someone so much that it becomes difficult for them!

As a general rule, natural latex seat cushions designed for elderly people are the best seat cushions when it comes to comfort, resiliency, and cooling. Seniors will especially benefit from natural latex foam because it relieves pressure on major joint areas such as the hips, ischial tuberosities, and coccyx.

After treating elderly patients with chronic back pain for decades, researching and creating seat cushions, I can recommend the best foam for your seat cushion, one that is most comfortable for you. My experience with countless numbers patients has taught me five major points to consider so you can be most comfortable. I’ll explain each one of these.

The market is flooded with a lot of different brands and types of seat cushions for the elderly, but it can be difficult to decide which is best for you. Make sure to follow the instructions carefully, or you may not be satisfied with what you purchased! 

In this article, I will also explain which type is most appropriate for your needs to ensure that you make the right decision the first time around.

Elderly People Need a Good Seat Cushion

Our muscles tire and become sore from working against gravity, which is why we need to sit up straight. It also means that we might start slouching or leaning forwards in the chair, but if you sit upright with your back against it then this won’t happen!

The importance of sitting upright when working at a desk can be summed up as follows: 

  • Less fatigue from having to use more muscle power by lifting oneself into an upright position; 
  • Not falling asleep while reading small print (leading to possible eye strain); 
  • No decreased blood flow through one’s head due to excessive bending over for extended periods. 
  • Sitting properly will result in increased alertness and productivity throughout one day.
  • Poor posture position like slouching over or leaning forward at the waistline which causes poor circulation due to pressure being put on one side causing blood vessels to constrict leading them to weaken. 
  • An uncomfortable seat cushion can interfere with a person’s ability to reduce stress, which can negatively affect their health.

What to Look For in a Seat Cushion for the Elderly

There are health benefits to using elderly seat cushions, but these claims may have been exaggerated. Many manufacturers claim their seats give relief from back and hip pain or even arthritis; however, there’s little to no research to support this at the moment. For example: although many use the term “orthopaedic” when referring to an elderly person’s seating needs – with orthopaedics being defined as dealing with problems of muscles bones joints and tendons for them not only to be free of disease-related symptoms such as chronic musculoskeletal disorders (CMSD) – there has never actually been any standard set by doctors so what exactly is considered “orthopaedic?”

To avoid marketing jargon, here are the main factors a person should consider when selecting a suitable seat cushion for the elderly:

Comfort is the Most Important Feature

The importance of comfort cannot be overstated! Comfy seats are essential! You might not think about it until you’re sitting on a seat that doesn’t feel right. But if your cushion is too thin or hard, the wrong shape for your bottom, then all of a sudden you’ll notice how uncomfortable it feels and want something better.

seat cushion foam density chart

For elderly people, the foam used in a seat cushion plays a crucial role in determining how comfortable and long-lasting the cushion will be. It is primarily the quality of foam that determines the lifespan of a foam cushion. A foam’s density (weight) is often considered to be a measure of its quality. Generally, the higher the weight, the better the foam. The foam used in seat cushions comes in several different types such as memory foams, natural latex foams, and Gel foams.

 

Memory Foam Cushions for Heavy People (2/5) ☆☆☆★★

In the beginning, astronauts used memory foam as protection in space. The safest way for humans to protect themselves is through the use of products made from memory foam, which absorbs shock. The space agency ceased using memory foam, however, because of off-gassing concerns.

In my experiments, I discovered that a memory foam cushion designed for 250 pounds could withstand a density of five pounds. Typically, memory foam cushioned items do not have a density greater than 1.5 pounds. This is why picking carefully is important.  

In general, a memory foam cushion needs at least 5 lbs of layers to be durable and last as long as possible. However, you may find difficulty finding a memory foam cushion with a core foam density of 2.5 lb or higher. 

Natural latex foam is also an option, which is typically four pounds or more in density. Even though this cushion should last over time, it is not cheap to get one with additional density. It should support weights of over 200 pounds, even though natural latex may have a bounce to it.

Disclaimer: I have experience in the mattress industry and product design with many memory foams. An expert has diagnosed that my son’s skin condition is caused by the fire retardants and chemicals in many memory foam products.

For elderly people, memory foam should not be used as a seat cushion:

  • Our tests found that memory foam didn’t perform as expected. The responsiveness of a cushion is determined by its response to pressure or motion. A responsive cushion will naturally move and shift so you won’t experience back pain
  • When seated on memory foam, people tend to feel uncomfortable due to its tendency to retain heat.
  • Polyurethane is derived from oil refineries as a byproduct.
  • Compounds such as polyurethane, formaldehyde, antimony trioxide, and petrochemicals are frequently added to memory foam.
  • A change in 2004 required memory foam mattresses to be fireproof and more toxic
  • Low-priced or too-cheap foam made of polyurethane or memory foam is susceptible to collapsing. Occasionally, the pelvis of some people sinks so deeply into hard wheels that it immediately touches the seat after sitting down. Bottoming out is a potentially uncomfortable experience.  
  • When sat upon for long periods, memory foam cushions accumulate heat and moisture. Sweating results from an increase in skin temperature, which causes the skin to rise. As part of the body’s response, the area is cooled off.
  • Airflow is crucial to ensuring the comfort of your cushion. Despite some companies focusing on maximizing airflow, this is not the norm.

Latex Foam Cushions for Elderly People (5/5) ★★★★★

correct latex seat cushion

The compression factor measures the pressure required to compress a layer of foam. A seat cushion’s measurement is crucial because it tells you exactly how much resistance will be present when you press down on the cushion where you’ll find out exactly what type of feeling you’ll have with each seat. Natural latex foam has about 2.6 times the density of memory foam in terms of compression modulus, a technical term!

For elderly people, you should use a firm base foam and then place an inch or so of softer foam on top. Firmer base foam bends inward, instead of absorbing weight, during compression. It is not common to find this type of layering in natural latex cushions because their firmness generally develops gradually. When seats are layered, the surface feels firmer on top, while the heavier portions sit deeper in the cushion. 

Further, latex and foam have a property called ‘absorption,’ which allows them to absorb energy. Latex is about 25% more resilient than rubber in terms of absorbing energy. 

Resistant materials bounce back from drops more easily than absorbent materials. Unlike other foams, natural latex foam is more springy. View my video below about the absorption and resilience of natural latex. 

The point elastic nature of natural latex makes it the most durable of all foams. The material’s ability to quickly and easily assume a shape makes it perfect for bodysuits since it can easily be contoured around any desired body type!

In choosing foam seat cushions for elderly people, you need to take into consideration these factors:

  • Features a pressure-relieving effect. By creating a deep cradle, they disperse pressure across the entire cushion, relieving pressure. 
  • Alignment and posture qualities. With a seat cushion, you can let your gluteal muscles sink into it while the heavier areas like your coccyx or ischial tuberosities remain out of it. In this way, your hips will always be aligned when seated.

Natural Latex is Best Foam Chair Cushions for Elderly People

In recent years, luxury seat cushion manufacturers have increasingly used it for its shape-retention capabilities and ability to maintain comfort levels even after heavy use.

The density of Latex varies by gauge, which affects performance, durability, temperature regulation, and cost. With our guide, you can gain a better understanding of these differences and make an informed decision before you buy!

Different Densities of Natural Latex Foam

A density, again, is simply the weight per unit volume. A seat cushion made from natural latex has a density expressed in kilograms per cubic meter (kg/m3). The density ranges for latex foam are presented below, along with those for polyurethane and memory foam.

Foam made from natural latex typically has a higher density than other foam types. Since the densities of each material differ significantly, comparing them based on charts is unlikely to yield accurate results, as one type might not even appear on the charts! Identifying which materials are used in a cushion is the best way to determine how comfortable it will be.

The best material to use, based on our analysis of various seating products and materials, was natural latex. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Natural latex seat cushions do more than relax and restore muscles and ligaments; they also may improve circulation.  
  • Natural latex seats contain no chemical additives, unlike memory foam seats
  • Natural latex may reduce pressure points and align the spine.
  • It’s unique cushioning prevents you from sinking too deeply into natural latex seats while also allowing you to apply bodyweight to them. 
  • As older trees age, sustainable latex farming harvests sap from healthy Hevea Brasiliensis trees.
  • I have always been passionate about Chiropractic and ergonomics, and natural latex allows me to develop customized products.  
  • The comfort of petrochemical memory foams is lower than that of natural latex foams.
  • A burial of natural latex cushion material causes it to decompose within a year.  
  • When a working environment is healthy, latex can prevent bacteria, moulds, and dust mites from growing. Natural latex eliminates fungi and bacteria as well. 

Gel Foam Cushions for Elderly People

If you are looking for cooling seat cushions, the term gel foam may be confusing. There are three types of gel foams:

  • Foam/gel combinations
  • Gel-filled bladders
  • Gel-like honeycombs

Gel Cushion and Memory Foam Cushion Combinations (1/5) ☆☆☆☆★

memory foam seat cushion with gel cooling cushion

Memory foam serves as a base, and silicone gel acts as an infusion. You can find online seating cushions that cradle your bottom while providing not too much support.  

 Cushions like these are marketed as being ‘unique and cooling’. Its packaging is the only thing that sets it apart. That’s it! These cushions did not meet the expectations of our patients in terms of cooling, comfort, and support.  

Gel Bladder Cushions (3/5) ☆☆★★★

gel bladder seat cushion for wheelchair

Usually, it is filled with pure silicone gel or a gel bladder used in wheelchairs and heavy-duty cushions. Either high-resilience foam or EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) foam is layered over gel bladders. An extra layer of foam will make a cushion stiffer and firmer in general.

These cushions provide an initial cooling effect, however, due to the irregular circulation of air within the EVA membranes, the cooling effect is quickly lost. It may prevent pressure sores, but it does not provide sufficient support to ensure the patient is comfortable.

 Gel Honeycomb Cushions (3/5) ☆☆★★★

gel seat cushion with red cross on top of it

To make these cushions, silicone-based foam is used. Unlike memory foam, these types of cushions allow free-flowing air to keep you cool rather than overheating. In the long run, silica keeps its shape, making it durable and resilient only if you are incredibly light. 

This type of cushion was poorly suited to comfort, support, and satisfaction. Honeycomb-shaped cushions bottomed out quickly, so they were the most complained about.

A chair’s seat is its most important component. When it’s not comfortable, you won’t be motivated to use your desk for tasks such as reading or typing on your computer keyboard. This is something to consider if you are looking at honeycomb-type seat cushions.

Conclusion

If you’ve been looking for information on how to help your elderly loved ones maintain their independence, we have a few tips that will be of use. One is the best seat cushion for elderly people–a simple solution that can make all the difference when it comes to moving around freely and avoiding accidents caused by arthritis or other conditions. For more ergonomic guidance, visit our blog.

 

Dr Lawrence Woods DC

Dr Lawrence Woods DC

Founder

My goal is to create the highest quality ergonomic office chairs and accessories for unmatched comfort.

With 30 years of spinal healthcare experience in Ireland as a chiropractor, I learned the value of high-quality sitting for living a happy and healthy life.

I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West and I am NBCE Physiotherapy certified.

 

Dr Lawrence Woods

My goal is to create the highest quality ergonomic office chairs and accessories for unmatched comfort.With 30 years of spinal healthcare experience as a chiropractor, I learned the value of high-quality sleep for living a happy and healthy life.I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West and am NBCE Physiotherapy certified.

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