Monthly Archives: August 2014

How to Choose the Right Stair Lift

How to choose a stair lift

At first, choosing a stair lift for your home may seem like a difficult task. With so many makes and models out there, how do you know which stair lift is right for you? Consider these factors to make sure you’re choosing the right option for you:

First, make sure you have the correct measurements for your staircase. You can easily measure your stairs to help choose a stair lift.

  1. The most important measurement is the overall length of your staircase, which is determined by standing at the top of your stairs, extending the tape measure so that it’s laying on all the stair treads and the end of the tape measure is touching the landing at the bottom of the stairs.
  2. Next, measure from the edge of the top step to the edge of the bottom step. Then, measure the width of your staircase, as well as the length from the bottom step to a wall or door at the bottom of the steps if you have one.
  3. Finally, measure the rise of one step, the tread of one step, and the diagonal of one step so that we can preset the seat angle of your stair lift at the factory. For more information on measurements and visual guidelines, check out our stair lift measuring guide.

When considering the measurements of your stair lift, make sure you take into account the weight capacity of the stair lift chair in relation to how much the user weighs. Home Access Products currently has stair lift chairs with weight capacities of 250, 300, 375, 400, and 500 pounds.

If your stairs have a turn or a landing in the middle of two staircases, you can still buy and install a stair lift. For a completely curved stair lift that travels continuously around corners, your stair lift installation may require a custom job. If your stairs have a turn, you may be able to install two separate straight star lifts that break where the middle landing is- a home project that may seem daunting but that can be done in eight easy steps with a few hours of work and a few simple tools. If you’re uncomfortable installing a stair lift on your own, we are also available for a home stair lift installation.

The Difference Between AC and DC Stair Lifts

One aspect of stair lift chairs that you may be unclear on is the difference between Alternating Current (AC) and Direct Current (DC) stair lifts. AC stair lifts are powered by the house’s electric current; once they’re plugged in, they’re ready for usage. While they are usually a little louder than DC models and have tracks that take up more space, AC lift models are ideal for places like churches or offices that may get a lot of use in short periods of time.

DC stair lift models, on the other hand, have a pair of 12 volt batteries that power the stair lift as moves up and down the stairs. The parking areas at the top and bottom of the stairs have recharge points to keep the batteries powered. DC models are generally quieter and smoother than AC models, with thinner tracks that blend in well with the household décor.

Aging at home becomes a lot easier with a stair lift in your loved one’s home, allowing them to stay in the same home they currently live in without worrying about moving from one floor to the other. These guidelines will help you choose the right stair lift for your home. Have more questions? Give us a call and we’ll be happy to answer them for you and help you find the right stair lift for aging at home.

Five Ways to Plan for Aging at Home

Five steps to help you plan for aging at home

According to a 2010 survey by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), nearly 75% of respondents (all of whom were aged 45 and older) strongly agreed with the statement “what I’d really like to do is stay in my current residence for as long as possible.” But in order for your loved ones to age at home comfortably, planning ahead is a must. Here are five steps to plan for your parents aging at home:

1. Have a frank talk with your parents. Although it may be uncomfortable, take time to sit down with your parents and have an open, honest discussion about how they want to approach aging. Being on the same page will make the planning process easier, and it will help you avoid uncertainty and even tougher decisions later on. Make sure you cover topics such as whether your parents have a will, what they would like to do if they can’t live on their own, who their doctors are and how to reach them, and how much money they can allocate to aging comfortably. The hardest part is broaching the subject, but doing so will make both you and your parents feel better afterwards.

2.  Evaluate the home. Is your parents’ home currently safe for aging at home? For example, are all bedrooms and bathrooms on an upper level of the house? Are countertops at normal height, or are they lowered so that someone in a wheelchair can reach them? Are all areas of the house well-lit? Are hallways and doorways wide enough for power wheelchairs and walkers? Refer to our Blueprint for a Wheelchair Accessible Home for recommended dimensions for doorways, hallways, and even kitchen table specs.

Examining the house with a fine-tooth comb will make planning for aging at home a much more manageable job. For help with the planning and home modification process, consider enlisting the help of a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS), a home builder who’s specially trained to analyze a homeowner’s needs and plan for modifications that are both functional and attractive.
 
3. Consider your support system and the surrounding community. Will you be assuming primary care for your aging parents, or do you have siblings and other family members nearby who are able to pitch in? Does your family belong to a religious center or other community program that will help with meals, transportation, and other caregiving? Are your parents’ doctors and pharmacies nearby? While you may initially be confident in your ability to care for your parents single-handedly, having others to rely on will help you fight stress if other areas of your life (such as your job or your own family) start to require more time and attention.
 
Your aging parents will also benefit from being part of a local community, whether it’s a book club or a light aerobics class at a nearby YMCA. Choosing to age at home shouldn’t mean that they’re isolated, and helping facilitate social interactions will help improve your parents’ morale.
 
4. Make a budget. Having a financial plan for aging at home can diffuse stress and conflicts before they even start to arise. Outline a realistic plan for how much home modifications, in-home care, and more will cost, and stick to the budget so that everyone involved is comfortable with the amount of money being spent on aging at home. Make sure to check and see if your parents are eligible for any benefits; while Medicare doesn’t cover many aging at home modifications, some programs may be able to help in different areas.
 
5. Purchase any aging at home devices and make home modifications. From stair lifts to bathtub lifts, mobility scooters to portable ramps, there are aging at home products to help with anything you may need so that your parents can age at home comfortably. Also, making home modifications before you actually need them- for example, installing a stair lift before your parent is unable to move between floors- will ensure that you’re prepared for your parents’ future.
Above all, make sure to maintain an open dialogue between you and your parents to facilitate the aging at home process. While it’s an uncomfortable topic to discuss, planning ahead will reassure both you and your parents, and you’ll all feel more prepared for the future by planning smartly. If you have further questions, call us today and we’ll help you devise a strategy for helping your parents age at home comfortably.

How to Choose the Right Bath Lift

How to choose a bathtub lift

When your loved one is aging at home, one of the most important areas to modify is the bathroom. Aging adults will want to maintain their privacy and independence in this area of the home, and buying and installing a bath lift can make this possible.

If this is your first time buying a bathtub lift, you may have some questions about the process. Here’s how to choose the right bathtub lift for aging at home.

1. Measure your bathtub to determine what size lift you should buy. Measure the bathtub’s depth, width, and length to determine which size of bathtub lift will fit in your bathtub. Take into consideration the user’s weight and make sure that the bathtub lift you order will accommodate the needed capacity.

2. Think about what kind of installation you’ll be able to complete. Some bathtub lifts may require a professional installation; the bathtub lifts from Home Access Products can be assembled and installed in less than ten minutes and without any tools. Furthermore, they use suction cup attachments to hold the lift in place while in use; therefore, make sure that the surface of your bathtub is compatible with suction cups. Some textured surfaces may not be compatible with a suction cup; the surface must be flat and non-porous.

3. Consider how you want your bathtub lift to be powered. Bathtub lifts are either water powered or battery powered; water powered bath lifts raise the bather by filling and draining water in a bladder under the seat portion of the lift, while battery powered bathtub lifts use rechargeable batteries to lift and lower the seat. Most battery powered bathtub lifts will not lower unless they have enough battery power to raise up again, so regular charging is recommended for reliable use. Some, such as the Bathmaster Deltis Bath Lift with Blue Cover and Premium Charger, allow approximately six lifts from one full charge and can be fully recharged in just one hour.

4. Think about whether you’ll need any additional accessories for your bathtub lift. For example, will the bather need a transfer device to get to the middle of the bathtub lift seat? Does your bathtub lift have a padded backrest and seat? Will you need any extra batteries or a headrest? Consider these extras before you make your final decision about which bathtub lift to purchase.

One thing you may be curious about is the difference between bathtub lifts and walk-in bathtubs. At Home Access Products, we recommend bathtub lifts instead of walk-in bathtubs for several reasons:

1. Bathtub lifts are much cheaper than walk-in bathtubs- a bathtub lift will start at around $350, while a walk-in bathtub can cost around $2,200- which doesn’t even include any of the necessary bathroom remodel costs.

2. Bathtub lifts are more convenient because the bather is able to get into a bathtub full of warm water, rather than having to get in, wait for the tub to fill up, bathe, and then wait for the water to drain before exiting.

3. Bathtub lifts are also portable (you can bring them when traveling or when staying with friends and family), and if you plan on eventually selling your home, you’ll be able to easily remove the bathtub lift for showings, whereas a walk-in bathtub may be a deterrent to potential home buyers.

Whether you have a parent aging at home or recovering from a surgery, a bathtub lift will make life much easier by allowing them to bathe independently. If you have more questions about how to buy and install a bathtub lift, we’re happy to talk with you at any time!

Blueprint for a Wheelchair Accessible Home [INFOGRAPHIC]

When planning for aging at home, one of the most important factors to consider is whether or not your home is wheelchair accessible; everyday activities that were previously simple, such as entering and exiting your home, opening cabinets, or using the bathroom can become difficult and even frustrating.

Luckily, you can plan ahead for home modifications either on your own or by consulting with a CAPS home builder. To plan a home care solution for a loved one with limited mobility, take a close look at each room in the house and visualize which home health care products could improve accessibility:

An infographic describing a Blueprint of Wheelchair Accessible Home

  • Bedroom: Include a phone or alert system near the bed and an overhang lift or manual trapeze to help with getting in and out of bed.
  • Bathroom: Consider installing a phone or alert system near the toilet and shower, a bathtub lift (such as the Minivator Bath Bliss 311 Bath Lift) with a bottom between 13-30 inches, a toilet seat lift, and grab bars next to the toilet and in the shower or bathtub.
  • Kitchen: Make sure that countertops and cabinet heights are within arms’ reach from a wheelchair, and give table height at least 27” of knee clearance between the floor and the table underside, and clear a floor area of 30”x48” at each seat.
  • Entryways: Door widths throughout the house should be at least 32” so that power chairs, electric wheelchairs, and mobility scooters can easily fit through, and stair lifts or wheelchair ramps should be installed in garages or other entryways to the home.
  • Stairways: A stair lift, such as the Summit Indoor Stair Lift from Harmar, can help residents easily access a basement or second floor.

In general, to improve home accessibility, all pathways should be wide enough to accommodate mobility scooters and wheelchairs (generally 36” for hallways and 32” for doorways, with the minimum clear space for a turn being 36” in all directions). Your home should be well-lit for visibility at any time of day or night, and light controls should be at a height that’s easily accessible for someone in a wheelchair. Finally, multiple phone and alert systems throughout the house will provide quick help in case of an emergency or a sudden need for help.

While making a house accessible for aging at home may seem like a daunting task, planning ahead for aging at home is easier the earlier you start. If you have questions about what products you need to help a loved one age at home or how to make your home more accessible, give us a call and we’ll be glad to answer any of your questions!

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Blueprint for a Wheelchair Accessible Home