A chair lift (also called a stair lift or lift chair) is an assistive device that helps users go up and down stairs without having to climb. The user rides in a seat attached to a track, and the device glides up the staircase. Chair lifts can help people be more independent.
Purchasing a lift chair for your home doesn’t have to be extremely expensive. Here are some ways to get financial assistance for home stair lifts.
How to Find Home Chair Lift Assistance
You may be eligible for federal and/or state financial assistance for purchasing and installing a lift chair. The best way to find out if you qualify for assistance is to apply for the various programs and ask what’s available. If you think you’re eligible, you can apply for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and veterans benefits.
Does Medicare cover stair lifts?
Original Medicare does not cover stair lifts*. However, certain private plans called Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans might. There are hundreds of Medicare Advantage plans available throughout the country, but they can all offer slightly different coverage. Additionally, not all plans will be available in your area.
*Original Medicare may help pay for an elevating seat to help the rider sit and stand safely. The coverage may only cover the seat, which is considered to be durable medical equipment. According to Medicare, home chair lifts fall under home modifications, not durable medical equipment.
Will Medicaid pay for a lift chair?
Medicaid is a state and federal program that helps eligible people receive healthcare coverage. Your state’s Medicaid program may help pay for a lift chair if you qualify.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) may help disabled veterans who cannot safely navigate stairs pay for a stair lift. The benefit applies to veterans whose disabilities are the result of their military service. You may need a home visit and skills evaluation before the VA approves your stair lift.
You may also qualify for VA benefits if you or your spouse is disabled and the disability is not the result of military service. Some veterans qualify for the VA Aid and Attendance benefit, which may help pay for “care-related services.”
If you aren’t eligible for a lift chair due to service-related injuries, and you don’t qualify for the VA Aid and Attendance benefit, local assistance programs called Veterans Directed Home and Community Based Services may help. These are specific to local VA medical centers, and they help veterans live at home, rather than at nursing homes.
Some long-term care insurance policies may cover stair lifts if it means that you can live at home, rather than transitioning to a long-term care facility.
In addition, you may be able to save by looking for used stair lifts. Some manufacturers may offer financing so you don’t have to pay all at once.
Chair Lifts for Stairs With Landings
Chair lifts for stairs with landings come in a variety of configurations to accommodate different types of stairs. Most chair lifts fall into two categories: straight or curved.
Straight Chair Lifts
Straight chair lifts only work on straight staircases without curves or corners. However, you can use multiple straight chair lifts on straight portions of your staircase with landings or turns.
For example, one chair lift can go from the floor to the first landing. Then another can go from the first landing to the top of the stairs.
The advantage to installing multiple chair lifts is that it can be less expensive than one curved lift chair. The disadvantage is that once you reach the first landing, you must get up and transfer to the second chair. The transfer may be unsafe for some people.
Curved Chair Lifts
Every staircase can be different, and to work, most curved chair lifts must be custom-fit to accommodate your home’s twists and turns. However, there are some common configurations that include:
Top or Bottom Overrun: An overrun can be at the top, bottom, both ends of a staircase. The “overrun” is where the stair lift track extends past the staircase and onto the landing and/or the floor at the bottom of the stairs. This feature may make it easier for the user to sit into or stand up from the chair.
Intermediate Landing: An “intermediate landing” is a landing before the top of the stairs. Curved stair lifts can rise with the staircase, become level at the intermediate landing, then continue rising to the top of the stairs.
90° Flat Landing: This is a type of staircase with a landing that has right-angle change of direction in the staircase. Like with the intermediate landing, the lift chair’s track travels up the staircase, levels out at the landing, then travels up again.
180° Flat Landing: The same as the 90° flat landing but the turn is 180° at the landing.
Spiral Stair Lift: These chair lifts feature tracks that curve around the entire length of a spiral or curved staircase.
Original Medicare does not offer coverage for home chair lifts. If you want help finding assistance for a home stair lift, one of our licensed agents may be able to help you find a Medicare Advantage plan, a long-term care policy, or other financial assistance. Our agents are highly trained and they can help you determine the right fit for your budget and medical needs. To schedule a no-cost, no-obligation appointment, call 1-844-431-1832 or contact us here today.
Home Health Tests Seniors Should Try
We’re all aware we should make an effort to regularly see our physicians. But we also know that life tends to get in the way.
Especially for seniors, transportation and cost can often prevent routine doctor visits. However, just because you can’t get to your doctor’s office, doesn’t mean you have to stay in the dark about your health. There are quite a number of tests that you can perform without ever leaving home!
Tests You Can Do At Home Today
The range of at-home tests and testing methods varies widely. Some require expensive medical equipment only available through a supplier and with a prescription, while others require only a pen and paper. Here are some tests that you can do today with little to no supplies
SAGE Test for Dementia
The Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam, or SAGE, was devised by researchers from the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University. SAGE can help detect early warning signs of cognitive impairment and memory loss in less than 15 minutes.
The test has several components and several forms, all of which can be viewed and downloaded at the Wexner Medical Center’s website. These include sections on orientation, language, memory and visuospatial awareness.
The most well-known element of the SAGE is known as the clock drawing test. All you need to do is get out a pen and paper and draw a picture of a clock, with the hands reading 3:40. Then compare your drawing to a real clock to see how you scored.
If your circle is closed, give yourself a point. If all twelve numbers are accounted for and in the right place, you get two more points. If your hands are in the correct position as well, you passed with flying colors. A score of any less than three points, however, might be an indication that you should see your physician for further screening. This test is sometimes performed without the rest of the exam, though it is usually recommended to perform the entire SAGE test for dementia detection.
Window Test for Vision Loss
Our eyes take a lot of abuse these days from the onslaught of screens and artificial lighting. It’s even more severe as we get older and the natural, age-related loss of vision begins to take effect. If you experience some trouble reading, give yourself this informal at-home eye exam to judge whether or not you should seek an eye care professional.
First, sit across the room from a large window or door so that you can see all the lines of the frame around it. Cover one eye and focus on the window or door frame with your open one for 30 seconds. Then repeat with the opposite eye. The horizontal and vertical lines of the frame should be clearly visible with no missing or hazy areas. If the edges of the frame seem distorted or warped, this may indicate macular degeneration, a disease that is currently the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in people over 60.
Cushion Test for Peripheral Arterial Disease
The cushion test can be performed without even getting out of bed! It can help detect blocked arteries in your legs and feet, a condition known as PAD, or peripheral arterial disease. Those with high blood pressure or diabetes, both common among seniors, are especially at-risk for this disease.
To perform this test, lie on a bed and elevate your legs with pillows or cushions until they are resting at a comfortable 45-degree angle. Keep them there for one minute, then sit up and swing your legs over the side of the bed so that they hang at an angle of 90 degrees. If either or both of your legs turn pale when elevated and take several minutes to return to their normal shade after sitting up, you may need to consult your physician with the results from this peripheral artery disease test.
Phalen’s Maneuver for Carpal Tunnel
We are an increasingly computer-savvy society and people of all ages are typing more than they used to. Extended periods of typing are strongly associated with carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful condition caused by a pinched median nerve in the wrist, but many other activities like driving can bring on these symptoms as well. Furthermore, people over 55 years old are at a much higher risk and those over 65 are more likely to have cases that are severe.
Phalen’s maneuver is a test devised to diagnose carpal tunnel at home and has been shown to be surprisingly effective. To see for yourself, press the tops of your hands together with your fingers pointing toward the floor and your elbows extended. If you can, hold this position for a full minute. If you feel an unpleasant sensation, such as prickling, tingling, or burning, you may likely have carpal tunnel and should consider preventive measures.
Check out this video from Physiotutors on YouTube that explains how to perform the Phalen test:
Testing With Medical Equipment
Some at-home health tests will require special instruments to fully gauge the results. While many of these items can be freely obtained from online and brick-and-mortar retailers, some require ordering through a medical supplier with a doctor’s prescription. Below, we will detail some of the testing you can do at home with the help of specially-designed medical equipment.
Blood Sugar Test
For the 12 million seniors living with diabetes* (about 25% of those over the age of 65), monitoring blood sugar levels is an near-constant concern. Luckily, this is something that can be checked at home or on-the-go using a blood glucose monitor, or glucometer. These can be found online or in pharmacies in the form of kits, which include testing strips, needles (called lancets), and the glucometer itself.
To test blood sugar at home, you will need to insert a test strip into the electronic monitor and prick the side of your finger with the provided lancet. Gently apply pressure to that finger until you see a drop of blood form, then touch it to the edge of the test strip. In just a few seconds, you will have an accurate metering of your current blood sugar levels, no matter where you are.
Blood Pressure Test
Along with heart rate, breathing rate, and body temperature, blood pressure is one of the four most significant vital signs that our bodies produce. High blood pressure can be caused by countless factors like high cholesterol, stress, and even fear, and affects almost 70% of adults between the ages of 65 to 74. Monitoring blood pressure accurately is vitally important, as symptoms may not manifest until these levels are dangerously high. Doctors maintain accuracy by using large, costly machines but there are ways to test blood pressure at home with minimal equipment.
The quickest and most accurate results will come from automated, electronic blood pressure monitors that come with an upper arm cuff. Many different brands of at-home blood pressure cuff exist and can be found at pharmacies or similar retailers. The directions for use may change from model to model but there are certain rules that apply no matter what brand you use, including placing the cuff directly on the skin, placing the feet flat on the floor, elevating the arm to chest height, and avoiding smoking or drinking for 30 minutes before testing.
At-Home Lab Tests
Another popular method of in-home health testing comes in the form of test kits that can be ordered right to your door. These vary widely, not only in terms of what is being tested, but also in the method of sample collection. Some services will send a team of professionals to administer and retrieve your test, while others will only send instructions and require you to send your samples back in the mail for results. These can be purchased to test for a wide range of conditions, including food sensitivity, hormone testing, DNA testing, and other at-home blood tests.
Medicare DME Coverage
Durable medical equipment, or DME, is a designation that Medicare uses to classify coverable medical equipment that can be used in the home. This benefit might be used to cover the cost of equipment to aid in the at-home testing we have already covered. The covered equipment can range from crutches and canes to CPAP devices and hospital beds, though it all must come from a Medicare-approved medical supplier.
Medicare-Approved Glucose Meters
Blood sugar monitors and test strips are usually covered under Medicare Part B as durable medical equipment for home use with a doctor’s prescription. You may be able to rent or buy a glucometer but Medicare will only provide coverage if both your physician and the supplier are both enrolled and participating in Medicare. Be sure to clarify this with your doctor and equipment supplier, as some may be enrolled but not “participating” and may not accept the cost of assignment.
Medicare Part B may cover the cost of a blood pressure monitor or ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) device but only under very specific circumstances. Part B will cover a blood pressure monitor and stethoscope for those who receive blood dialysis treatment in their home and will pay for the rental of an ABPM device for patients who have exhibited “white coat hypertension,” a phenomenon where nervousness in clinical settings causes artificially high blood pressure readings.
For those with Medicare Part C, or Medicare Advantage, all the benefits of Parts A & B will be covered but may also include additional benefits and expanded coverage. Contact your insurance company to find out if your Part C plan covers blood pressure monitors or glucometers.
If you don’t have a Medicare Advantage plan, give us a call at 844-431-1832 or contact us online to speak with a licensed agent and find a plan that can address your healthcare needs!
How to Find Medicare-Approved Mobility Scooters in my Area
According to the University of California’s Disability Statistics Center, about 6.8 million people rely on mobility scooters to get around their homes. Electric scooters may help give people independence and freedom who might otherwise be left in bed. If you’re looking for a Medicare-approved mobility scooter, first you have to qualify to receive one.
Your doctor must submit a written order stating that you have a medical need for a scooter to use at home.
You have a health condition that causes extreme difficulty moving around your house.
You can’t engage in daily living activities such as bathing, dressing, getting in or out of bed or a chair, or using the bathroom, even with an assistive device.
You’re able to safely operate the scooter including getting on and off the device, or you have a caregiver with you at all times to help you use the device safely.
You can use the equipment in your home (for example, it’s small enough to fit through your doors).
Both your doctor and the equipment supplier are Medicare-approved.
If Medicare approves the device, you may pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount after you pay your Part B deductible for the year. Medicare may pay the other 80 percent.
Medigap Coverage for Scooters
A Medigap (Medicare Supplement) plan is a type of private insurance policy that can help pay for financial items such as Medicare coinsurance (like the 20 percent you’d pay for a scooter) and copays. In 2019, Medigap plans have 10 different coverage levels and each one is assigned a letter.
Note: Plans that cover the Part B deductible (Plan F and Plan C) are going away in 2020, so if you want coverage for those items, talk to an agent to enroll now. Those plans won’t be available to anyone newly eligible for Medicare after January 1, 2020.
Medicare Advantage Scooter Coverage
Medicare Advantage plans are private insurance policies that can provide coverage for more services than Original Medicare. Even though Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage sounds similar, they are actually very different.
Medigap plans help pay for Original Medicare-related fees. Medicare Advantage plans offer coverage for the same services as Original Medicare, but they can also offer additional benefits such as hearing, dental, vision, and fitness classes. You cannot have both a Medicare Supplement and a Medicare Advantage plan, so it’s best to meet with an agent to learn what’s right for you.
A Medicare Advantage plan may offer reduced fees for mobility scooters, however, your exact cost depends on your plan.
How to Get a Medicare-Approved Mobility Scooter
In order to get a prescription for a mobility scooter, you must first have a face-to-face visit with your doctor. Your doctor must document your condition and ability to move around your home. Your documentation needs to say that you can’t use other mobility aids, and a scooter is your only option.
The mobility device supplier must receive the order within 45 days of your in-person evaluation.
How to Find a Medicare-Approved Electric Scooter Supplier
Medicare.gov has a DME directory so you can find a Medicare-approved electric scooter supplier. Click here to get started. Enter your zip code in the search bar. We used our home office’s zip code in Nashville, TN for demonstration purposes. Then click “Go” beside the green arrow.
The next page you reach allows you to select which DME you need. Since you’re looking for a scooter, check “Power Operated Vehicles (Scooters).” Then click “Search.”
Click “Show All Results ” on the next page.
Then you can see a list of local DME suppliers complete with contact information. You may have to call multiple suppliers to find the right one.
If you can’t use a cane or walker, but you have enough upper body strength to use a manual wheelchair, you may qualify for one instead of a powered scooter. You may have to rent a wheelchair first, even if you plan on buying it eventually.
You may qualify for a power wheelchair if you can’t use a manual wheelchair or electric Hoscooter safely. If you aren’t strong enough to operate the scooter, your doctor may recommend a power wheelchair instead.
Does Medicare Cover Stair Lifts?
Stair lifts are a mobility aid many people use to travel up and down stairs in their homes. Medicare considers stair lifts to be home modifications rather than DME, therefore, Original Medicare doesn’t cover them.
Medicare fraud can happen in a variety of ways. For example, in 2018, an equipment supplier found a woman’s Medicare number and claimed they sold her an electric wheelchair. The supplier did not sell the woman anything. In fact, the 85-year-old “refused the hand of a deputy and climbed into the witness chair” according to the Associated Press (AP).
Possible signs of scooter fraud are a supplier offering you a “free” scooter, offering to pay you in cash or to waive your copay, or having a doctor you don’t know order a scooter for you.
If you suspect fraud, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to report the incident. Be sure to write down all of the details of your incident such as the company’s name and who you talked to.
Get Coverage for Medicare-Approved Mobility Scooters
A licensed agent with Medicare Plan Finder may be able to help the best coverage to suit your needs, whether it’s a Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage plan.
There may be many plans available in your area, and your agent may be able to find a plan that fits your budget, lifestyle, and one that offers important benefits such as scooter coverage. To set up an appointment, call 833-438-3676 or contact us here today.