Constructing Stairs with the Elderly in Mind
In the process of constructing stairs, it is essential to ensure that the dimensions and methods used are correct to create an effective result. There are additional features that must be taken into account when it comes to specifically designing and constructing a staircase that is suitable for the elderly, which will ensure that it is safe and comfortable to use.
When constructing stairs from scratch, you are less likely to have any limitations in respect of the width. When this is the case, it is prudent to create a wider than normal staircase for an elderly person. This will ensure that there is sufficient room for a person to maneuver in addition to any other items, such as a cane or walker. Similarly, if it is necessary for an elderly person to be helped up the stairs, there should be sufficient room for the second person to remain alongside them.
To prevent the risk of tripping accidents occurring on steps that are too steep, the height of the treads need to be carefully considered. Constructing stairs for the elderly will make it necessary to ensure that the steps are shallow to make hem easier to climb. However, you should take into account that this will create a larger number of steps. This process will also help to create a larger surface area for the tread of the step, which will make it easier to get a firm footing and reduce the possibility of tripping.
While a standard staircase often uses a single banister due to its position, constructing stairs for the elderly will mean going a step further. In addition to the banister, an additional rail should be fitted to the other side of the staircase to create two points to grip. It is essential that the rail continues along the entire length of the staircase. Banisters made from wood or plastic often have a smooth surface that can prove to be slippery so fitting a soft bumper that is easier to grip will make it safer.
Ensuring that the staircase being constructed for the elderly has one edge against a wall will ensure that a chair lift can be installed if it becomes necessary to do so. The wall will not only provide support for the chair itself, but will also provide the elderly person with a surface on which to support themselves when getting in and out of the chair.
There are additional aspects to consider when constructing stairs for the elderly to enhance the ease of use. It is beneficial to have light switches at both the top and bottom of the staircase so that it is easy to light the way beforehand. Panic buttons can be installed so that aid can be summoned quickly, should an accident occur. Vinyl bumpers should be applied to the lower edges of a staircase constructed for the elderly to reduce the risk of injury to anyone who is unsteady on their feet.