Freedom Regained Through A Stair Chair Lift
A stair chair lift is turning out to be the key to renewed freedom and independence for many people. Veterans, older Americans, and people with physical disabilities are increasingly turning to mobility-enhancing technologies as a useful renovation to existing homes and businesses. Stair lifts, wheelchair lifts and lift platforms can be readily installed into existing homes without need of drastic structural changes, offering the capability to transport an individual person as well as luggage, laundry or even groceries up and down existing interior or exterior stairs with the touch of a button. They can even be custom designed to fit curved or spiral staircases and come equipped with swivel seat locks, seat belts, and obstruction sensors that will automatically stop the lift if something is in the way.
Obviously any such choice is a significant modification and the cost isn’t cheap – a basic model stair lift can range from $2800 to $4000, with the cost for custom models reaching as high as $15,000, and the cost of wheelchair lifts can start in the $12,000 range. But factored against the cost and sheer life change of moving to an assisted living community or an entirely different house – or building on to your existing home — many will find the investment to be worthwhile. But which is the right choice for you? Let’s examine a few.
A stair chair lift is a padded, swiveling chair which runs on a track that is bolted to the staircase wall. Many are AC-powered but some are available that run on battery power or provide optional “smart charge” batteries for continuous ensured operation (nor’easter, anyone?) Most fold when not in use to provide access to the existing stairs and all provide remote controls to call the chair lift from up or down the stairs. Many manufacturers offer a variety of colors and fabrics to blend into virtually any home décor and allow you to customize to taste. Stair lifts are primarily designed for interior residential use.
Wheelchair lifts and lift platforms expand on the concept of stairway chair lifts while adding the capability of carrying a person in a wheelchair while traversing up and down stairs – think of it as an open air “mini” elevator. They are ideal for allowing full accessibility to multi level dwellings for accident or injury victims, the elderly or infirm, or anyone who cannot use stairs. Wheelchair lifts can come in both vertical and incline models, the latter being similar to a chair lift but with wheelchair transport capability. Wheelchair lifts can be installed for exterior as well as interior applications, and some manufacturers such Garaventa have included innovations like “One Touch” control systems for users with limited manual dexterity.
It is important to note that while stair lifts and chair lifts can transport small quantities of goods they are designed for moving people not things – particularly in the case of chair lifts, re-purposing it for freight can very quickly lead to damage. Not a good idea.
While Medicaire currently does not cover the cost of a stair chair lift, many different financing options are available, including reverse mortgages, and in some cases the modifications may be tax deductible. Leading providers include companies such as National Wheel-O-Vator, ThyssesKrupp Access, McKinley, and Garaventa. It’s a worthwhile investment, as it provides fast and easy access to the person’s house–just like in the days prior to their disability.