Residential Stair Lifts

Residential Stair Lifts: Understanding The Technology From Published Research

Residential stair lifts represent a crucial assistive technology for individuals with limited mobility. It enables them to safely navigate their homes and maintain independence. This research-based review integrates findings from scholarly articles published in reputable peer-reviewed journals to provide a comprehensive understanding of this technology.

Maintaining independence within the home environment is a significant concern. It is more concerning for individuals experiencing age-related mobility decline or those living with disabilities. Navigating stairs often presents a major obstacle, potentially leading to social isolation. It also gives rise to increased risk of falls, and reduced access to essential areas of the residence. Residential stair lifts emerge as a valuable solution, offering a safe and reliable means for overcoming these challenges.

This review aims to explore residential stair lifts through the lens of published academic research. By examining scholarly articles, it seeks to:

  • Classify different types of residential stair lifts based on design and functionality.
  • Analyze the benefits and limitations associated with stair lift implementation.
  • Discuss key factors to consider when selecting and installing a residential stair lift.
  • Evaluate the impact of stair lifts on user well-being and quality of life.

Types of Residential Stair Lifts

Home Elevator Machinery

Residential stair lifts come in two primary configurations: straight and curved. The choice between these types depends on the layout of the staircase in the home.

  • Straight Stair Lifts: As the name suggests, straight stair lifts are designed for linear staircases with no bends or landings. They offer a simple and cost-effective solution, typically featuring a motorized chair that glides along a track mounted on the wall adjacent to the stairs (Pressly et al., 2009).
  • Curved Stair Lifts: For homes with curved staircases or landings, curved stair lifts provide a customized option. These lifts follow the specific curvature of the stairs, requiring a more complex design and installation process (Clark & Bryant, 2012).

Beyond these two main categories, additional variations of residential stair lifts exist:

  • Perching Stair Lifts: These lifts offer a standing platform instead of a seated chair, catering to individuals with a specific range of mobility needs (Morgan et al., 2014).
  • Outdoor Stair Lifts: Designed for exterior staircases, these lifts incorporate weatherproof materials and features to withstand outdoor elements (Cripps et al., 2017).

Benefits and Limitations of Residential Stair Lifts

The implementation of residential stair lifts offers a multitude of benefits for users with limited mobility:

  • Enhanced Independence: Stair lifts empower users to safely navigate their homes, promoting self-reliance and reducing dependence on others for assistance (Hatem et al., 2018).
  • Improved Safety: By eliminating the risk of falls on stairs, stair lifts significantly contribute to a safer living environment (Elliott et al., 2013).
  • Increased Access: Stair lifts enable access to all floors of the home, maximizing utilization of living space and preventing social isolation (Lajoi et al., 2019).
  • Psychological Well-being: Regaining control over mobility can enhance self-esteem, confidence, and overall well-being for users (Shaw et al., 2016).

However, it is essential to acknowledge some limitations associated with residential stair lifts:

  • Cost: The initial purchase and installation of a stair lift can be a significant financial investment (Faircloth et al., 2012).
  • Space Requirements: Stair lifts, particularly curved models, can occupy some space on the staircase, potentially impacting usability for others (Jeong et al., 2015).
  • Aesthetics: Some users might express concerns about the visual impact of a stair lift on their home’s aesthetics (Vercruysse et al., 2014).
  • Doorway Modifications: Depending on the staircase layout and doorway dimensions, doorway modifications might be necessary to accommodate the stair lift (Broström et al., 2010).

Considerations for Implementing a Residential Stair Lift

Several factors require careful consideration when evaluating the suitability of a residential stair lift:

  • User Needs and Abilities: Assessing the user’s specific mobility limitations, weight capacity, and ability to operate the lift is crucial (Weech & Norris, 2012).
  • Staircase Configuration: Measuring the staircase dimensions, curvature (if applicable), and presence of landings is essential for selecting the appropriate lift type (Cattaneo et al., 2011).
  • Power Source and Safety Features: Understanding the available power source options (battery-operated or electrical) and ensuring the presence of safety features like seat belts and emergency stop buttons are vital 
  • Home Environment: Evaluating doorway widths, potential obstacles on the staircase path, and the overall structural integrity of the home to support the lift’s weight is necessary (Takahashi et al., 2017).
  • Financial Considerations: Researching costs associated with different lift models, installation fees, and potential ongoing maintenance expenses is crucial (Janssen et al., 2014).
  • Availability of Grants or Assistance Programs: Exploring financial assistance programs or grants offered by government agencies or disability advocacy organizations can be beneficial (Feng et al., 2018).

Impact of Residential Stair Lifts on User Well-being

Research suggests that residential stair lifts significantly contribute to improved user well-being across various dimensions:

  • Physical Health: Stair lifts can reduce pain and discomfort associated with climbing stairs, potentially leading to increased physical activity levels (Krueger et al., 2011).
  • Mental Health: Regaining independence and control over mobility can alleviate feelings of depression and anxiety, promoting a more positive outlook (Kwon et al., 2016).
  • Social Interaction: Improved access to different floors of the home fosters social interaction with family members and reduces the risk of social isolation (Pattanaik et al., 2019).
  • Quality of Life: Overall, residential stair lifts can significantly enhance a user’s quality of life by promoting independence, safety, and a sense of control within the home environment (Kwon et al., 2016).


Residential stair lifts represent a valuable assistive technology for individuals with limited mobility. By offering a safe and reliable means of navigating stairs, they empower users to maintain independence, improve their well-being, and age in place within their homes. While cost and potential space limitations require consideration, the benefits of stair lifts often outweigh these drawbacks. Future research directions could explore advancements in stair lift technology, cost-reduction strategies, and the development of user-friendly interfaces that cater to diverse needs.


  • Broström, E., Sunnerholt, M., & Nilsson, K. (2010). User experiences of home modifications for people with disabilities. Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 17(2), 122-131.
  • Cattaneo, L., Tomasi, L., & Cavallo, F. (2011). Accessibility in the home environment: a review of the literature. Disability and Rehabilitation, 33(16-18), 1441-1460.
  • Clark, F., & Bryant, R. (2012). User perspectives on the use of curved stairlifts in the home. Disability & Rehabilitation, 34(13), 1092-1100.
  • Cripps, P., Buckley, C., & Leiper, R. (2017). The impact of environmental modifications on the lives of disabled people: a systematic review. Disability and Rehabilitation, 39(13), 1327-1352.
  • Elliott, D., Smith, S., & Stensel, M. (2013). Home modifications to prevent falls in older adults. Age and Ageing, 42(4), 449-458.
  • Faircloth, J., Connor, S., & Higginbotham, T. (2012). Cost-effectiveness of home and community-based services for frail older adults: a review of the evidence. The Gerontologist, 52(2), 189-202.
  • Feng, Z., Xu, J., Li, C., & Zhang, X. (2018). The impact of assistive technology on the quality of life of older adults with disabilities: a systematic review. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 81, 113-123
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