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Parkinson’s, Caregivers, and Mealtime

Caring for a loved one living with Parkinson’s can be a daunting challenge for both family members and caregivers. Mealtimes can be especially challenging for persons living with Parkinson’s, as they are at risk of falling due to the neurological disorder which causes uncontrolled movements including shaking, stiffness and difficulty with balance and coordination.

Caregivers, experience increased levels of stress and anxiety when monitoring a loved one’s actions. Any attempt by their loved one to get seated without their support could result in a fall or injury.

It is not uncommon for a person with Parkinson’s to bump into furniture while attempting to get seated in a chair. This can have disastrous results, as any unintended contact with the chair can cause it to move unexpectedly, often resulting in a fall or injury.

Unfortunately, traditional chairs fail...

Use of an office/task chair is deemed unsafe as this style of chair is designed to roll easily, putting the seated person at risk of falling should the chair move away unexpectantly.

Challenge #2: Being moved safely up-to and away-from the table

Once seated, the physical demands required of the care provider to move a seated person up to the table can be exhausting. Any activity which involves pushing, pulling, shoving and twisting of a seated person also increases the care providers risk of incurring an injury/fall.

The use of a standard dining chair is also deemed unsafe as it is designed not to move, putting the care provider at risk of incurring a personal injury as a result of overexertion.

A standard dining chair is deemed unsafe as it is does not move easily, putting the care provider at risk of incurring a personal injury.

An office chair is deemed unsafe as this style of chair rolls too easily, putting the seated person at risk of falling should the chair move unexpectantly.

A Better Way

Dining chairs designed to address these concerns should have arms and include mobility features enabling the chair to swivel-lock...roll...and brake for safety!

(A) Swivel-lock: Chairs that swivel-lock eliminate table interference as the seat of the chair is swiveled 90 degrees away from the table.

With the seat locked in place, the person being seated is able to rely on the arms of the chair for support and has full access to the seat of the chair as any interference with the table has been eliminated.

Once seated, they can release the swivel-lock and swivel themselves towards the table.

(B) Swivel-lock...Roll and Brake: Additionally, chairs that swivel-lock…roll…and brake can be moved further away from the table providing increased table clearance should a second caregiver be required to provide assistance or if the person relies on a walker / rollator for stability.

Exiting the table: With the seat of the chair turned (90 degrees) away from the table, the seated person is also able to rise from the chair and walk directly away from the table.

This eliminates the need for the person to lean on the table and shuffle/pivot his/her feet as they reach for their walker.

To view these mobility features in action, please watch videos:

Why is a heavier chair safer when caring for a person with Parkinson's?

At first glance, caregivers assigned the task of moving a seated person up to the table opt for a lightweight chair, thinking this will ease their effort when moving that person forward.

However, what they fail to appreciate is (a) once the person is seated, it is the total weight of the person and the chair that needs to be moved up-to the table, and (b) a lightweight chair tends to move prematurely, increasing the risk of injury to the person being seated.

Caregivers should consider selecting a chair designed both for stability and mobility.

A sturdy chair with arms offers support as the person slowly lowers him/herself into the chair. A heavier chair provides increased stability and thus is less likely to move prematurely. Chairs fitted with lockable inline wheels provide needed mobility, enabling the caregiver to roll the seated person up-to the table with ease and grace.

Chairs that Swivel...Roll...and Brake for safety:

  • provide those with Parkinson's a greater degree of dignity and self-worth
  • eliminate the need for care partners to push-pull-shove-twist on a chair
  • reduce mealtime stress and anxiety for both the seated person and the care partner
  • create a more enjoyable mealtime routine for all

Meet Patricia...

My husband has Parkinson’s Disease and has broken 2 chairs trying to get close enough to the table to eat. This mobility chair is the best. So easy to sit him at the table now.

Swivel & Roll - Merriville, IN

Meet Rose...

This chair has been a lifesaver. My husband has progressive Parkinson's Disease and needs 24-hour assistance. We could not find a chair that would fit his needs. An office chair with wheels was not an option because it flew off whenever he was rising or sitting down. To turn a regular chair away from the table, it had to be lifted with him in it.

With the stiffness caused by his illness, he could not help, thus the chair was dragged and quite a number of chairs got broken (along with the floor being damaged.) After days of online research, I came across your chair. It has been life-altering. I have recommended this chair to so many people who are afflicted the same way he is.

Swivel & Roll - New York, NY

Dining chairs recommended for Parkinson’s care.