With many older adults committed to aging in place, home safety and accessibility solutions are in high demand. While some problems can be solved with a few minor home and lifestyle adjustments, if stairs are a problem, a more comprehensive accessibility solution may be needed.
Stairs a problem?
Stairs can become difficult to manage at any age. In addition to the natural effects of aging or the onset of arthritis, trouble with the stairs can result from acute injury or a neurological condition. While the problem could be in your knee joints or hip, it could just as easily stem from tremors, low vision or respiratory issues. Regardless of the cause, anything that makes climbing stairs painful, difficult, or dangerous needs to be addressed. Here, we’ll cover 8 signs that it’s time to consider getting a stair lift.
8 Signs It’s Time to Get a Stair Lift
1. Your vision has been declining
If your vision is declining, aging in place becomes significantly more difficult. Tripping hazards that would usually be easy to avoid, become dangerous obstructions…especially around the stairs or in the bathroom. You might have noticed your vision declining gradually over time, but it’s important to determine the extent of the problem.
Getting your eyes tested regularly and using high visibility tape to mark obstructions in your home are two ways to combat vision issues and prevent falls. But, at a certain point, you should consider making broader changes as a part of your plan to age in place. This is especially important where stairs are involved and a mobility device may be needed. Your doctor or a medical professional can provide the best advice in this area.
2. You’re afraid to fall or you’ve fallen before
Falls are the leading cause of injury in older adults and a major detriment to aging in place. In fact, one older adult falls approximately every second. 1/3 of all falls are related to home hazards and 2/3 of fall victims will fall again within 6 months.
Eliminating falls by reducing tripping hazards (scatter rugs, loose electrical wires, etc.) is one of the most important steps in making your home suitable for aging in place. If you’ve fallen or are afraid of falling on the stairs, you have two viable choices: find an accessibility solution to solve the problem or avoid the stairs altogether. But many seniors delay this decision, putting themselves at serious risk for a fall that can lead to a life-altering injury.
3. You need physical assistance to use the stairs
As mentioned, falls on the stairs can have a debilitating effect, making it difficult to continue aging in place. Despite being faced with the choice to either avoid stairs or make modifications to make them safer, many seniors simply carry on and “make do” with their limited mobility on the stairs.
Often, seniors will try to manage by planning their entire day around the stairs. But getting up and downstairs should not be a major source of anxiety or something that takes up most of your energy for the day. If you find yourself carrying everything you could possibly need downstairs in the morning, just so you can avoid climbing back up again later, it’s time to think about making a change. Moreover, if you have to wait for physical assistance to get up or downstairs, a mobility device (such as a stair lift) could help you live more independently.
4. You’re sleeping downstairs
Moving your bedroom to the first floor is perhaps the simplest solution for eliminating the stairs as a barrier in your home. It makes sense logically: if stairs are a problem, why not simply remove them from the equation? Unfortunately, single-story living isn’t for everyone. If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you’re a person who has trouble with stairs, but still wants to enjoy the full use of your home. That means separate areas for your private things, like your bedroom, and proper space for entertaining guests.
While paring your home down to a single story might seem like a good way to solve the problem of the stairs, it really limits your options and cuts down on your ability to host visitors and enjoy your home the way you want to. You’ve paid for the entire house. Why limit yourself to a single floor?
5. You don’t use your yard
Spending time in your yard and enjoying outdoor spaces is a major benefit of home ownership. But if you’re struggling with limited mobility and feel unsteady getting down the stairs to your yard, you’re likely missing out on the benefits of being outside.
Whether you’re a gardening enthusiast or simply want to get a bit of sunshine, you shouldn’t be forced to stay inside because of the barrier caused by stairs. If you’d like to spend more time enjoying the great outdoors, an outdoor stair lift could be the perfect solution.
6. You’re considering moving to a new house
If you can no longer get up and down your stairs, you might consider moving to a ranch or single-story home. It might even seem like the easiest option. But when was the last time you moved? Do you remember what that involved? Sorting through years’ worth of cherished items and packing everything into boxes can be just as emotionally taxing as it is physically tiring. You’ll also have to deal with hiring a delivery truck. And that’s all before even mentioning the hassle of trying to sell your own house or finding a new one within your price range.
Moving can cost a lot of money, but it’s also important to consider the emotional toll it takes on you. It’s exhausting. And it’s sad leaving behind all the memories you’ve built up over the years. That’s why many seniors instead choose options that will allow them to age in place.
7. You’re considering nursing homes
For many seniors, entering a nursing home or assisted living facility is a last resort. After years living independently in a home full of cherished items and memories, giving up that autonomy and entering a medical facility setting can be jarring.
If managing stairs is the primary reason you’re thinking about entering a nursing home or assisted living facility, a mobility device, such as a stair lift, could be the thing that helps you stay in the home you love. While 24/7 access to professional medical help is an absolute necessity for some, it’s not automatically the case, just because you’ve reached a certain age. Talk to your doctor, then take some time to review your options with your family. The high costs of these facilities alone may be enough to inspire you to explore other solutions to help you age in place.
8. You’re thinking about remodeling or getting a home elevator
Installing a home elevator is an increasingly popular solution for making your entire house accessible. However, high costs, longer lead times and architectural requirements can make this a tricky option for many. While a home elevator can solve a lot of issues, it might be more than is necessary for your situation.
Stair lift requirements are much simpler, allowing you to easily avoid the extensive building work that comes with installing a residential elevator or completing another remodeling project. If you’re still ambulatory, but need help getting up and down stairs, a stair lift could be a great alternative, providing the best of both worlds.
Stair Lifts: a practical aid for aging in place
As a familiar part of your daily routine becomes an increasingly difficult task, keeping your spirits up can be a challenge. Laboring up and down stairs deprives you of energy, while also reminding you of your physical limitations. But a stair lift offers a practical solution to this problem.
Stairs come in many shapes and sizes. Fortunately, so do stair lifts. Straight staircases are the most common, but many homes have stairs that take one or more turns. Some people need help using outdoor stairs to access their driveway or backyard. No matter which type of stair lift you need, the first step is accepting that you need help. That’s where Stannah comes in.
Although we have installed over 850,000 stair lifts, we know everyone has a different story, so we start by taking the time to understand each customer and their needs. After 150 years in business and nearly 50 years manufacturing stair lifts, we understand the barriers our customers face and we know how to help them overcome those obstacles through the many benefits stair lifts offer.
The benefits of buying a stair lift
There are many benefits to buying a stair lift. Especially when you compare them with the alternatives:
- It’s cheaper than moving house
- You get to stay in the home and community you love
- Stair lift installation takes less than a day
- Getting a stair lift installed doesn’t require any remodeling
- Installing a stair lift doesn’t cause any damage to your stairs or walls
- You get to enjoy the full use of your house, rather than living on a single story
- You can get a stair lift installed on just about any staircase, whether it’s straight, curved, spiral, long, short, narrow or steep
You’ll have more energy for the things that matter
Getting a stair lift doesn’t mean exercising less. It means you have the energy to do things that actually matter. How much joy does climbing the stairs bring you? How much anxiety does it cause? Compare that to having the energy to go out for a coffee, come home and know that you can glide up the stairs with no effort. Maybe the things that bring you joy are more active. Gardening? Yoga? Swimming? Dancing? Will your newfound energy mean you start a whole new hobby? Or will you simply have more energy to spend with the people you care about? No matter what you decide, the answer will certainly be more interesting than climbing the stairs, and probably much safer!
When is it the right time to buy a stair lift?
It’s difficult to know exactly when it’s the right time to get stair lift. One day you could be feeling healthy and strong, taking the stairs two at a time. Then, suddenly, everything changes. Or maybe you’ve experienced more gradual changes, with only minor physical impediments that you’ve been able to adapt to. Whatever the case, it’s far from an exact science. But when stairs become a daily concern, and if any of the 8 signs we’ve discussed begin to emerge, it’s probably time to consider a more robust solution.
How do I buy a stair lift?
Follow our three easy steps to get your freedom back, stress and hassle-free.
- Schedule a home survey. Our consultant will measure your stairs and ask key questions to make sure you get exactly what you need.
- Get your free quote, which includes installation.
- Before you know it, our installation team will be knocking at your door to install your stair lift. Installations take less than a day. Afterwards, our friendly technician will make sure you know exactly how your new purchase works before they leave.
How to choose a stair lift
Choosing the best stair lift for aging in place depends on several factors, including the architecture of your home and the features you require. That’s why we offer helpful stair lift advice both over the phone and during free, in-home consultations. We’ll answer all of your questions and provide our best recommendation to meet your needs. We’ll also be sure to provide you with options, so you have the flexibility to choose the stair lift that suits you best.
Aging in place accessibility checklists
No matter what you decide, There are many factors to consider when aging in place and you need to make the best decision for you. At Stannah, we’re always ready to give helpful and advise as it relates to our stair lifts. We’re just a phone call away! In the meantime, here are some useful fall prevention and mobility tips that can help make your home safer:
Fall Hazard Checklist
- Rewire or remove cords near stairs
- Remove clutter to prevent tripping
- Remove throw rugs that can slide away
- Avoid high shelves and step stools, especially near the stairs
- Make sure your stairs are well lit
- Install carpeting or non-slip treads on wooden steps
Homeowner Mobility Checklist
- Balance – does the homeowner walk with a steady gait?
- Endurance/Strength -does the homeowner have the energy to make it up and downstairs safely?
- Vision – can the homeowner see the steps clearly and identify potential hazards on the stairs?
- Breathing – do respiratory issues make it difficult for the user to get up and down stairs?