Are Chair Lifts Safe For The Elderly Who Live Alone?

According to a study conducted by the Centre For Ageing Research & Education (CARE), Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Singapore has become an aged society (Linton, Gubhaju & Chan, 2018). Other than having a greying population, the reality is that many older Singaporeans live alone. In fact, 9% or nearly 1 in 10 Singaporeans aged 65 or older were found to live alone at the time of the study. This number has been observed to be a on gentle rise year-on-year.

By 2030, the baby boomer generation would have completely reached a seniority age. Combined with declining birth rates since that generation, it is estimated that 1 in 4 Singaporeans would be aged 65 or older. A factor that has greatly enabled this phenomenon is the advancements in healthcare and nutrition that are enabling people to have longer lifespans.

The Dangers of Elderly Living Alone

There many different risks or dangers associated with senior citizens who live alone. This ranges from social challenges to physical risks. In this article, we will be focusing on physical risks, especially for elderly who live in homes or estates with staircases.

For starters, staircases can potentially pose an issue for elderlies due to the range of motion it requires them to perform. As we age, our body starts to exhibit signs of wear and tear. At which point, it can become harder for us to complete what was once a simple task of climbing a flight of stairs.

The Risk of Losing it all

Another question mark posed by staircases is when elderlies suffer from an inaccurate depth perception and visual impairments. While we might be physically capable of climbing a flight of stairs, the alteration of our vision places us at great risk. With less precise eyesight, there is a chance of tripping, falling and suffering a debilitating injury. Bearing in mind that our older bodies are more fragile, prone to serious injuries and take more time to heal.

This anecdote serves to demonstrate the fine line that elderlies walk between full independence and mandatory assistance. While perfectly fine for most of our lives, a slight slip up during our golden years could easily rob us of our independence and mobility.

In order to protect ourselves or our loved ones, there are preventive steps that can be taken, one of which being the installation of a stair lift or chair lift.

Introducing the Stair Lift

While the terms “stair lift” and “chair lift” may not immediately ring a bell, if you had watch the classic Disney Pixar movie “Up”, you would have seen the device in action. In it, the protagonist of the movie, Carl utilised a stair lift to manoeuvre himself up and down his home’s stairs. While being perfectly capable of climbing a flight of stairs, Carl’s usage of a stair lift demonstrates its usefulness as a mobility tool to keep all elderly safe.

Simply put, a stair lift is a motorised chair that brings users up or down stairs. Enabling this transport is a set of rails which serve as a path for the motorised chair while also connecting it to a power source. Its operation is fairly straight forward, simply requiring the user to strap himself or herself to the chair before utilising the controls on it.

Yet, due to the lack of exposure to such a product or the complexity of it, many elderlies are hesitant about installing a stair lift in their homes. Common amongst which are the fears of malfunctions or user issues that would endanger themselves. As such, we will be covering the features that makes stair lifts highly suitable for elderly citizens who live alone.

Stairlift Features for Elderlies

Being a mobility solution, stairlifts are installed with a host of safety and user centric features. These include:

  • Safety straps
  • Press & Hold Operation
  • Failsafe overspeed governor
  • Safety cut-off sensor surfaces
  • Alternate power
  • Ability to remotely call for the motorised chair
  • Seats that swivel

Safety Straps

As mentioned earlier, stair lifts come equipped with safety straps that allow users to secure themselves to the chair. This safeguards them in the event of sudden braking or malfunctions. Furthermore, it eliminates the possibility of the elderly simply slipping off the seat midway through the stairs.

Press & Hold Operation

Stairlifts utilise a press and hold operation control. Users simply need to press and hold the arrow button on the control panel to move the stairlift in the direction that you want.

By virtue of this control panel, the stairlift can be stopped at any time if you release the arrow button. Typically, once paused, the stairlift won’t be able to resume for a few seconds. This too is a safety feature that prevents a jerking motion on your trip.

Failsafe Overspeed Governor

The failsafe Overspeed Governor (OSG) and gear safety device prevents unmanageable descent in the event of a major drive system failure. Without the OSG, should such a failure occur, the chair lift would start an unexpected and instantaneous descent, resulting in a possible crash.

An internal OSG stops the stairlift unit when the speed limitation is exceeded by locking the chair to the rail.

Safety Edges

Safety edges are pressure sensitive safety sensor surfaces that stop the stair lift in the event that they come into contact with an obstacle. Found around the footrest and motor carriage, the safety sensors prevent any possible collision from occurring. Moreover, until the obstacle is removed, the stairlift will not proceed.

Alternate Power

All chair lifts operate using power from a battery found at their base. The system is designed to be connected to a power source at all times. However, should the electricity in the area be cut, the battery would be fully charged and capable of operating the chair lift for a period of time. This serves as an alternate source of power in the event of a blackout, ensuring that the elderly do not simply get stuck in the middle of a staircase.

Ability to Summon the Chair

One of the most commonly asked questions surrounding chair lifts is the possibility of the elderly simply forgetting to use it. Subsequently, once they have reached the other end and wish to use the stair lift to travel back, they fear being stuck on the other side.

To aid in preventing such a scenario, chair lifts are built to be summoned to the user’s position using remote controls. This is especially useful for homes that have more than one stair lift user or which have three or more levels.

Seats which Swivel

The swivel feature of the seats enables the elderly to get on or off the chair while facing away from the stairs. As a safety feature, it prevents them from falling towards the stairs and suffering nasty injuries.

Choose Tai Hee Engineering for Your Stairlift Installation

Tai Hee Engineering Trading Pte Ltd is a leading importer and service provider of the latest technology of accessibility equipment from Europe to Singapore and South East Asia. We provide consultation and installation services of residential & commercial stair lifts and commercial wheelchair lift products.

As one of the leading chair lift companies in Singapore, we offer consultation and installation services that are catered to private homeowners as well as commercial and public areas. We are confident of installing stairlifts in a variety of environments, ensuring that mobility is never compromised for any individual.

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