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.
Curved stairs are not as safe as a strait set of stairs. Curved stairs get very narrow on one side. A curved set of steps may be difficult to negotiate in an emergency or fire situation. Handrails should be installed on at least one side of the stairs that has two or more risers. Properly configured stair handrails should 34 inches high and they should be designed to comfortably accommodate a person wrapping their hand around the rail. Guardrails also should accompany a handrail system on a properly configured set of steps. The gaps should be only 4 inches wide so that the body of a child can not fit though the openings.
In fact, the best time to add a stair lift system may be before it is actually a requirement. There are plenty of seniors who may not be disabled, but who experience intermittent conditions, such as an arthritic knee or hip, that make climbing stairs a challenge some of the time. Stair lifts can be installed in straight or curved staircases. Most models today run on rechargeable DC battery packs that hold a charge for around 8 to 10 trips up and down, depending on the length of the track and the weight of the person it is transporting. Some of these battery packs have chargers mounted next to the top or bottom of the lift track, while others are able to recharge from anywhere along the track. DC powered stair lifts are the preferred style today because they still work (for a while anyway) if the AC power to the household is cut. Many seniors, through no fault of their own, lose the ability to go up and down staircases with agility. And many of them have strong emotional ties to the house in which they live. A stair lift can make the difference between allowing a senior to have significant independence of daily living and having to making the difficult choice of selling a beloved home.
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