Life-Changing Lifts

The invention of accessible lifts has been life-changing for me. I don’t know who invented them, but I am supremely grateful!

Accessible lifts have helped me surpass staircases, board buses, enjoy swimming pools, and more. While they used to be rare and prohibitively expensive, they are now affordable and more widely used.

As a person living with joint damage from rheumatoid arthritis, I can no longer ascend stairs or traverse similar obstacles. Without lifts, there would be a lot of places I couldn’t go and activities I could not do!

Sometimes lifts are installed in older buildings to help with navigating stairs in places where the space cannot accommodate a ramp or elevator. I really appreciate these types of places installing lifts to make their spaces accessible for people like me. For example, many old art museums, that I love to visit, have lifts installed. Another place I go to every year is a historic hotel that serves afternoon tea, but without a lift, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy such an experience.

Now a requirement...

In another article, I describe in detail how having a stairlift at my parent’s homemade it newly accessible to me. While at first, it was a convenience to save me the exhaustion of climbing stairs, it is now a requirement for my visits because stairs have become too difficult to manage.

Perhaps the lifts that have brought the greatest change in my life are those installed in swimming pools. As a child, these were virtually nonexistent and I remember my physical therapist having to lift me in and out of the pool for my sessions when I was recovering from my hip and knee replacement surgeries as a teenager.

Ever since I have memory, I have loved going into pools (I’m a Pisces after all!). As a small child, it was no trouble getting help with the steps or the ladder. But as a teenager, who was also weak from a lengthy post-surgical recovery, it was very difficult to use the pool. However, it was the best physical therapy! Once I started these sessions a few times a week, I rapidly gained strength without straining my joints.

If only the pool had a lift!

Now many more pools have accessible lifts—including public facilities and hotels. While the pool I regularly use in my community doesn’t need a lift (it has a ramp instead), I use a pool lift most places we travel. It is such a great thing to be able to continue my preferred physical activity/therapy even when we go out of town.

My husband and I have become experts in lifts! We have never met one that we couldn’t figure out how to operate. Sometimes we even know more than the owners of the lift about the little tricks for how they work.

While I love lifts and their proliferation, there are some that I avoid—namely shady-looking outdoor lifts.

Too many times I have seen them fail or break due to the elements, lack of maintenance, or just plain disrepair. I stay away from lifts that look neglected out of fear that I will either get injured or stuck. But lifts installed indoors and properly maintained can be hugely helpful and reliable tools for improved accessibility and usability.

In places where there is no space or it is impractical to build another accessible solution, lifts are incredibly helpful. While I admit that I prefer a simple ramp because they never break down, lifts can literally open doors to otherwise inaccessible spaces.

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