There are many reasons why someone might need a stairlift to maintain or improve the quality of their everyday lives, but the main one is arthritis.
In the UK, arthritis is recognised as the biggest cause of pain and mobility problems. It is estimated that there are currently around 10 million people in the UK living with some form of arthritis, with levels varying from mild to chronic.
In its simplest terms, arthritis refers to inflammation of the joints, meaning that most people with arthritis will experience some level of pain, discomfort and difficulty when moving around. Arthritis is classed as a rheumatic disease – 'rheumatic' referring to aches and pains in the joints bones and muscles. There are more than 200 kinds of rheumatic diseases, but for sufferers there is a lot that can be done to alleviate symptoms and preserve a good quality of life.
Arthritis is generally thought of in connection with older people, but it can affect people of all ages, including children. However, the most common type is 'osteoarthritis' – known as 'wear and tear' arthritis – and because it develops gradually over time it is usually associated with advancing years.
Osteoarthritis causes joint pain and stiffness, most frequently in the hands, knees, hips, feet and spine. It is more common among women and can be triggered by an injury to a joint, even if it happened many years previously.
Although osteoarthritis cannot be cured, the condition may settle down after a number of years and there are plenty of things that sufferers can do to relieve its effects.
Doctors can prescribe a range of drugs to help manage the pain. These include analgesics (painkillers) and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), which reduce inflammation of the joint and in turn reduce pain. Steroids can also be used to reduce inflammation and can be injected directly into a joint for fast and effective relief.
Aside from drugs, there is plenty which people with osteoarthritis can do to help themselves. Losing weight, for people who are overweight, will reduce the pressure on weight-bearing joints such as hips and knees. Doing exercises to strengthen the muscles which support joints will also reduce stress on the joints and pain emanating from them. Your doctor may refer you to a physiotherapist who will be able to suggest the most effective types of exercise for you.
Massaging affected joints and muscles can also help to reduce pain, and several complementary therapies have been found to help in many cases, including relaxation and meditation, acupuncture and aromatherapy.
Simple changes around the home, such as grab rails and 'easy grip' arthritis-friendly tools and kitchen gadgets can all help. But probably the most beneficial of all is a stairlift. Many people with arthritis find negotiating the stairs in their home difficult and painful. It can lead to people living downstairs – effectively losing the use of half their home – or even facing the upheaval and stress of moving home to a bungalow or flat.
But it needn't be that way, as installing a stairlift removes the obstacle and ordeal of climbing the stairs. Acorn Stairlifts are the first to be awarded the Arthritis Foundation's Ease-of-Use Commendation, recognising their user-friendly features and suitability for people with arthritis.
Acorn Stairlifts' Medical Advisor, Dr Hilary Jones, said: "As a doctor I know that modern medicine can always help with arthritis, even if it cannot always cure it. But for everyday practical help there are many other important considerations amongst which, at the top of the list, must surely be a stairlift.
"A stairlift is an essential accessory that so many of my own patients have benefited from in this situation. Suiting the exact needs of the individual, it overcomes the barrier of whatever type of stairs there are and is easy to operate."
For more about arthritis, including how to recognise early symptoms, managing the condition and help and support available to sufferers, click here to visit the Arthritis Care website.