Upstairs and Downstairs With Ease: Stair Lifts, The Basics

Nerve damage. Vertigo. Chronic pain syndrome. These are just a few of the many, many medical conditions that can transform the life of an otherwise independent person into one of almost endless inconvenience. That’s because it’s not always easy to get from point A to point B when your hips, or your knees, or your feet are in a near constant state of pain. And if there’s one single residential feature that seems to create more aggravation and bother for semi-mobile people with pain issues than just about anything else in the home, it’s most certainly a set of stairs.

Pace Medical Equipment and Supplies continues to take pride in improving the quality of life and increasing the freedom of all of our clients. We specialize in providing dependable, cost-effective minor home modifications that make a real improvement in everyday life. If you are considering remodeling your home in order to avoid using the stairs or even selling your home, we may be able to install a stair lift as an economical alternative.

A good home stair lift is a wonderful solution for those with mobility issues.

A stair lift will carry you up and down the stairs in a safe seated position, giving easy access to the second story or basement level of your home. Consider a stair lift if you are seeking solutions that don’t involve giving up the home that you love to move to a single-story alternative. It could be difference between staying in your home or going to an assisted living facility and could save you money when compared to remodeling your home.

Most stair lifts available today have seats, armrests and footplates that fold up out of the way, and swivel seats that make getting into and out of the chair easier. They also come with standard safety features like seatbelts, breaking systems and footrest sensors, push-button or rocker-switch controls located on the armrest for easy operation, and “call send” controls which allow you to call or send the unit to the other end of the stairs. An important consideration to remember is that stair lifts are not devices someone confined to a wheelchair can use easily. To be able to access a stair lift the user should be able to stand at least well enough to do a standing transfer. (A wheelchair user will need a second wheelchair at the top of the stairs.)

Types of Stair Lifts

There are two basic types of stair lifts that are sold today to improve your home’s accessibility: straight and curved. The type you need will depend upon the design of your staircase. Stair lifts fold up while not in use, use minimal power, and typically require no construction to install. Most stair lifts mount to the stair treads, not to the wall, so they are very sturdy and can be installed in almost any home. All modern stair lifts run on heavy duty batteries so that you aren’t left without your lift in the case of a power failure. Also available are weatherproof lifts for outdoor steps, and standing stair lifts (also called perch lifts) for those who have trouble bending their knees.

A straight stair lift is one that travels in a straight line up a flight of stairs uninterrupted by landings, bends or curves. Straight stair lifts are cost-effective and offer a quick turnaround for homes with straight flights of stairs. Straight stair lifts can also be fitted with upgrades such as powered swivels to assist with getting on and off the lift, higher weight capacities to serve larger customers, powered footrests, and retractable lower rail sections to allow foot traffic at the lower landing where the rail will typically run past the bottom step.

Curved lifts are much more elaborate and will go around corners, bends and changes in direction. Curved lifts are also typically more expensive depending on the complexity of the installation. Custom curved stair lifts are suitable for nearly any stair case, whether you have a split level house, a curved stair case, or a number of other configurations. Due to the uniqueness of curved staircases, these stair lifts are custom made.

Size and Weight

Most standard stair lifts have a weight capacity around 300 lbs. However, there are many options available with weight capacities between 400 and 600 lbs. A stair lift will not get in the way of walking up steps. As well as meeting your priorities as the user, modern stair lifts are designed to fit in with the needs of other members of your household. Stair lifts typically only take up about one to two feet of space on the staircase, depending on the make and model. When not in use, the seat bottom, arm rests, and foot rest can all be folded up to create even more space for others to use the stairs.

Pace Medical Equipment & Supplies will work with you to determine what is required for your home. Contact us for a free, no obligation consultation with our knowledgeable staff to determine what options are best suited to your individual needs and resources. In many cases it takes no more than half a day to install a stair lift once you have identified your requirements. There will be only minimal mess when the work is completed and in most cases you will not need to redecorate or replace your stair covering afterwards. Stair lifts are also very energy-efficient and should not have a major impact on your electricity bill.