Thursday, October 31, 2013

How Do Stairlifts Work?

Stairlifts make it possible for people who have trouble traversing stairs to get up and down between the stories in their home. If you’re considering installing a stairlift in your home, you may be curious about the actual mechanics that make these ingenious, helpful devices actually work. Here, in a nutshell, is how stairlifts work.
The typical stairlift consists of several basic components. First, there are the rails, a system of tracks that are fixed to the stair treads, or in rare cases, to the wall beside the staircase. Generally, there is a bracket attached to the steps on the stairway. The rails are attached to the brackets. Next there is the carriage, the component which moves along the rail. In most cases, the carriage is pulled along the rails by a chain or cable, though some may be driven along the rails by some other system. The carriage generally consists of a seat, usually with arms and a footrest for safety. Some chairlifts have a “perch” – a small platform on which a passenger can stand during transport. Finally, there is the battery, which powers the motor that runs the drive train. It is similar to an automobile battery and must be plugged in to recharge. The battery operation ensures that the stair lift will operate even if there is a power outage.
Most stairlifts are operated via a control on the arm of the lift. The control may be a switch or a toggle, which is easier to operate for people with limited dexterity. Modern stairlifts often also have a remote controllers that can operate the stairlift from a short distance. These operate as call buttons to bring the lift to the top or bottom of the stairs where a passenger is waiting.
Most modern stairlifts also incorporate a computer processor which tracks the speed of ascent and descent and records the number of trips up and down the stairs. These records can help service engineers diagnose problems on service calls, and may also warn owners when parts need maintenance, attention or replacement.
Safety Meausres
Most modern stairlifts incorporate a number of important safety devices that cut the power to the lift when something goes wrong. These range from sensors that stop the seat when they encounter an obstacle or obstruction on the stair to governors, which brake the chair if the mechanism recognizes that the chair is moving too fast.
Most engineers and vendors who install stairlifts will be happy to explain the key workings to you if you ask, because it makes their jobs easier if you understand how the lift operates, so if you have questions, just ask.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Misconceptions About Stairlifts

You’ve probably seen the television ads for stairlifts, ads featuring happy older adults riding up and down the staircase on a comfortable chair. Chairlifts are an excellent option for adults who have trouble navigating stairs because of age or physical disability. Many people resist the idea of installing a chairlift because they think they’re too expensive, or that they’re “not disabled enough,” or some other similar reason. In fact, today’s stairlifts are more affordable than ever. Here are some other misconceptions you may have about stair lifts that are keeping you from making one of the best decisions of your life.
Stairlifts Are Too Expensive
While a stairlift is certainly more expensive than, say, installing a set of shower grab bars, they’re nowhere near as expensive as many people believe. In fact, a simple straight chairlift will probably cost you no more than a couple of month’s rent. That’s quite cheap, especially when you consider the alternatives are giving up your home, or moving to a building with a single level.
I’ll Get Stuck During a Power Outage
Absolutely not. Today’s stairlifts are powered by rechargeable batteries, similar to those that power your automobile. If you should happen to lose power, the chairlift will continue to operate for up to several days, depending on the number of trips for which it is used.
Getting a Stairlift is Like Giving in to Infirmity
Some people resist getting a stairflift because they feel like it’s an admission that they’re “getting old” or that they can’t handle living on their own anymore. In fact, stairlifts are the exact opposite. They give you back access to your entire home and allow you to resume doing chores you’d been afraid of tackling because of the stairs.
My Stairs Are Too Awkward for a Stair Lift
It’s a pretty rare staircase that can’t be fitted with a stairlift. Stairlifts can be fitted to straight stairs, narrow stairs, wide stairs, curving stairs, stairs with landings – about 85% of staircases can handle a standard chairlift. Many of the others can be fitted with stairlifts after some accommodation is made. In the rare cases where stairlifts are not the answer, many companies that provide them also provide platform lifts and other options.
If you or someone in your household has trouble navigating the stairs in your home, contact a company that sells and installs stairlifts to find out if they might be the best solution for your situation.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Special Features Available with Stairlifts

Stairlifts help people get up and down stairs safely. Modern stairlifts run on a rail that is mounted on the treads of the stairs rather than on the wall, making them adaptable to many different types of staircases. While they’ve been around for more than 75 years – the first stairlifts were marketed commercially in the 1930s – they’re becoming far more popular as the concept of “aging-in-place” gains widespread acceptance. While the original chairlifts were simply a carriage with a lift attached, modern stairlifts are available with a wide variety of features that make them safer and more comfortable in use. These are a few of the more widely available.
Adjustable Seat Height
One of the most basic features for stair lifts is an adjustable-height seat. This is important not only for comfort, but for safety. It’s important for the rider to be able to sit comfortably on the seat in order to ride the lift safely.
Platform Lifts
While most stairlifts are chairlifts, there are some people who cannot comfortably take a seat, perhaps because of knee pain or stiffness. For them, stairlifts can be fitted with a standing platform and handrail. If a rider must stand on a stairlift, this is the only safe way to do it.
Wide Seats
Many chairlifts are available with wide-width seats to accommodate larger people. Talk to a professional installer about the possibility of installing wider seats on a standard stairlift if you believe you need more room for your seat.
Multiple Call Stations
Modern stairlifts can be called from either the top or the bottom of the stairs so that no one is ever stranded on the “wrong end” of the lift. For lifts that traverse more than one flight of steps, there may be even more call stations.
Flip-up Seat
Seats and arm rests can be folded out of the way when the chairlift is not in use, making it easier for people to use the stairway on foot.
Speed Governor
The speed governor monitors the speed of the lift in use and steps in to brake it, preventing injuries if the seat is moving too fast.
Most chairlifts come with a safety belt to secure the rider in the chair. This can be especially important for people who have balance issues.
Flip-up  Rail
When the end of a staircase falls at a hallway or door opening, the end of the stairlift will often extend across the doorway, causing a tripping hazard. In that case, installers often use an end rail that can be flipped up out of the way when the chair is not actually in use.
Talk to a professional stairlifts vendor about special features that make sense for your needs so that your stairlift is exactly right for you.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Six Reasons That Stairlifts Make Sense

Stairlifts make life easier for everyone in the household. If you or someone in your home is finding it difficult to navigate stairs, installing a stairlift can help restore their independence while providing benefits for everyone else in the family. Why do stairlifts make sense as a mobility option? Here are six reasons to consider a stairlift for your home.
Peace of Mind for Caregivers and Family
Do you worry about a loved one who is no longer stable on the stairs? When you provide a chairlift, you can stop worrying when you can’t be there to supervise travels up and down the stairs.
Affordable Alternative to Other Solutions
Stairlifts are far more affordable than many other solutions you might consider when stairs become an option. Compare the cost of installing a stair lift to the cost of moving to a one-story home, moving to an assisted living center or even adding a room to first floor. A stairlift makes much more sense financially than the alternatives.
Reduce the Chance of Broken Bones
Stumbles and falls on stairs are among the leading cause of broken legs and hips in older adults. Sadly, most older adults who suffer a broken hip or serious bone break never recover their full mobility. Installing a chairlift can help prevent falls, and help older adults stay mobile longer.
Save Your Strength for More Important Things
If you suffer from COPD or other conditions that make climbing stairs a challenge, stairlifts let you save your time and energy for more important things than sitting and catching your breath.
Reduce Strain on Joints
Climbing up and down stairs puts an enormous amount of strain and stress on your ankles, knees and hips. Riding a stair lift up and down the stairs can help preserve your joints and make your life less painful.
Help Restore Independence
Get your groceries into your house without help, or carry the laundry upstairs without waiting for someone else to get home. While chairlifts are designed for single riders, you can carry things up and down the stairs with you. In fact, you can even buy baskets designed to make it even easier to carry things up and down the stairs on a stair lift.
Don’t let a simple thing like difficulty climbing stairs cramp your independence or rob your life of its pleasure. Contact a local dealer and learn about the many kinds of stairlifts available to suit your needs and make your life easier.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Why Home Evaluations Are Important for Stairlifts

If you’ve been looking around at stairlifts with the intent to buy, you’ve probably found there are two kinds of dealers who sell them: those who do installations and those who provide you with chairlifts that you can install yourself. While a DIY stairlift may seem like a good way to save money, there are some very good reasons why you should always deal with a company that installs and services the stairlifts that they sell. Here’s what you should know about home evaluations and choosing the right chairlifts for your needs.
Every Stairlift Must Be Custom Fit to Your Stairs
Stairlifts are not one-size-fits-all. They must be cut to fit the length, width and rise of your staircase in order to operate safely. If the rails are too short, too long or installed at the wrong angle, your stairlift may not operate at all, or worse, it may be unsafe to ride.
Measuring for Stairlifts Must Be Precise
The manufacturer will need more than the length and width of your staircase to provide you with a lift that is right for your needs. In fact there are many important measurements, and getting just one wrong can render the stairlift inoperable. A trained stair lift consultant knows exactly which measurements are needed and the best way to take those measurements.
A Consultant Knows the Available Options
One of the ways that a trained consultant can help you during a home evaluation is by showing you options you may not have considered, or including options you may not have known are available. A consultant may be able to see a way to fit a chairlift to a staircase you thought was too narrow, or may point out accessories or options that will make a stair lift more comfortable and usable in your home.
You Can Have Confidence in the Installation
When the measurements and preliminary requirements were handled by a professional, you can have confidence that the installation of your stairlift will be safe.
Maintenance and Repair Is Never an Issue
Finally, when you have the installation done by professionals who sell and service stairlifts every day, you never have to worry about getting repairs and service when you need them. Most companies that sell and install lifts and other mobility aids also offer service contracts that include regular maintenance and emergency repairs so you never have to worry about being without your lift after you’ve found how useful it is to your life.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Stairlifts Improve Your Quality of Life

One of the primary benefits of residential stairlifts is the improvement in quality of life they offer. “Quality of life” is one of those nebulous phrases that people like to toss around, often without knowing exactly what they mean and how their lives – or more importantly, your life – will improve. When it comes to installing a stairlift, though, there are proven benefits that most certainly fit under “improved quality of life.” You may not even recognize how much easier stairlifts can make your life. If you’ve never really thought about it before, consider how different your life would be if you never had to think about going up or down the stairs.
Go Up and Down Stairs Whenever You Want or Need to Do So
Many people don’t really consider themselves mobility-impaired, even though they spend most of their lives living on one story of their home. They can still climb the stairs, but it takes effort – enough effort that they avoid making those trips up to the bedroom or down to the laundry room – as much as they can. The little inconveniences may seem like small things, but they add up over time: leaving the house with a lighter jacket because it’s not worth the climb back up to your bedroom to change, for example, or forgoing the next chapter of your book because you left it on your bedside table.
It’s easy to think that it’s not worth the expense to install a stair lift just because it’s a little bit more difficult to climb the stairs than it used to be, because you’re out of breath when you reach the top or because your knees ache all day if you climb the stairs more than once or twice. Stairlifts are for people who are disabled, you may be thinking, certainly not for someone who can still climb stairs.
Stairlifts Prevent Injury and Debilitation
In fact, one major benefit of installing a stairlift in your home is that they help prevent further loss of mobility. If you suffer from arthritis or COPD, your condition isn’t going to improve with exercise. In fact, climbing stairs puts additional stress and wear on your joints, and could be hastening the time when you can’t climb the stairs at all. A stair lift can put off that day further, and preserve your mobility for things you enjoy doing, like playing with your grandkids or working in the garden.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that stairlifts are only for people who are unable to use stairs at all. In fact, one of the best reasons to install a stairlift is to hold onto your ability to engage in activities you enjoy – or, in words that bureaucrats love – they improve your quality of life.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Taking Care of Stairlifts In your Home

Buying a stairlift can solve many accessibility problems for older adults and those who have difficulty climbing stairs. Many people forget that stairlifts may need maintenance to keep working properly. Luckily, keeping your chairlift in good working order is quite simple.
Preventive Maintenance Is the Key
Much of the maintenance required by stairlifts is preventive maintenance – simple daily care that will keep your stairlift in top working order. These simple tasks include:
  • Always leave the chair at the right position on the track when it is not in use. The chair will generally stop naturally at the right point. When the chair is positioned properly, the unit will recharge its internal batteries so that it will always be charged for use.
  • Only unplug the unit if it will not be used for a considerable length of time, and then follow the procedure outlined in your user manual to prevent the battery from being damaged. Generally, you must switch off the mains before unplugging the unit from the wall outlet. Once the unit is unplugged, you can switch off the battery isolation switch to disconnect the battery.
  • Keep clothing and other items off the stairway to prevent them from obstructing the lift or falling into the track.
  • Do not allow children to play on or around the lift, both for their own safety and to prevent damage to the stair lift.
  • Only use the lift with one person at a time. Stairlifts are not designed to carry more than one person. Exceeding the weight limit can damage the tracks and the lift mechanism.
  • Contract with the supplier for your stairlift to provide annual checks and emergency maintenance services if needed.
If your lift isn’t working properly, there are a few things you can check before calling a repair service.
  • Check the power source to be sure that the lift unit is properly connected. If the unit is properly connected but there is still no power, check to be sure the outlet is active by plugging another electrical item into it.
  • Check the battery charge level. If the unit has been drained, it can take up to 14 hours to recharge, and the lift may not operate properly until it reaches full charge again.
  • Make sure that the chair is in the correct position for traveling. Most stairlifts will not operate unless the chair is in the correct position as a safety measure.
  • Make sure that all of the switches are in the ON position. Depending on the model stair lift you’ve chosen, there may be three different switches to turn on.
  • Make sure that the safety sensors are not stuck. Occasionally, a safety sensor will get stuck when there is not a safety issue. Carefully use your fingers to manipulate the sensors and make sure they move freely.
Stairlifts require very little ongoing maintenance, but it’s important to keep them clear of obstructions, and to operate them safely. It’s also a good idea to have an installer check the lift annually for any wear or developing problems.