Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Stairway to Heaven…Or At Least to Your Second Floor

Do you know anyone who just does not go upstairs in their home anymore? Or what about Uncle Bob who cannot make it to the basement to his shop without worrying the whole family? I want to tell you about someone who finally decided that it was time to get a stairlift.

Alice had been resistant. A number of months ago her kids told her they were worried about her managing the flight of stairs to the bedroom. She lives alone and had taken a couple of falls in the weeks previous to the conversation. Luckily, she did not break any bones, but the last fall did scare her, too. So, she decided she just did not need to go upstairs anymore. She had a “moving party” with her son and two grandsons. They brought everything she really needed, including her bed, down into the main part of the house. She figured she could just ignore the upstairs. Things were working out okay, but at least once a week she remembered something else that was indispensable, you guessed it, upstairs. One day she literally crawled up the stairs so she could retrieve it. Coming down was torture and she was afraid. “Stop being a baby,” she told herself. “You can live just fine this way,” even though the new clutter was beginning to get to her on the main floor.

“Maybe I should just move,” she wondered aloud one day with her daughter. So, they set about doing the math and trying to figure out if a move this late in the game would make sense to her and her finances. They asked us, too, for some local resources to speak with and we gave them the names of trusted people we know: a real estate professional, some resources at local retirement communities, an elder law attorney, and a financial expert. This team worked with Alice and her family to put together a full set of options with price tags attached.

That exercise convinced Alice that she could afford to stay home, but only if she agreed to make some changes to make her home friendly and livable again. She was shocked to learn that installing a stairlift, for example, could be done for under $3000 in some cases. That’s when Alice came to visit us at Capabilities.

Here’s what happened and here’s how you can outline your own plan for choosing the right stairlift:

The first thing we had her do was ride our demo model on the floor. That helped Alice experience firsthand just how easy a stairlift is to use and how comfortable it is.
She looked at the various models available from the basic to the Cadillac and what’s in between.
Our service expert then went to her home to measure and help refine Alice’s choices for the most appropriate and affordable option given her space and needs.

Alice chose the Sterling 1000 model because it offered her four choices of upholstery on the seat, a sleek foldable seat with a very low profile so when she is not using it, others can easily navigate the stairway, and the slender track. The quiet ride, a feature of all Sterling stairlifts, was also a big seller in her choice of this brand, not to mention that it is the most attractive stairlift on the market today. Alice was won over just as we were by the combination of safety features and style, by functionality and design.

Alice was concerned by what it would take to install the stairlift. Our service experts have been trained and certified by Sterling, so it is a very simple and smooth process in most cases. Once the decision is made on model and the purchase is complete, the stairlift can be installed in less than a day in most cases. (Custom stairlifts for curved and complex staircases will take longer, of course, and cost significantly more.)

So, Alice asked her son and grandsons to move all her things back upstairs and now she enjoys her whole home. She is considering having one installed outside so she can get off her patio into the back yard again. We are talking with her about the outdoor model we offer. And that’s not all.

Alice is sold on the idea that staying at home is a wise decision and an affordable one. She is looking at a number of changes to her bathroom, kitchen and backyard to ensure that she can enjoy everything again and not be afraid. The financial experts she visited with helped her see that investing to make her home safe and comfortable actually costs less than moving right now. Of course, life throws its curve balls so it’s hard for Alice or anyone to predict just how long this choice will make sense for her.

For the time being, though, Alice is delighted and so is her family. When they speak on the phone at the end of each day, no one ever mentions how worried they are anymore. It’s just about the business of everyday life again. Ahhh! What a relief!

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