Written by Stannah 15th October 2018

Ageing in Place: Breaking Down the Barriers

Ageing in place, independently and safely, is what most of us want. But when it comes to make our homes safer, don’t let pride and outdated stigmas about mobility devices keep you from living life to the fullest.

Stannah has put in a lot of work into understanding the ageing process and the essentials for creating senior-friendly spaces and devices. So, we are happy to provide you with some home safety advice to ensure that your home is as safe and comfortable as possible. But we realized that some of our customers were reluctant to admit that they have mobility issues, baulk at the idea of installing a stairlift in their home. “I’m not ready for that yet,” they tell their loved ones. For them, it’s a sign that they’re getting older and becoming less capable of living independently. It’s better to put off confronting these realities until they’re “ready” – at some point off in the distant future. But, if not now, when is the right time? Stannah customers are always telling us how they wish they had made the decision sooner.

While some still fear outdated stigmas, many people are learning to change the way they think about mobility devices, such as stairlifts. For more than 40 years, there has been a continuous effort to turn our stairlifts into a piece of modern assistive technology and not something that reinforces the notion of “disability”. However, while there is still much fear related to the stigma associated with mobility devices, it is not a universal sentiment. After all these years, most stairlift users have come to appreciate the benefits of this assistive device and don’t feel at all self-conscious or embarrassed about having one.

Barriers to Ageing in place

Emotional barrier

Here we discuss some common solutions for ageing in place and the importance of planning ahead. While many consider moving to a new house or relocating to the first floor to get around the stairs, a stairlift is often the most practical choice. But what happens when the person who needs help doesn’t want to accept it?

Most seniors that live at home want their needs met there. But there are a number of common emotional barriers and outdated stigmas associated with the ageing process. So, when they start to lose some abilities and their health deteriorates, it is hard for them to admit the decline in their vitality, energy and mobility. But they start to struggle with a variety of tasks, especially with the stairs. Some will associate the physical exertion of climbing upstairs with a productive workout, but while stair climbing can be beneficial in some cases, for many, the positive gains are dramatically outweighed by the risk of serious injury. A hip fracture can be a life-changing event, accompanied by a dramatic reduction in mobility and a loss of personal independence. While the decision to purchase a stairlift shouldn’t be made out of fear or apprehension, living safely at home should be the priority. Let’s take the example of Mr. Cohen, that could be, in fact, any Stannah’s customer in the world:

We have used our stairlift for the past four months and are very pleased with it. We own a garrison colonial home and my office, bedroom and full bath are on the second floor. With bad knees and lower back, it is so easy to go upstairs now. I wish I had it installed sooner. We would highly recommend the Stannah Stairlift.

Despite their initial trepidations, our customers consistently find that having a stairlift actually allows them to become more independent, while giving their family members added peace of mind. And of course, the stairlift folds away when you’re not using it, so it’s there when you need it and out of the way when you don’t.


The cost of a stairlift and suitability to staircase

One of the most common refrains from those reluctant to install a stairlift, is that it’s “too expensive” or “wouldn’t fit” on their staircase. These assertions are often made without any research or legitimate understanding of the product. Instead, these logistical concerns are a convenient way for seniors to dismiss the idea, without having a genuine conversation about their mobility. In reality, Stannah has a wide range of models that can fit on all sorts of staircases. Whether your stairs are steep, narrow or take several turns, Stannah has an option to suit your needs. Furthermore, with refurbished options available, you won’t have to pay top dollar to obtain a stairlift. When comparing stairlift prices to the financial and emotional toll of remodelling or moving, it’s easy to see that this artificial barrier doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. At the end of the day, no one can (or should) be forced into accepting a stairlift. But, if you’re ageing in place, it’s important to give the idea honest consideration, rather than dismissing it out of hand.

Advice to live independently and safely at home

No one should feel embarrassed about addressing their mobility issues, but we can never talk enough about our safety or the safety of our loved ones, regardless of whether they live in a house or in a residential building. Therefore, here is some advice of the details to consider when ageing in place.

Try making a checklist based on the following tips:

  • Keep a fire extinguisher and smoke detector on every floor.
  • Remove electrical or telephone cords from high traffic areas.
  • Avoid using slippery wax on floors.
  • Use proper footwear.
  • Wipe up spills promptly.
  • Avoid standing on ladders or chairs.
  • Use only non-glare 100 watt or greater incandescent bulbs.
  • Make sure that all staircases have good lighting with switches at the top and bottom.
  • Make sure that staircase steps should have a non-slip surface.
  • Have sturdy rails for all stairs inside and outside the house or consider purchasing a stairlift.
  • Store heavier objects at waist level.
  • Arrange furniture to give you plenty of room to walk freely.
  • Skid-proof the tub and make sure the bath mat has a non-slip bottom.
  • Properly place grab bars in your tub and shower, and next to the toilet, to help avoid falls.
  • Avoid wearing long, loose clothing when cooking over the stove.

Much of this advice is easy to forget, especially when we’re busy with our daily routines. But like with any important decision, it’s best to get all of the pertinent information, before deciding what the right choice is for you and your family. Stannah has been in business for over 150 years and has the experience and expertise to enable you to age in place safely. If you’re thinking that a stairlift might be an option for you, you can contact us for free information and advice, without obligation.