Published at Monday, 17 September 2018. Stair. By Christina Finke.
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.
Proper stair design has a maximum rise of eight inches, a minimum run of nine inches and a minimum tread width of 9.25 inches. A safe and properly configured stairway should be at 34 inches wide. As a rule the wider steps are safer then narrow stairs. There needs to be adequate headroom above the set of stairs. The required headroom is at least 6 foot 6 inches. When there is a door at the top of a set of steps, it should open away from the stairs for safety reasons. If a door opens toward the stairs a landing is needed so a person opening the door will not be able to push someone on the stairs.
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.
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