As the years pass, it is only natural that we find certain everyday activities, such as climbing the stairs, becoming increasingly difficult. For someone with limited mobility due to injury, disability or chronic diseases such as arthritis and angina installing a stairlift is a low-cost common-sense solution.
For those of us juggling childcare with elderly care and doing all we can to keep our parents living independently in their own homes, looking at stairlifts makes sense where there is insufficient room to relocate a bedroom downstairs or there are no bath or shower facilities.
Readers of this blog will know that mum broke her hip in 2018 and has struggled with her mobility ever since. My parents are both in their 80s and, although I live a few minutes away from them, I am ever mindful of the need to ensure that they can live safely in the comfort of their own home.
Anyone in my situation will understand the need to ensure that the risk of a trip to the hospital must be minimised at all costs – particularly during COVID-19!
There is a huge range of mobility aids and in-home adaptations available these days and stairlifts provide more than just a means of getting from the ground floor of a house to the bedroom – they also represent mobility and independence to an ageing generation.
These days, advances in design and technology mean that nearly every home can be fitted with a stairlift, even if it has a curved staircase. Before you go ahead and purchase your stairlift make sure you use a professional and approved company with experience in this field.
It may well fall upon you to sort this out for your parents if they are willing for you to get involved. I know that these days, mum and dad are happy to accept help and advice, particularly since they do not have internet access and dislike using the telephone.
If you are unsure about what kind of stairlift is suitable for the home in question, get some independent advice from the Occupational Therapy Department of your local social services.
Read sales literature and brochures or go online to find out about the different brands of stairlifts and the models available.
Make sure you get more than one quote from a range of companies to compare prices and find the stairlift that suits your budget. Quotes should be for the same or similar models.
Don’t forget to factor in any advice you received from Social Services or your occupational therapist.
Make sure the quote covers the supply, fitting and ideally maintenance and servicing of the stairlift. If maintenance is extra, be sure to factor this into your budget.
What happens if the stairlift breaks down? How quickly can it be repaired? Is this covered in any maintenance contract?
If you have a curved staircase, ask the company to assess your staircase and give you a personalised quote. During COVID-19, it is possible to have a video consultation.
If you are thinking of purchasing from a retailer rather than directly from the manufacturer, check that the company is an approved supplier, otherwise, they may not be able to obtain spare parts.
In Lockdown, of course, salespeople are unable to visit your home but when things return to normal and home visits are on the cards, it is sensible to never buy a stairlift from someone pushing to close a sale that day, even if they offer a large discount. Take your time and make sure you pick the model that’s right for your parent.
Choose a stairlift which offers at least a 12 months full UK parts and labour guarantee.
Look for stairlifts with individually tailored seat and footrest options. Is the user able to sit, for example, or would they prefer to stand?
Select a stairlift which is quiet so that other residents of the home are not disturbed.
Pick a stairlift model which offers a wide choice of upholstery colours to blend in with the home’s decor.
You will find that installing a stairlift will give access to the whole of the home once again which is a much better option than having an elderly parent restricted to one room. Anyone would get bored to death of staring at the same four walls all day!
Installing a stairlift is also a more cost-effective option than paying to convert your existing home, relocating to a bungalow or ground floor flat or, ultimately, having to consider residential care.
Currently mum is able to get up and downstairs, but if things change, a stairlift is definitely a home improvement we will be looking at.