Stair Lifts for the Elderly

What to Look for When Choosing Residential Chair Lifts

Stair lifts for the elderly are basically defined as a mechanical pieces of equipment that lift seniors safely up and down a staircase.

These products are especially effective in homes or businesses where individuals have difficulty climbing stairs from upper to lower levels, or those in wheelchairs who must navigate stairs without the benefit of ramps.

These utilize several components, including a track or rail, and a motorized device fitted with a seat or carriage upon which the individual sits. The track is laid along the side edge of a staircase or flight of stairs. The person sits in the seat attached to the top of a motorized component and may be lifted along the platform up or down without having to walk.

stair lifts

Also called chair lifts or stair gliders, they are not the same type of chair lift used at ski resorts. Lifts can move at a speed of about 13 feet per minute, though some models may rise up to 30 feet per minute, depending on the type of staircase, model and style of stair lift.

The lift may be installed in just about any location without modifications being made to the staircase itself. Most are powered by electricity, but may also utilize backup batteries in the event of electrical outage.

Lifts are found in many homes, especially of the elderly, but may also be found in churches, restaurants, and government or public access buildings. Lifts are available in a wide range of models as well as offer a variety of features such as adjustable seat height, folding steps, or electric or battery operated models with hand-held remote controls for operation.

Components of Stair Lifts for the Elderly

Lifts may be customized to meet almost every need, from several short flights of stairs to one long stairway, to curved staircases. Lift tracks or rails are made from aluminum or steel and come in various lengths joined and locked together to create a railing system.

Carriages or seats mounted on top of the motorized unit offer a variety of options depending on need. Some lifts come with a stand-on platform, meaning the individual may stand on the lifting platform, similar to an elevator left. Other models come with swivel seats that enable easy access and egress, while others offer seats at right angles to the railing so the individual literally rides sidesaddle. Seats typically swivel between 45 and 90°and are locked in place for safety while moving.

Several types of lifts are available from manufacturers:

  • Wheelchair platform lifts - this type offers easy mobility in public access buildings. Platforms are large enough to accommodate wheelchairs and are equipped with flaps that rise along the edges of the platform for additional security and safety. Railings of such platforms are made of heavy duty construction.
  • Curved rail lifts - while not as common as straight stair lifts, individuals who live in homes or properties with curving stair cases will benefit from a curved stair case lift.

Such models may be more expensive in regard to design and manufacturing and installation.

stair lifts
  • Straight rail lifts - the most common type, usually found in private homes, churches, and restaurants, are designed with a straight rail track fixed directly to the steps of the staircase.

Lifts may also be customized for outdoor use. Controls for a lift depend on the model and style purchased, but electronic models are the most common. Lifts are designed to meet the needs of a variety of individuals, from those with poor vision, blindness, paralysis, or limited movement, or partial paralysis.

When looking at lifts, take your time comparing models, functions and design, and choose the lift that will meet the needs of your loved one, now and into the future.

Chair Lifts

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