Aging at Home: Overcoming Stairs and Wheelchairs
By Leslie Eckford
I know. It’s a prototype, it’s not on the market yet, it may be years before it is available to the public and who knows what the cost will be. But, I am very excited to see the Scalevo Wheelchair, designed in collaboration by students at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the Zurich University of the Arts. It is thrilling to imagine how life will change for people in wheelchairs who will be able to utilize all stairs, even spiral staircases.
I am already picturing this as a potential game changer for some elderly living at home. Those of us who have struggled to make an old, stair-filled home manageable for family with poor mobility know that every option has its trade-offs. It is very expensive to remodel rooms and bathrooms. Adding stairlifts on stairs with landings can be complicated and pricey. Home elevators are great if they already exist in the residence, but the cost of retrofitting an elevator to an existing home is way out of the realm of possibility for most.
So every option that opens the door to making the choice to stay in one’s home as you age is a sign of progress. Take a look at the video of this wheelchair in action below. From what I have read, they have already increased its ability to go up and down stairs at a faster rate than is shown here. It brings many questions to mind: will it be equipped for a second person to manage the controls if the person in the wheelchair cannot independently? Will it work on carpeted stairs? Is it easier to use on non-pavement surfaces, such as grass, than a traditional wheelchair? And, of course, the question that we all want to know, how will the cost compare to a regular wheelchair?