Do you find it hard to climb up or down a staircase? And have you been considering shifting to a single storied house because of mobility issues? Well, you don’t have to, any longer.
There can be many reasons for finding stairs difficult to tackle, such as age-related issues; injuries; physical disability; or post-op care. Fortunately, there is a solution – stair lifts. These can solve all your climbing problems, in the short or long term. And are a great boon for people like you, who live in homes with flights of stairs.
You can find a wide variety of stair lifts that will meet all your requirements, including your budget. Do a little research to understand all the benefits offered by stair lifts before you actually get one installed in your home.
Exactly what is a stair lift?
Basically, a stair lift is a chair that is attached to a track which is securely bolted onto a staircase. This does not involve carrying out any structural changes to your house. And using it is easy – you only need to seat yourself on the chair, push a button and you’ll find yourself gliding up (or down!) effortlessly. You can also use it to transport various items that may be difficult for you to carry, such as groceries, luggage or laundry, to name a few, up or down the stairs. This makes life so much easier when you have mobility issues.
Why should you get a stair lift?
Stair lifts obviously come with a number of advantages, the most obvious being convenience. But consider these other reasons:
- Economy: Imagine the savings when you don’t have to add another room to the ground floor; or move to a single storied house; or shift to an assisted living facility
- Safety: There’s no risk involved in going up or down the stairs any more
- Peace of mind: Knowing that you, or your loved one, can navigate staircases safely
- Longevity: Once a stair lift is installed, it can be used for a very long time
The convenience factors
Stair lifts come with a number of features that can be really convenient for you:
- They can be placed on either side of a staircase
- Fitted with remote controls to call the stair lift or send it to another floor
- Folding tracks to optimize cramped hallway spaces, at lower landings
- Facilitate turning away from staircases with swivel seats
- Can be plugged into standard 110v domestic outlets
- Available for curved, as well as straight, staircases • Easy to install
These are just some of the factors you need to familiarize yourself with before you decide to purchase a stair lift. Once you take that decision, acquire some more information to freeze on the one that meets your requirements.
Once you understand what a stair lift is, and the benefits it offers, you will need to learn a bit about its installation procedures and the varying cost implications. After arming yourself with all the relevant information, you will be able to take an informed decision on the best stair lift for all your needs.
What is involved in installing a stair lift?
Stair lift installation is not rocket science. However, it may not be wise to do it yourself. Although some states are lenient about the rules and regulations that apply to stair lift installation, there are others, such as Washington, Connecticut, Oregon and Michigan that require stair lift installation to be carried out by certified professionals. They have stringent regulations that also include stair lift inspections.
To be on the safe side and spare yourself any grief at a later stage, do look into the regulations that apply to your state by consulting your local governing authority, or a reputable local dealer. These regulations don’t just apply to state codes, but also to county and city municipal codes.
The next step in installing a stair lift in your home would be to contact a consultant to evaluate your home to recommend the best stair lift for your family’s needs. The consultant will take approximately 30 to 45 minutes to carry out the evaluation by doing the following:
- Analyzing your family’s requirements
- The family’s usage pattern
- Type of stair lift needed
- Ensure accurate measurement of the staircase and the space available: This actually involves making quite an effort, such as measuring the length of the staircase; width of the staircase; number and height of the risers; the space for placing/positioning the stair lift; electrical outlet requirements; and any special needs the user may have
Features to fit every need
Stair lifts can come in different shapes and sizes, based on your requirements. The important features include:
- Safety: They come with seat belts and obstruction sensors that make the stair lift stop automatically and allow you to remove the obstruction before resuming movement
- Versatility: There are stair lifts that are specifically designed to be fitted on different types of stairs, such as straight, spiral or curved
- Easy to use: They have remote controls to call the stair lift, to go up or down. And they swivel, both at the top and bottom, so you can get on or of it safely
- Décor-friendly: You can customize your stair lifts fabric and color to match the décor in your home. They can also be folded when not being used
- Folding arms
- Folding tracks
- Variety of controls
- Option to paint the rails
Stair lift cost implications
The cost factor involved can vary based on the stair lift you choose. However, there are different ways to cover the cost, that include grants; dealer financing; loans; reverse mortgage; and home equity loan. A stair lift for a basic straight staircase may cost anywhere between $2, 800 to $4, 000. Some may even go up to $15, 000. The quotations usually include installation. In some places, permits and inspections may add to the cost. You may even be able to rent one. Please note – stair lifts are not covered by Medicare.
Now that you have all the information you need, do apply this knowledge to make the right choice of stair lift for your home.