Statistics show well over 3 million people use a wheelchair in America. Over 10 million use some other form of walking aid. This means millions of people, just like you, are looking for ways to improve their mobility.
Two great options are wheelchair ramps and platform lifts. A wheelchair ramp is designed to replace stairs. Ramps can be modified to fit any need, from a short ramp that gets you from the garage you’re your home, or a long ramp that helps you access the outside.
Platform lifts act like elevators, raising and lowering a person from one level to another. They are much smaller than elevators, of course, and can be modified to be open or enclosed.
When trying to decide between the two, there are many factors to consider. Keep reading for information on how to choose the best one for your lifestyle and mobility needs.
What Is Your Purpose?
To decide between a wheelchair ramp or platform lift, identify your purpose. Why do you need the ramp or lift? Some may need easier access to an upper level in their home. Some may need an easier way to get in and out of the house. Your main goal is stay in your home. What adjustments or purposes can help you do that?
What Activities Does It Support?
Aside from moving you from one place to another, both ramps and lifts provide additional services to homeowners. For instance, having a wheelchair ramp can also make it easy to push or pull carts, and use a walker to easily move from one place to another. Ramps support activities like hauling objects without the need to push, pull or hold them while in transition.
Which Aesthetic Do You Prefer?
Ramps can be bulky and often have twists and turns if you need one that needs to be long. They are usually made of materials like wood or aluminum that are sturdy, but over time will need to be maintained if they in the weather full-time.
Depending on the climate in which you live, weather can be a factor in how well your ramp maintains its aesthetic features. Smaller ramps can be moved in and out of the weather to avoid damage.
Elevators are advanced, technological boxes. How they are built is based on the type of design you prefer, and the cost. The fancier your design, the more it will cost. However, lifts do have a modern, sleek appeal that holds up over time.
How Important Is Ease of Use?
Both wheelchair ramps and platform lifts are relatively simple to use. Lifts are considered easier due to it being operated with the touch of a button. Ramps require you to do all the work. Since ramps are usually sloped, wheeling back up the ramp can be more difficult than going down.
If you suffer from heart problems, asthma, or even arthritis, operating a wheelchair on a ramp may be painful at times. If you have a scooter or powered wheelchair, it will be much easier to use a ramp.
You will need to be able to clean your ramp if it snows, ices or has debris from your yard blocking the path. You can, however, build a porch or cover for your ramp. Platform lifts only require the use of a finger to push the operating button. They can be built with caps or fully enclosed to protect you and the machine from the weather.
Does It Need to Be Portable?
Both wheelchair ramps and platform lifts can be made in portable versions. The platform lift does come in a portable model, but it is bulky and would be impossible for one person to move it from one location to another.
Portable wheelchair ramps are small, and many are easy to move around. They usually come with handles or wheels to help you move them from place to place.
How Long Do You Need It?
Do you have company coming to stay that needs a better way to get into your home? Or do you have a permanent disability that requires you to need a mobility device for as long as you will stay in your home?
If you will only need mobility assistance temporarily, the portable wheelchair ramp is your best bet. You can even find some retailers who will rent the ramp to you instead of making you purchase it. Portable ramps make it easy to use in more than one spot.
If you will need the device for a long time, or a lifetime, the platform lift may be the best option. They are built so that you will not need upgrades, maintenance, or many repairs. As you age, the lift continues to be a reliable, safe way to be mobile.
How Much Is Your Budget?
Both wheelchair ramps and platform lifts can be costly, depending on the size and luxuries you choose to go with it.
Longer ramps must be built by a contractor. Therefore, the cost will be based on the price of materials in your area and the cost of labor. On average, a long ramp can cost around $6000 to $8000. A portable, temporary ramp can cost less than $1000.
Platform lifts are going to be a little more expensive but if you take into durability and low maintenance, it may be worth the expense. Some lifts start around $6000 for the basics but can easily rise in price if you add special options.
Don’t let cost be the first factor you consider. Weigh the pros and cons of both the wheelchair ramp and the platform lift to see which product will serve you best for the longest amount of time. Which one will make your life easier for the most time?
Work with a local mobility device retailer who is an expert in both ramps and lifts. They can work with you to choose the one that allows you to continue living a good life in your home, with you in control.