The stairs are a common source for injury in the home. Approximately one million people annually across the age-span incur a stair-related injury. Roughly 60% of falls experienced by seniors occur inside the home, of which 14% happen on the stairs or other uneven surfaces. Fall-related injuries among seniors can lead to costly emergency department visits and hospitalizations, reduced daily function, decreased quality of life, and even death.
Healthy seniors who are still living in their private homes can navigate the stairs safely for many years to come. However, due to the inevitable bodily changes that come with age, it’s essential for seniors and their loved ones to conduct regular self and medical check-ups to catch health risks that make using the stairs unsafe. Fortunately, we live in a day and age where adaptive technologies, such as stairlifts, make it easy for seniors to continue using their home to the fullest. A stairlift is a motorized chair attached to a ramp that is installed on your staircase so that you can scale your steps completely in sitting. We know that not all seniors will need a stairlift, so we have compiled a list of 10 reasons why seniors should consider getting a stairlift for their home.
Some seniors can ignore a staircase for years and perform all their daily living tasks on one level of the home. Others don’t even have to worry about stairs because they live in a one-level, accessible home. If a senior must access the kitchen, a bedroom, a bathroom, or even the outside of the home via stairs and can’t safely scale the steps without a fall or injury, then a stairlift may be just right for their situation.
For seniors over the age of 65, falling just once doubles your chance of falling again. If you already have a history of falling on even, level surfaces, just imagine how terrifying and dangerous it would be to fall up or down the stairs. Installing a stairlift would eliminate the need to walk up and down the stairs, which means you and your loves ones can be put at ease about potential stumbles and falls on the staircase that could result in injury.
Degenerative and neurological impairments from stroke, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and spinal cord injury are laced with paralysis, decreased sensation, and muscle weakness throughout the body. Although many adults with these conditions in milder stages can safely navigate stairs, others whose conditions are worse with age and severe nerve damage have their walking ability drastically compromised. Combined with older age, musculoskeletal and neurological impairments make stair navigation even more perilous.
To get up and down the stairs, the body recruits just about every muscle in the body. When we’re younger, scaling the steps may not even phase us. As we age, we can feel all our muscles aching with every step and our lungs working extra hard to circulate oxygen to our muscle tissue. If a senior’s stamina is poor, this can negatively impact their dynamic standing balance which places them at higher risk for falling. It can also get a senior stranded on the steps if they don’t have the energy to complete their staircase journey. If reduced stamina is a concern and is impacting your ability to safely use the stairs, consider getting a stairlift professionally installed in your home.
Acute and chronic pain, especially in severe bouts, is extremely distracting and can also lead to falls. Pain, like reduced stamina, can also get a senior stranded on the stairs. If the physical motions of scaling the steps are causing you unnecessary pain and compromising your balance, start your research for installing a stairlift.
Macular degeneration, near-sightedness, glaucoma, and a multitude of eye-related conditions can limit your visual skills and warp your perception. Seniors who have poor depth perception may not be able to physically judge the depth of every step on the staircase, subjecting them to a higher risk for fall.
Seniors who have poor circulation, visual-perceptual skills, and neurological function may experience frequent bouts of dizziness that negatively affects their ability to function and to safely get around. If you have been living with chronic dizziness and have exhausted all avenues to remedy your symptoms, consider getting a stairlift to prevent falls and injury.
Seniors can rent stairlifts for a short period of time, especially after experiencing acute illness or injury in which you are expected to make a full recovery in the future (joint replacements, back surgery, the flu, pneumonia, etc.). You call a medical equipment company that supplies stairlifts, and professionals come into the home to install and remove the lift at your convenience.
If you are on hospice care in your own home and don’t wish to be confined to one room, your loved ones can rent a stairlift. Getting around your home and accessing multiple parts of the home may help increase your quality of life during your end-of-life care.
If you are a senior who can’t avoid stairs to get around at home but doesn’t want to transition into another home or assistive living facility, a stairlift may help you live in your own home much longer. It also minimizes the physical help you may need from loved ones or home health staff to use the stairs so you can live as independently as possible.
Installing a stairlift is a serious financial commitment. However, a stairlift may end of costing less than unnecessary injuries and hospitalizations from navigating the stairs unsafely. Consult with your doctor, a rehabilitation therapist, and/or a medical equipment provider to see if you can benefit from having a stairlift installed in your home.