Mobility challenges are a common part of old age. As we become older, beyond 65 – 70 years of age, mobility issues and balance problems start showing up.
Consequently, we may need help to reach certain areas of our homes safely, and that is where step stools come in handy. This article talks about how to use the step stool safely and discusses some of the best step stools with handles for the elderly.
As an elderly individual, if you are staying alone, there will be lot of instances when you will find the step stool really useful.
Having said that, even if you are living with your loved ones or have a caregiver, mobility problems may still require you to use the step stool in some situations. This device helps you to be independent and complete a lot of daily tasks by yourself.
The step stool is a platform or a self-supporting, one or two-step, high stool with a handle for supporting the individual.
When to Use the Step Stool with Handle?
Due to old age-related body balance problems, mobility challenges and weaker musculoskeletal structure, you may often find it difficult to:
- Reach high shelves and storage space within your house. You may not be comfortable enough to use a ladder. The step stool is self-supporting and will be much more stable than a ladder. Moreover, the handle on the step stool will help you to take support and access higher spaces more confidently
- You may need help to get out of your bed. The step stool will provide you with an intermediate step between the bed and the floor
- Similarly, you may find the stool useful while getting down from a vehicle
- You may want to use the step stool while getting in and out of the bathtub, for some height leverage and extra support to prevent slipping on a wet surface
How High Should the Step Stool be?
The height of the step stool is generally around 9 – 10 inches from the ground which is the ideal stepping height for the elderly.
The step stool should also have a handle for support and the height of the handle should be such that you can hold onto it without bending down. The handle height should be about 3 ft from the floor, or in general, between 33 – 38 inches from the floor.
How to Safely Use the Step Stool with Handle?
While the step stool adds on to your convenience, it is important to use it safely as it is a separate aide and not screwed onto or attached to the ground.
- You should periodically ensure that the nuts, bolts and joints of the step stool are all firmly in place and the handle and platform are not wobbling. Accidents which happen due to the step stool falling apart under your weight is generally very injurious if not fatal.
- It is important to make sure that the step stool is on even ground so that all the four feet are well supported on the floor and at the same level.
- You should never keep another object on the step stool or the step stool on another object to increase your reach and access.
- If your step stool is foldable, you should always unfold it completely before use. Never use the step stool when it is partly unfolded
- If you are using the stool on a slippery surface, make sure that the anti-slip covers of the stool legs are intact and effective
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What to Look for in Your Step Stool with Handle
For the purpose of this article which specifically caters to the elderly, we are going to limit ourselves to step stools with just one step, due to safety reasons.
- Height of platform: You must ensure that the step stool you are buying is of a height that you can comfortably scale in one step. While the ideal height is between 9 – 10 inches, it varies greatly with individual height and fitness level. When in doubt, it is always better to buy the one of lesser height.
- Weight: If you anticipate situations where you will have to move the step stool on your own, you must look to buy one which is lightweight (without compromising on durability).
- Platform and material: The platform should be made of durable material and it is best if there is a layer of rubber or matted surface for extra grip and friction
- Handle and grip: make sure that the handle is at a convenient height – not too low and not too high for you. Also, it is preferable that there be a rubber or plastic grip on the handle for stronger and more comfortable grip in winters.
- Weight capacity: Finally, it is important to note the maximum weight bearing capacity of the step stool, particularly, if you on the heavier side.
Below, we have reviewed a few of the best step stools with handle for the elderly and hope they will help you to arrive at a buying decision.
#1 DMI Step Stool with Handle
This step stool from prominent medical devices manufacturer, Duro-Med, has a chrome plated steel construction with platform height of 9.5 inches from the floor, and a handle height of 34 inches from the floor.
These heights are typical of step stools and are ideal for the elderly. However, if you are exceptionally tall, you may have to bend down a little to grip the handle, as the height is not an adjustable feature.
The platform is 10 x 14.5 inches in size and the device weighs about 8.5 lbs or just under 4 kgs. The maximum weight that the stool can carry is 300 lbs.
The stool has the option of being used with or without the handle – for example, if you are using it as a step while getting out of bed, you may want to use it without the handle and easily push it under the bed after use.
The textured layer on the platform provides an anti-skid surface for safety and stability. Particularly, when you are using the stool in a wet area like bathroom, this layer, as well as the rubberized soles of the feet provide much needed stability.
On wet surfaces, it is always advisable to use the stool with the handle. The non-skid layer, however, because it creates more friction, will attract more dirt which will take some cleaning to remove.
The product requires some assemble, which can be done following the instructions in the manual and would be faster if you use a screwdriver.
- Non-slip matted layer on the platform increases friction and reduces chances of falling
- Comfortably placed handle with rubber grip for better hold
- Stool feet have rubberized tips for noiseless moving and safer use on wet floors
- Good value for money
- The non-slip layer on the top of the platform may come off on rough use
- Requires assembly which requires your own equipment, that is a screwdriver. Take care that all four legs are the same level for the stool not to wobble during use
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#2 Drive Medical Step Stool with Handle
The step stool from drive medical is for heavy duty use and can carry up to 500 lbs. The device is constructed of steel and the joints between platform, handle and feet are riveted together for better strength.
The platform is supported with cross braces between the feet of the stool gives it enough strength for supporting larger weights. The platform height and handle height are 9 and 34 inches respectively from the floor and are in line with typical step stool heights.
You get an option to buy this product with or without the handle, however, we recommend that you buy with the handle and always use for better stability and safety. The product comes fully assembled which is really useful for elderly users who are staying alone.
You just need to put the handle into the sockets. The handle, however, may be a bit wobbly because it does not fit the socket exactly and may reduce your psychological feeling of safety.
As a general rule for using the stool, if you are very heavy, you should always put one foot on the stool and then use the handle as support; Otherwise, if you try to support your weight by the handle before getting onto the stool, the stool being light, you run the risk of tipping over with the stool.
- Considering durability, product is lightweight at about 10 lbs
- The platform is reinforced by crisscross braces for better strength
- Product comes fully assembled
- The feet are curved outward for a larger base area and better stability
- Anti-skid rubber layer on platform to prevent slipping
- Suitable for heavy users
- No rubber or plastic grip on handle; may be very cold to the touch during winters
- The handle may wobble a bit if it does not precisely fit the socket
#3 AdjustaStool with Dual Handle
The stool is made of steel and the height of the handle and platform can be adjusted according to the height of the user. The stool may cost you about 30 dollars more than other products but compensates you fully for the extra bucks with dual handles and close customization.
Platform height can be adjusted from 8.5 inches to 10.5 inches. The handle height can also be adjusted from 31.5 – 33.5 inches. Taller users will have to bend to take support from the handles.
The height adjustability feature truly makes this product suited for multiple activities like getting out of bed or the bathtub or trying to access higher shelves. For the elderly who require more support, physical and psychologically, the dual handle system proves really useful and provides added safety.
However, the extra handle adds on to the weight of the device and if you are arthritic, you will find it difficult to move it around. All in all, this step stool is one of the safer products out there, with dual handles, non-skid layer on platform and anti-skid rubberized feet.
Moreover, the feet of the stool are considerably curved outwards, creating a larger base and resulting in more stability.
Here we have a video that shows more information about AdjustaStool with Dual Handle including how to assemble it.
- Adjustable height of platform; customizable as per your height and convenience
- Height of handle is also adjustable
- Non-skid layer on surface of platform on covers on feet prevents slipping or sliding
- Two handles are better than one; physically more secure and user feel more safe
- No rubber padding on handles for better grip. May be cold to the touch during winters
- The platform size may be a bit smaller if you have large feet
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#4 Support Step Stool by Bundaloo
The step stool is made of steel for durability and has legs curved out outwards for an expanded support base which adds to stability. It has the option to be used without the handle as well, but we recommend that you keep the handle attached for safety reasons.
The platform height and the handle height are typical at 9.5 inches and 34.5 inches, however, these heights cannot be adjusted and depending on your height you may find the handle a bit higher or lower for your comfort.
The stool weighs under 8 lbs and is one of the most lightweight among its competitors. It can carry a maximum weight of 300 lbs. If your weight is anywhere close to 300 lbs, we recommend that you purchase an item which is suitable for bariatric users.
A number of features increase the stability of the stool – slip resistant matted layer on the platform, rubber grip on handle and rubberized feet. You should be careful to assemble the product carefully so that the feet are all at the same level and the handle does not wobble.
A wobbly handle often gives a magnified sense of instability to the elderly, particularly with balance issues.
- The feet of the stool are curved outwards and expand the support area of the stool to increase stability
- Reinforced rubber feet and slip resistant matted layer on the platform for added safety
- Rubber grip on handle for comfortable hold
- Lightweight and sturdy
- Requires assembly which may be difficult for the elderly
#5 AdjustaStep Foot Stool with Handle
This step stool with handle by Platinum Health has a height adjustable handle and platform. The height of the platform can be adjusted across 3 options of 8.5, 9.5 and 10.5 inches.
If for some reason you would require an even lower platform than 8.5 inches, a workaround is to cut the legs of the stool and reinstall the rubber tips. However, you should get it done from a professional to avoid uneven legs which will make the stool wobbly.
The handle height can be adjusted from 31.5 – 33.5 inches from the ground, at increments of one inch. This may be a little low for taller users who will have to slightly bend down to take support from the handle.
However, if you are arthritic or are suffering from back problems, bending may not be easy for you and in that case you may want to go for a different product with a higher handle.
The item weighs 9 lbs and can carry up to a maximum weight of 300 lbs. The product needs assembly, however, it is very easy to assemble particularly with a good screwdriver.
While the product offers a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects, it is worthwhile to read the fine print and understand your costs (like shipping cost of returns) in case you wish to invoke warranty.
- Adjustable height of platform and handle
- Non-slip layer on platform and beneath stool feet prevents slipping on and sliding of stool
- Non-slip hand grip present on the handle
- Durable and sturdy
- If you are a tall user, you may have to bend down slightly to hold onto the handle
- On the expensive side
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#6 Step Stool with Handle by Ollieroo
The step stool made of steel has a wider platform with dimensions of 17 x 12 inches and gives you more space to maneuver. If you have larger feet you do not have to feel cramped for space on this platform.
Moreover, if you have just woken up and not seeing clearly, a wider platform always provides that extra headroom for error and added safety. The product weighs about 9 lbs and can support up to a maximum weight of 330 lbs.
The platform and handle heights are 9.8 inches and 34 inches above floor, respectively. The top of the handle and sides have rubber cushion for easy gripping – otherwise metal parts tend to be really chilly during the cold winters.
Some users have reported customization of the stool, to adjust it to their height – either by shaving off a few inches from the legs to shorten it or by installing a bar on top of the handle to avoid bending down while taking support from the handle.
However, we would strongly recommend that any such changes be carried out only by professionals, so that the stability of the device is not compromised.
- Larger platform; suitable for larger feet
- Detachable handle and has the option to use without a handle as well
- The handle has a wide rubber cushion for better grip and comfortable support during winters
- Rubberized tips of feet to improve stability and grip on wet floors
- May not be easy to assemble for the elderly, as alignment of the holes and screws can be difficult
Step stools that have handles are exceptionally useful aides, not only for the elderly, but also for small children in the household who may not be able to reach bathroom fixtures comfortably.
They can also be used by able adults to access high storage spaces in the home. This makes these devices good value for money buys. However, the real use of the step stools become apparent if, as an elderly, you are staying alone. It reduces your risk of fall significantly, while doing your house-work and daily chores.
For a small investment it markedly increases your physical and psychological safety!