FAQs About Stairlifts

Stairlifts are getting cheaper, better, and more accessible. They can be installed in most homes and there are a variety of options available. If you have limited mobility, they could be just what you need to stay mobile and independent, and you should contact a local dealer to discuss your options as soon as possible. If you still have questions about the process of acquiring, installing, and using a stairlift, take a look at these FAQs.

Are Stairlifts Covered by Medicare?

Although Medicare does help to cover the costs of some necessary medical equipment, it doesn't extend to stairlifts. There are other financial programs that could help, though, and we have covered them below.

Can Stairlifts Be Fitted to Any Stairs?

Manufacturers often claim that that they can be installed into "almost" any staircase, as there are always some exceptions. The price you pay will depend on the difficulty of the installation and the rails and chairs involved. 

For example, users with large a stairway separated by a landing can opt for a curved rail or two straight rails. Although you could assume otherwise, the latter option may be the cheaper one, as curved rails can be difficult to install.

Your safety should always be the top priority, though, and if the landing isn't big enough for a safe transfer, a single curved rail would be better.

How Do You Take a Stairlift Apart?

Stairlifts are complicated and pricy pieces of equipment and should be removed only by trained technicians. If you have to ask this question, there's a good chance that you're not a trained technician!

Contact a specialist company and ask about removing a stairlift for sale or disposal. The process should take a couple of hours and they will outline the costs involved. It's generally not that pricy, but it all depends on your stairs, the manufacturer, and the model.

Who Uses Stairlifts?

Stairlifts, like home modifications in general, are not only for the elderly. That certainly seems to be the target demographic, but anyone who lives in a house with two or more floors can benefit from a stair lift. If you have a long-term illness or disability that causes you to go through a lot of stress, strain, and effort to climb the stairs, you can look into fitting a lift or other home modifications.

Who Buys Stairlifts?

Stairlifts are expensive pieces of medical equipment that often have a limited use. If you live with a parent who has mobility issues, you may have a stairlift fitted, only for it to become an annoying obstacle when they eventually pass away or move into a nursing home. At that point, you can look into selling it to one of the many companies that purchase used stairlifts.

It's quite a big industry and it's getting bigger all the time. Just search for terms like "sell stairlifts in my area" and see what comes up. There are national companies that will offer you cash, state programs that accept donations, and more.

Is a Stairlift Tax Deductible?

If it has been advised by a doctor and is thus deemed "medically necessary" then yes, it should be tax deductible.

What Is a Stairlift Elevator?

A stair lift elevator or home elevator is, as the name suggests, an elevator that is installed in your home. It might not be the most cost-effective option, but it could be safer and more convenient. Look around for offers and see if you can secure any discounts before you complete the purchase.

Can I Get Funding for a Stairlift?

There are grants and assistance programs available to help you cover the costs of purchasing a stairlift, but they have strict eligibility requirements. Speak with your local dealer to see which programs are available and if you can get funding through them or not.

How Much Does It Cost to Rent a Stairlift?

If you only have a short-term need, renting a stairlift might be a more budget-friendly option. The price varies from around $250 to $500 a month depending on your stairs and the brand.

How Much Does a Curved Stair Lift Cost?

The price of a curved stairlift can range from around $7,000 to $15,000. Some brands offer much cheaper, budget options, but it ultimately comes down to the length, width, and curve of your stairs.

How Much Is a Refurbished Stairlift?

A refurbished stairlift could save you up to 50% on a new lift. It will be safety tested, fitted with new batteries, and backed by a warranty. It should be just as safe and secure, but you will ultimately pay much less.

How Wide Do Stairs Have to Be to Fit a Stairlift?

A staircase needs to be at least 32 inches wide to fit most stairlifts, and it will also need to be strong enough to support it. The vast majority of stairways in the United States fit this description.

When Was the Stairlift Invented?

Stairlifts, as we know them today, have been around since the 1920s. A man named C.C Crispen invented a moving chair that he called the "Inclinator" to help his ailing neighbor ascend the stairs. Humans have been living in multi-story homes (and castles) for a lot longer, though, and it's likely that our ancestors also developed their own rudimentary contraptions.

If they did exist, they have been lost to time, but a few notes have survived. For instance, we have reports of a chair that "goeth up and down" being invented for Henry VIII, after a leg wound (and a lot of pies) made it difficult for him to get around his castles and ships. We don't know a great deal about it, but it was likely made from ropes and used to hoist him up and down.

Are Acorn Stairlifts Covered by Insurance?

Most health insurance policies and Medicaid policies will not cover you for the cost of a stairlift, even if you have a doctor's order.

What Are the Best Brands of Stairlift?

There are lots of great brands out there, including Stannah, Ameriglide, Bruno, and Acorn. The "best" will come down to your needs and the benefits that your chosen brand provides, which is why it is important to do your research. 

Why Is My Stairlift Beeping?

Many stairlifts will beep to tell you that they are not being charged. Make sure your stairlift’s seat is situated all the way at the top or bottom and is being charged, otherwise it could cut out at a crucial time.

Are Stairlifts Safe?

An analysis published in 2020 found a frighteningly high mortality rate for stairlift accidents, suggesting that over 15% of these accidents resulted in death. 

It's easy to look at those figures and become alarmed. You would even be forgiven for thinking that stairlifts are dangerous, but that's simply not true.

Accidents can happen and the rate of mortality is quite high when they do, but that's only because the general injury mortality rate is high among seniors. When you're dealing with staircases, it is even higher.

Many of the injuries reported from stairlift use occur when the user climbs on or off. They slip, stumble, and hurt themselves, but the problem generally concerns their mobility and not the quality of the stairlift.

It's also worth noting that the injury rate and mortality rates are significantly higher among seniors who don't use stairlifts and continue to descend and ascend the stairs unaided.

As long as your stairlift is well made and fitted by an expert, you shouldn't have anything to worry about. Simply make sure you deal with any problems that arise and that there are no trip hazards, exposed edges, and other such issues.

Can Stairlifts Turn Corners?

If you need your stairlift to go around corners, it can! They are designed to suit all types of staircases, whether you have a curved staircase or a straight staircase. You may need to pay a little more if you have a long or winding staircase, but they are custom-made and designed specifically for your home.

How Are Stairlifts Powered?

Stairlifts are battery-powered, allowing them to be recharged when they are not in use.

Where Can I Donate a Used Stairlift?

Since staircases are custom designed for individual homes, they can't simply be removed from one stairway and installed in another. However, they are also expensive and if you have one going to waste, you should consider donating it to help someone in need.

Speak with local charities and state charities to see if you can find anyone in need. ALS and Veterans organizations are always in need of equipment like this, and you can also contact the Alzheimer's Association.

How Fast Does a Stairlift Go?

Stairlifts are designed to ascend and descend slowly and comfortably. They are built for speed and will typically cover around 20 to 25 feet per minute.

How Long Do Stairlift Batteries Last?

Depending on their make, model, and the number of times they are used and charged, stairlift batteries can last anywhere from 2 to 5 years. You can buy replacement batteries directly from the manufacturer and although they can be expensive (around $80 to $100), you can find offers and bundles. Rest assured the investment will be worth it, as they will last you for a long time.