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4 Tips to Help a Loved One Manage Stairs


If a loved one has mobility issues, a flight of stairs can sometimes seem like an insurmountable obstacle. At the same time, being able to move freely and safely throughout the home is imperative for a loved one's independence. In addition, the social and emotional benefits of leaving the home from time to time should not be neglected just because a few stairs are in the way. Below are some tips for helping a loved safely navigate the stairs.

1.    Eliminate hazards

We can start by removing any hazards and making sure the stairway is safe by:

  • Removing any articles left on the stairs
  • Repairing or replacing broken treads or loose carpeting 
  • Making sure the handrail is secure 
  • Making sure the stairs are adequately lit.

2.    Utilize walking aids

Installing handrails on both sides of the stairway in the home may provide the extra support a loved one needs to safely navigate the stairs. If this is not an option, or if a loved one needs to climb stairs away from home, a folded walker or cane can be used to provide extra support while climbing stairs. We should make sure the device is firmly planted on the next step before a loved one attempts to use it for support on the stairs.

3.    Try new methods of descending stairs

If a loved one has difficulty climbing down stairs, they may benefit from climbing down backwards. Not only will this eliminate the possibility of pitching forward and falling downstairs face-first, but it can also reduce the load on the knee joint for those suffering from joint pain. We should also exercise caution if a loved one has vision problems to ensure they can see where they are placing their feet.

4.    Invest in a stair lift

If a loved one is physically unable to climb or descend the stairs, even using the tips above, it may be time to consider installing a stair lift. Before purchasing, we should check with a loved one's physician first. Lifts and other assistive devices prescribed by the physician as durable medical equipment may be covered by Medicare Part B or veterans' benefits. 

A version of this article appeared in the Private Health News.

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