Are Climbing Stairs Getting You Down?…Maybe You Need A “STAIR LIFT”!

A month or so ago, we posted a blog on the “ups and downs” of home elevators which we hope you enjoyed. Today, we are turning our attention to the “Stairlift”, another great way to help you move around the different levels of your home. Stairlifts are terrific for seniors who still are able to walk independently but have mobility issues that make climbing stairs a challenge. Some leg weakness, a little balance insecurity, maybe an athletic injury: here’s an answer that could solve your stair climbing woes.

THE BASICS.   A stair lift is a motorized device attached to a staircase that moves people up and down on a track. Usually, it comes equipped with a seat,  but it can also be a platform for standing or wheelchair users. These are simple to operate and have a variety of features to ensure the safety of the user.

Stairlifts come in two flavors:  straight and curved. The choice is tied to staircase design.

A straight lift, as the label suggests, is the vanilla flavor; one that moves in a straight line directly up the staircase, with no turns, twists or bends. These are mass-produced and are fairly easy to install. On the other hand, the curved stairlift is meant for installations that have landings, twists, and turns. They are are a bit trickier as they must be custom fit to meet the particular shape of the staircase. Because there are more planning, design and hardware requirements, expect to pay considerably more if a curved stair lift is the installation you need.

Stair Lift

But straight vs. curved isn’t the only consideration. Stairlifts also come in different sizes and models to accommodate, among other things, the width of your staircase, particular weight requirements and whether others will be using the stairs. If your installation involves a particularly narrow staircase, for example, some designs fold up so that others can share stair access.

Here’s some other stuff to think about:  There are many different seat styles, fabrics, and colors. Beyond the wide array of seating options, other decisions include whether to include arm and foot rests or swivel features. Safety is built into almost every model so that chairs generally come with seatbelts or harnesses and are usually coupled with other protective devices like motion sensors to stop the lift from colliding with objects on the stairs. Automatic braking systems are part of the safety grouping.

Operating your stairlift is very simple with most having a simple switch system to control the “up and down” movement.  And it’s common for systems to include call/send buttons to summon the chair from one end of the stairs to the other.

SOME MORE INFO. We’re not done with options. Don’t want to “sit” your way up the stairs. There are lifts for you too. They’re called “standing stairlifts,” or “perch lifts,” and operate like a seated lift except that instead of a chair, they provide a small platform to stand on. They’re useful for extremely narrow stairwells, for people who are unable to bend their knees in a sitting position, or for those who simply prefer to stand. The “perch lift” comes with many of the same features as the standard lift, like armrests, motion detectors, and braking systems.

What about installation issues? As mentioned above, curved lifts require more expertise to install than the straight variety because they must be custom fit to the specific dimensions of the stairwell. So make sure your installer has experience with these installations. Another issue is locating an electric source to power the chair. If there is no available plug, you’ll have to bring in an electrician, and that could add a bit to the overall cost. Many stairlifts are equipped with batteries that allow operation during power outages. Also, it means that the electrical source is only powering a battery charger, not the unit itself.

Are there any special maintenance requirements?  Stairlifts are mechanical, so there’s some basic upkeep. DIY maintenance includes cleaning the tracks, seats, and controls. An occasional squirt of lubricant on the tracks is also a good idea, and you’ll want to call a tech periodically to inspect the motor and check for loose nuts and bolts.

How about outdoor lifts? Yes, they’re available and can be a real boon for helping to navigate porch or patio stairs. Of course, look for stair lifts that are designed to be weatherproof and are constructed with vinyl or other durable seating materials that can withstand the elements.

If you’re interested in more information about stairlift products, we have a lot of expertise in this area.  Doing your product research and having all your questions answered is the best way to ensure you select the right product for your individual needs. Give us a call or reach out with an email…

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