Stair lifts (aka chair lifts) can truly be a life saver for many seniors and disabled persons. They help to prevent falls (so very important for our senior loved ones) and they give the home owner an incredible sense of independence and mobility.
But many ask the question, are stair lifts safe? – If the stair lift product is installed properly (usually by a professional installer) and if the user(s) operate the stair lift properly according to the instructions by the manufacturer then the answer is generally YES – stair lifts are very safe.
Features Of A Stair Lift That Make It Safe
So, what exactly makes a chair lift safe? What are the features and components that you need to be looking out for?
Here are just some of the things that you should be looking for in a stair lift product.
- Safety restraints – yes, these great chairs do come with seat belts for the user and restraints for wheelchairs. It’s imperative that the person using the stair lift be cognizant enough to use these, especially if they live alone or are unattended for any period of time.
- Adjustable footrests – having footrests that can be moved out of the way when the person reaches their destination is very important. Very much like the footrests on a wheelchair, if you try to stand up without moving them you are forced into an awkward position which can facilitate a fall followed by an injury.
- Adjustable seats – a seat that is comfortable is of course important. But being able to fold away the seat when the unit is not in use is a plus especially if there are others in the household. Seats that swivel are also very important for safety issues because it allows the user to swivel their chair towards the floor making standing up from their chair lift very safe.
- Obstruction alerts – another important feature to consider is the ability to stop it’s motion when an obstruction in it’s path is detected.
- Alternate power – we have all gone through periods of time when the power goes out. You don’t want to be stuck in the middle of the stairs, on a stair lift with no power. Look for ones that have a battery power backup system.
- Clean and smooth construction – you want a stair lift that has an enclosed motor and as little objects as possible that could possibly get the user’s clothing caught up in it.
- Proper installation – pretty sure this goes without saying but I am including it anyway in this list. It’s important to choose a company with a high level of satisfaction from it’s customers. You want to ensure that the installation is done 100% properly for maximum safety.
- User capability – if the person using the stair lift lives alone for any length of time, it’s extremely important that they have the physical strength to use it and have the cognitive capacity to use it.
- A smooth ride – this feature may not qualify as a “safety” feature but it will go a long way for the elderly person using it if they can ride it up and down in comfort.
- Proper maintenance – finally, like any appliance or apparatus in your home, you want to keep up with a yearly maintenance schedule so that you can ensure it’s working at it’s optimal best and continues to do so for years to come.
If you are considering a stair lift and would like to speak to a manufacturer – consider calling StairLift King!
Safety is of course, the number one priority when choosing a stair lift product.
Although there are multiple ways that you can make a two story home safer for seniors, the installation and use of a stair lift can be the ultimate in safety.
All stair lifts provide the same service of granting more independence and mobility to your elderly parents or loved ones but just like anything else, each manufacturer and model will offer their own unique set of features.
Knowing the needs and capabilities of the person who will be ultimately using the chair lift is important in helping you to make the decision on which one to purchase.
So, if you are in the market for stair lifts or just poking around for more information about it in anticipation of possibly purchasing one, keep reading.
The answers below may help you decide if a stair lift is the right thing for you and/or your senior loved one.
Answers To Common Questions About Stair Lifts
Below are answers to some of the most important and common questions that seniors and their families are asking about stair lift products.
The more information you have and the more you know about purchasing and using stair lifts, the easier it will be for you to make the decision as to whether or not this type of product will work for you and/or your senior loved ones.
What Is The Minimum Width For A Stair Lift?
In order to accommodate a stair lift product, staircases must be at least 29 inches wide at the very minimum.
Are Stair Lifts Covered By Medicare?
Sorry to say that as of January 2019, stair lifts are not considered to be Durable Medical Equipment (DME) and as a result, Medicare will not pay for it.
But, according to Payingforseniorcare.com, there may be a little bit of a loophole. It may not be one that you can take advantage of but nonetheless, you should be aware of it.
Original Medicare might pay for a small portion of the cost if the stair lift has an elevating seat, which helps the rider to sit down and get up from the chair safely.
However, such a feature would only be available in a high-end stair chair, which would cost considerably more than the amount original Medicare would reimburse the purchaser.
In other words, the amount of financial assistance would be less than the additional cost for a stair lift that has that feature.
But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t find funding for it elsewhere. Here are some areas that you can look into which may be able to help you with the cost of the stair lift.
Will The VA Pay For Stair Lifts?
If you were in the military, you may be able to get funding from the Veteran’s Administration (VA), the VA Aid and Attendance Benefit.
As a veteran you can also apply for a grant from any of the following:
Will Medicaid Pay For Stair Lifts?
Since Medicaid is different in every state, it’s difficult to tell you if the state that you are living in (or the state your senior loved one lives in) will pay for a stair lift.
But, as again noted in PayingForSeniorCare.com…
Medicaid will likely cover the cost for medically necessary, stair lifts provided they enable individuals to remain living in their homes and avoid nursing home placement.
Check out our list of phone numbers to Medicaid offices in every state. Give them a call to find out if you can get some funding for your stair lift project.
State Assisted Programs
There are many state assisted programs through Medicaid that are very good resources to help you fund your stair lift project (and other needs as well).
Are Stair Lifts Tax Deductible?
In order for any medical equipment to qualify for a tax deduction, it must be considered medically necessary. This means that you must have a prescription or written recommendation from your doctor.
Generally, most home modifications that are done for the purpose of making the home a safer environment for the senior who is aging in place can be tax deductible.
Here is a list of the types of modifications the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says can be deducted from your taxes.
- Modifying doorways (interior and exterior) usually by widening them to accommodate wheelchairs
- Installing porch lifts and other types of lifts
- Wheelchair ramps
- Modifications of alarm systems which also includes smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, etc.
- Modifications of door knobs and other handles
- Modifications of hallways – normally by widening them for wheelchair use
- Modifications of kitchen and bathroom cabinets, countertops and equipment. This includes lowering them to make it easier for a wheelchair bound individual to use them safely.
- Moving or modifying electrical outlets and fixtures for the purpose of making them safely accessible to the user.
- Installation of grab bars anywhere in the house
- Modifying stairways which includes making stair steps less slippery, installation of stair lifts, etc.
- Grading of the exterior ground around the entrances and exits to the house for the purpose of making access to and from the home safer.
I recommend that you speak with your accountant about the specifics on medical tax deductions.
What Is The Average Price For A Stair Lift?
On average, a chair lift can cost you anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 for a straight staircase. If you have a curved staircase you can probably expect to pay $10,000 or more.
The cost seems high, but considering the value that the stair lift gives you such as independence, security and the ability to age in place, it makes the price tag much more reasonable. Also, it may be cheaper than moving into a single story home.
How Long Should A Stair Lift Last?
The general estimated lifespan of a stair lift is 10 years. But of course, like any other mechanical product, that lifespan depends on how often it’s used, how well it’s used (in other words, is it mis-used?) and also how well it’s maintained.
I recommend that you have your stair lift maintained once a year. Just like most any other mechanical appliance in your home, a proper maintenance schedule will keep it running smoothly and for a longer lifespan.
Do Stair Lifts Use A Lot Of Electricity?
Generally, stair lifts do not use much electricity at all. In fact, according to Lifewaymobility.com – they tend to use about $15.0o per year.
After you have a stair lift installed, you won’t notice any significant changes to your home’s electric bill. A stair lift is energy efficient and uses approximately .024 kWh of electricity and should cost less than $15 per year.
This is certainly very affordable for most everyone.
How Do I Choose A Stair Lift?
Choosing a stair lift product requires a little bit of homework, but it’s worth it. Like most any other appliance or product that you purchase these days, you have multiple options so knowing what you need will help you select the best choice for you.
- Budget – if you are paying for the stair lift out of your own pocket you will want to find out what options you can get for your budget. The basic stair lift is about $3,000 (for a straight staircase) so you can begin your budget there. But if you have a curved staircase, your budget will have to begin around $10,000.
- Weight Capacity – make sure to purchase a stair lift that can accommodate the weight of it’s user. This generally only becomes a problem if the person who will be using it is over 350 lbs.
- Options – there will be models that have multiple options such as swivel seats, larger sized seats and footrests, upholstery color, etc.
For more information about stair lifts contact a local deal. Click here for a list of stair lift dealers in each US state.
Or, you can call StairLift King directly for information about their stair lift products.
Can stair lifts turn corners? – Yes. There are models available that can turn corners. They are more expensive but you can purchase stair lifts to accommodate most any stairway structure.
How much weight can a stair lift take? – Most stair lift products can hold up to a range of 280 to 350 pounds. There are specialty stair lifts that can accommodate up to 500 pounds. Generally, severely overweight individuals will have a problem finding a chair lift product that can handle their weight.