Stair Lifts: Up and Away
Stair lifts, which are often called chair lifts, are a comfortable, convenient and safe solution for anyone who lives in a multi-floor home but can no longer climb the stairs. Churches, hospitals, schools and other establishments often have a chair lift available; many people don’t realize that the same accessibility can be theirs at home.
Who Can Benefit from a Stair Lift?
Stair lifts are perfect for many people who have difficulty walking or climbing stairs, but don’t have to use a wheelchair. This is particularly important to those who live alone; if another person is present, they can assist by carrying the empty wheelchair up or down the stairs. Many people who use stair lifts use a cane or foldable walker, which is much easier to hold while the lift is in motion.
Advantages of Stairlifts
One of the outstanding advantages of a stair lift is affordability. Basic units cost between 5-10% of what it would cost to install a home elevator. Installation is generally quick, with no need to pour concrete or dig an elevator pit. There are stair lifts for every staircase, every person and every budget. It’s important to check the weight limits carefully; most lifts safely accommodate up to 300 pounds. If space is limited, consider a folding style lift. These are collapsible units that fold flush against the wall when not in use, freeing up much-needed space.
Stair Lift Controls
The best home stair lifts allow the occupant to control the chair while seated in it. Many also have a remote control that allows the bearer to summon the chair while remaining outside the lift. The onboard controls are usually embedded in one of the arm rests, and consist of a joystick and/or buttons. The controls are quite sensitive and don’t need heavy pressure to activate; however, users with very weak hands or limited dexterity should exercise caution and try out several models before making a purchase. This is especially true for those who have use of only one hand, as the controls must be on the correct side of the chair.
Modern stair lifts are designed for comfort and ease of use. The ideal chair stair lift has thick, soft padding on the seat, backrest and arms; the footrest should also be adjustable and keep one’s feet securely in place. Safety belts are another crucial feature of chair lifts for stairs and should be worn at all times while the chair is in motion, even though the lift travels at slow speeds, because falling from the chair likely means a tumble down the staircase as well. The most effective seatbelt systems have lap and shoulder restraints.
Exterior Stair Lifts
Stair lifts can also be incredibly useful on properties with outside stairs, especially in icy or rainy conditions. These lifts operate on the same principles as their interior counterparts, but are designed to resist moisture and other types of weather damage. To prolong the life of the lift, it’s prudent to follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions regarding maintenance, repairs and use.