To make climbing stairs easier choose the leading leg, and adapt your stair climbing method. Maybe you will find stair climbing aids useful. If you asking yourself how to make stairs safer for seniors, than you should read further.
How to make climbing stairs easier?
Climbing stairs is easy, isn’t it? You’ve been doing it for most of your life, so you should be pretty good at it by now. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. As you get older you probably have problems with your legs and sense of balance. Both these are important when climbing stairs and if they don’t work correctly, they can result in damage to your body, or even worse a serious fall. So, what can you do to make sure you prevent accidents?
Have a warm-up first
Our knees take most of the punishment when using stairs so remember to warm-up beforehand. Go for an easy walk around the house for 5 to 10 minutes before trying to stair climb. Another way is to use the first one or two steps as an exercise gym. Step onto the first tread then return to the ground again. Repeat this about 15 times, then repeat it leading with the other leg.
Choose the Leading leg
If you have pain in one or both knees, always lead with the better knee as this one takes your body weight easier.
Like any physical activity, you must exercise to strengthen your muscles. If you spend your days sitting in a chair reading or watching television, your legs will probably lose strength thus causing problems using stairs. Force yourself to go for a daily walk or learn to cycle.
Both of these will strengthen leg muscles but cycling gives exercise without knee joint impact. If you can’t leave the house, then walk around the room a few times and use the bottom two steps of the staircase as mentioned earlier in the warm-up.
Adapt your Stair Climbing Method
You’ve probably always walked upstairs either holding just one handrail or using none at all. This is okay if your sense of balance works correctly, but what do you do if it doesn’t?
Unfortunately, not all staircases have a handrail on both sides. If yours does, make sure you hold tightly to both as you climb the stairs. Always keep hold with at least one hand and use the rail to pull yourself upstairs using alternate hands.
If you have just one handrail, hold on with both hands and sidestep up the stairs, taking one step at a time.
If you can’t manage these methods, try ‘crawling’ up the stairs. Use your hands to support yourself holding onto each step in turn.
Can you remember when you or your children were learning how to go up and downstairs? How many of us sat on the steps and bumped down the stairs on our bottoms? Try it, you’ll probably find it one of the easier methods to use.
Use Stair Climbing Aids
There are many aids available to suit your pocket and medical condition. To cover all of them here is an article devoted to mobility aids. But, here is a selection of aids that are great for stair climbing, so you can get an idea of the most popular.
Stair Climbing Cane
If you’re mobile, but usually walk with a cane, this is probably one of the simplest ideas and I believe one of the most effective. Basically, it’s a walking cane that flexes to use at different angles. Just the job for walking up and downstairs.
You may think this isn’t a big deal, but it’s made from steel so you can be sure it’s strong enough to support your weight. In fact, it’s strong enough to support up to 300 pounds and you can extend the cane to 37 inches. As an added extra, the stair climbing cane helps you walk over uneven ground such as cobbles, your garden, sand, and even snow.
They’re available from various online retailers for a very reasonable price. But, don’t choose the first one you see as prices vary a lot and you might pick up a real bargain on another site.
You’ve probably seen adverts for these in magazines or on the television. They use a battery-operated chair that runs on a rail fitted to the edge of the staircase. They’re really useful if you find it almost impossible to use stairs. However, the average basic stairlift costs between $3000 and $5000, so they can work out expensive if you have a limited budget.
This is another variation on the walking cane idea. The standard cane part fixes to a square ABS plastic base fitted with four rubber feet. The base is the correct height to provide a ‘half step’, providing help for those who have problems lifting their feet to a standard step height.
How to make stairs safer for seniors
Let’s move outdoors for a moment, shall we? You probably have a concrete or stone front doorstep or maybe steps dotted around a multi-level garden. These are great to use and won’t rot.
But, they’re not so great during rain, snow or when moss gains a hold. These situations give you a very slippery surface that can easily cause a falling accident. It’s quite a simple job to have rubber treads fitted to the steps to offer more grip.
These come in the form of self-adhesive tape, carpet or anti-slip rubber. Or, you could also use non-skid floor paint if preferred, just take your pick.
Most indoor staircases have fitted handrails, but not all. Likewise, some outdoor steps have handrails, but not all. For some people, handrails are the only way they can safely walk on the stairs. If you have stairs that lack this basic safety accessory, don’t hang around, get some fitted.
Believe it or not, some staircases have inadequate lighting, especially if the house is an old one. Poorly lit stairs are an accident waiting to happen, so do something about it.
There are various types of lighting fixtures, including battery-powered nightlights so there should be something available no matter what your situation and how much you can budget.
How does this affect me?
We hope you’ve picked up some useful ideas from this article. Probably, you’ve noticed there are many different ways to make using stairs easier for seniors, from changing the way you use them to using some of the different types of aids available.
You can also make your staircases safer by fitting some very basic safety devices such as lighting and non-slip treads. Don’t you owe it to yourself or to your loved one to make using stairs so much easier?
If you liked this article you should also check tips for improving mobility and walking. Maybe you need to strengthen your legs in order to climb stairs easier. If you have balance problems, please check balance tips.