Stair safety and dementia is a big concern for many families living with a diagnosis. As a stairlift company in Liverpool, we meet a lot of families affected by a diagnosis of dementia and recognise that staying at home, in a familiar setting, is of vital importance to the individual. Supporting the independence of the person living with dementia is not only crucial to their well-being but can help to manage the symptoms of the disease.
By understanding dementia and the needs of each individual family, we work together to ensure we’re providing the best advice we can to find the most suitable solutions for you, so that people living with dementia can stay at home safely for as long as possible.
WHAT IS DEMENTIA?
Dementia happens because of changes to the brain caused by disease, for examples Alzheimer’s disease or recurrent strokes. These diseases result in a common set of symptoms such as memory loss or problems with thinking and problem solving which can make day to day life challenging, confusing, and sometimes frightening.
The type symptoms, and the extent of them, varies from individual to individual, but there is professional, charitable, and community support available to help manage the symptoms and reduce the impact on daily activities.
HOW CAN DEMENTIA AFFECT MOBILITY?
Because there are different causes of dementia, people are likely to show different symptoms in different combinations. Here we’ve put together some common symptoms related to dementia that could affect getting around the house safely:
Vision and perception: In some cases, dementia can affect a person’s ability to interpret the things they see. From having difficulty judging how far away and object is to struggling to distinguish between an object and its surroundings, problems with visual perception in dementia can affect how confidently a person can navigate their home, including the stairs.
Co-ordination: Changes to physical co-ordination are called apraxia. Apraxia occurs when messages from the brain to the muscles of the body are interrupted or distorted. Which can make even a simple sequence of actions, like placing one foot in front of the other to walk, can become a complicated challenge.
Weakness: If a person is diagnosed with vascular dementia, then they may experience weakness and paralysis in their limbs due to small but frequent strokes, leading to restricted movement. This weakness may result in losing control over fine motor movements, like writing with a pen, or gross movements, like lifting an arm or leg. Reduced movement can affect balance, leaving an individual at greater risk of falls.
Slow, stiff movements: Dementia can result in ‘parkinsonism’. This doesn’t mean the person has Parkinson’s disease but rather shares similar symptoms, such as tremor, stiffness, and slowness of movements. This inability to move reactively or quickly can pose I higher risk of tripping due to a shuffled walking style, or prevention from falling.
CAN PEOPLE WITH DEMENTIA USE A STAIRLIFT?
Stair safety and dementia is an absolute priority. Individuals living with dementia will be assessed on their ability to use the stairlift independently and with support, with consideration given their current presentation. Dementia presents differently at different stages so stairlift usage may need to be reviewed routinely should concerns arise.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I CAN TO DO MAKE STAIRS AT HOME SAFER?
If you would like to minimise risks related to climbing the stairs for yourself or a loved one, we’ve put together some practical suggestions that should help to increase stair safety:
Remove tripping hazards: Don’t leave things like shoes or bags on the hallway floor, or items on the stairs or landing that someone could trip over. Secure carpets and remove rugs.
Reduce the need for trips upstairs: Bring commonly used items downstairs reducing the frequency of visits upstairs and reserving stair climbing or stairlift use for essential journeys, like going to bed, only.
Improve the visibility of the stairs: You might want to consider options for make each step stand out to help with visual difficulties. Adding a bright durable tape to the edge of each step could help someone to approach the stairs with more confidence, and less hesitation.
Add a ramp or stairlift to external steps: If you have stairs that provide access to the outside of the property, adding a ramp or installing an external stairlift could be a helpful solution.
Improve lighting: Adding brighter lights at the top and bottom of the stairs will help to improve the visibility of the stars, or stairlift controls.
Add handrails and bannisters: An affordable option, handrails and bannisters give more opportunities to reach out and grab support in the instance of a fall.
Halton Stairlifts will never recommend a stairlift to any customer if we feel that it is not a safe or suitable option for them, and we’re happy to provide a no-obligation quote to anyone curious about installing a stairlift. If you’re concerned about stair safety and dementia, speak to the team on 0800 644 7766 to find out whether a stairlift is the best solution for you.
For many individuals and families, thinking about ‘when is the right time to buy a stairlift?’ becomes a practical consideration of aging. A decrease in mobility doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of growing older; however, many older people may be struggling unnecessarily in their daily lives due to an unexpected illness, injury, or frailty that contributes to reduced mobility. Recent statistics show that people can be put off installing adaptations until they reach crisis point, but reaching out for assistance earlier in life can help to prevent accidents, give families extra peace of mind, and limit the impact on life at home.
WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME TO BUY A STAIRLIFT?
With UK citizens in their 70’s and 80’s being more active than ever before, the nation’s hospitals are seeing more and more elderly injuries, with 1 in 10 resulting in life-threatening or incapacitating consequences. The percentage of people who have difficulty with at least one activity of daily living, such as basic routine activities like eating, bathing, and dressing, increases dramatically from 16% at age 65 to around half of those aged 85.
One of the biggest issues for aging people in their homes is mobility and specifically the ascent and descent of stairs. Climbing stairs can cause continued strain on the aging, particularly those suffering joint and hip problems such as arthritis. For many, the onset and development of these symptoms can make getting to the second floor of their home seem like an insurmountable feat. Preparing for the worsening of such chronic conditions through making home adaptations gives the individual a sense of control and assurance.
Adaptations made early ensure that people can retain their independence for longer, stay safe at home as well as manage their conditions better. Stairlifts have been proven to prevent injuries by up to 58% and prove invaluable for those living alone who may be unable to raise an alarm should they slip or fall in their home.
For people with mobility issues, a modern stairlift can be crucial for maintaining independence in a much-treasured home. Struggling up and down stairs doesn’t have to be an inevitability – with a stairlift, it’s possible to move to each level of the home with ease.
BOOST YOUR WELLBEING
Affirmed by The Centre for Aging Better’s report, living in a suitable home is crucially important to a good later life. The right home environment can maintain or improve people’s physical and mental health, wellbeing and social connections, enabling them to carry out day-to-day activities safely and comfortably and help them do things that are important to them. This, in turn, boosts confidence, gives independence to do tasks alone and prevents feelings of helplessness.
The installation of a stairlift not only benefits the individual but their family too, knowing that their loved one has a home equipped to keep them safe is a massive relief. The installation of a home stairlift can enhance a feeling of freedom and comfort as we grow older, making living at home for longer a reality.
Forward planning in the home is key to preserving independence, boosting mental wellbeing, and increasing safety, allowing you to settle into the joys of later life with ease.
If you, or someone you know, think that the addition of a stairlift would add to your quality of life or want more information on when is the right time to buy a stairlft, then speak to an experienced member of the Halton Stairlifts team who can offer clear and honest advice to help you decide whether a new or reconditioned stairlift is the best option for you.
Stairlifts and heart disease. They might not be the first thought that crosses your mind following a heart attack, but home adaptations like stairlifts can bring great benefits to heart patients. It’s estimated that in the UK, one person every seven minutes has a heart attack, with 20,000 new cases of angina and 25,000 new cases of heart failure diagnosed every year. Heart conditions can include angina, heart attack, heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms, as well as congenital and inherited heart conditions.
The symptoms of heart conditions can vary significantly from patient to patient, however, throughout recovery and rehabilitation, treatment and therapy heart patients, and their family and carers can access support to make everyday life easier to manage. The British Heart Foundation is a great source of information.
Receiving a diagnosis of heart disease can be shocking and upsetting, but there is support available for individuals and carers, including guidance and grants for home adaptations and modifications that will help to improve access and reduce physical and care demands.
A common consequence of heart disease is increased breathlessness even with minimal exertion. Climbing the stairs calls for a moderate level of physical exertion, and can result in breathlessness, placing additional strain on the heart. Always follow medical advice, but attempting to use stairs for as long as it is practical and made safe is often recommended as a way to maintain mobility and muscle function.
However, there may come a point when climbing the stairs becomes too much of a struggle. Most stairlift providers, like Halton Stairlifts, offer a no-obligation assessment of your stairwell to check the potential for installing a stairlift and to make recommendations for the most suitable stairlift for each individual.
Risk of falls
Stairs are one of the most common locations for a fall, particularly for individuals with a heart disorder. Following a cardiac event like a heart attack, many people experience light-headedness and feeling of weakness on climbing, however descending the stairs can also present difficulties. In addition to considerations like handrails and a second banister, stairlifts and heart disease may be the best combination and the best solution to help reduce the risk of falling and injury on the stairs.
After a heart disease diagnosis, one of the biggest issues to affect individuals is the impact on mental health. Affecting confidence and self-esteem, it is important for individuals to maintain as much control over their independence for as long as possible. Being able to access a second-storey bathroom or bedroom to complete everyday and personal tasks could help to restore confidence and prevent the onset of depression or anxiety.
No need to move
Living with heart disease can also bring uncertainty and change, with many families taking a house move into consideration to find accommodation that eliminates the need for climbing the stairs, such as a small bungalow or a dwelling equipped for downstairs living. But the emotion, expense, and upheaval of moving house can be avoided with the installation of a stairlift. Cheaper and no need to pack up your belongings, a stairlift can mean staying in the home you love for longer.
Stairlifts and heart disease: Getting the right support
If you are, or someone you know is, living with heart disease and think that the addition of a stairlift would be a great benefit, adding to quality of life, then speak to an experienced member of the Halton Stairlifts team who can offer clear and honest advice to help you decide whether a new or reconditioned stairlift is the best option for you.
Stairlift costs can vary depending on the scope of the installation and unit. When buying a stairlift on a budget, the additional expense can present some challenges. When considering the cost of a stairlift, it’s also important to think about the value it would add to your lifestyle. From accessing more rooms in your home to ensuring you can go upstairs safely, the benefits having a stairlift often outweigh the initial financial outlay.
Taking the pressure off stairlift costs
At Halton Stairlifts, we’ve also put together some ideas to help you when you need buy a stairlift:
Saving in advance
If you start to spot signs that you may need some extra help climbing the stairs in future, you may wish to start saving a little money each month. If you are in the position to do so, putting a little money aside to go towards stairlift costs can soon start to add up. The money you’ve saved could reduce any financial strain when the time comes.
Buy a reconditioned stairlift unit
A reconditioned stairlift is a stairlift that has been owned previously but has been fully serviced. These pre-loved units are fully operational and sold in excellent resale condition. If you are buying a stairlift on a budget, you can make some savings by purchasing a reconditioned stairlift unit, saving around £500 in comparison to buying a brand new unit.
O% lower interest payments
If you’d prefer to buy a new stairlift, or would like further assistance buying a reconditioned stairlift, Halton Stairlifts offer reduced payment schemes to allow you to spread payments over a fixed term. Spreading your payments helps to relieve the pressure of finding a lump sum, particularly in unexpected circumstances.
Look out for deals and discounts
Throughout the year stairlift suppliers offer seasonal sales or promotional discounts. Look out for stairlifts at bargain prices in the January or Summer sales. It can also be worth using social media to find out about latest deals and offers as they arise. You can find Halton Stairlifts on Facebook here.
Support with equipment grants
Your local council can often provide financial support to those who meet the criteria and qualify for equipment grants. This can vary from region to region. Check your eligibility with your local social care team or visit www.gov.uk. A grant will help you to buy equipment that will improve your living arrangements and help you to get around the house easily and safely. Chronically ill or disabled people may also apply for total exemption on the VAT costs of installing a stairlift for domestic or personal use. You can find out more information here.
At Halton Stairlifts, new stairlifts are available from only £1,795, and reconditioned stairlifts from just £1,195. We also offer a low-interest payment option, so you can manage the cost of your stairlift over several months. If you want to find out how much a stairlift is likely to cost in your area, use our quick quote wizard to receive a competitive quote. Contact the team for an informal chat to see how we can help with your stairlift costs.