Climbing up and down stairs can become incredibly challenging and dangerous for an aging person or anyone with limited mobility.
Falls are a common occurrence for aging adults and one of the leading causes of injury for age 65 and older.
Below are some of the facts about older adult falls, according to the CDC:
- About 36 million older adults fall each year—resulting in more than 32,000 deaths.
- Each year, about 3 million older adults are treated in emergency departments for a fall injury.
- One out of every five falls causes an injury, such as broken bones or a head injury.
- Each year at least 300,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures.
- Women fall more often than men and account for three-quarters of all hip fractures.
Stair lifts are a great way to reduce the risk of falling and navigate the home safely while maintaining the autonomy that allows older adults to comfortably and happily age in place.
Living at home without assistance may not be possible for many elderly persons or those with conditions impact mobility. However, millions of people are learning to live independently as awareness of mobility devices like stair lifts and home accessibility solutions continues to grow.
In this article, we cover the basics of stair lift, what they are, how they work, who should use them and some of the main benefits.
What is a Stair Lift?
A stair lift is a motorized seating device that moves a person up and down a flight of stairs. The motorized chair is paired with a custom railing system or track that moves safely and quietly along the staircase.
Common components include:
Rail or track
The rail attaches directly to the stairs and allows the seat to move up and down the stairs. Most commonly there are two types of tracks: straight for traditional staircases and curved for staircases that turn.
Harmar offers an optional folding rail to reduce trip hazards at the bottom of the staircase.
Stair lift seat
Some stair lifts have a fixed seat which can make using the chair more difficult and awkward. On the other hand, a swivel seat allows for easy and safe entry and exit away from the staircase.
Think of the chassis as an engine bay of an electric car. The chassis is what makes your stair lift move. It attaches to the rail and contains the main electronics like the motor, gears, and battery.
The combination of the rail, seat and chassis will determine the quality and comfort of the ride. Different configurations and features allow users to choose what is best for their home.
Straight Stair lifts like our Pinnacle Premium SL600 have a patented helical worm gear drive system for an extremely smooth and quiet ride.
How Stair Lifts Work
The motor in the chassis turns the gears and when the gears turn, the chair begins to move along the track. As the stair lift can be powered by batteries, in the case of a power outage, the stair lift can still be used multiple times to ascend and descend the stairs.
Who Uses Stair Lifts?
Stair lifts are most commonly used by seniors that have limited mobility. This may be the result of an injury or illness. Or in some cases, an individual may no longer have the strength or energy to safely navigate the stairs.
It’s important to understand that an aging person does not have to wait until an injury to benefit from the use of a stair lift. Stair lifts can be used to reduce the stress on the knees and hips.
While mobility limitations can range in severity, stair lifts are good options for people who can walk, stand, and bear weight. This will allow the person to safely use and operate the chair.
Conversely, if the disabled person primarily uses a wheelchair, a platform lift may be a better solution as it allows the person to remain seated in the wheelchair as the lift operates.
Stair lifts are best for people with limited but some mobility and who only need to transport themselves up and down the staircase.
Main Advantages of Stair Lifts
According to the National Council on Aging, “Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans. Falls threaten seniors’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs.”
Stair lifts reduce the risk of falls and provide a safe way for people to move from one level to the other.
Some of the most common safety features include:
- Obstruction and limit sensors
- Seat belts
- Swivel seats
- Emergency braking system
Ease of Use
Stair lifts are not only convenient. They are amazingly easy to operate.
To operate a stair lift, fold the seat down, lock your seat in the correct position, sit down on the seat, secure the seat belt, press and hold the button on the armrest to move the chair up or down the stairs.
Below is a demonstration video of a Harmar stair lift.
Stair lifts are often a cost-effective alternative to making major remodels to an existing home or even purchasing a new home with better accessibility. For adults who want to age in their home, stair lifts are a more practical solution and do not require any construction. In most cases, a stair lift will mount to the stairs on either side of the staircase.
Lifts for Life
Stair lifts are extremely safe and can help mitigate against life-threatening falls or injury.
A professionally installed stair lift will not only increase safety and accessibility but improve confidence in navigating the home and reduce the stress of thinking about going up and down the stairs.
If the stairs are preventing you from using the upper level or basement of your home or you are contemplating moving to another home, consider a stair lift.
Have questions? Harmar stair lifts are sold through a national network of authorized dealers. Learn more about our products or find a local Harmar dealer near you.