Chair Institute’s Picks for Each Category

Manual

Active

Ergonomic

Reclining


Are you a senior with mobility issues?

If so, then your “golden years” probably aren’t as golden as you’d like them to be. A great, high-quality wheelchair can help with that, but there’s a catch: Not all wheelchairs are created equally.

If you don’t select the one that best suits your needs, you’re going to be underwhelmed in the best case and outright disappointed in the worst.

Not to worry! We’ve scoured the ‘net in a quest to find the best wheelchair for elderly people, and we’ve identified a clear winner.

We’ll introduce you to it in-depth in just a moment, but before we do, we’ll give you a high-level view of the winner and the other top contenders that made our shortlist. If for whatever reason, our top pick doesn’t meet your needs, one of these others is almost certain to.

Selection Criteria

So, what does the “best” wheelchair for the elderly look like? What features does it boast?

Those are both fair questions because, of course, everyone’s needs, tastes, and preferences are different.

We’ve tried to take all the major factors into account (the most common needs, the most sought-after features, etc.) to create a composite to work from. But obviously, your specific needs may vary so our top pick may not be the best fit for you. That’s okay and to be expected, which is why we’re presenting our top pick, along with several other worthy competitors.

Based on our research, we’ve broken the best wheelchairs for elderly people into two major groupings: Manual wheelchairs and Powered wheelchairs, and have listed them separately in the tables below.

Manual Wheelchairs vs Powered Wheelchairs 

If you have a reliable assistant or still have good upper body strength, then a lightweight (or ultralight) manual wheelchair is a great option. It’s also the recommended choice if your needs are relatively short-term (i.e., you suffered from an injury that has left you temporarily in need of a wheelchair, but as soon as you’re fully mended, you’ll be able to get along just fine without it).

If you can’t afford an assistant, don’t have a family member you can count on to help you, or if your need for a wheelchair is not short-term, then a powered wheelchair is a much better choice.

Karman S-305 Ergonomic Wheelchair with red frame facing right
Karman XO - 202 electric wheelchair facing left

Other Considerations

Beyond that though, we also looked at factors like:

  • The overall level of comfort
  • The number of adjustable features allows you to customize the chair to your specific needs.
  • Ease of operation
  • “Extra” features such as tilting or standing either increase your comfort or help you get in and out of the chair.

Other Types of Wheelchairs

There are many other factors besides these that we could have considered, such as bariatric chairs, active chairs, ergonomic chairs, and reclining chairs for those who have to spend most, if not all their time in wheelchairs. But these subsets are best suited for their own independent articles, so did not play a role in our selection criterion for this piece. Although we did select one winner from each of those categories for inclusion.

Wheelchairs vs Transport Chairs

Also, we aren’t covering transport chairs here. While these are functionally similar to wheelchairs in most respects, they represent a large and varied enough category that they warrant their own treatment separately.

If you’re curious as to the difference between a wheelchair and a transport chair, it can be summed up by saying this:

A manual wheelchair has two modes of operation. You can sit in it, and an assistant can push you to where you want to go, or you can grab onto the rear wheels and propel yourself where you want to go. 

That’s not the case with a transport chair. The rear wheels are too small to be easily reached by someone sitting in the chair, and as such, the only way you can get around is with the aid of an assistant pushing you.

With all that in mind, let’s take a closer look at our winners!

Best Manual Wheelchairs for the Elderly Comparison Table

Before we go into detail, here’s a chart summarizing our research and conclusion on these five outstanding products:

Our Pick
 
 
$659.00
N/A
$265.99
Seat Width:
16” or 18”
Seat Width:
18.2”
Seat Width:
16”, 18”, 20”, or 22”
Seat Height:
18”, 19” or 20” Adjustable
Seat Height:
20.5”
Seat Height:
20”
Chair Weight:
29 lbs.
Chair Weight:
37.5 lbs.
Chair Weight:
33 lbs.
Max. Supported Weight:
250 lbs.
Max. Supported Weight:
285 lbs.
Max. Supported Weight:
300 lbs
Extras:
Removable anti-bacterial seat and back cushions, quick-release wheels, height-adjustable armrests
Extras:
Ergonomically designed seat, rugged construction, anti-tipping design, washable seat cushion
Extras:
Height adjustable seat back, quick release wheels, carbon steel frame w/chrome plating, nylon seating
Pros:
  • The ergonomic design of seat, wheels, and armrests
Pros:
  • Ergonomic seat design, anti-tipping design, height adjustable armrest, storage compartment
Pros:
  • A well-designed manual wheelchair that has the basics covered. Overall best value for the money
Cons:
  • Pricey.
Cons:
  • Seatback is too low for extended sitting.
Cons:
  • Not good for long-duration sitting.
Our Pick
$659.00
Seat Width:
16” or 18”
Seat Height:
18”, 19” or 20” Adjustable
Chair Weight:
29 lbs.
Max. Supported Weight:
250 lbs.
Extras:
Removable anti-bacterial seat and back cushions, quick-release wheels, height-adjustable armrests
Pros:
  • The ergonomic design of seat, wheels, and armrests
Cons:
  • Pricey.
N/A
Seat Width:
18.2”
Seat Height:
20.5”
Chair Weight:
37.5 lbs.
Max. Supported Weight:
285 lbs.
Extras:
Ergonomically designed seat, rugged construction, anti-tipping design, washable seat cushion
Pros:
  • Ergonomic seat design, anti-tipping design, height adjustable armrest, storage compartment
Cons:
  • Seatback is too low for extended sitting.
$265.99
Seat Width:
16”, 18”, 20”, or 22”
Seat Height:
20”
Chair Weight:
33 lbs.
Max. Supported Weight:
300 lbs
Extras:
Height adjustable seat back, quick release wheels, carbon steel frame w/chrome plating, nylon seating
Pros:
  • A well-designed manual wheelchair that has the basics covered. Overall best value for the money
Cons:
  • Not good for long-duration sitting.
09/26/2023 01:50 am GMT

Our Pick: Karman S-305 Ergonomic Wheelchair

Our Pick
Karman S-305 Ergonomic Wheelchair
4.5

Recommended For: People with long-term mobility issues in mind. If your need is short-term, another model will probably be a better overall “fit” despite this one’s quality.

Check Latest Price Read Detailed Review

This, in our view, is the best wheelchair for elderly individuals who have a reliable assistant to help them get around when they’re too tired, or if poor health prevents them from operating the chair on their own.

It’s a masterpiece, as manual wheelchairs go, because unlike many other models on the market today, it’s highly adjustable, which means you can tweak it until it’s a perfect fit.

Karman S-305 Ergonomic Wheelchair with silver frame facing right

In addition to being able to order the chair in two different seat widths (16” or 18”), you can also adjust the seat to floor height in a range from 18” to 20” and the height of the armrests. 

On top of that, the seat, armrests, and wheels are all ergonomically designed, so it’s not only surprisingly comfortable, but it’s also incredibly easy to use.

Crafted from high-quality materials, it’s rugged and durable while maintaining a relatively lightweight (just 29 pounds!), which makes it easy to transport, and the quick-release wheels make it even easier.

Even better, the seat back and cushions are relatively comfortable and covered with easy-to-clean anti-bacterial material.

All in all, this is a superb general-purpose wheelchair, excellent for people who only need to use it occasionally or moderately. If you’d be spending extended periods of time in your wheelchair, you may want to consider a reclining wheelchair for added comfort, but for everyone else, this is the gold standard, in our view.

The only real downside is its price, but this is definitely a case of getting what you pay for. The ergonomic design and relative comfort don’t come cheap, but if you have a long-term need for a mobility device and you don’t have to spend every hour of every day in it, this model is hard to beat.

Runner-Up: Foshan Ergonomic Lightweight Wheelchair

Runner-Up
Foshan Ergonomic Lightweight Wheelchair
4.3

A sturdy, robust chair, ergonomically designed for added comfort, but better suited for indoor use. Foshan Ergonomic Lightweight Wheelchair is recommended for anyone looking for a mostly-indoor use chair.

Check Latest Price Read Detailed Review

We were honestly surprised that an off-brand made our list of finalists and even more surprised that the Foshan ranked so highly. But it really is a superb design and one of the best wheelchairs for elderly people on the market today.

It’s not quite as good as our top pick, but it holds up reasonably well against it and does a couple of things that the Karman Ultralight can’t do, in addition to being offered at a significantly lower price.

It’s quite sturdy, with the frame constructed of aircraft aluminum, but somewhat heavier than our top pick, weighing in at 37.5 pounds. The extra weight makes it slightly more difficult to transport, but it still won’t present a significant challenge for most people. The upshot is that the added weight allows it to support up to 285 pounds versus the 250-pound max weight of our top pick.

Unfortunately, while it does have some adjustable elements (most notably the armrests), it’s not nearly as adjustable as our overall winner, both the seat width and height being entirely static (although it should be noted that the seat width is marginally wider at 18.2” than the widest configuration of our top pick).

Our favorite aspect of the design is that the seat cushion and backrest are both machine washable, which makes keeping the chair clean and ready for use a snap. It’s also got decent treads on the 20” rear wheels, which, combined with its anti-tipping technology and slightly wider design makes it capable of navigating over a variety of terrain surfaces, including uneven outdoor surfaces.

Right side of a folded Foshan Ergonomic Lightweight wheelchair

In addition to that, the durable footrests swing away, enabling the person using the chair to pull up quite close to tables, so you don’t have to miss out on family dinners and the like.

Unfortunately, the seatback’s height is not adjustable and is relatively low, so while it’s fine for short-duration sitting, if you are in the position of having to spend most of your days confined to a wheelchair, this one probably isn’t going to be a good fit for you.

Overall, it’s an excellent model with some very attractive features. The flip side is that it’s also somewhat less flexible, and as such, it won’t appeal to quite as broad a segment of the market as our top pick.

Value Pick: Medline K4 Basic Wheelchair

Value Pick
Medline K4 Basic Lightweight Wheelchair
4.2

Recommended For: Anyone. In our view, this is the best value on the market today.

Check Latest Price Read Detailed Review

The K4 basic is an amazing, basic wheelchair. Besides being incredibly inexpensive, it’s extremely durable, being crafted from carbon steel (with chip-resistant chrome plating which enhances the aesthetic), and thus, capable of supporting more weight than most of the chairs it competes with (300-pound capacity, versus the 250-pound capacity of our top pick). 

In addition to having tons of configuration options available when you order, both the seat back and the armrests are height-adjustable, giving you a staggering array of configuration options.

Cool side feature – the standard seat-to-floor height is 20”, but you can adjust the height of the front wheels if you like, which lowers the seat height to 18”. Note, however, that this may cause performance and handling issues over rough terrain or even over plush carpet.

An image of Medline K4 in black color.

All things considered then, the Medline K4 is not only a rugged little chair but has enough in the way of configuration options that it’s useful and appealing to a wide range of potential users.

The chair weighs in at 33 pounds, is collapsible, and has quick-release, dual-axle wheels, so transporting it from one place to another shouldn’t present much of a challenge for most people.

Although the seat and seat back are both covered with breathable nylon and offer fairly comfortable seating, this model isn’t really designed for long-duration seating. If you find yourself in need of a great, well-priced wheelchair to help you with a short-term disability, or if you only need to be in your wheelchair for a few hours a day, it’s perfect.

On the other hand, if you use a wheelchair for most of the day, every day, this one probably isn’t a great fit, despite its outstanding price.

Also Great: Karman LT-980 Ultralight Wheelchair

Also Great
Karman LT-980 Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair
4.1

Recommended For: Anyone who's 6’ or shorter looking for a cost-effective, mostly indoor use wheelchair.

Check Latest Price Read Detailed Review

The Karman LT-980 is functionally similar to the Medline K4 but is more lightly built. It weighs only 24 pounds with a maximum supported weight of 250 pounds versus 33 pounds with a maximum supported weight of 300 pounds for the K4.

Most of the things the LT-980 can do, the K4 can do better, which may make you wonder why we included it on our list at all. 

Two reasons: First, this is a great option for shorter people or people who have limited upper body strength; and second, the LT-980 handles slightly better on a broader range of terrains than the K4 does.

On the other hand, the K4 is less expensive and on the whole, more customizable, more configurable, and built on a sturdier frame (the K4 being fashioned of carbon steel vs. high-grade aluminum for the LT-980).

A folded view of Karman LT-980 Ultralight Wheelchair in burgundy color.

Both are about the same in terms of overall comfort and are ideal for short-term sitting. As with the K4, if you are confined to a wheelchair permanently, you’re probably going to want a more robust solution, but if you only need a wheelchair for a few hours a day or to help you get through a particular, short-duration medical issue, it’s a great choice.

Mostly, it comes down to what you want in the chair. While it’s true that most people would probably find the K4 to be a better fit, the LT-980 does appeal to a strong niche market, and again, for shorter people who have limited upper body strength, it’s the superior choice, even if it’s slightly more expensive. It’s definitely worth a look, and in our view, this list wouldn’t be complete without it.

Honorable Mention: Drive Medical Cruiser X4

Honorable Mention
Drive Medical Cruiser X4 Wheelchair
4.1

Recommended For: Anyone who needs a wheelchair for short to medium-duration seating. Anyone who’s on a budget. Designed primarily for indoor use.

Check Latest Price Read Detailed Review

Although we regard the K4 as the best value overall, where manual wheelchairs are concerned, the Cruiser X4 deserves a mention, and not just because it’s the lowest-priced wheelchair on our list.

An image of Drive Medical Cruiser X4 in black color.

As you can see from the summary chart, it’s basically in line with the others on our list, although it’s not quite as durable or well-made as our other finalists. That’s a design decision though, and not a true failing. When you’re looking at budget-priced chairs, it’s understood that sacrifices will have to be made somewhere, and it’s usually in the areas of durability and longevity.

At first glance, it appears to be a fairly tough customer. After all, it’s made from a combination of carbon steel and aluminum (which explains why it’s heavier than some of our other models), but we’ve read more than a few user complaints about the quality of the welds.

As to the weight, at 39 pounds, it’s the heaviest chair on our list, and as such, the least convenient in terms of folding and transporting it. Even so, it’s not excessively heavy, so you shouldn’t have much difficulty in that regard.

This chair has a lot more going for it than just its modest price tag though, and in particular, we were drawn to it for two reasons: 

  • First, because it’s got fully adjustable leg rests, which is critical for people who suffer from certain medical conditions, including things like edema, phlebitis, or varicose veins.
  • Second, it’s the only chair on our list of finalists that allows you to adjust the seat depth. In fact, most of the features on the chair are adjustable, although making those adjustments is a bit cumbersome. Even so, you can adjust the seat height, backrest height, and armrest height, and the height of the front casters, in addition to the other things we mentioned earlier.
A side view image of Drive Medical Cruiser X4 wheelchair.

On top of that, the Cruiser X4 offers a second cross-brace for the seat, which provides a bit more stability, and is covered with flame-retardant breathable nylon, which is surprisingly comfortable.

It should also be noted that this model is incredibly friendly to aftermarket additions like custom seat cushions. So, if you’re not satisfied with the comfort level of the base model, you can make your own additions later, though this will predictably raise the total cost of ownership. Even so, such enhancements can be made piecemeal, and as your budget allows.

Finally, and we recognize that this comes down to personal preference, but we love the fact that it’s got full-length padded armrests, rather than desk length. It’s a small thing, but they’re just more comfortable.

The one thing it doesn’t do very well at is handling outdoor or uneven terrains. The rear wheels just aren’t built for it, and if you venture away from flat, level, hard surfaces, you’re in for a challenge and a fairly uncomfortable ride.

As with most of the chairs on this list, it’s less than ideal for long-term sitting but great for occasional use and short-duration seating. So unless you’re confined to your wheelchair permanently, it’s a solid option and well worth a look.

Best Electric Wheelchairs for The Elderly Comparison Table

Before we go into detail, here’s a chart summarizing our research and conclusion on these outstanding products:

Our Pick
 
 
$10,990.00
N/A
N/A
Overall Dimensions:
48” x 31” x 40”
Overall Dimensions:
42.5” x 28” x 36”
Overall Dimensions:
40” x 24” x 23”
Seat Width:
Seat Width:
Seat Width:
Seat Height:
25”
Seat Height:
18.5”
Seat Height:
18”
Chair Weight:
110 lbs.
Chair Weight:
97.2 lbs.
Chair Weight:
158 lbs.
Max. Supported Weight:
300 lbs.
Max. Supported Weight:
300 lbs.
Max. Supported Weight:
300 lbs.
Extras:
The only model on our list that offers Stand-up functionality. Optional storage pouch, food tray and cup holder, comfortable gel cushions (memory foam), everything’s adjustable
Extras:
Generously padded seat and seatback. Storage pouch behind the seat, seatbelt, solid steel construction, calf straps and heel loops, anti-tip wheels. Max speed 5mph
Extras:
Impressive 25” turning radius, anti-tip wheels, no-tool disassembly for transport, 125-degree reclining seatback, adjustable headrest
Pros:
  • This motorized wheelchair offers just about every bell and whistle imaginable and has an impressive 25-mile range per charge
Pros:
  • Superb, yet simple design, offered by one of the finest companies in the industry
Pros:
  • Exceptionally well designed and offered by a respected brand known for producing durable, long-lasting equipment
Cons:
  • Costs as much as a good used car.
Cons:
  • Somewhat disappointing maximum range (fifteen miles max).
Cons:
  • Noisy recharger. Several user complaints about the LED indicator lights being too bright. Underwhelming 15 miles per charge range.
Our Pick
$10,990.00
Overall Dimensions:
48” x 31” x 40”
Seat Width:
Seat Height:
25”
Chair Weight:
110 lbs.
Max. Supported Weight:
300 lbs.
Extras:
The only model on our list that offers Stand-up functionality. Optional storage pouch, food tray and cup holder, comfortable gel cushions (memory foam), everything’s adjustable
Pros:
  • This motorized wheelchair offers just about every bell and whistle imaginable and has an impressive 25-mile range per charge
Cons:
  • Costs as much as a good used car.
N/A
Overall Dimensions:
42.5” x 28” x 36”
Seat Width:
Seat Height:
18.5”
Chair Weight:
97.2 lbs.
Max. Supported Weight:
300 lbs.
Extras:
Generously padded seat and seatback. Storage pouch behind the seat, seatbelt, solid steel construction, calf straps and heel loops, anti-tip wheels. Max speed 5mph
Pros:
  • Superb, yet simple design, offered by one of the finest companies in the industry
Cons:
  • Somewhat disappointing maximum range (fifteen miles max).
N/A
Overall Dimensions:
40” x 24” x 23”
Seat Width:
Seat Height:
18”
Chair Weight:
158 lbs.
Max. Supported Weight:
300 lbs.
Extras:
Impressive 25” turning radius, anti-tip wheels, no-tool disassembly for transport, 125-degree reclining seatback, adjustable headrest
Pros:
  • Exceptionally well designed and offered by a respected brand known for producing durable, long-lasting equipment
Cons:
  • Noisy recharger. Several user complaints about the LED indicator lights being too bright. Underwhelming 15 miles per charge range.
09/26/2023 02:25 am GMT

Our Top Pick: Karman XO-202 Wheelchair

Top Pick
Karman XO-202 Electric Standing Wheelchair
4.6

Recommended For: Anyone who needs a full-featured electric wheelchair that also offers stand-up capabilities provided that you can afford it.

Check Current Price Read Detailed Review

This chair is nothing short of amazing. In addition to being the only chair on our list that offers stand-up capability, which is critical for those with long-term mobility issues, just about every aspect of the chair is adjustable or customizable on order. For instance:

An image of Karman XO - 202 in stand up position.
  • You can select from a 14”, 16” or 18” seat width at the time of your order
  • You can select from an 18”, 19”, or 20” seat depth at the time of your order
  • The concave armrests flip back and can be adjusted
  • Both the footrest height and angle can be adjusted
  • It features surprisingly comfortable memory foam padding in the seat and seatback
  • The upholstery is breathable nylon
  • And on and on and on….

In addition to that, it comes with knee support, chest support, leg straps and a seat belt, and has a top speed of five miles per hour, plus it can travel an impressive 25 miles on a single battery charge. As we said, this chair does it all.

There’s just one major problem. The Karman XO-202 costs about four times what every other chair on our list of finalists costs. You can literally buy a great used car for the money you’ll spend on it, which, unfortunately, puts it out of reach for many potential users.

While the XO-202 is superb, the reality is that not everyone is going to need all the features it has to offer. If you do, it’s well worth spending the extra money and is likely to be the last wheelchair you’ll ever need. If you don’t, then you’re almost certainly better off to get one of the lower priced models on our list of the best electric wheelchair for elderly.

Runner-Up: Drive Medical Cirrus Plus

Runner-Up
Drive Medical Cirrus Plus Electric Wheelchair
4.5

Recommended For: Anyone, but especially anyone with a long-term mobility issue. This chair is a game-changer.

Check Availability Read Detailed Review

Drive Medical is one of the most respected names in the industry and is a major player in both the manual and motorized wheelchair market. While they offer several models, in our view, the best of the lot is the Drive Medical Cirrus Plus.

It looks more or less like a deluxe manual wheelchair, with the battery and motor tucked under the seat and simple joystick control. It offers a generously padded seat and seat back, and in our view is the most comfortable of the motorized wheelchairs on the market today.

It’s also got a storage pocket on the back of the seat, which is where wheelchairs usually provide storage. The problem is that this is a highly inconvenient location. If you’re sitting in the chair, it’s just not possible to access whatever you’ve got in the storage compartment.

An image of Drive Medical Cirrus Plus storage pocket located at the back.

It’s less of a problem on manual wheelchairs because you may have an assistant pushing you, and the assistant can easily pull whatever you need from the storage pocket. On a motorized wheelchair though, you’re not going to have (or need) an assistant, so if you need anything, you’re either going to have to get help to get it or get out of the chair.

Despite its solid steel construction, the Cirrus Plus is lighter than you might think, weighing in at 97.2 pounds. While that’s light as motorized wheelchairs go, it’s still heavy enough that you’re likely to require assistance when loading it for transport.

Although modestly priced, you’ll find no shortage of customization options. Just about everything is adjustable to one degree or another, including the fact that you can adjust the tension of the seatback, an option most other chairs don’t give you.

It’s an incredibly capable chair, and is, in our view, the best value on the market today. If you’re looking for a capable motorized wheelchair, and you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on it, this is the one you want.

Budget Pick: Drive Medical Titan Front Wheel Drive

Budget Pick
Drive Medical Titan Power Wheelchair
4.3

Recommended For: Users who love the outdoors and would not mind the heavy weight of the chair.

Check Latest Price Read Detailed Review

Drive medical dominates our list of motorized wheelchairs with the addition of the Titan Front Wheel Drive. This model is a real workhorse, as comfortable indoors as it is out. In fact, if you plan on using your wheelchair mostly outdoors, this model is probably superior to the Cirrus Plus.

A larger image of Drive Medical Titan Front Wheel Drive

Both are capable of handling a variety of outdoor terrains, but the Titan’s design makes it slightly superior to the Cirrus in that regard, although, with its impressive 25” turning radius, the Titan can navigate tight in-home spaces with ease too!

It’s got a top speed of four miles per hour and a maximum range of fifteen miles per charge. The joystick controls make the chair easy to operate, and it boasts an adjustable seat height, removable footplates that can be height, depth, and angle adjusted, and a swiveling, Captain’s style chair.

At 158 pounds, it’s the heaviest chair on our list, but it’s surprisingly easy to transport, thanks to its excellent design, which allows it to be disassembled into smaller, lighter pieces without using any tools. A superb all-around chair you won’t be disappointed with.

Also Great: Foldawheel PW-1000XL Wheelchair

Also Great
Foldawheel PW-1000XL Power Wheelchair
4.3

Recommended For: Anyone with a long-term mobility issue, especially those who are constantly on the go, and are looking for a “go anywhere” electric mobility assist.

Check Latest Price Read Detailed Review

This model is offered by Wheelchair88, and ships from Malaysia. It’s incredibly lightweight but known for its exceptional construction and durability.

Sporting a relatively modest price tag, the Foldawheel is a great general purpose motorized wheelchair, just as at home in the great outdoors as it is inside. Its powerful motors and sturdy wheels can handle almost any terrain and even steep inclines with ease, and its controls are pure simplicity.

Even better, as the lightest motorized wheelchair on our short list, it’s incredibly easy to transport, made even easier thanks to the ingenious QuickFold feature, which allows you to fold the chair for transport in just two seconds. That, combined with the travel bag you get with the chair makes moving it from one place to another simple and convenient.

While the base model is certainly capable, to get the most out of the PW-1000XL, you’re going to want to purchase some extras, including the storage basket and two extra batteries. The base model comes with one battery, which only gives the chair a six-mile range, which we found to be underwhelming. The good news is that it can hold up to three batteries, which triples the range and makes it much more acceptable, bringing it in line with the other models on our short list.

There are two issues that owners of the PW-1000XL complain about often enough to be noteworthy. The first is the notable absence of a headrest, which makes long-duration sitting uncomfortable, to say the least. The second is that while Wheelchair88’s customer service and support are excellent, it can be notoriously difficult to get a hold of a real person. Once you do, you’re in good hands, but getting to that point can require some patience.

If you’re looking for an ultralight motorized wheelchair that’s as easy to use as it is to transport, this is the one you want.

Honorable Mention: Forcemech Voyager Power Wheelchair

Honorable Mention
Forcemech Voyager
4.6

Recommended For: Users who want a lightweight powerchair that can be used for extended periods.

Check Latest Price Read Detailed Review

Forcemech is an incredibly interesting company, and the makers of a range of solid mobility products that are very good, but sadly, consistently fall short of greatness. All Forcemech machines are incredibly capable, and their basic performance will leave you impressed.

An image of Forcemech Voyager from the back

For instance, the Voyager (Forcemech’s lowest-cost model) has a top speed of four miles per hour and can travel up to twenty-five miles on a single charge thanks to the presence of not one, but two high-performance Li-Ion batteries, giving it one of the best ranges in the industry.

On top of that, it’s got a generously-sized storage basket under the seat so you can carry any supplies you might need wherever you go. That’s handy because often if any storage space is offered, it’s in a location difficult for the person sitting in the chair to access.

It’s the little things that the company seems to struggle with. For instance, the Voyager is collapsible, but there’s no mechanism to hold it in place when collapsed, which means that it’s prone to try to open back up when you take your hands off of it. The footrest folds up, but isn’t removable, making folding for transport more challenging than it should be. The battery plug is poorly designed and comes out with distressing ease. Simple to fix, certainly, but annoying.

Forcemech Brand Review Voyager Left Front View - Chair Institute

None of these things are deal breakers of course, and if you can live with Voyager’s “design quirks” it really is an amazing machine, but again, those things make it fall short of greatness.

One final thing to mention is the fact that all of Forcemech’s machines come in one color: Yellow with black trim, leading many of their customers to refer to them as “The DeWalt of Motorized Wheelchairs.” If you like yellow, no problem. If you’re not a fan, you probably won’t appreciate the aesthetic.

All things considered though, Forcemech’s entire product line is well worth a look if the other machines on our list aren’t quite what you’re looking for (their other products include the Navigator, Navigator XL, and the updated Voyager R2).

Other “Bests”

Best Bariatric Wheelchair: Medline Excel Extra-Wide Wheelchair

Medline Excel Extra Wide Bariatric Wheelchair
4.1

Recommended For: Big and tall users up to 500 pounds. This chair is mostly for indoor use but can handle relatively flat, even outdoor terrains.

Check Current Price Read Detailed Review

Medline is one of the top companies operating in this sector. They have a number of exceptional models available, and this sturdy beast is no exception!

An image of Medline Excel Extra-Wide with folded footrest

It’s a bit more expensive than a comparable standard-sized wheelchair, but it’s well built and durable and capable of supporting up to five hundred pounds of weight, which is impressive given its relatively modest weight of 59 pounds.

The seat is 18” deep, and when you order Medline Excel, you can select from 20”, 22”, or 24” seat width so you can be sure it will be a perfect fit. It’s also a fairly handsome device as wheelchairs go, with a mix of chrome framing and its navy vinyl seat and backrest.

If there’s one thing we don’t like about it, it’s the fact that the armrests are only desk length. We prefer full-length armrests, but opinions naturally differ on that point. Despite that one minor complaint though, this chair is hard to top and is an exceptional value for the money.

Best Active Wheelchair: Extreme X8 All Terrain 4×4 Power Chair

Extreme X8 All-Terrain Wheelchair
4.0

Recommended For: Anyone who wants or needs a rugged outdoor-only mobility device and can afford it.

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The term “active” means different things to different people. For younger folks who are involved in sports, mention of an active wheelchair brings to mind an image like this:

An image of Hurricane Pro Sports Wheelchair

Most seniors, however, aren’t playing basketball and the like, so a chair like the one above isn’t really a good fit. On the other hand, a chair like this is perfect:

Note the size of those pneumatic tires and the treads they have on them. This is a go-anywhere chair, and if you want to enjoy the great outdoors from the comfort of your wheelchair, then this is the model you’ve been looking for. With its impressive 32” turn radius and simple controls, you’ll be able to navigate your way around most obstacles with ease.

An image of Extreme X8 All Terrain 4x4 Power Chair in black color

Consider it to be a combination powered wheelchair and slow-moving ATV. If you love gardening, or just being able to enjoy being outside on your property, the Wildcat Folding Power Wheelchair gives you virtually unlimited freedom of movement.

It’s battery-powered, and a single charge will take you about twelve miles, and can move up to 6.2 miles per hour, which is an impressive clip! Even better, it can support users weighing up to 400 pounds.

There aren’t many types of terrain this monster can’t chew through, with its 14” deep tread tires, but on the flip side, this isn’t an indoor machine at all. It’s designed to be used on the roughest outdoor terrains you can throw at it but would be a spectacular failure if you tried to maneuver it indoors. It’s got a whopping 52” turning radius, so good luck turning around if you’re inside!

Best Ergonomic Wheelchair: Karman S-305

Karman S-305 Ergonomic Wheelchair
4.5

Recommended For: People with long-term mobility issues in mind. If your need is short-term, another model will probably be a better overall “fit” despite this one’s quality.

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This will be a short section, but we wanted to include it for the sake of completeness. Our pick for the best ergonomic wheelchair for seniors is also the Karman S-305, which also won top honors for the best manual wheelchair. Refer back to the section above for full details on this fantastic model!

Best Reclining Wheelchair: Karman MVP 502

Wheelchairs aren’t exactly built or known for their comfort, which makes the Karman MVP502 something truly special. Yes, it’s expensive, but most people who would gravitate toward this type of chair will do so because they have to spend extended periods of time in it. In those cases, comfort really matters, and it’s worth spending a little extra to get the most comfortable mobile seating you can.

An image of Karman MVP 502

The chair weighs in at a modest 33 pounds (minus footrests), supports a maximum weight of 250 pounds, and can be ordered in three different seat widths (16”, 18”, or 20”). The wrinkle here is that with its higher seat back, this model is a bit more of a challenge to transport. It’s not an insurmountable problem, but it does bear some consideration, and it may be worth looking into getting a low-cost ultralight wheelchair for those times you need to be out of the house.

This model is technically listed as a transport chair, and the default configuration sees it delivered with 14” rear wheels, but you can order it with 22” wheels, moving it to the wheelchair category, which is the reason for its inclusion here.

It’s crafted using aircraft-grade aluminum, so it’s durable and long-lasting, and everything on it adjusts:

  • The desk-length arms (height adjustable)
  • The footrests

Even better, it comes with a surprisingly comfortable seat and back pad, as well as a headrest pillow. While it’s still not as comfortable as a plush recliner, it’s certainly comfortable enough for extended-duration sitting or napping.

This is the most comfortable wheelchair for elderly people we’ve found to date. If you have to spend most of your days and nights in a wheelchair, get the most comfortable one you can. This is the model for you.

Best Wheelchair for Elderly Review Conclusion

So, what’s the best wheelchair for elderly persons? Ultimately that depends on what your specific needs are, what your tastes and preferences are, and of course, how much you can, or are willing to spend.

We’ve worked hard to look at “the best” from a variety of different vantage points and present a concise list to help you narrow your search. We’re confident that even if the chair we selected as our top pick isn’t a perfect match for you, one of the others we’ve mentioned in this piece will wind up being an excellent fit and exactly what you’ve been looking for.

One thing’s for sure: Any of the chairs listed here will serve you well. These are the best of the best.


REFERENCES & RESOURCES