Date: November 20, 2020

Author: Kathleen Boziwick

Moving your mom from her home isn’t ideal. She doesn’t want to move, but her house isn’t on one level. Yet, her doctors and physical therapists all agree that she’s going to need a wheelchair for the rest of her life. You’re torn. You don’t want to stress or upset your mom, but you cannot see her managing in her home without some major changes.

What do you do when your mom’s house isn’t set up with a main level bedroom? She needs to be able to get up the stairs to a bedroom. She has the money available, but you’re torn between a stair lift or an elevator. Which is best?

Things to Know About Stair Lifts

Stair lifts contain a motorized seat and a track that attaches to the side of the stair and walls. Your mom sits on a platform, uses the controller, and the chair slowly moves up or down the staircase. At the top or bottom of the stairs, the track comes to stop on the level flooring.

For a stair lift to work effectively, there needs to be enough space at the top and bottom of the stairs for a wheelchair. Your mom also needs to be able to move from her wheelchair onto the stair lift’s seat and vice versa. She’s likely going to need a senior care aide to help her with these transfers.

A stair lift costs a couple thousand dollars, and there are installation costs to also consider. The average cost covers a range of $2,000 to $5,000 for a straight staircase. If your mom’s staircase curves, it will drive up the cost.

Another factor to consider is that your mom may have multiple staircases. If she has a tri-level home, she needs more than one stair lift. The cost may be too much for her to afford.

Finally, what will future buyers think of the stair lift? It might be a negative selling point. You might have to have it removed and the walls patched before you could sell her home.

Things to Know About Elevators

Installing an elevator is a time-consuming, expensive project. Elevators are a positive in that buyers won’t avoid buying a home with an elevator. Some buyers would find it appealing for moving furniture.

There are a lot of components to installing an elevator though. You have to have an architect look over the home, find a suitable space, and come up with a design. The plans might need to be approved by the town or city zoning board. You end up having to pay for permits, architect’s fees, and installation fees. You also have to pay for the elevator.

Hire Caregivers Instead

Consider a third option. Turn a living room and kitchen area into a suite. If someone needs to go upstairs or downstairs to clean, have senior care aides help around the house.

With a senior care aide, your mom could have a caregiver going upstairs to clean and make sure all is well on other floors. Her caregiver could run errands and pick up groceries and supplies. She lives on one floor and avoids having to move somewhere else.

Date: November 20, 2020