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Designing Homes for Aging in Place: An Interview with Marilyn Look of Look Stairchairs

Please tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

At Look Stairchairs, our one and only business is the sales, installation and service of residential stairway lift chairs, also known as stairlifts or stairchairs. We are a family and veteran owned business. We have been in business for eight years and have installed over 1,000 stairlifts during that time. We service the Greater Los Angeles area, from Santa Barbara to Laguna Beach; from Big Bear to Bakersfield. Because we represent seven different manufacturers of stairlifts, we can help you select the best solution for your home accessibility needs.

Our primary product that we recommend and sell is Bruno Independent Living Aids, which is universally recognized as the industry leader. Their products are manufactured here in the USA. Our certified installation staff were all factory trained at Bruno's facility in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. We also carry Precision, Hawle, Harmar, Handicare Freelift, Sterling and Acorn. We carry multiple products because we know that one size does not fit all.

Can you briefly explain what a stairlift is?

A stairlift or stairchair is a motorized chair that rides on a rail which attaches to the steps of your staircase, allowing you to ride safely up and down your stairs. Stairchairs can be fitted to a straight, curved or spiral staircase. They do not touch the wall or the bannister; the stairchair rail is supported by stanchions that attached directly to the steps themselves. The chair is controlled by the rider with a switch on the chair or by use of remote controls at the top and the bottom of the staircase. This allows the user to call or send the chair as needed. Stairchairs can be installed both indoors and outdoors.

What are some of the most common reasons why people are getting stairlifts in their homes?

Walking up and down stairs is one of the leading causes of falls in the home for people of any age. Stairchairs are not just for the elderly and disabled. Many baby boomers who have lived in a home that they love for many years are now starting to have problems getting around their home with stairs. Stairchairs dramatically reduce the wear and tear on ankles, knees and hip joints, thus allowing people the freedom to live in their home as they always have. People with balance problems find stairchairs to be a great relief of stress.

Are there any requirements that a home or existing staircase need to have so a stairlift can be installed?

Almost any staircase can be fitted with a stairchair, no matter how curvy or narrow. Curved stairchair rails are custom made to fit the staircase exactly. Modern stairchairs run off of batteries in the chassis of the stairlift chair. These are kept charged by a small battery trickle charger system which plugs into a standard wall outlet either at the top or bottom of the staircase. The stairchair runs off the batteries all the time, so it will operate normally during a power outage. So the only requirement is an outlet within 20' of the staircase. If one is not available, an electrician can easily install one. An outdoor stairchair needs a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet.

What are some of the main options that homeowners will need to decide on?

Homeowners have many options when it comes to stairchairs. They are available in a wide range of prices, styles and configurations. There are over 15 different stairlift manufacturers and each may have a different style or feature that homeowners might like to consider. The deciding factor is mainly the configuration of the staircase. This is why we offer a free, no obligation, in-home estimate where we can evaluate the staircase and present options and prices to the homeowner. With Look Stairchairs, there is never any pressure to buy.

Do you have any advice for people in the Los Angeles area who are looking into a stairlift for more accessibility in their home?

The most important is to be sure that you buy from a reputable installer who is factory authorized to be selling and servicing the product they are presenting to you. Make sure your contractor is licensed in the state of California, has general liability insurance and has worker's compensation insurance for their employees. Remember that the contractor may only ask for a down payment of 10% or $1,000, whichever is less. You can get your contractor's license number and verify it on www.cslb.ca.gov. This is for the homeowner's protection.

Look at more than one brand of stairlift. Compare prices, features and check online consumer affairs websites for unbiased reviews. You can also get recommendations from friends or families who have bought these products. If your dealer has a showroom, visit and try the chair before you buy!

What's the best way for people to contact your company?

Call us directly at our office at (866) 782-4791 or (805) 526-1402. We will be happy to answer your questions and schedule an appointment to come out and give you a free evaluation of your staircase. We also have a showroom in Simi Valley. Please call for hours or visit our website

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