As we age, it often becomes more difficult to reach things on high shelves or climb into / out of bed, etc. In addition, balance is often compromised in seniors, making it risky for them to use traditional step stools if they have to get something that’s out of reach.
One product that can help seniors stay independent longer is a handicap step stool. There are several types to choose from, depending on where the stool will be used (click here for our recommendations for best bed steps for elderly adults).
If you need more than a step stool, you can consider using a step ladder but of course, it’s important to use the proper one for your needs and capabilities.
Safety Step Stool With Handle
For traditional use (i.e.: retrieving items from a high cabinet, watering plants that hang from the eves of a porch or lanai, or dusting the tops of tall furniture), we highly recommend a safety step stool that has a handle the senior can hold onto for balance.
Our first recommendation – the AdjustaStep ™ Deluxe Step Stool/Footstool With Handle/Handrail – is a great choice for several reasons:
- Both the step stool and the handle are independently height adjustable
- Platform can be raised up to 10.5 inches high, so it can also be used to sit on (while cleaning out a low cabinet, for example)
- No tools needed to assemble it (quick assembly, too)
- The handle is easily removable
- It supports up to 300 pounds of weight
- It has non-skid feet
- The step stool features a non-slip surface on top of the step, as well as a non-slip grip on the handle
- The blue step offers an easy-to-see color contrast so the user knows where to step
Drawbacks – the lowest setting is 8.5 inches high, which could still be too high to step onto for some seniors. In addition, it weighs 9 pounds, so that could make it difficult for a more frail senior to move it around.
Extra Wide Step Stool With Handle
If you need a step stool for a larger senior, Easy Comforts makes a bariatric step stool with several of the safety features we like in the AdjustaStep ™ we talked about in the prior section.
- a handrail
- non-slip feet
- a non-slip, textured surface on the step
- the top of the step is blue, which is a visual cue for seniors
- 34 1/4 inches wide, supports up to 500 pounds
- at 7.6 pounds, it’s lighter than the AdjustaStep ™
This model does have some drawbacks, though:
- it cannot be adjusted for height – the step is 5 inches high
- the handle does not detach
- The handle is for balance, not weight support. The step stool can tip over if you don’t put some weight on the step first before trying to step up. In other words, if you try to support your weight or try to balance just via the handle and put no weight on the step, it will definitely tip over.
Step Stool For Elderly To Get In Car
The Bluestone 80-5121 Indoor and Outdoor Mobility Step checks off several versatility boxes for us.
- It supports up to 440 pounds
- It’s wide, but low – the top of the step is only 3.50 inches high, which makes it great for seniors like my sweet, former mom-in-law who was barely able to lift her legs even that high
- It’s slip resistant
- It has drainage holes, so the step could be left outdoors if it was being used for access to the home.
- It’s fairly wide (19.50″ by 15.50″)
- It’s pretty light at just 4.39 pounds so it’s easy to move around the home
Drawbacks – the biggie for us here at Senior Safety Advice is that this step stool has no handle to help with balance and stability.
It could tip while you are getting into a car, a bed, or when reaching up to get something off a high shelf. It would be best if the person using the step stool also used a cane or grab bar for support.
In addition, because it has drain holes and the textured surface, the step is pretty hard and could be painful if you used it barefoot.
Folding Step Stool For Seniors
In general, we don’t recommend a folding step stool for seniors because this type of stool can collapse too easily, causing a fall risk. There is also the chance that a senior could get their fingers caught in the stool when folding or unfolding it, which could result in injury.
That said, sometimes a folding step stool can be a good idea – such as when a senior needs the help of a step stool to get into or out of a car when they are driving alone.
In that case, a folding step stool could be a good choice. It can be folded for easy storage and is lightweight. Also, the senior could tie a light rope to the handle to aid in pulling it up and into the car if they can’t bend over to retrieve it from the ground after use.
If you are looking for a folding step stool, we recommend that you get something like the Sattiyrch Step Stool, which has locking legs, non slip feet, and a non slip step surface.