Stair Lifts Guide for Seniors

Stair lifts are a common home modification that seniors look to when they are no longer as mobile as they used to be. Stair lifts typically involve a chair placed along a motorized rail that can transfer seniors up and down the stairs of their home. Stair lifts can be expensive but using them can prevent injury and keep your whole home accessible.

Christian Simmons, writer and researcher for RetireGuide
  • Written by
    Christian Simmons

    Christian Simmons

    Financial Writer

    Christian Simmons is a writer for RetireGuide and a member of the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education (AFCPE®). He covers Medicare and important retirement topics. Christian is a former winner of a Florida Society of News Editors journalism contest and has written professionally since 2016.

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  • Edited By
    Lamia Chowdhury
    Lamia Chowdhury, editor for RetireGuide.com

    Lamia Chowdhury

    Financial Editor

    Lamia Chowdhury is a financial content editor for RetireGuide and has over three years of marketing experience in the finance industry. She has written copy for both digital and print pieces ranging from blogs, radio scripts and search ads to billboards, brochures, mailers and more.

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  • Reviewed By Bart Astor
  • Published: July 20, 2022
  • Updated: November 15, 2022
  • 6 min read time
  • This page features 5 Cited Research Articles
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How to Cite RetireGuide.com's Article

APA Simmons, C. (2022, November 15). Stair Lifts Guide for Seniors. RetireGuide.com. Retrieved December 5, 2022, from https://www.retireguide.com/retirement-life-leisure/senior-safety/home-safety/stair-lifts/

MLA Simmons, Christian. "Stair Lifts Guide for Seniors." RetireGuide.com, 15 Nov 2022, https://www.retireguide.com/retirement-life-leisure/senior-safety/home-safety/stair-lifts/.

Chicago Simmons, Christian. "Stair Lifts Guide for Seniors." RetireGuide.com. Last modified November 15, 2022. https://www.retireguide.com/retirement-life-leisure/senior-safety/home-safety/stair-lifts/.

Best Stair Lift Companies for 2022

Stair lifts are very common, so you will have plenty of options as far as what companies to choose from. Factors to consider include price, but also the type of stair lifts sold and how they are put together.

Some companies may only sell modular stair lifts or can’t be built on curved staircases. Several companies stand out above the rest due to their size and reach, their reliability, customer satisfaction and wide range of services.

Stair Lift Costs by Company

CompanyCostTypes Sold
Bruno$3,500 to $12,000+Straight, curved, indoor and outdoor
Stannah$3,400 to $14,000+Straight, curved, indoor and outdoor
Lifeway Mobility$2,200 to $5,000+ or a monthly paymentStraight, curved, indoor and outdoor
Harmar Stairlifts$3,700 to $7,000+Straight, curved, indoor and outdoor
Acorn Stair LiftsPrice varies by quoteStraight, curved, indoor and outdoor
Handicare$2,500 to $15,000+Straight, curved, indoor and outdoor
AmeriGlide$1,999 to $8,000+Straight, curved, indoor and outdoor

Types of Stair Lifts

There are several different types and styles of stair lifts available to seniors. Which one you choose is going to depend on a few factors. This includes the shape and style of the stairs in your home, as well as whether you need the stairs indoors or outdoors.

Remember that more complicated staircases may lead to more expensive stair lifts.

Straight Stair Lifts

Straight stair lifts are by far the most straightforward type and typically the cheapest and easiest to have installed in your home. A straight stair lift is exactly what it sounds like: a rail and chair that travels in a straight line up the stairs.

This type can only be installed on staircases that go straight from one floor to the next. Staircases that turn or have multiple levels will require a curved or modular stair lift.

Curved Stair Lifts

Curved stair lifts are used for staircases that have one or more curves and different levels. These stair lifts can be a lot more expensive since they are more complex and often must be custom-built to the staircase.

It’s more complex than essentially just adding an elevated rail strip to the wall like you would on a straight staircase.

Modular Stair Lifts

Modular stair lifts are similar to curved stair lifts but can be cheaper because they are built with premade parts. Instead of being custom-fitted to the staircase, they are almost put together like a puzzle, fitting pieces so that they match the staircase.

This makes them less expensive and quicker to install, but they may not be as smooth of a ride up and down the stairs or as well-fitted as a custom curved stair lift.

Outdoor Stair Lifts

Many of the larger companies also offer outdoor stair lifts. These can be attached if your house has stairs leading up to the door or if you have a deck or patio with stairs.

Outdoor stair lifts may be expensive because they typically have to be sturdier and more durable than indoor stair lifts due to being subject to the elements such as rain and heat.

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Stair Lift Components and Features

There are several different components and features that make up a stair lift. The actual stair lift itself includes a chair, a rail for the chair to move along and a power source that keeps it running.

Actual features of the stair lift are numerous and can depend on the type you buy. This includes everything from safety features to adjustments and folding parts.

Stair Lift Components

The most noticeable component of the stair lift is the rail itself, which will typically hug the wall along your staircase. Types of rails vary by the stair lift you have.

The chair sits on top of the rail and will be moved along it by the mechanism. The lift is powered by a power source, which is usually a stored battery charge.

This means that the stair lift should retain charge and continue to work for awhile even if power goes out in your home.

Stair Lift Features

Stair lifts can come with many different features, with senior safety typically being the priority. Stair lifts should come with a seatbelt built into the chair to prevent you from falling out while it moves.

Chairs also may be pressure activated, preventing injury by automatically halting the chair while you are getting in and out of it or if you fall out.

Other common features include a remote control to help you move the chair when you need it or stop it if you have to. The chair itself is typically adjustable so you can change things like its height.

Some chairs also come with a foldup footrest that can make your sitting position easier while the chair moves.

Are Stair Lifts Covered by Medicare

Medicare rarely covers items such as stair lifts. This is due to the fact that Medicare’s guiding principle is to cover what is medically necessary and — while stair lifts are convenient and safe — they aren’t exactly a necessity.

But, in some circumstances, Medicare can cover some components of a stair lift. Medicare may pay for some of the cost of the motorized mechanism of a lift if a doctor verifies that you need it.

But the requirements are very strict. You typically have to show that you would be totally immobilized without a chair lift and confined to either a bed or chair.

This isn’t the reason that most people need or use stair lifts. They promote home safety by giving you easy access to your whole house and prevent injuries.

So Medicare would not help with any of the cost or items of a stair lift for most seniors.

Who Should Use Stair Lifts

There are many seniors who can make good use of a stair lift. If you have poor balance or limb issues and bone weakness, then adding a stair lift to your home makes a lot of sense.

Depending on how serious your conditions are, it may be the only way that you can safely navigate your home.

But stair lifts also can be a worthwhile addition for seniors who do not have serious conditions. The simple fact is that the older you get, the harder physically strenuous tasks become.

Even if you still have good balance and relatively strong limbs, you may find that using the stairs takes a lot out of you in your retirement life. If you reach the point where you find yourself deciding against going upstairs or not wanting to use them for a quick task such as grabbing your glasses because of the effort it takes you, then it may be time to consider a stair lift.

Stair lifts have the dual benefit of giving you the ability to go anywhere in your home without issue while also preventing accidents. Taking the stairs especially when you’re not as strong or balanced as you used to be can lead to serious falls and injuries.

Last Modified: November 15, 2022

5 Cited Research Articles

  1. AmeriGlide. (n.d.). AmeriGlide Stair Lifts. Retrieved from https://www.ameriglide.com/AmeriGlide-Stairlifts.htm
  2. Handicare. (n.d.). Stairlifts come in two options: Straight and Curved. Retrieved from https://www.handicareusa.com/advice/
  3. Harmar. (n.d.). Articles. Retrieved from https://www.harmar.com/children-of-aging-parents/stair-lift-prices-cost/
  4. LifeWay Mobility. (n.d.). Stair Lifts – Types, Benefits and Pricing. Retrieved from https://www.lifewaymobility.com/stair-lifts/
  5. Stannah. (n.d.). Stair Lifts. Retrieved from https://www.stannah-stairlifts.com/stairlifts/