Helping family with knee problems visit my home on the 2nd story
January 9, 2014 11:22 AM   Subscribe

I live on the second floor of a building, and some of my family has difficultly climbing the stairs. If I'm not able to come up with a solution they won't be able to visit. There is no elevator. The railing is a simple metal one. There are about 25 stairs. Are there any creative ideas I'm missing?
posted by daniel.poynter to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
Hotel room.
posted by jon1270 at 11:29 AM on January 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

My grandma's method is to turn around and sit on the stairs, and (slowly) push herself up from step to step pausing to rest as needed. Going down the stairs requires someone with her bracing her shoulder to spot her.

This is an imperfect method, so stair traverses are kept to a minimum, but it gets the job done.
posted by phunniemee at 11:35 AM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

How big are the stairs? Would it be possible to get something like a half-step that would make it easier if it's the stair climb that's the problem. Would mean they end up doing 50 half-steps but that might be easier!
posted by Wysawyg at 11:50 AM on January 9, 2014

Watch out for "down." From experience with knees I say that down is the rub. If these are comparatively young people, I say go down on the butt as well.
posted by skbw at 11:52 AM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

There is a product called a stair chair, primarily made so EMTs can transport a patient up and down stairs. They are kind of expensive but you may be able to rent one from a medical supply store. You do need two strong people to get someone safely up and down the stairs with it.
posted by rockindata at 11:54 AM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Evacuation chairs or rescue chairs are used to help people who can't walk down stairs to leave buildings in emergency situations. The ones that I've seen consist of a chair on top of a kind of diagonal 'sled'. I don't know whether it's possible to ascend stairs using one of those, though it should provide a way to descend.

Apart from this, it seems to me that your options are:

1) have your family negotiate the stairs as phunniemee described;
2) meet somewhere else, like jon1270 suggested;
3) see whether it's possible to get a stair lift installed;
4) evacuation chair / rescue chair.
posted by rjs at 11:55 AM on January 9, 2014

I have seen some elderly family members have great success with specialty canes, but this really depends on the specific problems.
Pilot Step-Up Cane
Sure Foot® All-Terrain Cane

And going down the stairs can be even trickier.

There are also Stair Chairs - these are for rescue purposes, but you might be able to rent one for their visit.
posted by barnone at 11:58 AM on January 9, 2014

If by any chance the knee problems are exacerbated by weight problems, then I wouldn't even try to get them up there. 25 stairs is a lot of stairs. Is there a landing where they could rest? Is the stairway narrow? I think a nice hotel and a restaurant is more reasonable. Sorry! (Family members of mine wouldn't even try it. Because as someone said, the UP might be doable, but the DOWN is brutal with knee issues)
posted by clone boulevard at 12:18 PM on January 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

Wheelchair lift, kinda pricey though. Maybe you could make something similar.
posted by Sophont at 12:21 PM on January 9, 2014

I am back to say I wouldn't even try descent unless on the butt. I have fallen twice on the subway stairs and once on household stairs. It's not CAN they do it--it's whether it's worth the fall risk. I messed up my knee a lot worse in the falls than it was before.

The problem with the stair chair is that you need 2 Goliath-type people. Don't want to drop the relative. Seriously.
posted by skbw at 12:29 PM on January 9, 2014

But if this is a class A important matter, not just a leisure visit, then I would recommend a second railing over the other options. Canes can slip. If the stairs are narrow enough, then put another heavy railing on the other side. Person goes up the stair without bending their bad knee. (They will know how to do step at a time, like a kid.) Person goes down the stair by using their good knee to lower themselves, step by step, without bending their bad knee.

To do this you need some kind of rubber grippy glove to prevent sweaty palms from slipping on the railings. Person is putting a lot of their weight on the railing going down, so the hand can't slip.
posted by skbw at 12:36 PM on January 9, 2014

Wheelchair lift is not necessary. If your relative can stand and walk then a stair lift is the lift-based solution. Used indoor stair lifts, including installation, might run you $2-$3k plus maintenance assuming a straight run of stairs.

I would not recommend transport chair for this situation. In my area, routine transport for patients that cannot traverse stairs is done via stretcher with hospital transportation company. They will not climb 25 stairs. EMTs use the transport chair for emergencies only.

You do not mention if the railing is on one or both sides of the stairs. This makes a difference depending on injured leg.

You might investigate a Freedom Leg Brace for your relative to take weight off the injured knee (assuming it is only one). This is a cool looking product that showed up in google search on climbing stairs with crutches, I have no attachment to the product and cannot tell you if it is good or not.

Really though - I don't think your relative should be visiting unless the stair climb is safe. I think Stair Lift is really the only safe option if the disability is permanent and degenerative.
posted by crazycanuck at 1:36 PM on January 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

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