Getting a stair lift can boost quality of life for you or a loved one. While a stair lift may seem like a simple addition, it can help you get around your own home. For seniors who struggle with mobility but would like to continue living at home, a stair lift is a must-have for aging with dignity. This is true for both in and out of the home, which means you may need an outdoor stair lift. Let’s go through the best options for outdoor stair lifts, as well as key considerations for getting one.
What are the benefits of stair lifts?
A stair lift means so much more than getting up and down the stairs. It’s a way for seniors to prevent injury, restore their independence and age in place with dignity. As you consider the high price tag of stair lifts, it’s good to remember how they can transform daily living. It may be the right choice to allow your loved one to age in place and ensure safety at home.
Can stair lifts be used outside?
There are several varieties of stair lifts available, including straight, curved, outdoors and custom. An outdoor stair lift looks like an indoor stair lift, but it’s outfitted with weather-proof parts. It may also be foldable so that it fits in the outdoor space. Otherwise, the main mechanisms of the stair lift are the same.
What features does an outdoor stair lift have?
You should be aware that outdoor stair lifts range in quality and traits. As you’re researching stair lifts, you should ask yourself whether it has the following key features:
- Rail type (straight, curved or custom)
- Weight capacity
- Upholstery type
- Foldable seat, rail, footrest, armrest, etc.
- Colors of seat and rail
- Battery life or charger
- Ergonomic controls
- Low noise
- Diagnostic display
- LED lights
- Remote control
- Seatbelt and safety features
- Emergency sensors
- Remote call
Stair lifts can be more complex than you might have thought! They may or may not have all the features listed above. The most important ones to highlight include the rail type, weight capacity, safety features and warranty.
How much do outdoor stair lifts cost?
Outdoor stair lifts vary widely in price, depending on the brand and year. The most affordable option hovers at around $1,500, while others with more features may reach up to $15,000. Generally speaking, a straight stair lift is much cheaper than a curved one.
If you’re on the market for a refurbished or used stair lift, you may be able to save on the initial price. Overall, refurbished stair lifts will save you a couple hundred dollars. This may or may not be a worthwhile investment, because refurbished lifts don’t usually come with warranty.
On the other hand, if you don’t plan on using the stair lift for very long – for example, you have a temporary injury – you might consider a stair lift rental. Rentals usually cost around $250/month, in addition to installation costs and a security deposit. This may be a good option for short-term stair lift use. (You can learn more about top medical equipment rental companies here.)
What other costs are involved in getting a stair lift?
Unfortunately, the price of the stair lift isn’t the only cost. You’ll also have to factor in installment and maintenance costs.
For example, a typical installment costs hundreds of dollars. This will depend on the stair lift company you choose, so be sure to ask before purchase. A dealer will usually inspect the space before completing any installment to avoid error.
At the same time, you have to keep the stair lift maintained over time. This may mean a yearly inspection, or replacing parts throughout the years. This too can be costly.
What else can raise the price of a stair lift?
The price of a stair lift can also increase due to logistical issues. For example, your stair lift may be subject to extra installation costs if these situations apply:
- Your land is especially uneven, steep or curvy.
- You need a higher weight capacity for the lift.
- You want the stair lift to blend in with current home decor.
- You need extra rail footage above standard.
- You need a load-bearing wall for reinforcement.
- An electrical socket is nowhere near the desired stair lift.
- You live in a remote area.
In these cases, you may have to pay more in order to get the stair lift according to your needs.
Are stair lifts covered by Medicare?
Surprising as it may seem, stair lifts aren’t typically covered by Medicare. Medicare does offer “Durable Medical Equipment” coverage for equipment that a doctor prescribes you. (To get coverage, your doctor and supplier must be Medicare-enrolled and prescribe medically-necessary equipment.)
However, in practice, stair lifts are rarely considered medically necessary and often fall under the home modification category. This means seniors are unlikely to get Medicare coverage for stair lifts.
Are stair lifts covered by Medicaid?
You may have better luck with Medicaid, but this will depend greatly on your state of residence. Some states offer waiver programs that cover equipment like stair lifts. You should check with your state’s Medicaid program to find out more.
How else can I pay for a stair lift?
Many seniors end up paying for a stair lift out of their own pockets. However, you might have some other options, including:
- Long-term care insurance: Long-term care insurance will often pay for equipment such as stair lifts. You should check with your insurance provider to find out whether this is covered.
- Area Agencies on Aging (AAA): Contact your local Area Agency on Aging. These organizations sometimes provide relief for seniors who need certain medical equipment.
- VA benefits: If you’re a vet, you may qualify for certain VA benefits. This will depend greatly on whether your medical condition is a result of service or not.
Besides these options, there’s not much else that will cover medical equipment partially or in full. You might try checking with any local nonprofits to see if they offer any assistance.
Is there anyone who should not use a stair lift?
Stair lifts can be used by almost everybody. However, seniors with extremely limited mobility should not use a stair lift. If you or a loved one has a high risk of falling from the chair, it’s not recommended. This is especially true for getting in and out of the stair lift chair. When in doubt, ask your doctor.
Is there an alternative to a stair lift?
Alternatives to stair lifts will depend on the patient. Some mobility aids may include canes or walkers. Some families also choose to transfer the bedroom to the first floor so that there’s no immediate need to go up and down the stairs. If you have plenty of funds, you might also consider a home elevator, though the cost will be much higher than a stair lift.
Best options for outdoor stair lifts
When it comes to purchasing an outdoor stair lift, quality is key. Outdoor stair lifts are more prone to wear-and-tear and opting for a top-tier brand can save you money in the long run. Here are ten outdoor stair lifts that don’t skimp on quality.
This is AmeriGlide’s most affordable outdoor option. No bells and whistles here, but you’ll get an all-weather cover, weather protected component, digital diagnostics display and a standard vinyl seat.
The Deluxe option offers add-ons for an extra price, such as a grocery basket or a locking/calling feature. Otherwise, this model has a higher weight capacity (350 lbs.) and a larger seat (21 inches). It’s also got all-weather covers for the seat and track.
Bruno’s Elite Outdoor Stair Lift is another A+ model. It carries up to 400 lbs., but also has a waterproof cover, outdoor paint seal and an emergency stop.
This model from Bruno is ideal for extreme angles and distances. It’s considered one of the best for curvy tracks. With it you’ll get a track fit to your stair needs, a waterproof cover, outdoor paint seal, an emergency stop – plus extended rail lengths as needed.
Handicare’s 1000 model has a weather-proof surface, all-weather cover and temperature resistance as low as 0 degrees. It also has a diagnostics display and extras such as a smart seat, body harness or powered footrest.
The Handicare 2000 model is curved, making it the perfect choice for complicated outdoor spaces. It also has a higher weight capacity of 300 lbs. and double rail tracks. It boasts of a weather-proof surface, all-weather cover, UV-resistant upholstery and temperature resistance as low as 0 degrees.
Acorn’s 130 Outdoor model has an all-weather cover, waterproof surfaces and can withstand extreme temperatures. It also offers several formats – perch, sit or stand – according to the user’s needs.
Harmar’s outdoor stair lift is designed to withstand extreme temperatures and has weather-resistant features, including an all-weather cover and key locking option.
The Hawle outdoor stair lift can withstand weight up to 330 lbs. In addition, it’s great for steep or curved stairs. It has a fold-and-park feature to save space and a zinc-coated rail for all seasons.
Stannah’s outdoor model is waterproof and UV-resistant. It comes with an all-weather cover and sensors on the track in case of debris. It can withstand extreme temperatures and has a senior-friendly joystick control.
Getting an outdoor stair lift can improve the quality of life for you or a loved one. Now that you can see the benefits of outdoor stair lifts, as well as some top models to choose from, you’re sure to find the right stair lift for your situation.
Interested in more senior products and topics? Check out MyCaringPlan for in-depth senior guides.