Walking up and down the stairs is something that is difficult for many individuals who are over 65 or suffer from medical conditions that effect their mobility. Not only is climbing the stairs difficult, but it is also dangerous, so many people choose to install a stair lift.
A fall down the stairs can be devastating and is the leading cause of hospitalization and incidental death among people over 65 For this reason, many avoid the stairs or rely on friends and family to help them. In some cases the inability to safely use the stairs may seem cause for a dramatic life change, such as a move, but none of this is necessary if you choose to install a stair lift, which is also often called stair chairs.
A stair chair gets its name, because a person is able to move up and down the stairs in a chair. A track is secured to the stairs and an electric motor then moves the chair along the track. Depending on the type of lift, some are capable of supporting over 500 pounds. These models are considered heavy duty stair chairs and also feature seats that are wider and reinforced. Most non-heavy duty lifts support around 350 pounds.
Individuals who have straight stairways are usually able to install a stair lift for much less than the cost of a residential elevator. In these cases, the stairway lift can also be installed without any major home renovation and often in less than a week. Several do-it-yourself kits are available that can be installed in only a few hours. If you do not feel comfortable or qualified to do the installation, you can have the lift professionally installed as well, which still costs considerably less than an elevator.
Those that have a straight stairway or one that is 'L' shaped and has a 90 degree bend, can usually install a straight stair chair with little difficulty, but those with curved steps are not so lucky. A curved lift will have to be custom built and professionally installed. Usually the cost is at least a hundred times more than a regular stair chair. The curved lift also will only work for the staircase it was designed, which greatly limits the resale value. In this case, a residential elevator is a good option.
Unlike the curved lift, the elevator will recoup much of its initial cost when the house is sold. Several quality residential elevator kits are available that can easily be retro-fitted into a home. They can be installed into wooden frames, without the necessity of having a brick or concrete elevator shaft. A vertical space between floors is necessary, but often times a hallway closet provides the perfect space. Since the cost and time it takes to build and install a curved lift and an elevator are reliably the same, the elevator is almost always the preferred choice.
Using a stair chair or an elevator is an excellent way to decrease the risk of a fall. In many instances they can be easily installed for a very affordable rate, without requiring excessive home construction.