How to Choose a Stairlift
If climbing or descending your stairs has become difficult, there are a number of options that will make your life easier. Most likely, the least popular choice is to consider moving to single floored accommodation so that stairs are no longer part of your daily life. However, opting to have a stairlift fitted is a practical and far more cost-effective and long-term option.
Choosing a stairlift should be done carefully as there are several important options to consider. This guide will take you through the process of how to choose a stair lift:
1. Seek advice
It can be useful to talk to your GP or an Occupational Therapist when you are considering buying a stairlift. Health professionals can offer impartial advice to help you decide whether you need a stairlift fitted and may be able to refer you to charities and organisations that can help with stairlift finance, including grants and loans.
If you know any friends or family who has chosen to have a stairlift fitted in their homes, you should speak to them about the process to gain an insight into their experiences. Friends and family may be able to recommend companies they have had good experiences with, as a personal recommendation can go a long way to help you make the right decision.
There are also a number of impartial stairlift reviews online that compare many aspects of stairlifts such as cost, warranty options, and aftercare services that will be able to give you an insight into choosing a stairlift.
2. Consider stairlift options to suit your staircase
The style of your staircase will dictate how you choose a stairlift. Below is a list of common types of stairs and the stairlift options that would be required for these types of options.
Straight stairs - It is possible to fit a stairlift to almost all types of traditional staircases. If your stairs are a single flight and ascend in a straight line, then you can easily have a straight stairlift fitted. This is the most cost-effective type of stairlift and installation usually takes a couple of hours.
Curved stairs or an intermediate landing - If your stairs have a curve, then you will need a curved stairlift. Curved stairlifts are created bespoke so can end up being more expensive than straight ones, but as they are created to the individual staircase, this makes them far more versatile.
Transfer Platform stairlifts - If you have two straight staircases that join with a small landing, then you may require a transfer platform stairlift. This is essentially two straight stairlifts, but the user’s ability to transfer themselves from seat to seat needs to be considered. If you’re unable to transfer to another stairlift seat, then a curved stairlift would be the best option, as it will move on a continuous track across the landing.
Narrow stairs – If your stairs are very narrow, and you are able to stand for longer periods of time, you may want to consider a perch stairlift. However, if you are unable to stand, then a narrow stairlift can be fitted to your staircase. The track will need to be fitted a small distance away from the top and bottom of the stairs to allow you and others clear access to your stairs around the lift track.
Outdoor stairs – If you have exterior stairs leading up to your home or down into a garden, then you may require an outdoor stairlift. Whether your exterior stairs are curved or straight, it will be possible to fit an outdoor stairlift to the stairs, to aid independent living in and out the home.
3. Consider stairlift options to suit your needs
Depending on your individual mobility needs, you may need a certain type of stairlift, and also require additional features to modify your stairlift to suit your needs. Considering your individual needs will help you choose the stairlift that is right for you. Below is a list of stairlift options that can be modified to suit your needs. However, these are all questions that a qualified Handicare surveyor can answer during a home visit.
Trouble sitting upright – If you find sitting uncomfortable, possibly with joint pain in your knees or hips, then having to get up and down from the seat of a stairlift would be an inconvenience. For this reason, you might be best choosing a perch stairlift. Perch lifts support you just underneath the buttocks, allowing you to stand comfortably as you ascend the stairs. They also come with a retractable seatbelt for security as you travel.
Trouble rising after sitting – If you have trouble rising after sitting, then you may wish to consider a powered or active seat option. Powered and active seats make it easier to dismount the stairlift if you have limited mobility or find it difficult to rise unaided from a seating position. The seat will gently rise up as you dismount the stairlift, supporting your body as you rise out of the seat.
Dexterity of hands – If you have reduced dexterity in your hands from arthritis or a lack of strength in your hands, you may find using the manual swivel level difficult. When your stairlift arrives at the top of your stairs, you will need to turn (or swivel) your seat around to ensure that you are exiting the stairs safely onto the landing, rather than in a precarious position at the top of your stairs. A manual swivel seat is operated by a handle that can be fitted on either side of your seat that needs to be either pushed down or pulled up depending on the model of stairlift you choose. All Handicare stairlifts are fitted with a manual swivel seat as standard, however, there is an option for a powered swivel seat with remote controls. With the powered swivel option, you will only need to continue holding the toggle that you will be using to operate the stairlift.
Weight limit – Most stairlifts have a weight limit of 18 stone, but the Handicare Freecurve comes with a heavy-duty motor that can carry up to 21 stone. If you weigh over 18 stone, then you will need a stairlift that can safely and effectively transport you up and down your stairs. Please see the stairlift safety guide for more information on 'how much weight can a stairlift hold'.
4. Decide upon your budget
Finally, and importantly, you will need to assess your budget. ‘How much does a stairlift cost’ is a common question that arises for anyone considering investing in one. The question, however, is not straightforward as one may assume. Due to the wide variety of staircases, and the bespoke nature of installing them, the cost of stairlifts can vary. The actual cost of a stairlift can be discussed when you arrange a free and no obligation home visit with a Handicare expert.
Choosing a stairlift is an important decision with a number of options to consider. This guide will explain how to choose a stairlift and helpful stairlift options.
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