Published at Friday, 14 September 2018. Stair. By Christina Finke.
At the same time, it isn’t practical for someone else in the household to carry the disabled person up and down stairs. Ask the mother of a baby or toddler about carrying a 30 lb. child up a staircase several times a day. Now imagine carrying the equivalent of at least four toddlers up and down the stairs. It would be a daunting challenge even for a fit, strong adult to carry a lightweight adult up the stairs. There are a number of household devices and products that help senior citizens maintain their independence for as long as possible, from simple things like glucose meters to chairs that help them rise to a standing position, to personal alarm systems worn on a belt. Stair lifts are a big expense, but they can add immeasurably to the quality of life of the person who has trouble with stairs, and to the quality of life to a caregiver or other member of the household who had been tasked with helping the disabled person navigate the stairs.
Stair lifts are devices that are attached to the treads of staircases to safely move someone who is elderly or disabled up or down the stairs. They consist of a track, usually made of aluminum, a chair attached to the track, and the electronic controls that make the chair move up or down the track. Stair lifts are powered by alternating current (AC), which is hooked up to the household electrical system, or with direct current (DC), which uses a battery that recharges from the household electrical system, and does not require use of home electricity to work properly.
The biggest danger with AC powered stair lifts is that during a power failure, the stair lift will not function. Early versions of stair lifts were all AC powered. Trailing electrical cables presented tripping hazards, and the lifts moved in a jerky, start-stop manner due to the nature of the AC powered motor. At that time there wasn’t much choice because battery technology had not advanced as far as it has today. Today, DC powered stair lifts that only recharge from the household supply of electricity are the most popular lift chair designs. With DC powered stair lifts, if the power goes out, the battery can’t charge, but the lift will still be functional until the battery’s charge runs out. These models are quieter than AC models, too.
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