The Best Wheelchair Trays for Seniors

best wheelchair trays for elderly

Seniors who use a wheelchair for mobility may gain tremendous benefit from the addition of a wheelchair tray table. 

Comfort, convenience, enhanced independence, and safety are just a few of the major reasons people choose to add a wheelchair tray attachment.

There are dozens of different styles and variations out there, so it can be difficult to know which to choose.

Today’s top pick overall is the NEPPT Wheelchair Lap Tray Table. However, because each individual has different needs and preferences, it won’t necessarily be the best choice for every senior. 

Read on to learn about different trays for wheelchairs and wheelchair tray accessories.

Best Wheelchair Trays for the Elderly

1. DMI Wheelchair Tray

About: The DMI Wheelchair Tray is a full-sized, clear acrylic wheelchair tray. This tray features a raised strip to prevent items from rolling or slipping off, making it perfect for eating, reading, writing, crafts, or engaging in other hobbies, as well as for transporting items around the house. It’s also breeze to clean!

Best Clear Wheelchair Tray
DMI Wheelchair Tray, Clear Acrylic Wheelchair Lap Tray

DMI Wheelchair Tray

Core Features:

  • Easy to clean
  • Raised edge lip to keep items from falling off the edge
  • Spacious surface for eating, working or other activities
  • Clear tray allows full visibility of lower body
  • Uses hook and loop velcro straps to stay securely fastened to wheelchair

This DMI Wheelchair Tray is easily secured to the armrests of most standard wheelchairs using its included hook-and-loop (Velcro) straps. While it’s designed to be compatible with most wheelchairs, it fits best with standard, full length padded metal armrests. Wheelchairs with very short armrests may experience a slight slope or loss of stability. 

This model can be used as an electric wheelchair lap tray for many power wheelchairs too. It even works with some wheel-less bedside chairs! Check the dimensions against your specific chair to ensure a good fit.

The DMI Tray is easy to install with help by someone standing outside of the wheelchair, but due to its size and 5 pound weight, it may be a challenge for the wheelchair user to handle it independently. For this reason, the manufacturer recommends it be placed and removed by a second person.

The clear tray allows full visibility of the user’s lower body. This is especially handy for locating dropped items. It’s also an essential feature for many people who have lost feeling in their feet or legs, as it enables them to see their feet to navigate independently while keeping safe from injury.

Product Features:

  • Type: Hard
  • Shape: Full, semi-circle cutout
  • Tray Material: Acrylic
  • Size: 25 x 1.5 x 21 inches
  • Weight: 5 pounds

Pros

  • Clear tray allows for full visibility, important for those who need to see their feet
  • Semi-circle cutout allows for a comfortable fit around user’s midsection

Cons

  • Manufacturer recommends that another person place and remove the tray due to its size and weight. This could have the effect of making some users feel trapped or restrained, or could endanger a confused senior if they tried to crawl out of it.

2. NEPPT Wheelchair Lap Tray Table

About: The NEPPT Wheelchair Lap Tray Table is a strong, spacious, and lightweight tray table that easily attaches to most wheelchairs. It offers a large sturdy surface for eating, drinking, reading, writing, using a computer, working on crafts, or even playing board games.

Best Overall
Wheelchair Lap Tray Table Accessories with Cup Holder Medical Portable Child Chair Universal Trays Desk Fit for Manual Powered or Electric Wheelchairs (Size:52 * 58CM for 16-20 Inch Wheelchairs)

NEPT Wheelchair Lap Tray Table

Core Features:

  • Self-release feature
  • Large yet lightweight
  • Durable ABS plastic
  • Easy to clean
  • Cup holder space

The NEPPT tray is made of an extremely strong and lightweight material called ABS plastic steel. This material is food safe as well as easy to clean. It’s also extremely durable and resistant to scratches – always a bonus!

This tray is designed with a raised lip around its edge to keep objects from rolling off. Additionally, it features an indented circular cup holder (2.75 inches, the size of a can of soda) that’s great for seniors who always like to have a drink closeby.

One very important feature the NEPPT tray offers is its easy-release design. Most users are able to easily remove the tray on their own by simply turning at the waist and releasing the hook-and-loop (Velcro) strap. 

While the easy-release design is no doubt a handy feature, elders with arthritis or significant mobility issues could still find the self-release feature to be physically challenging. 

Elders who are more confused may have difficulty remembering how to release the strap. Some then may feel confined, so it would be important not to leave them unattended if this were the case. Feeling confined could be stressful, or even dangerous if they attempted to crawl out over the tray.

The NEPPT tray weighs less than 3 pounds and is easy to place. Just tightly wrap the included hook-and-loop (Velcro) straps around the armrests to install the tray. 

Due to the tray’s large size, it’s easier for a second person to secure the tray into place for the user.

Once in place the tray is very stable. It will easily support over 20 pounds of weight. If a user needs to rest an arm on the tray, lean against it while eating, or carry food, drinks or objects, the NEPPT tray can handle the job. 

The NEPPT tray fits manual and electric power wheelchairs whose armrests measure 15-20 inches from each other. It has a semi-circular cut out to allow a comfortable fit around the midsection. For a perfect fit, the depth of the tray can easily be adjusted for a little more room around the belly if needed by simply placing it a little further out along the armrests. 

Product Details:

  • Type: Hard
  • Shape: Full with semi-circular cut-out
  • Tray Material: ABS plastic steel
  • Size: 22.8 x 20.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Weight: 2.8 pounds

Pros

  • Easy release feature ensures user can easily get self free – not a restraint
  • Wide surface allows for plenty of room to eat, drink or engage in activities
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Super durable
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • Be careful using this tray with a confused elder who may not understand how to release the velcro, as it may feel confining or endanger someone who tries to get out
  • In most cases, a second person may need to help the senior place the tray.

3. The Aftermarket Group Wheelchair Half Lap Tray

About: The Aftermarket Group Wheelchair Half Lap Tray simply slides onto a standard padded armrest to offer comfortable support for seniors with right-sided weakness.

Best Soft Half-Tray
The Aftermarket Group Wheelchair Half Lap Tray, Black Padded Vinyl, Flip-Up Hardware, Right, TAG010022

Aftermarket Group Wheelchair Half Lap Tray

Core Features:

  • Right sided arm support
  • Padded for comfort
  • Easily flips up out of the way

This wheelchair half tray features comfortable padding and is covered in black vinyl for easy wipe-down cleaning. 

This tray is designed for use on the right side only, and can be flipped up out of the way as needed. The wheelchair flip away tray is intended to stay on the armrest without having to place and remove it constantly, so once it’s installed you don’t need to be concerned about taking it on and off.

As a wheelchair arm tray, it is designed primarily for arm support, and not as a surface for eating, placing drinks, or holding objects.

Product Details:

  • Type: Soft
  • Shape: Half-Tray 
  • Tray Material: Padded Vinyl
  • Size: 10.5 x 20.5 inches (5.5 x 10.5 inches at narrowest)
  • Weight: 5 pounds

Pros

  • Padding is comfortable
  • Easy installation, doesn’t need to be removed and replaced

Cons

  • Right-sided use only
  • Not suitable for holding drinks or objects – intended primarily for arm support

4. Essential Medical Supply Deluxe Rosewood Tray

About: The Essential Medical Supply Deluxe Rosewood Tray is a solid choice for seniors looking for a simple and attractive wheelchair tray. Suitable for eating, reading, crafting, computer work or other activities, it features a ⅛ inch raised strip around its edge to prevent items from slipping off.

Best Wooden Tray
Essential Medical Supply Deluxe Rosewood Tray with Raised Lip and Straps for Wheelchairs and Home Chairs

Essential Medical Supply Deluxe Rosewood Tray

Core Features:

  • Ample space for eating and activities
  • Strip around edge keeps items from slipping off
  • Fashioned from attractive rosewood
  • Coated for easy cleaning and scratch resistance

This tray is secured into place by firmly wrapping the hook-and-loop (Velcro) straps around the arm of a chair. 

The straps are screwed securely to the tray during manufacture, so they provide an exceptionally strong hold (especially compared to most wooden trays which simply staple their straps into place.)

On desk arm (shorter arm) type wheelchairs some users have noticed a tendency for the tray to slide forward a bit. This can be countered with a relatively simple process:

  1. Slide the tray forward until it tilts downward.
  2. Tighten the straps as much as possible.
  3. Grip the tray and slide it back over the armrests into place.

This process might be difficult for seniors with arthritis. It wouldn’t come up at all on a chair with standard length arms.

This tray is coated for easy cleaning and durability; It’s also resistant to stains and scratches.

The Essential Medical Supply Deluxe tray is surprisingly lightweight compared to other wooden trays its size, weighing in at only 3 pounds. 

This tray is ideal for seniors looking for a stylish tray with a lovely classic wood design.

Product Details:

  • Type: Hard
  • Shape: Full, semi-circle cutout
  • Tray Material: Coated Wood
  • Size: 25 x 22 x 1 inches
  • Weight: 3 pounds

Pros

  • Attractive rosewood 
  • Durable
  • Easy to clean
  • Scratch and stain-resistant
  • Wide, ample surface area
  • Works with most wheelchairs and even other chairs with arms

Cons

  • Some seniors may find it complicated or difficult to achieve a secure fit on wheelchairs with desk (short) armrests.
  • Seniors may require assistance from another person to place or remove the tray.

5. Skil-Care Gel-Top Sensory Stimulation Tray

About: The Skil-Care Gel-Top Sensory Stimulation Tray is a full-sized tray designed to provide comfort, support and gentle sensory stimulation. Its stable rigid core is topped with a water-based gel and is protected by a vinyl cover. 

Best Tray for Stimulation
sensory-tray

Skil-Care Gel-Top Sensory Stimulation Tray

Core Features:

  • Promotes positive posture to prevent pain
  • Designed with pressure relieving properties
  • Gentle sensory stimulation has calming and other beneficial effects for seniors with dementia
  • Lift-Away option for restraint-free care

The sensory stimulation is very soothing for some seniors with nerve related discomfort in their hands. It also can be very helpful for individuals with dementia.

The beneficial effects of sensory stimulation for individuals with dementia is well researched and documented. It is known to help:

  • Promote feelings of calm,
  • Improve memory,
  • Improve brain function,
  • Improve participation in care activities,
  • Improve communication and
  • Improve overall quality of life.

The Skil-Care Gel-Top Sensory Stimulation Tray features midnight blue gel with small stars beneath a clear vinyl cover. The user can rest their arms comfortably on the tray and watch as the stars move about in response to his or her touch.

Touching and interacting with the gel in this way increases finger strength and dexterity. 

This activity provides a gently stimulating experience that can reduce restlessness, agitation, fatigue, anxiety and wandering in some individuals.

The Gel-Top tray is designed to promote improved posture and alignment while relieving pressure in the arms and elbows. These features make a big difference in the senior’s general comfort as well as in prevention of pain and pressure-related injuries.

While not optimized for spill prevention, it is possible to eat most foods from the Skil-Care Gel-Top Tray. The anti-bacterial vinyl cover is durable and easy to clean. Reading magazines or other gentle activities work well too.

This tray attaches to the arms of a wheelchair and rests on the lap of the user. It fits wheelchairs from 16-18 inches in width.

The Skil-Care Gel-Top Sensory Stimulation Tray comes in two models: Lift-Away or Velcro Closure. Both are installed simply using included Velcro straps. 

The Lift-Away Model is designed to allow the user to remove the tray independently and therefore does not restrain them. This can be important for peace of mind. For seniors residing in care facilities, it can be important for complying with regulations regarding restraint-free care.

Product Details:

  • Type: Soft
  • Shape: Full
  • Tray Material: Water-based gel surface with anti-bacterial vinyl cover
  • Size: 24 x 20 x 2 inches
  • Weight: 10 pounds

Pros

  • Therapeutic sensory stimulation
  • Soft and comfortable
  • Postural support
  • Pressure-relieving properties
  • Easily wipe down to clean

Cons

  • Not optimized for activities which require a hard surface
  • Full-sized tray can lead to user feeling confined

6. Skil-Care Wheelchair Flip Tray

About: The Skil-Chair Flip Tray is a wheelchair armrest tray that offers seniors a convenient surface for eating, drinking or writing. The tray can flip up to reveal comfortable padded arm support.

Best Half-Tray with Cup Holder
flip-tray

Skil-Care Wheelchair Flip Tray

Core Features:

  • Flip-away design
  • Durable and scratch-resistant
  • Comfortable padded arm support
  • 2 cup holders

The Skil-Chair Flip Tray is constructed of hard, scratch-resistant plastic, making it very durable and easy to wipe down for cleaning. It is black in color, which looks sleek while also resisting staining.

The tray easily flips up when not in use, so it won’t interfere with getting in or out of the chair. 

When the tray is flipped up, soft padding covers the top and side of the armrest, making for very comfortable arm support. The padding can also be removed for cleaning.

The tray features two small cup-sized holes designed to hold drinks or other items. This is a much more secure method of holding cups than trays with shallow indentations. Although it won’t work with every cup size or style, it will work with most standard-sized tapered cups.

Installation is easy for most. The tray is bolted into place on one of the armrests. A Velcro strap adds extra stability.

Be sure to indicate whether a right or left sided model is desired.

Product Details:

  • Type: Hard
  • Shape: Half-Tray 
  • Tray Material: Plastic
  • Size: 23 x 19.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Weight: 3.2 pounds

Pros

  • Durable
  • Easy to clean
  • No need to place and remove constantly, user can be more independent
  • Easy to get in and out of chair; not a restraint

Cons

  • Smaller surface than full size trays 
  • Since cup holders are holes, smaller items could potentially fall through

7. Drive Medical Portable Wheelchair Tray

About: The Drive Medical Portable Wheelchair Tray is a quick and simple way to add a convenient spacious surface to almost any wheelchair.

Best Budget Wheelchair Tray
drive-medical-wheelchair-tray

Drive Medical Portable Wheelchair Tray

Core Features:

  • Easy to clean finish
  • Spacious surface
  • Lightweight

Fashioned from grey walnut wood, this tray is coated with an easy-to-clean finish with no fuss. 

The Drive tray is spacious and sturdy yet thin and lightweight.

It easily attaches to the arms of any 16-20 inch wheelchair using its included hook-and-loop (Velcro) straps.

Product Details:

  • Type: Hard
  • Shape: Full Tray 
  • Tray Material: Wood
  • Size: 24 x 20 x 0.5 inches
  • Weight: 1 pound

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to clean
  • Simple and economical

Cons

  • Larger trays are harder for users to handle independently
  • Full trays may make some confused seniors feel trapped at times
  • Cutout is narrower than some other full trays; users who prefer more room around the belly may be more satisfied with a deeper cutout.

8. DuraSoft Lap Tray

About: The DuraSoft Lap Tray is a wide, padded tray engineered for comfort and pressure relief. Beneath the foam layer, its core is rigid and strong. It provides a spacious stable surface for eating and other activities such as reading or working on a laptop computer.

Best Wide Soft Tray
durasoft-wheelchair-tray

DuraSoft Lap Tray

Core Features:

  • Padded for comfort
  • State of the art pressure relieving properties
  • Easy to clean spacious surface
  • Install once, flip up for transfers

Seniors who lean against their wheelchair trays, and those who are at risk for pressure ulcers due to poor mobility and thin skin, will find the DuraSoft Lap Tray to be a godsend. This tray is specifically designed to minimize pressure, as ir is covered in high resiliency foam and state of the art Solace polyurethane fabric.

The fabric covering is soft to the touch yet water-resistant and easy to clean. Plus, its black color will help keep this tray free of stains.

The DuraSoft Lap Tray attaches directly to wheelchair armrests, and it is able to work well with full or shorter desk length wheelchair armrests. 

This lap tray can be mounted in any of three ways: via clamp, Velcro strap webbing, or slide mount. The slide mount is sold separately at an extra cost.

In all mount settings, this lap tray is very stable and can be flipped up as desired. It is easy to move it out of the way when getting in and out of the chair.

It also has an attachment setting which allows more room for larger individuals.

Product Features:

  • Type: Soft
  • Shape: Full
  • Tray Material: Rigid insert covered by high resiliency foam and polyurethane fabric
  • Size: 24 x 16 x 1.5 inches
  • Weight: 4.53 pounds

Pros

  • Pressure-relieving fabric and design to reduce risk of pressure-related injuries
  • Comfortable padding with solid design
  • Suitable for eating and other activities
  • Flips up for easy transfers in and out of chair
  • Install once; no need to place and remove constantly
  • Allows plenty of room around the middle for larger individuals

Cons

  • Full trays can make some seniors feel confined

What to Consider When Choosing a Wheelchair Tray

Think about the following considerations before making a final decision…

Intended Use

What will your loved one be using the tray for primarily? Eating, drinking, reading, writing, working on a hobby and using a phone, computer or other electronic devices can be much easier with the proper tray. 

Will they need a large spacious area, or is ease of getting in and out independently more important? Often, smaller trays are easier to flip up and maneuver, but larger trays offer more stability and activity space.

Consider intended use when shopping for an overbed tray table as well, as the same general rules apply!

Wheelchair Compatibility

Is the wheelchair tray compatible with your loved one’s wheelchair? Many wheelchair trays are designed to fit a variety of chair sizes – if you have a standard-sized manual wheelchair, most trays should fit without difficulty. 

Some trays don’t work well with “desk arms”, which are wheelchair armrests that are about 4 inches shorter than standard arms to allow the user to get closer to a table or desk. Double-check measurements if you have a “desk arm” style wheelchair.

If you are looking for an electric wheelchair tray, a power wheelchair tray or a swivel wheelchair tray there could be even more variation in sizing, requiring you to check measurements to ensure compatibility.

Be sure to check the dimensions of the tray against your wheelchair prior to purchase.

wheelchair trays for seniors
Empty wheelchair in a hospital corridor waiting for the the admission of an emergency or disabled patient requiring assistance for mobility

Shape, Weight and Wheelchair Tray Installation

Most standard full size wheelchair trays are attached by wrapping hook-and-loop (Velcro) straps around the tray and both armrests of the wheelchair.

Full size trays can be cumbersome if not impossible for the user to install independently. This means that they will depend on a second person to place and remove it every time

It will be important to consider how heavy or bulky the tray will be for the person who will be placing and removing it. Will wrapping straps tightly be problematic for that person due to arthritis or other conditions?

The weight of trays can vary tremendously based on size and material. Wood or gel is often heaviest, with polycarbonate or acrylic being lightweight, but be sure to check as there is a lot of variation.

Half-trays are usually installed by screwing or mounting the tray onto either the right or left armrest. They are typically designed to work specifically on one side or the other. Be sure to choose the side that will work best for your loved one. Usually their weaker side will need the extra support.

The installation of half-trays may be a bit more involved initially, but once installed they are usually good to go. They often have flip up or swivel features so they can remain installed and still allow easy entry to and exit from the chair.

Full trays often feature a semi-circular cut-out for a comfortable fit around the user’s midsection. The depth and shape of this cut out can vary quite a bit from model to model. It’s important to look at this, especially for larger individuals. Some trays are designed to attach further forward on the armrests to allow for more roominess as well.

Built-In Cup Holder

Will your loved one be using the tray to eat or drink? Would it be helpful to have a place to keep a cup? 

Some cup holders are fairly shallow and small, while others are full holes through the tray. Consider what kind of cup or drink your loved one prefers. Perhaps they would be willing to switch to another style of cup to work with an otherwise perfect tray.

Raised Lip

A raised lip around the tray’s edge can make a big difference for elderly individuals who plan to craft, write, eat, or engage in other activities with their wheelchair tray in which items might roll off the edge if not for a raised lip.

Ease of Cleaning

Even if your loved one isn’t planning to use the tray for eating, ease of cleaning is an important consideration.

Some trays are dishwasher safe, but check the size to be sure it will fit in the dishwasher!

Ergonomic Design, Postural Support and Pressure Relieving Properties

At the very least, a tray of any size should be comfortable. A good wheelchair tray should have smooth, rounded edges and it should not hurt to rest and arm or lean against it.

For some individuals, the right wheelchair tray can make a huge difference in comfort. 

Those with upper-body weakness on one or both sides may rely on the tray to help support proper posture. This can make a tremendous difference in preventing pain from misalignment. 

Some seniors are also at a high risk for pressure injuries. Those who are confined to a wheelchair, have limited mobility, thin skin and poor nutrition are at especially high risk. Elbows and other bony areas are common areas for pressure damage to occur.

Restraint-Free Safety

Physical restraints are items or practices which restrict someone’s movement. According to the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform’s guide to Restraint Free Care wheelchair trays can fall into this category if the user cannot remove them independently. 

Seniors with confusion or dementia may feel trapped by a full tray table, which could make them feel emotionally distressed. If they should try to climb out over the tray, it could endanger them physically as well. 

There are many regulations regarding restraints of any kind in nursing homes and other long term care facilities. As long as you are caring for your loved one at home, and don’t leave them unattended with the wheelchair tray table in place, there shouldn’t be any concern. 

If your loved one lives in a facility, check with the staff before purchasing any kind of full tray.

Our Top Pick: The Best Wheelchair Tray for Seniors

We feel that the NEPPT Wheelchair Lap Tray Table will best meet the standard needs of most seniors. It is strong and spacious yet very lightweight.

It works perfectly for almost any activity from eating and drinking to reading, writing and working. It can support a great deal of weight without losing stability.

The raised lip and cup holder are nice details but its easy-release feature really sets it apart from the competition. 

The Clear Runner Up

A strong, lightweight and spacious option, and a strip around the edge to prevent items from rolling off, the clear acrylic DMI Wheelchair Tray can’t be beat for seniors who need to see their feet.

Best Half Tray

For those who need a simple half tray, the Skil-Care Wheelchair Flip Tray is a solid overall choice. 

Its sturdy surface boasts 2 cup holders. The tray can flip up for easy entering and exiting, and to reveal a comfortable padded armrest.


Have you purchased any of the wheelchair trays detailed above for a friend, family member, or for yourself? How do you use a wheelchair tray? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Last update on 2020-08-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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