Straight vs. Curved Stairlifts: Which Do I need?

March 19, 2018

curved straight stairlift

It’s never been more evident why the baby boomer generation has been called such. Approximately 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day. What’s more? 10,000 will continue to turn 65 each day for at least the next decade!

Of that cohort, 90% have expressed interest in living in their own home for as long as they can. And who wouldn’t want to? Grabbing a snack from your own refrigerator, bathing in your own tub, watching television on your own TV. Who would want to leave to live and take on the burden of living with strangers or have the burden of moving costs to even downsize. Beyond that, a home is choc full of memories that have been made over a lifetime. That’s why more and more are looking to age in place.

From grab bars to ramps, stairlifts are quickly becoming the go-to choice for aging in place. Stairlifts (or stair glides, chair lifts, stair chairs…) provide users the independence to access all levels of their home while also reducing the risk of falling down the stairs, which can unfortunately pose tragic or fatal outcomes. Heck, stair lifts can even be used for helping you get groceries into the house or laundry baskets down to the basement. Many feel stable enough to climb the stairs, but when you add carrying a bundle and suddenly lose access to the handrails, that’s a different story.

Okay, so you’re convinced. But, which one do you need? Straight or curved? Don’t all steps just go up and down?

Straight Stairlifts

straight stairlift xclusiveIn simplest terms, straight stair lifts do just that – they go straight up and down, in parallel with your stairs. They are best suited for staircases that have no turns, bends or landings. Each track is cut to size based on your staircase height (or number of steps).

Sounds easy enough, right?

While some manufacturers keep it as simple as that, Handicare offers a variety of straight lift options, so you can decide whether you want to keep it basic or add on all the bells and whistles. Some of these bells and whistles include the ability to swivel your seat toward the landing once you reach the top. This ensures you are getting on and off your lift walking toward the landing and away from the stairs. Without a swivel option, you are forced to dismount near the edge of the stairs.

Other accommodations include the ability to automatically fold up the footrest. Not only does this provide more space on the stairs for other users (besides keeping it neatly tucked away when not in use), but the powered feature ensures that users don’t have to bend down to fold it up and out of the way. For many, bending down isn’t even a possibility; but for those stubborn ones who think they can still handle the simple task are again, putting themselves at risk of falling down the stairs.

Curved Stairlifts

curved stairlift freecurve 1Okay, now that we have a thorough understanding of straight stairlifts I’m sure we can guess what a curved stair lift is! However, beyond just going around stairs that bend (think: spiral staircases), these custom-built lifts also help with other architectural issues. For example, my staircase goes straight for about 13 steps, has a mini landing, then goes up another three. At first glance, you may think you would use two straight stairlifts (keep reading to learn why this isn’t the ideal option). But by installing a curved unit, I can go up my stairs in one continuous movement.

Sometimes the staircase is straight, but you can’t keep the lift parked on the staircase, even with the seat, foot and armrest folded. Curved lifts allow you to bend the track in any direction needed so you can safely park it out of the way, thereby optimizing space and safety.

It should be noted that not all curved lifts are built the same. Some manufacturers use modular pieces that they put together like a puzzle to fit your staircase. Unfortunately, since not all homes are built the same, the track may be wider than you need and not lay flush against the staircase. It also means a bumpier ride as you go over the joints where the pieces are bolted together.

Conversely, Handicare builds the stairlift specifically for your home, ensuring it fits tight like a glove. Curves are tighter to take up less space on your staircase and there are plenty of “bells and whistles” to add on as desired – from the gentle stand assist option (Active Seat) to the Turn and Go feature for narrow stairs. Using a proprietary photo survey system, your installer takes 3D images of your staircase to not only ensure a tailor-made solution, but also provides you an upfront look at what it will look like once installed in your home. This allows you to visualize the lift and make any changes before you buy!

Can’t I just use two straights instead of a curve?

As I mentioned earlier, my staircase is divided into two straight sections with a landing in between. It may seem that the easiest choice would be to install two straight stair lifts on those two straight sections. Structurally possible? Yes. The safest solution? No. If I am using a chair lift to assist me in getting up and down the stairs, then getting off mid-way probably isn’t the wisest decision. In my home, my landing comes after it’s already traversed 13 stairs making it a long way down should I fall while trying to jump off one lift to hop onto another. Personally, it’s not worth the risk of falling back down 13 stairs just because two straight stair lifts seems like an easier solution. Heck, I’m not installing it – doesn’t make a difference to me!

Can I get outside?

Of course! Stair lifts are not an indoor-only solution. Outdoor models are available for both straight and curved chairlifts. Many users add these lifts to get up to their front door with groceries or down to a patio for family get-togethers. Living independently doesn’t mean you’re reserved to inside your home only!

Want to learn more? Speak to one of our mobility experts today! Call 888-637-8155 or request a callback.


Source: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2010/12/29/baby-boomers-retire/, www.aarp.org 

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