NORMAN — Dear Savvy Senior, My wife is having an increasingly difficult time going up and down the stairs in our house. We are interested in purchasing a stair lift but aren’t sure what to get or where to look. Can you help us?
— Need a Lift
A good home stair lift is a wonderful solution for seniors with mobility issues who have trouble with steps. A stair lift will carry your wife up and down the stairs in a safe, seated position, giving her easy access to the second story or basement. But with so many options available, how do you choose one that best meets your needs and budget? Here are a few shopping tips along with some good companies that offer them.
Types: There are two basic types of stair lifts: straight and curved. The type you need will depend upon the design of your staircase.
A straight stair lift is one that travels in a straight line up a flight of stairs uninterrupted by landings, bends or curves, and costs between $3,000 and $5,000 installed. Curved lifts, however, are much more elaborate and will go around corners, bends and changes in direction. Curved lifts are also much more expensive typically running between $10,000 and $15,000 or more depending on the complexity of the installation.
Also available through certain companies are weatherproof lifts for outdoor steps, and standing stair lifts (also called perch lifts) for those who have trouble bending their knees.
You also need to know that all stair lifts mount to the stair treads, not to the wall, so they are very sturdy and can be installed in almost any home.
If your wife is a large person, you may need to get her a heavy-duty lift with a wider seat and bigger lifting capacity — all companies offer them. Or, if she’s tall, find out about raising the seat height during installation.