Lifts and Elevators for Elders
Elevation mobility aids require planning
By Marion Somers, PhD
Some elders require the aide of a handicapped elevator, both in the home and when going out.
You have to plan ahead if your elder requires the help of a handicapped elevator when going out in public. Call ahead of time to make sure the elevator is in good working order. Also, determine if it needs a key to be operated and be sure that an operator will be available with the key.
Many things can potentially go wrong if you don't call ahead of time, You may find a sign next to the elevator that says to call the operator, but there is no phone or phone number. There might be an arrow pointing you to a buzzer to call for help, and then nobody answers the call. Or, they might answer the call, but then they have no idea where the key to operate the elevator is, or the person who has the key is at lunch or on vacation. I've heard all of the excuses.
Stairway lifts and porch elevators are crucial if your elder needs help getting up and down stairs while in the home. Many companies offer ergonomically designed stair lifts that ascend and descend three floors or more. If you are buying a home and know there will be a special needs person moving in, you should take these needs into consideration.
You also need to know how to operate the equipment if it gets stuck. This includes how to start and restart it, and make it go back up and down. Keep the contact information for the installers or service contract person handy in case there is a problem. You might have to remove your elder mid-stairway in a safe manner if there's a breakdown. This needs to be discussed beforehand just like you'd discuss any disaster exit strategy.
A version of this blog appeared on Dr. Marion's Web Site.
Published June 20, 2012