Making the decision to invest in any home improvement or significant purchase can be daunting, and when it comes to a potentially costly mobility aid like a stairlift that can enable you to retain your independence and stay in your own home safely and comfortably, making the right choice soon becomes a very highly-loaded decision. If you are wondering if a stairlift is the answer to your mobility problems or if you are ready to start shopping around and want to make sure that you make the right choice, we can help to clarify things for you with this helpful and informative stairlift buying guide.
Is a stairlift the right choice for you?
The first thing you need to consider is whether or not a stairlift is the right choice for you, and what alternative options are available. Purchasing a stairlift is a significant investment, and one that is well worth it as long as it is the right choice for you-but if you are not sure whether or not a stairlift will really solve your current mobility challenges or if a stairlift is only likely to prove useful to you for a limited amount of time, it is wise to consider alternatives too. You should think about how well-matched to your mobility challenges the rest of your home is too when making a decision about buying a stairlift, such as if your bathroom is accessible or if you will ultimately have to look at a wider range of modifications and alterations to your home if you wish to remain in it.A stairlift can help people with limited mobility or who expect their mobility to decline over time to remain in their own home and get around it safely and comfortably, but it is also wise to think about alternative options as well. These may include considering supported housing, or moving into a bungalow or other single-story home.
Where to look for help and advice on stairlifts
It is wise to seek qualified advice when deciding if a stairlift is a good choice for you or not, and also, for assistance on the pros and cons of your different options and what type of stairlift you will need if you do decide that this is the way to go.Many NHS Trusts employ mobility and independent living therapists and specialists that can help when making your ultimate choice, so talk to your GP or healthcare worker about services local to you.Additionally, if you know someone else with a stairlift or even someone who looked into stairlifts and decided that it was not the right choice for them, asking for their thoughts and insights can prove very helpful as well.Reputable stairlift companies can also provide help and assistance when it comes to considering your choices and reaching a final decision on what type of stairlift to buy. While such advice will usually be limited to the options and product ranges that the company in question offer, dedicated and experienced stairlift retailers and technicians can provide a lot of useful information and guidance along the way too.
Different types of stairlifts
Stairlifts fall into one of two broad categories: straight stairlifts and curved stairlifts respectively. Straight stairlifts run along a preformed track, and are suitable for installation on evenly spaced, straight flights of stairs, which may be all that you will need.However, for staircases that are unevenly spaced, or that have landings, angles or curves, a curved stairlift will usually be required. The tracks for these are bespoke designed and built to order to suit your specific home. Curved stairlifts open up a wider range of options for the user, including the ability to transit two or more flights of stairs within the same journey and along landings, but they are of course priced accordingly.Special weatherproof exterior stairlifts can also be installed outside, if you need help with navigating garden steps or external staircases.
Factors to consider when deciding upon your requirements
There is a lot to think about when it comes to deciding what you need from your stairlift and finding the right option to meet your needs, and you may find that this includes things that you never even considered until a technician comes to your home to discuss your requirements!Some of the main factors to consider when deciding upon your requirements and the right stairlift for you include:
• Will you need a curved or a straight stairlift?
• Is there enough room for you to get in and out of the stairlift’s chair safely and comfortably at the top and bottom of your stairs and if necessary, transfer yourself into and out of a wheelchair?
• What type of features will you need from your stairlift? A very basic and so, inexpensive model is suitable for many people, but if you want the ability to call the stairlift remotely to accommodate for multiple users, would benefit from a powered swivel function on the seat, or need to fit your stairlift on a narrow staircase or in limited space, you might need to look at specialist options.
• Might you need to limit your choices to stairlifts that are rated to carry users heavier than around 18 stone? If so, you may need to look for a unit that is rated for higher weights than standard offerings.
• Are you able to bend your knees to sit and stand comfortably, or might you need a stairlift with a higher seat or perch for those that find sitting uncomfortable or impossible?
• If your mobility is declining or you have good days and bad days, will a basic, inexpensive stairlift still fulfil your requirements every time you need to transit the stairs, or should you consider a more comprehensive model?
This list is not exhaustive, but covers some of the main considerations to think about when making your decision and deciding upon the most appropriate stairlift for you.
Making the right choice
Buying a stairlift represents a significant investment in both your home and your own comfort and safety, which should pay dividends for many years to come. Once you have reached the decision to purchase a stairlift, you will probably be keen to get going and regain your freedom of movement around the home as soon as possible, but it is important to take your time and not rush into a decision on what to buy, in order to make the right choice.
• Develop a clear idea of your requirements and do plenty of window shopping before you start shopping around with the intent to buy.
• If possible, visit a mobility centre or another environment that operates or showcases stairlifts and try a few of them, to ensure that the concept itself is viable for you, and to help you to be able to make meaningful comparisons between different options.
• Talk to friends, family and if possible, healthcare professionals and advocates about your options, and consider their suggestions and thoughts.
• When you have narrowed down your choices to a few companies and products, ask for quotes and further information from several of them, and ask for more information if their quotes seem to differ considerably like for like, or you are otherwise not completely sure on the best option.
• Check what warranties and after-sales support the companies you are considering buying from offer, and factor this into your ultimate decision.
• Ask for everything in writing-from your quote to the warranty and guarantee-and check the small print, to ensure that you are protected in the event of any problems.
• Finally, don’t be afraid to say, “no thank you” or “I need some time to think” if you feel that you are being pushed into a decision-take your time and do not commit to a purchase until you are totally happy with the option that you have decided upon.[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section]