Everything Seniors Should Know About Home Stairlifts
More than 90 percent of people ages 65 and older want to remain in their homes for as long as possible.  Falls and other accidents are serious risks that can cause debilitating injuries, though. If you have trouble getting up and down the stairs, a stairlift might make your life much easier. Instead of avoiding the second floor of your house or worrying every time you climb the stairs, you can easily travel throughout your entire home with a reduced risk injury.
Although a stairlift has many benefits, it’s an expensive purchase that requires careful consideration. Before you decide to buy a stairlift, you should understand how it works and what you need to do to have one installed in your home.
What Are Stairlifts?
A stairlift is a motorized chair with a lift mechanism that goes up and down the rail on your staircase. If you have mobility problems or difficulty climbing stairs, a stairlift can safely transport you up and down the stairs in your home. Depending on the way your staircase is built, you can choose between a few different types of stairlifts.
Straight stairlifts go in a straight line up and down your stairs, and curved stairlifts can go around corners or bends. If you have a curved or winding staircase, you’ll need a curved stairlift.
Traditional stairlifts have a chair, so you can sit comfortably while you travel up and down the stairs. Standing stairlifts include a platform for you to stand on instead of a seat, which is helpful if you have knee pain or struggle to bend you knees. Some standing stairlifts have a large enough platform to accommodate a wheelchair or a small scooter, so you can move between the different floors of your home even if you have a limited ability to walk.
Some stairlifts are battery-powered, and some are electric-powered. Battery-powered stairlifts charge at the base station and are usually quieter and smoother than electric-powered stairlifts. Also, they’ll continue to work if your home loses power.
Who Are Stairlifts Good For?
Stairlifts are helpful for people who have trouble going up or down the stairs but don’t need advanced care. A candidate for a stairlift can still safely live in their home without a high risk of an accident or a medical emergency, but they need easier access to the basement or second floor.
Seniors with medical conditions that cause pain, limited mobility, or reduced strength can improve their quality of life with a stairlift. Some of the most common health issues that affect mobility in seniors include the following:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Degenerative disc disease
- Muscle weakness 
Stairlifts are usually marketed toward older populations, but they’re not just meant for seniors. People of all ages with disabilities or mobility issues can benefit from stairlifts. The devices allow you to travel throughout your home more easily, which returns normalcy to your life.
Benefits of Having a Stairlift
The stairs are one of the most dangerous areas of a home, especially for seniors. Many seniors suffer from arthritis, which causes pain and limits mobility. Aging affects your balance and muscle strength, so falls are particularly common for the elderly. It’s easy to slip and miss a step or to become dizzy or tired suddenly. A stairlift greatly reduces the risk of falls and injuries.
A stairlift can also reduce pain in your everyday life if you suffer from arthritis or other health conditions. Even if you’re able to go up and down the stairs, climbing stairs might make your pain worse. You can live more comfortably when using your stairlift to travel between the floors in your home.
A stairlift makes it easier to transport items throughout your home, too. Instead of struggling to carry heavy or bulky items down the stairs, you can simply hold them on your lap while you use the stairlift.
One of the best benefits of a stairlift is independence. Many seniors are in relatively good health besides some minor mobility issues that prevent them from using the stairs. If they have a stairlift, they can maintain their independent living instead of having to leave their home for assisted living or nursing home care.
A stairlift is often the most cost-effective option for a senior with mobility problems. It may be an expensive one-time cost, but it’s cheap compared to a nursing home or a 24-hour caregiver.
Stairlifts bring peace of mind to seniors and their loved ones. The possibility of falling can cause anxiety for everyone in the family, but a stairlift can help assure you that you or your loved one is safe.
Average Cost and Installation Process
Unfortunately, stairlifts are not covered by Medicare. However, you may be able to find grants or funding from other sources. If you are a veteran, the VA may offer you a home improvement grant to install a stairlift. Some states also have grant programs that could partially or fully fund your stairlift. 
Straight stairlifts typically cost $3,000 to $5,000, and curved stairlifts can cost $10,000 or more. Installation costs are usually about $70 per hour, and it takes about four hours to install a stairlift.  You can have the lift installed by the manufacturer or a handyman. If you buy the stairlift directly from the manufacturer, they may include the installation costs in the price of the machine. You should not install a stairlift yourself unless you’re an experienced handyman.
Electric-powered stairlifts require a nearby power source. If your home doesn’t have an outlet in the right location, you’ll need to hire an electrician to install one. This can cost $200 to $750.
After your stairlift is installed, you should have a handyman or technician come to your home regularly for tune-ups. Keeping up with maintenance will prevent bigger and more expensive issues in the future. You can keep the stairlift in good condition by cleaning the rails regularly, which will keep the machine moving smoothly.
Some people only need a stairlift for a short period of time. You may be moving soon, or you may be suffering from a temporary injury that prevents you from climbing the stairs. In this case, you can rent a stairlift. Most stairlift rental companies charge an installation fee, a monthly service fee, and a deinstallation fee.
Buying a stairlift is a big decision, but it can make a major improvement to your quality of life. The installation process is quick and easy, and the stairlift can safely restore your freedom and independence.
- Bayer, Ada-Helen, et al. “Fixing to Stay: A National Survey on Housing and Home Modification Issues.” org, AARP, 1 May 2000, www.aarp.org/home-garden/housing/info-2000/aresearch-import-783.html.
- Nabili, Siamak N. “Senior Health Social Issues, Safety Measures & Common Diseases.” Edited by Charles Patrick Davis, eMedicineHealth, WebMD, Inc., 11 Nov. 2017, emedicinehealth.com/senior_health/article_em.htm.
- Havens, Brian. “How to Find Stair Lift Funding.” 101 Mobility, 101 Mobility, LLC, 8 June 2018, 101mobility.com/blog/how-to-find-stair-lift-funding/.
- “Cost to Install a Stairlift – Estimates and Prices at Fixr.” com, Fixr, 2018, www.fixr.com/costs/stairlift-installation.