Choosing the Best Stairlift for Seniors: Part 1

The main character in Disney Pixar’s Up used one: Carl Fredricksen, a 70-something widower, relied on a stairlift to transport him between the first and second floors of his cottage, a place to which he had deep emotional connections.

Many seniors choose to age in place because they want to hold on to their independence, and like Carl, they’re emotionally attached to their home. But when getting up and down the stairs becomes a challenge and a risk, families begin exploring options, most of which are outside of the senior’s home.

A good stairlift costs about $3000 to $5000. That’s about the average monthly cost of assisted living.

Why not consider that option? If it’s because you don’t know much about stairlifts, Gordon Raney, a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) and the co-owner/operator (along with his wife) of two 101 Mobility franchises in Tulsa and Dallas, has all the answers you need:

How will the stairlift attach to my stairs?

Raney: Most stair lifts come with feet that will be attached to the rail, then screwed into the treads of the stairs. Stair lifts can be installed on numerous staircase surfaces such as carpet, hardwoods, concrete, and potentially even tile or marble with special consideration and hardware.

How far out is the rail going to sit?

Raney: The rail can generally be placed 3-6 inches from the nearest wall obstruction, depending on the model. Several manufacturers have begun using rails with a more vertical orientation rather than a horizontal orientation that can take up additional floor space on the staircase.

How is the stairlift powered?

Raney: Stairlifts are generally battery-powered. A fully charged battery should allow for several uses should the electricity go out. An electrical outlet within 6-10 feet of the top or bottom of the stairlift will be needed to plug in the battery charger.

How much will it cost?

Raney: Costs of stairlifts can vary greatly depending on the brand and specific features needed.   I caution individuals to do their homework and read stairlift reviews before making such an important decision. There are numerous groups selling stairlifts over the internet that come with little or no installation, maintenance, or warranty services. When problems occur or things go wrong with these units, there is no individual or group the consumer can call to get the issue resolved.

A good stairlift that is going to last and comes with a good warranty is going to be in the $3000 to $5000 range. I have seen quality branded stair lifts last 15+ years with little more than an occasional battery change. Stairlifts can also be rented or financed, or you can do a rent-to-own arrangement.

Learn more from Gordon Raney about measurements, the differences between curved and straight stairlifts, power options, and lift modifications in an upcoming post. Stay tuned!

Browse our selection of stairlifts here.