What Is a Stair Lift?

By Dee Dee Donato

  • Overview

    What Is a Stair Lift?
    A stair lift is just one of many useful home installations that can help the elderly and those with medical conditions, remain in their homes. This gliding chair eliminates pain and suffering while struggling to climb steep steps and reduces anxiety among caregivers and the homeowner themselves because it eliminates the possibility of falling down an entire flight of stairs. With an increase in the aging population, a stair lift should be the number one consideration before placing someone in a nursing home, provided that mobility is the only limitation.
  • Function

    A stair lift is used by senior citiizens and immobile individuals who need to get up and down the stairs of a multi-level home, but are unable to do so on their own. By sitting in the chair attached to the lift and pressing on a button usually found on the arm, the stair lift will glide up the stairs on a track mounted to the stair treads with metal cleats. It will stop when pressure is let off the button or when it gets to the end of its track.
  • Benefits

    A stair lift gives freedom to those who have a hard time getting around. Not only does a stair lift allow a person to get around the home, it allows her to stay in the home which she may not be able to do if she couldn't get up and down the stairs. The alternative would be living in a nursing home or with a family member which can be prevented by the stair lift. Additionally, a stair lift can aid in moving objects around the home. Simply bring the items with you on the chair, push the button, and you'll have what you need upstairs or down.


  • Types

    Generally, there are two types of stair lifts: straight and curved. You will need to figure out what type of stair case you have before you can determine what type of stair lift to get. A straight stair lift travels in a straight line from the bottom of your stair case to the top. A straight stair lift is easier to install and is far less expensive than curved. If you have a curved stair case with bends and turns, then you'll need to have a custom made chair lift installed. Being that it will be custom built, it will take approximately three to 10 weeks to build and install and will cost a considerably higher amount than its straight counterpart.
  • Measuring Your Stairs

    Measuring your stairs so your stair lift will fit properly is a high priority. If the length of the track is too short, you won't be able to get all the way up the stairs. If it is too long, you have wasted money on portions of a track that you do not need and have set yourself up for potential safety issues. To properly measure your stairs, follow these steps: measure the total length of stairs, the measurement of each individual step, and the distance from the landing just below your stairs to the nearest wall. If you are uncomfortable measuring it yourself, the stair lift company you are purchasing from will help you.
  • Cost Involved With a Stair Lift

    The cost of a stair lift varies depending on what type you get. A basic stair lift fit for a straight stair case can cost any where between $2,000 and $4,000. If you have curved stairs which require a custom design, you can pay anywhere up to $15,000. A stair lift is not covered by Medicare. Fund your stair lift through loans, government grants or reverse mortgages. For more information on financing, visit the additional Resources section on this site or consider a rental or pre-owned chair.
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