Today arthritis impacts around 46 million Americans. In less than ten years, we can expect an increase in that number to 67 million. If you’re part of the Baby Boomer generation, consider this sobering statistic: by 2030, one out of every two of your demographic cohort will have arthritis.
You or someone you know will likely need mobility assistance.
To help manage limited mobility at home, stair lifts, platform lifts, and home elevators are popular solutions for many adults. Take a minute and read our comparison of all three solutions. You’ll be better prepared to make a decision about which one is the ideal option for your needs.
Which Is Which?
Of course, you know there’s a difference between a home elevator and a lift, but do you know the differences between platform and stair lifts? The purpose of both is to make climbing stairs easier for adults with mobility issues, but they handle the task differently.
Think of a stair lift as a motorized chair that travels on a rail, which bolts to your steps. Depending on the type of staircase you have, you’ll install either a straight or curved stair lift.
Like a stair lift, a platform lift serves as a mobility assistance device. Platform lifts cater specifically to individuals who must remain in a wheelchair when moving between floors in their home. If you need this type of lift, you’ll choose between a vertical platform lift (VPL) or an incline platform lift. However, an incline platform lift can only accommodate manual wheelchairs.
There are several types of residential elevators, including hydraulic, machine room-less, winding drum, vacuum, and shaftless. While a home elevator has the same purpose as a stair or platform lift, planning and installation are much more complicated. Elevators are also considerably more expensive than the other two options.
Over the next few sections, we’ll address a few of the advantages and disadvantages of installing stairlifts, platform lifts, and elevators.
Why Go with a Stair Lift?
Many issues associated with aging, including arthritis and impaired balance, often turn the simple act of climbing stairs into a significant challenge. If all you need is a boost to get up and down the stairs, then a stair lift makes the ideal choice.
One benefit of choosing a stair lift over the other two options is cost. Installing a stair lift is the more cost-effective of the three mobility devices. If you need a curved lift due to your stairway’s complexity, the cost will be a bit higher than a straight lift.
Another advantage of installing a stair lift is the minimal space it takes up in a stairwell. It’s a non-invasive mobility device and doesn’t interfere with the other household members and their ability to go up and down stairs.
Even though stair lifts can make life easier for a person with a physical disability, there are a few disadvantages to installing one in your home, including:
- Takes up Staircase Space
- Hard to Conceal
- Little Flexibility for Location
An additional disadvantage of stair lifts pertains to wheelchairs. There’s no way to use a wheelchair with a stair lift. Next, we’ll explore the lifts designed for people in wheelchairs and those who use scooters — platform lifts — and how they compare to stair lifts and elevators.
Platform Lifts for Wheelchair Users
If you can seat yourself, operate, and get out of a stairlift, that’s fantastic. A platform lift makes more sense for individuals who need to remain in a wheelchair or use another mobility device.
Because the platform accommodates you and your wheelchair, you retain even more of your independence. You won’t need assistance getting on or off the lift as you might with a stair lift, and you won’t need to keep a wheelchair or roller on multiple levels of your home.
Another benefit enjoyed by platform lift users is easy access to decks and porches. In fact, they’re often called porch lifts.
Platform lifts come in two styles: vertical and incline(incline platform lift can only accommodate manual wheelchairs).
Installation of an Incline platform requires either a wall mount or a post system. The post system secures to the stair treads.
A vertical platform lift consists of a two-sided platform attached to a lift tower. You may also have the option of an enclosed or an unenclosed platform.
The main benefit of using a platform lift is the ability to remain in your wheelchair during travel between floors in your home. Some people don’t like the amount of space this type of lift takes up and find it a little intrusive.
Should You Install a Home Elevator?
If you’re physically disabled and looking for a flexible solution for travel between levels in your home, you might consider an elevator. Home elevators offer the most flexibility as you can usually install them just about anywhere in your home. You can also customize them to fit into your home design and décor.
Due to their price, home elevators may not be an option for the average homeowner. Also, you may need to modify your home to accommodate the installation. Finally, they have a large footprint.
Talking with a stair lift dealer can help you determine which of these three mobility solutions are the best fit for you.
Have More Questions About Stair Lifts?
Whether you’re committed to aging in place, you’re physically disabled, or you’re helping a family member choose a mobility assistance device, you’ll want a team of experts to help make sure you select the right lift. When you have questions about stair lifts, we have the answers.