Addressing the Safety Risks Presented by the Stairs

Published by Stephen on April 13, 2010 Under stair lifts

It is quite common for seniors, especially those who are arthritic, to have difficulty using the stairs. Not only does this difficulty translate to problems walking up and down the stairs, but it also increases the risk of an injury while using the stairs. Injuries on the stairs can be very serious and with falls being the leading reason for hospitalizations among the elderly, preventing falls, be them on the stairs or elsewhere, is essential.

While there are many other factors aside from arthritis, such as glaucoma and Alzheimer’s, that make using the stairs more difficult for seniors, arthritis is the most common factor that makes getting around and walking difficult. Arthritis is not a single disorder, but instead refers to many different rheumatic diseases, but the symptoms are often the same across the different types of arthritis, with joint pain and discomfort often making bending the knees and walking very hard.

There are several ways that the stairs can be made safer for the elderly and in large part it depends on the individual capabilities of the senior. However, often the senior will simply not be able to safely use the stairs, no matter the precautions. For instance, a senior who has very poor vision, but is otherwise healthy, will often still be unable to safely use the stairs, as they can not safely see the steps and there is a risk they will miss one or not lift their leg up high enough.

Rather than simply not using the stairs or relying on someone to help them up and down the stairs, with the latter being quite dangerous to both the senior and the caretaker, a stair lift often provides a better and safer alternative.

Stair lifts provide the functionality of an elevator, as they can safely and efficiently move the user up and down the stairs, using a mechanical system. However, elevators are quite expensive to install, requiring not only a large initial investment for the device itself, but also that the home be extensively remodeled to fit it. This is where stair lifts shine, because not only are they much lower in cost, but they can be installed onto most standard staircases, without the need for extensive remodeling.

A stair lift, which you will often hear referred to as a stair chair, works by moving a chair or small platform along a metal track that is securely attached to the individual steps of the stairway. The stair chair is the safest and most common type of stair lift, allowing the user to remain comfortably seated and even optionally secured with a seat belt, as the stair lift move. Perch lifts, which use a small platform in place of the chair are not as safe, but do serve a purpose for those recovering from a serious injury or operation, such as hip or knee replacement, that would be unable to use a standard stair chair.

Using a stair lift removes many of the safety risks associated with using the stairs, as instead of walking up and down the stairs, the senior can rely on the stair lift instead. There are many types of stairlifts, but providing the staircase is straight or “L” shaped, a stair lift is typically a cost effective and easy way to improve accessibility at home.

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