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If your parent has mobility issues and requires the assistance of a walking cane, walker, or wheelchair, then you may also want to consider installing a stair lift in either your home (if they currently reside with you) or in their home. Stair lifts (also known as chair lifts) allow users to sit comfortably in a seat that takes them up the steps using the stairs’ railing as a track. Call Today!

What are Stair Lifts?

A stair lift is a chair that is on a rail that travels up the length of your staircase. It is motorized, so all the user has to do is get in the chair and press a button. Some people confuse a stair lift and a lift chair, but they are very different. A lift chair is a recliner that has the ability to tilt forward, in order to aid the user up and out of the seat. A stair lift is a chair on a motorized rail that is attached to the wall.

Stair lifts are ideal for the elderly, disabled, or injured. Anyone with balance issues or poor lower body strength should consider a stair lift in order to be safer in their own home. Those who have poor mobility have a huge risk of falling in the home, and trying to go up or down stairs, especially if they are trying to carry something by themselves as well, can be very dangerous. Using a stair lift can make it so much safer for them and can give them much greater independence in the home.

How Does a Stair Lift Work?

A stair lift includes a motorized chair with a lift mechanism that attaches to and moves up and down a rail on your stairs. You sit on the chair or stand on a lift as you are safely moved up or down the stairs. The stair lift generally operates on electricity but can have a battery back-up in case of power outages. Stair lifts come in a variety of designs, shapes, and sizes to meet an array of needs. Depending on whether the stairs are straight, curved with landings, or narrow, the stair lift can be customized to address different architectural spaces. Seats should include seatbelts, and modern versions feature motion sensors, call buttons, and braking systems.

Types of Stair Lifts

The main types of stair lifts are straight, curved, outdoor (straight or curved), standing (straight or curved), and platform. Each type of stair lift is intended to interact with a certain type of staircase or other situations in which the consumer requires a certain type of mobility.

Straight Stair Lift

A straight stair lift is the simplest and most inexpensive type of stair lift. This stair lift is installed directly along the side of a completely straight staircase. Some common benefits and features of straight stair lifts include the ability to be installed on either side of a staircase, a retractable rail and seat, and footrest and armrests that fold up when not in use. Straight stair lifts often have the option of a power swivel so you can be automatically and securely moved to the landing at the top of the stairs.

Curved Stair Lift

A curved stair lift is customized to your individual staircase since it follows the unique curve of the staircase. As a result, this type of stair lift is considerably more costly. Curved stair lifts can conform to a myriad of specific requirements, such as staircases that encompass multiple floors, staircases with a landing between floors, and even complex spiral staircases. Like straight stair lifts, curved stair lifts are also typically equipped with a foldable seat, footrest, and armrests and either a power swivel option or the ability to stop directly on a landing. Easy-to-use and intuitive controls are also standard.

Outdoor Stair Lift

An outdoor stair lift can be either straight or curved, depending on the specifications of your outdoor staircase. This type of stair lift is designed to be resistant to adverse weather conditions and temperature extremes and is most often used for transportation to and from a porch, deck, driveway or detached garage or shed. Outdoor stair lifts usually have a foldable seat, a seat belt, and a power swivel option, in addition to unique outdoor features such as a lock-and-key to keep them secure and a cover to keep them clean and protected from direct exposure to the elements.

Standing Stair Lift

A standing stair lift is intended for people who have difficulty sitting and standing because of pain or inflexibility in their lower extremities, either due to advanced age, illness, or disability. This type of stair lift may include an elevated seat, tilted seat or a “barstool” type of design that makes rising from a semi-seated position easier. Some stair lifts may be designed to simply allow you to stand upright. A standing stair lift can be adapted for either a straight or curved staircase and is typically fitted with features such as a seat belt, intuitive controls and the ability to park on a landing.

Platform Stair Lift

A platform stair lift can be accommodated for straight or curved staircases and is intended for people who are in wheelchairs or use other mobility devices, such as walkers. This type of stair lift has either an open platform or an enclosed platform. Open platform stair lifts have doors, sides or guardrails while enclosed platform stair lifts resemble a home elevator, but both types are large enough to transport two people.

Why are Stairlifts useful?

Those with limited mobility, such as those with arthritis, back pain, hip problems or other ailments that make climbing stairs challenging or impossible can benefit from stairlifts. People with restricted mobility can securely and easily travel stairs with the use of stairlifts and allowing them to remain in their current homes rather than having to transfer to a single-story building. Stairlifts reduce the danger of falls and other injuries by eliminating the need to use a cane, walker or other supportive equipment to walk steps. Moreover, stairlifts make it simpler to carry objects up and down stairs enabling independent living for those with restricted mobility.

Safety aspects to Setup a Stairlift

  • Ensure that area safety regulations and rules are followed when installing the stairlift.
  • Verify that all connection points are correctly secured and that the stairlift is properly attached to the stairs.
  • Verify that the wall, ceiling or other supporting structure is strong enough to support the stairlift.
  • Check that the stairlift includes a key switch and an emergency stop button for greater security.
  • Make sure the stairlift is adjusted and maintained correctly to reduce the danger of injury.
  • Check if the stairlift has a footstool and seat belt for the safety of the user.
  • Inform users of how to use the stairlift correctly and also include how to safely enter and exit the lift.

Features of Stair Lifts

Many stair lift companies offer the following features as either standard with their models or as an additional add-on or upgrade.

  • Folding Seat & Footrest – Designed to help minimize the amount of space the stair lift takes up when not in use. Some models offer a power option that automatically folds the footrest when the seat is lifted.
  • Swiveling Seat – Allows the user to rotate the seat away from the open stairs for a much safer exit from the stair lift.
  • Adjustable/Customizable Chairs – Additional comfort in the form of generous padding, adjustable seat height and armrest width makes for a much smoother ride.
  • Seat Belt and Safety Sensors – Automotive-grade seatbelts help keep riders safely on the chair while the stair lift is in motion. And safety sensors can detect objects on the stairs that may obstruct the stair lift’s function.
  • Remote Controls – Can be used to automatically “call or send” the stair lift up and down the stairs allowing multiple users to utilize the stair lift.

How Much Does a Stair Lift Cost?

There is no set price when it comes to stair lifts since everyone’s homes and requirements are different. Broadly speaking, a stair lift will cost somewhere between $2,500 and $15,000. That’s a wide price range, but there are certain factors to keep in mind when making an estimate for yourself. Longer stair lifts are more expensive than short ones, for example, and curved stair lifts are more expensive than straight rail ones. If you anticipate needing a stair lift to cover a long, curved staircase, the price could be on the higher end.

There are also certain add-on features that may add to the price of a stair lift. Let’s take a minute to explore some of these additional features.

  • Power Supply: Stair lifts can run on batteries, and receive a charge when they’re docked. A chairlift can have two charging points, one at the top of the stairs and one at the bottom. A stair lift can also be hardwired to receive continuous power. The type of power the stair lift receives can impact price.
  • Retractable Elements: Stair lifts can have retractable seats, armrests, and footrests to keep them out of the way when not in use. Also, since the rail needs to extend beyond the top stair, that piece of rail can also be made retractable to fold out of the way when the chair isn’t in use.
  • Seat Belts and Harnesses: Seat belts are standard on stair lifts to ensure safety, but they can also be upgraded to be made retractable, or replaced entirely with harnesses that better support the body.
  • Different Seat Types: Customers can select seats that swivel for easier dismount, seats with adjustable heights, and more customizations.
  • Controls and Sensors: Stair lifts can also be made more tech-friendly, featuring motion sensors that can detect obstacles on the stairs and stop the lift from going up or down, manual shutoff buttons, and remotes that can call the chair up or down.

Stair Lift Installation

Most reputable dealers have installation professionals in all major markets to serve buyers, wherever they may be. Although there are DIY (do it yourself) stair lift projects, we recommend that you get a professional to do the work. Stair lifts are extremely complex machines and should only be handled by those who are technically skilled.

Oftentimes, in order to save costs, older adults choose online retailers who offer stair lifts with DIY installation. Ultimately, they get stuck with a stair lift that neither fits their staircase nor works as expected. Just imagine the risk a faultily installed stair lift poses to your life.

Before making a purchase, here are some questions to be answered about installing a stair lift:

  1. Is the structural integrity of the stairway conducive to a stair lift project?
  2. Do you have proper electrical requirements satisfied?
  3. Do you have the proper permitting (if required)?
  4. Do you know how to accurately test the equipment once installed?
  5. What if you have a problem in six months? Who would you call?

If you do not wish to worry about these issues (and more), we recommend that you have a professional do the work. Also, for what it’s worth – We make the same recommendation for walk-in bathtub installations. With heavy-duty, costly equipment, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Trained technicians will visit your premises and attach the stair lift to the stair treads with clamps. There is usually little or no need for home modifications to be made to accommodate this mobility-enabling device. All you need to ensure is that an electric outlet is available near the lift.

The Benefits of Stairlifts

A stair lift benefits the person using it, as well as the caregivers and loved ones who may be concerned about a family member being unable to safely climb a set of stairs. The main benefits of a stair lift are:

  • Independence: One of the top reasons that people choose to have a stair lift installed is to regain their independence at home. A person’s independence becomes limited when they no longer feel comfortable using a staircase at home and require someone’s assistance to safely use the stairs. A stair lift can provide access to the bedrooms upstairs or laundry room downstairs, which means that you or a loved will no longer have to sleep downstairs or avoid going downstairs to do the laundry.
  • Safety: Limited mobility puts many seniors at risk of slipping, missing a step, or tripping on an item on the stairs. Fortunately, these mishaps can be prevented with the installation of a stair lift. After installation, all you’ll need to do is sit on the chair, buckle your seat belt, and with a press of a button, you’ll be safely transported up/down the stairs in no time!
  • Peace of Mind: Your family will have peace of mind knowing that the risk of an injury on the stairs has been greatly reduced. It’ll also remove any anxiety you may have had when trying to climb up and down the stairs.