There are numerous areas in a person's home that can present a fall risk, yet among seniors no area presents as large of a safety risk as the staircase. Each and every year, thousands upon thousands of serious senior falls occur on the staircase, often resulting in hospitalization. In many cases, using a stairway lift presents the easiest and least cost means of making the stairs senior friendly.
Stairway lifts were initially developed around 100 years ago. These early models, however, were custom made and did not become popular for consumer use until the late twentieth century. The concept behind them has not changed too much because, because they are still designed to carry a person up or down the steps, so they do not have to walk and risk tripping and falling.
Today, there are a number of do-it-yourself stairway lift kits available that are inexpensive and can be installed in only a few hours by the home owner. These DIY stair lift kits are typically only designed for a straight staircase though, as curved staircases require a much more expensive lifting unit that must be professionally installed.
The reason that curved staircases present such a more expensive option is because there is no standard when it comes to curved stairways. Instead, the way they are built depends very much on the person who designed the home. There may be some neighborhoods that have the same type of curved staircase, but when looking at the big picture, there is no set of standards. As a result, a professional estimator must come to the home and measure the staircase, usually before even providing an estimate. One of the reason these individuals do not like to give an estimate upfront is because many would outright balk at the extremely high cost of a curved staircase lift, but once they are in your home, the 'estimator' can use his selling skills directly on the homeowner. Once the stairway has been measured, it takes several months to build and then must be professionally installed. It is not uncommon for the process to take over 3 months and cost well over $ 15,000.
By comparison, straight staircase lifts are only a small fraction of the price, usually around $ 1,500, and ship in a matter of days, instead of weeks. One of the other major advantages is that the straight stair lift is easy to install, so it is something many homeowners do on their own and save big on installation costs. It is also possible to resell a straight stairway lift once it is no longer needed, but this is not as easy to do with a curved lift, which will only work in an identical staircase.
One thing to watch out for if you do have a curved staircase is companies that resell used curved stair lifts. These companies take old lifts, which they have purchased for next to nothing, and reshape the track to fit the new staircase. Unfortunately, this greatly reduces the strength of the metal track, making it highly prone to failure. One indication that they may be doing this is a very short warranty, compared to other curved stair lift dealers, and a much lower price.