Stairs, Health, and Aging


    Humans tend to move around, but our technology always seems to be a few steps ahead of our ability to get around. We can build upwards almost endlessly, and sometimes that’s just what we must do, to keep up with the pace of rapidly growing cities. Unfortunately, human ambulation is mostly limited to two dimensions. Stairs are a simple, timeless solution to the age-old problem of vertical movement.

    Accessibility in public spaces is a growing topic. More voices have access to the discourse and more places are becoming accessible. It makes sense that a space built for the public should be accessible to everyone in the public. But what about our homes? These are places that are built and maintained just for a handful of people.

    A large number of homes are two stories or more and it’s simply not feasible for the average home to be built with an elevator. A ramp is fine for a shorter set of stairs, such as the entrance to a home, but ramps can’t substitute the stairs that allow access to the second floor of a home, or the basement. What other options are there?

    Moving is an option, but that’s an ugly compromise, especially when many larger homes have been in families for generations. What makes something special is the time one spends with it, and homes are no exception.

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    Stairs and Risks for Seniors

    There’s no denying the memories associated with an old set of stairs, or the beauty they add to a home. But by the same token, there’s no denying the risks and limitations they impose. A study by the American Journal of Emergency Medicine details a whopping annual average of 1,076,558 patients treated for stair-related injuries over the course of a 23-year study. That’s more than 1 million injuries per year.

    Of those injuries, 19% fractured. And while 67% of patients were in the wide range of ages 11-60, fractures were more common among the elderly patients. What’s even more interesting is that the rate of injuries is increasing every year.

    Between the risk of injury and the impossibility stairs pose on many disabled people, stairs are a technology that poses a real problem and seem to require a more accessible technological solution. Fortunately, there are some options.

    Many disabled and elderly homeowners are opting for in-home lifts. Lifts come in a variety of styles.

    Hydraulic Elevators

    This is the kind of elevator you’d find in any commercial build. The doors open and close and the elevator takes you to the floor of your choosing. Yes, believe it or not, hydraulic elevators can be installed in homes, though they require a lot of space and money.

    Installing a hydraulic elevator is very costly. Ranging from $15,000 to $25,000, it simply isn’t feasible to put a commercial-grade hydraulic elevator in most homes.

    Platform Lifts

    Platform lifts are similar in idea to hydraulic elevators. They lift passengers from one level to the next in direct vertical motion. Platforms are chosen for their ability to move wheelchairs along with the passenger. This is absolutely necessary for spaces where mobility devices aren’t available on each level.

    Stair Lifts

    Stair lifts are often the best option available. Stair lifts come in all shapes and sizes, indoor and outdoor models and accommodate any shape stairs. They are the certainly the cheapest option of the three, some as low as $2,000 or less, although more premium options are available. They can be installed in a very short amount of time. offer a highly versatile range of options for in-home mobility to help overcome any set of stairs.

    The Takeaway

    With advancements in technology, it is becoming increasingly easier and more convenient for aging residents to stay in the homes they’ve lived in and loved for most if not all their adult lives. With stairlifts, platform lifts, and even in-home elevators, seniors don’t have to put their health at risk when navigating a multi-story home.