From “No” to “Go” – a Story of Changing Stair Lift Perceptions

This blog post is a contribution by Kindra French, owner of 101 Mobility® San Diego

One Friday evening, just as I had turned on the stove to begin making dinner, the phone rang. I turned the burner off (safety first!) and answered. The caller was Bill, asking if we would be willing to open our office doors the following day to show his dad a stairlift. He explained that the family was concerned for Dad’s safety on the stairs, and they thought a stairlift would be a great fit for him. Dad was adamantly against it, but Bill felt that if his dad was to see and ride the stair lift, he might change his mind.

Our office is not typically open on Saturdays except for special appointments, so we made an appointment for Bill and his dad to visit.

Late Saturday afternoon, Gary and I sat at our office waiting for Bill and his dad when a sizable family camper arrived. Out poured Bill along with his wife, dad, mom, and two small dogs. After welcoming the family, we invited them to sit in our reception area so we could talk. I immediately noticed Bill’s dad, Mr. Dobson, looking apprehensive and somewhat confused.

Mr. Dobson, do you know why you’re here?” I queried.

Bill said he was taking us all out for lunch, but I don’t see any food here” was his telling reply.

I shot a glance at Bill, who fidgeted nervously and looked away. Blindsided! Mr. Dobson had no clue why he was sitting in a 101 Mobility® office in Carlsbad, CA on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Attempting to put the nervous-looking Mr. Dobson at ease, I explained our mobility business to him and his family. I concluded my introduction “Mr. Dobson, your family thinks you would really benefit from using a stair lift at home.

As soon as the words left my lips, the previously docile elderly gentleman’s expression morphed from perplexed and quizzical to adamantly stern and angry. He pounded his fist on his leg and declared, “No way! There is no way you’re going to get me to ride sideways up the stairs! I’m outta here.” He stood up out of his seat, ready to walk out the door and none too happy that his family had conspired to lure him into this trap.

Mr. Dobson, please, could you help us understand why you are so uncomfortable with the idea of using a stair lift?” I asked.

Hesitantly, he sat back down and lifted one of the little black dogs onto his lap. He emphatically described what he imagined riding a stair lift would feel like: jerky, unstable, wobbly, and noisy. I don’t think Mr. Dobson is alone in his misconception about this mobility device. For many who have never ridden on a stair lift or been up close with one, there’s a notion that it will feel insecure, uncomfortable, or unsafe. We offered Mr. Dobson a ride on the stair lift that is displayed in our office showroom; he flat out refused. No way. No how. No joke.

That’s when my husband and co-owner of 101 Mobility® San Diego, Gary, casually took a seat on the lift, pressed the lever, and started to gently glide up and down the short set of stairs in our display. I continued to talk with Mr. Dobson, learning more about his background, his current condition, and his needs. Mr. Dobson nervously stroked the fur of the little black dog in his lap as I began to describe some of the features and benefits of using a stair lift. We discussed the continuous charge, obstruction sensors, dual call-send buttons, and locking swivel seats. All the while, Gary continued his rhythmic ride up and down the stairs while Mr. Dobson’s eyes followed his every move. Once again, Gary offered to let Mr. Dobson take a turn. Reluctantly, he agreed.

Mr. Dobson carefully passed the little dog to Bill, and took a seat on the stair lift. Gary showed him how to operate it, and he pressed the lever on the armrest. As it started to rise up the staircase, Mr. Dobson’s countenance slowly changed from tightly closed lips and clenched jaw to wide-eyed surprise, to an accidental smile and pleased expression. Mr. Dobson felt the smooth, gentle glide of the machine, comfortable seat, and, most importantly, the absence of pain in his hips and knees as he ascended and descended the stairs.

Well, this isn’t so bad after all” he stated, followed quickly by, “What about Blackie? If Blackie won’t ride it, neither will I.” At that, Bill carried Blackie over to Mr. Dobson and plopped the little dog onto his lap. Blackie didn’t seem to mind one bit, staying comfortably seated in his owner’s lap as the two of them rode up and down the staircase. With that, the deal was sealed! One afternoon, Mr. Dobson made the journey from “NO!” to “GO!

We installed a stairlift in the Dobsons’ home a few months ago. I spoke recently with Mrs. Dobson, who told me that Mr. Dobson and Blackie have used the lift every single day and that he couldn’t be happier.

If you are having trouble climbing the stairs, don’t let misconceptions about stair lifts stop you from experiencing freedom and independence in your home. 101 Mobility® helps people like Mr. Dobson overcome limitations every day.

All events in this story are true, but names have been changed to protect the privacy of the family and their pets.