When Gordon Raney’s father began using a wheelchair, he started a journey many people face when dealing with aging parents.
“It became a situation of all of the bedrooms are upstairs, he has a large spiral staircase, and now he’s in a wheelchair,” Raney said. “Me and Jen and everyone out there asked, ‘What do we do now?’ I knew nothing about stair lifts, just like most people.”
Raney said watching his father sleep on a couch for two months got the ball rolling on a business idea. Now the University Park resident and his wife, Jennifer, own the Dallas-area franchises of North Carolina-based 101 Mobility.
“Most people assume they’re going to have to move out of the house, and many people actually do,” Gordon said. “They spend way too much money on moving costs alone, move to somewhere they don’t want to be just because they can’t get up the stairs.”
That doesn’t have to be the case. The Raneys offer their advice on making accessibility easier for yourself or a loved one.
Start with conversation
• Talking with professionals in the medical or mobility fields can ease the process of home modification. “We ask, ‘What is the challenge? What are the problems you’re facing? What are your goals? Where are you trying to be and what are you trying to do?’” Jennifer said.
• Early discussions also keep the cost of equipment or potential home modifications as low as possible. Gordon often gets calls from realtors who have clients with current or potential mobility issues who have narrowed down a list of properties.
Research is key
• Online retailers that offer equipment at a reduced cost are usually taking advantage of the customer. Often, the retailer will ship the equipment in boxes to the customer to put it together himself. “These companies will literally ship an elevator system to a sweet old lady for her to put it in herself,” Gordon said. “I honestly don’t know how this is legal.”
• Jennifer said these online manufacturers are only interested in profits and are not concerned with the customers’ needs. “Often the worst part is once we start talking about it, we realize that what just showed up at their house isn’t even a good fit for them or their home,” she said.
Installation is easy
• Most equipment can be installed and removed quickly without compromising the aesthetics of the home. “Most people see a picture of the stair lift and automatically assume it’s mounting to the wall,” Gordon said.
• Stair lifts are actually screwed into the stair itself for increased stability. Removing the equipment only requires the holes to be filled in, or perhaps no clean-up work at all. “If the stairs have carpet, you can run a vacuum over the spot where a screw was and you’ll never know it was there,” he said.