People confined to a wheelchair often find it difficult to negotiate staircases, if there is no elevator around. Even moving from one floor to the other in their own multi-storied home without a caretaker is impossible to them. Stair lifts can prove to be of great assistance to all such people. There are various mechanisms upon which the working of stair lifts is based. Some even come with pre-installed wheelchairs so that negotiating stairs becomes really easy.
Importance of Stair Lifts for Seniors
Stair lifts come in the form of tracks or ramps which run parallel to a staircase. They can be installed on either side of the stair, so that they do not hinder the passage of other people. These lifts can be built along a straight track or a curved one. Generally, the mechanism of both these lift types is same. However, curved stair lifts are far costlier than straight ones. Some of these lifts may also come with a pre-installed chair, so that elderly people can comfortably sit on it and traverse the path.
Wheelchair stair lifts are also provided with several safety features such as obstacle detector, which detects an obstacle in a path and automatically stops the lift. Besides, there are also emergency brakes which you can apply in a critical situation. Apart from that there are myriad features for providing maximum comfort to the seniors. These include a cushioned seat and armrest, seat belts and a swivel lock system to move the chair sideways to prevent vertigo problem. Some lifts even come with a folding option so that you can make the staircase free to use for others. All these features make it easy and safe for the senior to move from one floor to the other.
Types of Stair Lifts
As mentioned above, there are several types of stair lifts for the elderly. They are mostly classified depending upon their working mechanism. The various types of stair lifts are rack-pinion, cable hauled, screw driven, running chain and mains. Rack pinion is a light weight and quiet lift, hence, ideal for homes. Cable hauled lift uses cables to haul the chair up and down the stair. Although, this is the quietest lift, it gives jerks thereby making landing rough. Another type, a screw driven, uses a set of screws to haul the lift up and down. Running chain is the noisiest type of stair lift whereas, main stair lifts are disappearing from the markets owing to their questionable safety standards. Stair lifts run on AC or DC. DC lifts come with a battery backup, hence, are often far too expensive than AC lifts.
Cost and Maintenance
Stair lifts are cheaper than traditional cage lifts, as they do not require major changes to the existing infrastructure. You can install them in your house as well as on the exterior. These lifts are typically made of aluminum or steel for better durability. They are also very light on maintenance; rack pinion type is virtually maintenance free. However, stair lifts build along a curved track may need periodic maintenance. The cost of building stair lift may be anywhere between $5000 to $25,000 depending upon the type you use and the curvature of the path. Rack pinion type is the cheapest of them all with a starting price of $5000.
Thus, a stair lift can make elderly people in your home less dependent on others for mobility. A lift can also prevent possible mishaps such as falling down from stairs, which are common with old people. The only problem with these lifts is that they fetch a very low resale value.