Going up and down the stairs can be a challenge as we age – for some of us more than others.
Short of moving into a retirement home bungalow, what are the best solutions to this inevitable problem?
SENIOR FRIENDLY STAIRS
It might be that you are not quite ready to abandon climbing the stairs altogether.
The health benefits of taking the stairs have been well documented and for seniors, they still hold as true as they do for the rest of the population.
There is evidence that the muscle strengthening properties of walking up the stairs help to guard against the possibility of falling at home.
The lighting should be clear and ambient on the staircase.
Do not make the mistake of confusing this with bright and glaring. Apart from the fact that overly bright lighting can be confusing to anyone, there is evidence that it is particularly disorienting for seniors.
LED lighting is the best option on the stairs, with the option of extra lighting, should it be needed.
Stair level lighting and baseboard LEDS that run along the steps themselves also might help.
You will need to reconsider the railings you have on your staircase and the exact positioning of them.
An interior designer specializing in mobility solutions will be able to advise you about the best place to position them, or an occupational therapist.
The height and width of steps for seniors should be generally speaking wider and shallower than the average steps, for optimal safety.
However, we appreciate this might not always be possible in a domestic staircase for reasons of space.
THE NUMBER OF STAIRS
It has been found that between ten and twelve steps are the best number for senior safety climbing the steps.
Before you dismiss the possibility of a stairlift out of hand, perhaps you should take a look at some of the options now available.
You might be remembering the ugly and unsightly stairlifts from yesteryear, which blocked all the staircase up and somewhat resembled a fairground ride.
These are not the reality of the more stylish and modern contemporary stairlifts to be found on the market today.
Furthermore, there is a selection of different stairlifts available to choose from; straight stairlifts, curved stairlifts, outdoor stairlifts and stairlifts with special features.
You may not have considered a home elevator, but they are becoming a popular solution to the stair climbing problem.
These can be customized to carry one or two passengers or even fit in furniture and pets!
Options to consider include a standard home elevator and a wheelchair elevator.
If you are worried about getting stuck in them – they also come with a back up battery pack in the event of power failure.
Better still, these make a great investment for your home and can be customized to fit in with whatever décor you have in your home already.
Another option for getting up the stairs more easily are stair climbers.
These can be used easily by one caregiver and can also be portable.
Choose between either stairclimbing wheelchairs or powered stair climbers.
So as you can see, you don’t have to abandon your home just because the stairs are posing a problem.