At Oakley Home Access, one of our most commonly installed items is the Stairlift, also referred to as stair glides, stair chairs, chairlifts, or stair elevators. These amazing pieces of equipment have been around for nearly 100 years and are an integral part of the Aging in Place model. Stairways are one of the most dangerous areas of the home, leading to thousands of catastrophic falls in the older adult population. Many people know that stairlifts exist, but often have questions about the lift that may result in their hesitancy to have one installed. In today’s blog, we discuss some of the most frequently asked questions in regards to stairlifts. We hope that you find this information helpful, and as always encourage you to reach out with any further questions.
How Do Stairlifts Work?
Stairlifts utilize (2) 12v batteries to power a chair up the stairs along a mounted track in the stairway. This track mounts directly into the stair treads, causing no damage to the walls. The lift plugs into any standard household outlet, which charges the batteries on a continuous trickle charge. This will allow the lift to continue to work in the event of a power failure for approximately 20 rides, depending on the track length.
Rest assured, Oakley Home Access services everything we install. We offer annual maintenance service plans that give Stairlift owners peace of mind that their lift will operate at full capacity each time it’s called upon.
How do I get on and off the lift?
Stairlifts mirror a very similar chair height as a dining room chair or a wheelchair. At the bottom, you simply sit down onto the chair, and place your feet on the footrest. At the top of the stairs, the chair seat can be swiveled 90 degrees to place the user safely into the hallway, and away from the stairs. Our team always assesses the top and bottom of the stairs to determine if a grab bar or handrail may assist with the transfer down into or up out of the chair.
Does the Lift work on Curved Staircases?
We absolutely have options for curved staircases. The main difference between straight and curved lifts is the track. With straight staircases, we simply build the track to the length of your individual staircase. Curved lifts, however, are one of a kind and all of the tracks must be custom fabricated to fit the unique staircase. This process does mean that the lead time to have a stairlift installed will be between 6-12 weeks depending on the model. During your Free Home Safety Assessment, our we can discuss each unique situation to determine the best option.
Who Needs a Stairlift?
Stairlift users generally fall into three categories.
- Many clients are completely unable to navigate stairs. Their mobility challenges allow them to ambulate only on flat ground, or with the use of a wheelchair.
- A client is currently able to navigate the stairs, but may only be able to manage 2 or 3 steps, such as when entering the home. They have more difficulty completing full flights of stairs to get to the second level bedrooms, or to the basement to do laundry. Navigating full flights of stairs becomes dangerous at this point.
- The third type of stairlift client is a sporadic user. Their mobility changes day by day and having a stairlift provides them peace of mind that they can access their home, regardless of their mobility abilities that day. Many of these individuals will walk up the stairs, but use the stairlift to send laundry, groceries, and other heavy items up and down the stairs. This is a proactive stairlift client.
Are Stairlifts Expensive?
Stairlifts are an investment into your health and safety, and should be looked at as preventative medicine. A safe estimate for a straight stairlift would be in the realm of $3000 – $4000 regardless of what company you utilize. This may seem like a large upfront cost, but when compared to alternative options it seems much more affordable. Some of the alternatives include
- Major renovations to install a bathroom on the first floor. These renovations can cost tens of thousands of dollars, in comparison to a stairlift that takes you safely to your current bathroom.
- Moving into assisted living is an option for someone who feels unsafe in their home due to problematic stairs. These facilities are a valuable resource, but certainly come at significant cost. Facilities may cost upwards of $10,000 per month.
- Moving into a single level home is another common thought. However, when clients begin to plan for something like this, the cost of moving furniture alone can be thousands of dollars. In addition, quality of life may decrease as the client is removed from the environment they have spent their entire adult life.
- Taking no action – This is the most expensive choice of all. Clients who take no action to preserve their safety may unfortunately have a fall. The resulting expense from this is astronomical, even with insurance. Falls lead to hospital visits, nursing home stays, and very often to long term care placement. This is precisely why a stairlift can be viewed as a preventative intervention.
Will my Stairs be Safe for Everyone Else?
Stairlifts will reduce the available width of your stairs, but still leave plenty of room for those trying to navigate the stairs. A good rule of thumb is that the track of the chair will protrude out about six inches for the entire length of the stairs. This will not be a problem for those walking up the stairs. In addition, the chair itself will be parked at the top or the bottom of the stairs and in that spot only will protrude about 13 inches. While somebody walking up the stairs does need to be cognizant of the lift, it will not be a hindrance in standard stairwells.
What if I only Need it for a Short Time?
Straight stairlifts can be rented! Many of our clients are recovering from temporary injuries such as a knee replacement or a lower extremity fracture. They are confident that within several weeks, they will be able to safely navigate the stairs. Stairlift rentals are a great option to allow someone access to their bedroom or bathroom, possibly avoiding the need for a hospital bed or a bedside commode in the living room. Stairlifts can be rented for as short of a duration as one month and will cause minimal damage to your staircase. Unfortunately, curved stairlifts cannot be rented due to their custom nature.
Will a Stairlift Damage My Stairs?
The connection point between the track and your staircase is a steel plate footing. This footing has four screw holes in it that secure the track to the stairs. Upon lift removal, there will be approximately 3-5 stairs that have screw holes from the footings. These can easily be repaired with wood filler and stain to match in the event of stairlift removal.
Does My Insurance Cover a Stairlift?
Stairlifts are unfortunately not currently covered by Medicare or commercial insurance policies. However, our company utilizes a variety of resources including the RI Livable Home Modification Program, National Foundations for specific diagnoses, and Long Term Care Policies to help offset some of the cost of the equipment. Oakley Home Access also offers lightly used equipment when available, at a significant discount. We will always spend the extra time to educate you on your options!
LEARN MORE & EXPERIENCE A STAIRLIFT IN PERSON
These are only some of the most commonly asked questions we hear from our clients. If you have any additional questions, please reach out to our office at 401.429.3882. Our assessors would love to meet with you in your home to provide you a Free Home Safety Assessment. This is the perfect way to get all of your options for your unique home. We pride ourselves on not only helping our clients immediate needs, but creating a relationship for the future. Many times clients who get information on a stairlift wait several years before they have it installed, but find peace of mind having the information well ahead of their needs.