Ask Jennifer: Week ending 11/23

Updated: 11/03/2014 10:53 AM
Created: 08/04/2009 11:50 AM WHEC.com

Dear Jennifer,

I sorely need your help. My husband Carl is worried silly about his mother. She’s content to stay in her recliner all day and all night. Oh, she gets up to use the toilet or raid the refrigerator or let her little poodle out but then she’s right back in that recliner; she even sleeps there. She covers the chair with a sheet. She changes the sheet every day. She has a table next to her chair with everything she could need or want. My Carl squawks at her to sleep in her bed. Is it really that bad if she sleeps in her chair? It’s become a real bone of contention between the two of them. Can you settle this for us?  


Dear Brenda,

Recliner chairs and lift chairs have pros and cons.

GOOD: The feet are up which promotes better circulation to the legs. Lift chairs can increase independence for getting up out of chairs in those with mobility difficulties. Recliners allow the user to adjust head elevation for ease in breathing and in situations such a COPD. (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.)
NOT SO GOOD: It is very difficult to shift one’s weight off his/her backside. Reclining on one’s side is awkward and uncomfortable. People with kidney failure or poor circulation may have edema shift from the ankles to their backside. Why? Edema collects in the lowest part of the body. When an individual sits in a recliner, the lowest part of the body is the backside. Also, some don’t have the leg strength for lift chairs which can cause the person to collapse; the lift chair becomes a slide of sorts and down they go. It is best to have a physical therapist approve your elder for the lift chair.

BAD:  When a person spends too much time in a recliner there is a high probability of a pressure sore forming.  Pressure sores start as a reddened area, progress to a blister and can turn into a deep open area.

It sounds as though your mother-in-law gets up throughout the day and moves about, which is to her benefit. Here’s a question for you- why is she more comfortable in the recliner? Does her doctor know this is where she sleeps? I recommend your husband attend the next doctor’s appointment with his mother. Her doctor can resolve the issue for them both.


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