These days, older adults are more active and still performing domestic tasks that past generations might have given up on by now. They are more likely to continue doing modest home maintenance and household repairs using a stepladder than get tradespeople in to do tasks for them, which is a good and independent line.
However, aging brings slower reflexes, joint pain, and failing eyesight, amongst other conditions, which pose a risk when using a ladder. For example, an arthritic knee can cause a sharp, momentary shot of pain accompanied by the knee dropping involuntarily - potentially disastrous for someone using a ladder. I've experienced that myself, and it's no joke.
The best type of step ladder for seniors should make them feel safe, instill confidence when working at height, minimize risk, and be easy to set up and put away after use.
Important Features for a Step Ladder Used by Seniors
The key features needed to make a step ladder feel safe for seniors are:
- Non-slip feet - you don't want to feel your work platform moving when you are off the ground. You want complete stability.
- Proper wide steps, not rungs are much more comfortable when you work on a ladder for more than a few minutes and feel just like standing on ordinary steps.
- A top grab rail enables you to maintain three points of contact when climbing the ladder and provides reassurance that you can hold yourself in position when working.
A bonus would be a tool holder at the top of the handrail - a helpful tool that means you don't have to keep going up and down the ladder when working.
I'll show you some examples of stepladders that meet the suitability criteria for seniors.
SUPPORT PLUS 4 Step Folding Step Ladder
The SUPPORT PLUS 4-Step Folding Step Ladder is well built and sturdy, made of tubular steel alloy with a white-coated finish, and has a 440 pounds load capacity.
An immediate plus point for its use by seniors is the handrail setup. They can use a grab rail at the top and padded handrails on either side of the steps. These give added confidence when higher up the ladder, as you can be more comfortable steadying yourself with a side grip rather than holding on to the front.
The legs have non-slip boots on the feet, and at the other end of the ladder, you'll find a tool pouch perfect for holding tools or work sundries - both are helpful safety features.
The size of the steps is another advantage. They are wide with a slip-resistant surface.
The Support Plus folds away for storage - measuring 66 inches by 10 inches - and you can suspend it by the top if you wish in your chosen storage area.
Some minor assembly is required. The side handrails need bolting in place, which won't take long to complete.
Jumbo Step from Little Giant Ladders - 3 Step Ladder
The Little Giant Jumbo Step comes in two, three, and four-step versions with a three-hundred and seventy-five pounds capacity. I'll concentrate on the three-step option here, but my comments apply to all of them.
The ladder has a good build quality in lightweight aluminum and is easy to use. The whole unit folds flat in seconds, is easy to pick up and carry, and can be stored in a narrow space. Conversely, you can open it up just as quickly.
The steps are configured more like those on a staircase, so the rise isn't steep, and the steps are deep and comfortable to work.
The grab handle hinges lock in position with a simple one-finger operation on each side of the ladder, so folding up and down is straightforward. And you can use the ladder with the grab rail down if you wish.
There is an integral tool holder at the top of the grab rail, so whatever tasks you need the stepladder for, there is somewhere to store a few tools and fixings while you work.
The feet are extra wide and slip-resistant, which provides good stability even when working over any grating.
For the technically-minded, the ladder is ANSI Type IAA 375 lbs duty rated.
Something Associated - but Different
While on the subject of safe step ladders for seniors, here are a few associated items that can benefit people with limited mobility.
DMI Step Stool
The DMI Step Stool is a single-height platform you can use with or without the long support handle. The textured platform surface is non-slip, as are the reinforced rubber boots on the feet.
This step stool is ideal for anyone needing additional working height for often-performed tasks such as working in the kitchen, getting in and out of bed, or the bath. The step-up it provides is 9.5 inches.
You will need to assemble the chrome-plated, heavy-duty steel frame, but no special tools are required. When completed, the stool can take a load of up to 300 pounds.
KASSO Riser Step Stool
The KASSO Riser Step Stool uplifts 3.1 inches and provides extra help for people struggling with full-depth steps.
It only weighs 2.6 pounds and is ideally located at the front, and rear doors of your home, outside your backyard shed, or for getting in and out of cars, trucks, and SUVs. Small and simple but effective.
A Final Note
You should use a step ladder sensibly, just like any other type of ladder. You should avoid setting the ladder up on an uneven or slippery surface which can raise the risk of the step ladder moving and toppling. Don't exceed the weight limit for which the ladder is rated, never use a damaged stepladder, and always ascend and descend the ladder using three points of contact. These are common sense precautions but easily overlooked when you want a simple task sorted quickly. Stay safe!