Getting a stair lift (covid recovery) - British Lung Foun...

British Lung Foundation

50,015 members60,032 posts

Getting a stair lift (covid recovery)

natswright profile image

My Physo's were dead against getting a stair lift as they thought i'd become dependant on it, but I have a bit of a dilemma.

Using pacing, I think next week I will be able to start using my stairs. The issue is, at first I many only manage 1 stair climb a day. Now, for my mental health, I really want to get outdoors, even just to sit on the drive or walk up and down it.

A stair lift would give me this freedom as it could be months before I can manage to use the stairs multiple times a day.

Ironically, stair climbing is a very effective way of increasing muscle mass, so would the lift be a bad idea?

I feel caught between a rock and a hard place!

My physical strength and endurance seem to have been hugely affected by my long hospital stay.

Maybe the next 2 weeks will see improvements, I dont know. I've only really started to get active walking about the house in the last few days, before this I used a wheeled chair.

I am well capable of climbing 12 stairs and with barely losing breath. I did it in hospital with the physo. However in hospital, everything is done for you! So I had all my energy for this task. Now I have to look after my cat, wash, dress, make food, clean, order food, wash clothes and dishes!

I think this is why I struggle so much, as I have to do so much just to look after me!

What do folks think?

Would a stair lift be a boost for me, letting me out my house? Would it make me lazy on the stairs?

47 Replies

You sound an active sort of person who would not use a stair lift unless you really had to. Personally I find stairs do use up quite a lot of my energy ration. If you can afford the expenditure, I would go for it. You can always sell it when you no longer need it. xxx

I live in 3 storey house with utilities on ground floor and I regard stairs as exercise even though I am breathless. Freezer and washing machine need me to go up and down But i do regard it as good for me . I am in my eighties and now find muscles weakening anyway. But i can do one flight so stairlift is not needed yet . Sit and recover takes 15 minutes. but l would find it frustrating using chairlift as it is so slow. Listen to your physios and peoples experienceS here and balance that against your wishes to go in and out easily. Do you get out of breath going down stairs too. ? I have also wondered about a proper lift but don't think it's suitable, and more expensive too.

Carry things up the stairs is the worst problem . Then have to do two stairs at time with food delivery or w ashing being carried up ing bags and put on stairs in front of me .

You are getting better gradually . Be patient and you will get there.

natswright profile image
natswright in reply to Jaybird19

My issue is not so much as getting breathless as having a finite amount of energy. Imagine I could traverse stairs many times a day and just had to catch my breath, but there was no risk of fatigue so bad the following day they you were incapacitated for a day or so.

This is what its like recovering from covid. The task of climbing stairs is fairly easy to do, but drains so much energy that recharging in a reasonable amount of time is not realistic in 15 minutes!

My feelings on a stair lift were that I could get outside, something i'm desperate to do. Without one, I could experience fatigue so bad I could be stuck at the bottom! Anxiety does not help this!!

Ok let me explain where I am coming from. As well as other issues I have long term ME/CFS so I do have some under where you are coming from.I believe you have become very deconditioned by Covid and protracted stay in hospital. Also as per previous posting you did am not convinced wheeling yourself around on a chair helped you. One from a physical thing. I believe you will have used as much energy doing that as walking. Plus from a mindset perspective.

I do not believe that it would mentally be beneficial for you to use a stair lift. From own admission you have only just started to walk around so WILL be fatigued from movement. You say have to use energy for various tasks and again would query why for some of them when could be saving energy for doing other things. For example do you have to fully dress every day? Your meals - are you using unnecessary energy in meal preparation at this time? Could ready meals do or I usually get pre prepared veg and salad etc…. Maybe you need to re look at what using energy for and look at different ways of using it SOME days.

Also are you not going out at all? This is incredibly detrimental to your health. If not I hope you are taking vitamin D supplements. In fact you should be doing so anyway. Certainly some of your issues could be due to lack of vitamin D…. I see no reason if you can potter about at home why you can’t go outside on to your driveway.

I feel you need to rethink (for the moment) what important tasks and what tasks can be altered to allow yourself more energy to do other things.

Coming back to original question as said earlier I personally do not see stair lift as beneficial to you. No reason (if toilet downstairs) why you have to go up multiple times at this stage. If you do no one else at home so crawl up sometimes and walk others. Would at least benefit arm muscles to alternate how getting up stairs.

At end of day is obviously up to you and I would be happy to chat more to you about what works for me when CFS is bad via private messages.

natswright profile image
natswright in reply to Bevvy

The issue I have is the stairs, I'm in an upstairs flat, and it will take time for me to build up strength to make multiple trips up and down the stairs. Because I'm not getting out, I do take Vit C and a multi Vit with D and B12 each day, but I so want to go outside.

I have streamlined all tasks, meals are instant microwave, or simple sandwich. I get cleaning and washing done for me. I do have to look after my cat and changing the litter just now was exhausting!

So this is why I saw a chair lift as beneficial, its the only way to get out my house! I can manage one flight of stairs, but only once a day. If showering myself and climbing 5 stairs fatigues me the following day, how on earth will I manage the stairs a few times a day.

This is why I thought of my parents house, staying there, but they have stairs too. However they also have a lovely garden, which I do not have

We could PM, and chat some more

Bevvy profile image
Bevvy in reply to natswright

Lots of questions going through your head but don’t need decisions now. Still querying why you need to go up/down stairs multiple times to go outside? Do you have to go down once to get mail? Could then just continue and be outside…..One thought came to me is “just be...…® Folding Camping Chair” This chair I purchased from Amazon is EXTREMELY lightweight and could be taken downstairs then you could sit outside on a sunny day (dressed warmly) and watch the world go by. Even if initially can only do that for a few minutes. Can gradually build up.

Also what would happen to cat if you go to your parents? I am lucky in that my boy travels quite contentedly to my dads and is happy being in his flat for a week or so.

Have you considered IF a stair lift is even viable in a flat situation? Many aren’t.

Finally am MORE than happy to speak with you via PM anytime you want.

natswright profile image
natswright in reply to Bevvy

These are my stairs of doom!

Bevvy profile image
Bevvy in reply to natswright

Hmm don’t think suggestion I gave in PM of extra grab rail would work on slats side of stair case. But you could use slats to pull self up as well as grab rail….You could as I previously wondered go up on all fours as well as upright. These are nice stairs so shouldn’t be an issue with dirt!!

One problem is that stair lift would (I think) have to go side where grab rail is. This would make it potentially harder to practice going up stairs. Even as your fitness/fatigue improves.

maggiewhiteley profile image
maggiewhiteley in reply to Bevvy

My chair is fitted on the slated side.

Bevvy profile image
Bevvy in reply to maggiewhiteley

Thanks for information. Some chair lifts this would be an issue so helpful to know not all.

No I don't have the problem of the covid fatigue . I do have a spine problem that means I cannot stand for a while and end up having to sit and rest that , and also waiting for a hip op . So dont have the need to be out doing things and being active. have recently spent a little time watching the "activities " in the car park opposite which recently became a walk in vaccination centre. The world and his wife come and try to park their carsand lot of people are not good at parking ,! Oh dear that does sound desperate . That is the view while having my breakfast.

Try the sit to stand exercise first. It will slowly rebuild your leg muscles and lung stamina.Do 2 to start and slowly build up over hours, days, weeks.

See youtube or get the blf dvd.

Trust the experts of the physical

natswright profile image
natswright in reply to peege

Yes, I saw this, just not sure how long to do it for. I know its 1 minute on the web site, but they never scale it. Also many of these exersises are aimed a folks with far more mobility ad stamina than me. I am waling around the house. Thing is, not sure if my blood thinners are affecting me, I get so much nausia and breathlessnes after taking them, yet my sats seem fine..

I just feel like a mess these last few days

Bevvy profile image
Bevvy in reply to natswright

Would be worth looking at chair based exercises on YouTube as suggested by peege. Or get dvd from BFL. I don’t believe that these exercises are aimed at people with better mobility than yourself. People have many different conditions and reasons for struggling with mobility. The point is to go at a comfortable pace for yourself.

peege profile image
peege in reply to natswright

As I said, 2 to start. Perhaps 2 per hour. The blf dvd is also for people with very little mobility or stamina. Most of the exercises adapted from standing to sitting. Many members here have little or no stamina and are house bound due to lung disease so really do understand.

You will get there but really, you cannot run before you can walk.

natswright profile image
natswright in reply to peege

Thanks, just done 2, feel a bit better!

People don't understand what you went thru. I'm over here cheering you on as you are trying to get better again. Go Nat!!🙃❤

Thanks x

You're welcome⚘

I have been reading about the author Michael Rosen describing his recovery from Covid ……tiny step by step.He has written a children’s book called Sticky McStick stick , how a walking stick helped him recover.

Nothing to do with your query about stair lifts , but maybe a few cheaper aids around your flat may help……a seat in kitchen and bathroom , a towelling robe to help dry yourself if you can manage a shower, even a stick to lean on for a bit to give confidence .

Try the BLF helpline for UK residents on 03000 030 555 .

I did think about calling them. My GP calls on wednesday, I have a big list of questions for them!

But after 18 days, my mood is low, i'm really trying, but my body feels so broken.

Bevvy profile image
Bevvy in reply to natswright

Please see PM I have just sent you.Also when you speak to gp mention how blood thinners are making you feel. There are many on the market and it might be you need I different tablet.

It is not unusual to feel low in mood after such a bad health episode. And really has been no time at all since discharge from hospital. Please ensure you tell gp how you are feeling.

I have a stairlift and have never regretted have one fitted

natswright profile image
natswright in reply to Will57

It's an option for me, I want all avenues open!!

I think it's a huge decision. As others have said, stamina can be built up gradually. I had to relearn so much after being in in a coma and mechanically ventilated. Stairs are my nemesis too, I look at them and my heart sinks but I don't want a stair lift. I just have to think about my day before I come down in the morning and ensure I leave nothing upstairs I might need. My brother, multiple disabilities, started to use a mobility scooter although he could walk and is now wholly reliant on it. I don't mean to be negative but I think it's "use it or lose it' with our muscles and energy.

You make a fair point on use it or loose it!

I do understand your dilemma and how frustrating everything is for you.

Natswright - I haven't experienced Long Covid, although I have a friend who is living with it a year after her first (considered by specialist medics) episode of Covid.

One thing my friend talks about often, is striving for a form of the normality she knew 18 months ago. For her, each day differs, with some days better than others. Sometimes she only realises "today has been a better day", when she looks back at what she has done. My fears for a chairlift would be that habits would form and your normality would include a stairlift.

Going back many moons, I can recall another friend's mother suffering a stroke and having a stairlift installed as a result. Whilst she recovered some mobility, she always loved the stairlift for moving laundry around the house!

I'm a VERY competitive person, and am hugely competitive with myself. I would find the prospect of a stairlift devastating and would do anything to avoid it - even if it meant very careful planning to manage symptoms or energy.

To be honest, I'm sure it seems like a long time to you, but from memory, you haven't been out of hospital very long. Had you been in hospital having undergone a serious op you would not necessarily be expecting yourself to bounce right back.

Maybe cut the physios a bit of slack and set a further review point in your diary, at, say, the beginning of January?

Are your medics referring you to, or offering you specialist Long Covid Support, from LC Clinics or whatever?

natswright profile image
natswright in reply to MMaud

I have been referred to a long covid clinic, but there is a waiting list. Problem is I'm currently so imobile, I cant see how I can get to the clinics. Hope I improve in the next 2 - 3 weeks and can at least drive again and get to the shops!

Many long covid clinics employ Physio’s & Ot’s to visit peoples’ homes for this very reason

Natswright - I know I'm being the horrid one, but were you to have a stairlift, what would you do when you got to the ground floor, bearing in mind you have stated that changing the at litter has worn you out?

Just trying to think things through to the next steps.

I will, in the meantime, I started sketching! I also had a lie down, listed to a bit of Dune, and thought realistically about my situation. It has perked me up somewhat.

chair sketch

If it was me I would buy the stair lift and use the bottom three steps that you say you can manage as a daily physio exercise . It sounds like you are keeping busy and active anyway but conserving energy and pacing are the only way forward with Chronic Fatigue. have released new advice for physios and health professionals just last week, in regards to exercise tolerance in patients with ME/ CFS you may find it interesting. Just google new Nice guidelines on CFS treatment Nov 2021.

Damon1864 profile image

I have a stairlift but I can still walk upstairs, but it does help most of the time to know it's there. Have a good night and take care 😊 Bernadette and Jack 🐕 xxxxxx

What a quandary for you.You know how your body feels-however the physiotherapists and other trained bods have lots of experience and knowledge perhaps not as much on long covid but certainly on rehabilitation.

Personally I would ask them to explain their advice ,the pros and cons then decide.

From a personal viewpoint whenever I have gone against medical advice I have regretted it.

Let us know how you get on and sending loadsa good wishes for your recovery.

Hi natswright,I bought a house 2yrs ago and it had a stairlift fitted already I have decided not to remove it and send lots of things upstairs on it and only use it on really bad days probably once a week and still build up strength by walking my dog and going to blf gym,so when you are ready to decide what to do about buying or renting a stairlift you can choose when and how you use it under your own control and still get back to strength it's like a comfort blanket knowing it's there if you need it.I found renting good from my perspective so if you improve in the future they would remove it again.

A dilemma. As you say, your mental health is also important so having enough energy to pop outside a bit would give you a lift(pun intended). With a stair lift you could perhaps say every 2nd or 3rd trip upstairs is not using the stair lift. That way you are getting some exercise without over taxing yourself. That is my two penneth. Take care 😀👍

Spending a long time in bed and not being able to move due to COVID-19 and other medical conditions, sees so many people with significant loss of muscle strength. It is particularly true for older people, who can lose over 10% of their muscle strength in just one week of bed rest, regaining any muscle and strength is going to take time.

It is so important for you to complete low intensity exercise daily to try and improve every aspect of what your body has lost during your illness, it might feel hard but things will improve and make you feel like you have achieved something both physically and mentally. Your recovery will need to be managed by you and your physio and planned in the same way as everything else in your life, trying to improve day by day, week by week, month by month. Just considering your muscle mass loss making sure that you improve consistently but at a manageable pace.

Personally I feel if you can spend some time with your family and sit outside in the garden, taking a tiny walk, walk around the house looking at the garden, improving your thoughts and getting fresh air, having your family there to talk to and help you if need be is a really good first plan. If you could do this and return home for a few days and then back to the family on a regular basis, it will help you both physically and mentally. Stair lifts are a great way to go for many people you just need to ask yourself am I really ready for this, do I need to try an improve myself for longer.

Plenty of really good advice and thoughts on here. Thinking of your short-term and long-term personal goals is going to be hard. Keep at it and utilise all the help you can get, especially from physio's and anyone or thing that can offer you some help to improve on your health and wellbeing, it is important that those helping you know this too 😊

As an ex physio I can see the problem from both sides, but I always said to my patients (re wheelchairs) that they enable you to get somewhere so you can use your energy, instead of using all your energy getting there. I used to treat CFS/ME patients so fully understand re the fatigue. If you can afford it, get the stairlift - you can always not use it if you feel able!

Buy from eBay fully installed

I live in an upper floor maisonette with 29 communal stairs to my front door and the usual 13 up to my bedrooms and bathroom. Because I have oxygen 24/7 I use a walker to support me and carry my tank if I leave the house. The walker has to live in the communal stairwell as I could not transport it up with me when I leave and return to the house. I find the communal stairs easiest as they are shallower and have three landings. but have to take my time. I do find myself making up reasons not to go out, weather mainly, simply because of the hassle of changing from converter to portable and making sure I have everything I need so I only have one trip. reading your letter makes me realise that I am quite fortunate to be approaching 80 and still able to do this. xx

If you can afford a stairlift I would go for it. It doesn't mean you can't walk upstairs as often as you want if you're able. But if you're not able some days or if you get ill and you can't, it would be a great help.

Hello natswright

If you would like to chat to one of our nurses about the management of your long covid, you are very welcome to call us on 03000 030 555. We are here 9am-5pm Mon- Frid.

Take care


Thanks, I may just do that, or at the very least email you. I have my GP calling tomorrow as we have weekly catch-ups!

Debs_BLFHelpline profile image
Debs_BLFHelplinePartner in reply to natswright

It is very difficult for us to give medical information by email as our nurses may need to ask you further questions to advise you fully. Give us a call when you can.


Will do

Hi Natswright, I have had a stairlift for 10 years. I initiially got it because I was having surgery on my right foot. It was one of the best things I have done. Now if I am suffering with my breathing or arthritis pain in my lower limbs I use the stairlift, but if I am feeling good I walk up and down. In other words I use it when I need it. It is expensive to have one put in and after that there is maintenance contracts but I would not be without my stairlift. I love it, another benefit is if I am carrying something heavy I use the stairlife to take it down or up. Wonderful. Good luck, Maximonkey

You may also like...