Many people are familiar with the concept of a stairlift with a chair, to help people move up and down staircases safely. But what if you can’t bend your legs easily? Not only would you find it difficult to navigate the stairs themselves, but you might have trouble even getting onto a stairlift seat.
Don’t despair if you’re someone with leg or hip flexibility issues. You can also enjoy the freedom and independence a stairlift provides – with a standing stairlift.
This is also called a “perch” stairlift, which might give you a hint as to how it works. A standing or perch stairlift doesn’t have a seat – it has a small platform or “perch” at standing height. You can rest in a standing position as you move up and down the stairs. It also has armrests at standing height, for extra balance and safety.
You can easily step onto the low foot platform, put your arms on the armrests, and travel smoothly up and down your staircase without having to maneuver onto a low chair seat. This innovative lift can be adapted for straight or curved stairs, just like a standard stairlift.
It’s also a great option if you have a very narrow staircase that can’t accommodate the 27-29” that a chair lift with a seat requires.
Who Needs a Standing Stair Lift?
If you have one or more of the following conditions, a standing lift will work for you.
People with joint stiffness from arthritis, gout or other ailments, people who had or are planning to have hip or knee surgery, and amputees can all benefit from a perch stairlift. You barely have to bend at either hip or knee joints to step onto the lift.
A standing stairlift has a very slimline profile. If your set of stairs is narrow, or if you just want a smaller lift that is unobtrusive, then this is a good choice.
Many people simply prefer to stand on a lift, instead of sitting down. Remember that you always have the option to rest on the platform, if you feel the need. You don’t need to stand unassisted for the time the lift takes to get to the next level.
Standing stairlift features
Depending on your specific needs and preferences, there are a few things to consider when you’re looking for a lift.
The lift should feature a brake that prevents it from running into someone or something on the stairs. Some models have sensors that automatically stop the lift, while others operate manually. Something to consider if you have pets who like to sleep on the stairs!
Adjustable seating platform
The platform or perch of the lift should be adjustable to suit the height of the user.
A standing stairlift will feature a backrest, as well as the seat platform. For this reason, you can’t have artwork or any other obstructions on the wall on the side of the staircase that your lift is installed.
Safety barrier arm
As you’ll be moving in a standing position, you want to feel as secure as possible. A safety barrier arm will prevent you from falling off the lift.
Folding armrests and footrest
The arms and footrest of the lift should be able to fold away easily, to maximize your space and help your staircase stay neat and tidy. This is important for many people who live at home with a partner or other family members, who use the stairs normally.
Some standing stairlift models have an attachment between the footrest and the arms of the lift. When you lift the armrest, the footrest lifts up as well. This is convenient for people who don’t want to have to bend down to foot level. If you are concerned that you won’t have the strength to lift an armrest, there are models with powered raisers that operate at the touch of a button.
Your stairlift should have a seat belt, to help you stay balanced and secure. As many stairlift users have dexterity concerns, these seat belts are generally designed to be easy to fasten and unfasten.
Depending on your particular staircase layout, the rails of the lift might have to extend through a doorway or into a walkway area. Folding or hinged rails can be moved away from these areas when the stairlift is not in use.
Due to the angles and forces that a standing lift is subjected to, many models are not suitable for users who weigh over 280 pounds.
Most stairlifts are either AC or DC powered. If your neighborhood generally has a stable power situation, an AC lift should be fine. If you live in an area with frequent power outages, a more expensive DC powered stairlift is a better option. A DC stairlift has a rechargeable battery backup, which will make sure you don’t get trapped on the staircase if there’s an outage.
Standing Stair Lift Prices
Standing stairlifts tend to cost more than seated straight stairlifts, but not as much as curved stairlifts. This is because the standing lift has various additional safety features to give you balance and stability in a standing position.
Just like a stairlift that incorporates a chair, the cost of a standing or perch stairlift depends on the layout of your staircase. If your home has straight stairs numbering around 12-14 steps, a new stairlift will cost from $2,000 to $5,000.
Prices for curved stairlifts usually start at around $8,000 and can go up to over $14,000. This is the price range you can expect for most reputable models. Reputable brands that can install a standing stairlift include Acorn, Bruno, Handicare, Harmar, Hawle, and Stannah.
There’s no need to feel trapped downstairs, no matter what your mobility level or size of your staircase! A standing stairlift is a great option if you have flexibility issues in your legs or hips, or a staircase narrower than 29”. If the cost of a stairlift is giving you second thoughts, you should consider the cost of the alternatives. You could move out of your multi-story home into a single-story home or a care facility – but this is just not an option for some. After all, the concept of aging comfortably at home shouldn’t have to include a physically and emotionally taxing move. So why not look at installing a stairlift, if it means staying in your beloved home.