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Thursday, 1 April 2021

New Month Old Post: Stair Rail

(First posted 9th October 2018)

Soon after moving to our current home nearly thirty years ago, I fitted a handrail to help my ageing father and struggling mother-in-law get up and down stairs. They hauled themselves up, breathless, with stiff backs and aching knees, and then eased themselves down, woodwork and bone groaning as one.

I brought it home on top of the car, which was a bit risky because at 14 feet long (4.25 metres) it stuck out both front and back. It’s a pig’s ear handrail – a reference to the cross-sectional shape, not the quality of fitting.

Neither my father or mother-in-law need it now, but even in my darkest moments, I never imagined that I would. 

51 comments:

  1. I am not quite sure what to make of this post, but I can confirm that handrails are useful no matter what age - one can always hurt an ankle or pull one's back and be glad for any little bit of assistance when it comes to getting up or down stairs.

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    1. Even you, Meike, with all your walking? What hope is there for the rest of us? Better to be safe than sorry, though.

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  2. I've recently realised that I now sit down to put my socks on. Just another marker.

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    1. ...and being more choosy about what i stand on to reach the top cupboards.

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    2. I've just made a point of standing to put my socks on. Yes! Success! One should try to achieve something each day.

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  3. Age is a bugger. I realised that we'd slow up with age and maybe creak a bit but not end up like we have. They say keep active and we did more than our fair share, we rode bikes until 60 years old and worked two allotments intil mid 60's but non of the exercise seems to have made any difference.
    We now have a stairlift as Tom is unable to climb the stairs at all and who knows what sort of situation we'd be in if we didn't have the car.
    That said, we've kind of come to terms with it all. lol
    Briony
    x

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    1. Oh heck! Is that what's coming to me. My dad had a similar attitude as he got older. He just said "it's the ageing process" and accepted that there was not always anything one could do about it.

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  4. I suppose it could happen to me too when I eventually get old.

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    1. Perhaps I'm not as bad as the post suggests. I do use the handrail first thing in a morning, but one thing I've realised is never to be complacent. One day you're fine, painting ceilings, gardening, up and down ladders, and then you pull your back and you're hobbling about as if you're suddenly 20 years older.

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  5. Ever since I fell downstairs a few years ago I have made a point of always holding on to hand rails or banisters when going up or down stairs - especially down. Every year around a thousand people die in Britain as a direct result of falling downstairs. Many more thousands end up in A&E or even hospitalised. A large number of victims become disabled - some are forever wheelchair-bound.

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    1. I didn't mention the oak bannister railings on the other side of the stairs which we had fitted more recently and are a bit bourgeois. Between you and me, I'm trying to train myself to hold on at both sides.

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    2. Wouldn't it be easier to have a bed downstairs?

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  6. It comes to us all if we live long enough. Trouble is that we don't recognise it until one day it arrives. Spoken as an 88 year old.

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    1. I know you broke your hip last year, which worried us all, and I suspect we're all thinking that one day it will be us.

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    2. Not everyone breaks a hip when they fall. Weave was unfortunate.

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  7. 4 weeks ago I fell while out for a walk and skinned my knee and bashed my nose. I was lucky not to break anything but my knee is still heeling and I walk more carefully now and always use the handrail on the stairs. I am 70 and want to be able to stay in my home for a good while!

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    1. I've done that too, several times, usually through stupid things like not paying attention. Good point. I hope I never have to move into one of those stinky places.

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  8. Must say that the name of the railing seems to be just right for your dark feelings about discovering the need for it...as listed in an idiom dictionary: "In a pig's ear - An exclamation of emphatic denial, dissent, or disbelief of something." But, as others have said, the use a railing is not always a sign of encroaching age...falling on stairs is common for all ages.

    Though I must say, after ankle surgery a few years ago, I was devastated to discover I could only make it up and down the stairs on my tush for about 2-3 months. Backed up using my arms (which isn't easy if your arms are short or you are weak...) to lift up to the next step and then slid down for the other direction--so much quicker. Made me appreciate mobility, but also made me think about a future where even this option wouldn't work for me.

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    1. The only usage I'm familiar with is pig's ear to mean a complete mess, rather than disbelief, as in "he's made a pig's ear of it', but I see now it can have this other meaning.
      I've always said I wouldn't want to move to a bungalow because if you don't have to use stairs regularly you can lose the capacity to do so, but I can see there are circumstances in which stairs become so tiresome that one would take the easiest option.

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  9. In Watertstones, Sauchiehall Street, I climb the stairs for exercise, then get the lift down from third floor.
    A thousand people die every year from falling down stairs? Horrifying.
    Your house stairs are as steep as any I have seen, be careful.

    I have been fascinated by stairs in houses since childhood. There are books on staircases. All of them draw the eye upwards.

    When I am out walking I often go into a tenement close, just to explore the stairwell.
    Each has its own atmosphere, many are tiled in suggestive colours and designs. Doors have their beauty too. Skylights fascinated the painter Gwen John. So did empty rooms.
    Haggerty

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    1. Books on staircases. All of them draw the eye upwards. Deep stuff there John.

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    2. Irony will get you everywhere, Miss Rachel.
      L'esprit de l'escalier will never be your, um, downfall.
      Haggerty

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    3. Do our books draw the eye upwards? I'm more concerned about going down. If you trip going up it doesn't usually matter.

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    4. Steps veer steeply, often turn enticingly and take you to a half landing, yet prove a hardship to the infirm, and fatal to the absent minded going down.
      In a Victorian house there are the hidden steps beyond the Nursery, through the green baize door, leading to more steps and the Servants' Quarters. Ghosts.
      The Library in an old house draws the eye to the top shelves, positing more danger as you climb the Library ladder, sometimes attached to a brass rail.
      There are YouTube videos on how to make secret doors. I have experience of two large houses in childhood.
      Haggerty

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  10. This post says so much with few words. We bought our home when we were young and I thought nothing of having a basement for the washer and dryer. Now I wonder if someday those stairs will become a real problem for us. That's one of many reasons to remain active so we can continue to do such things. Good post Tasker, it makes one think.

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    1. Thanks. I'm finding the comments thought provoking. I used to run both up and down the stairs two at a time and even jump down the last 6 steps. That was even before I fitted the hand rail. I don't do it now.

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  11. I assume there was a banister on the stairs?

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    1. When we moved in there was a waist-height wall running just over half way on the side not shown in the photograph until it met the ground floor ceiling. You could hold the top of that going up, but coming down there was nothing until you got to it.

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  12. That last comment is why I got grab bars installed on the side with the half wall, to enable my husband to use the stairs much longer. Grab bars are a good idea to replace all your towel rails. If you fall in the bathroom you tend to try to catch the nearest horizontal usually the towel rail. Which isn't built for this and can tear out of the wall! Do this long before you need to.

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    1. My dad had just about everything - even bars outside his door to help get in and out of the house. Me, I'm in denial.

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  13. Getting old is not for sissy's (hope no one has said that already). When I moved into my first house, I removed the hand rail. My mom used to go up my stairs behind my father, both hands on his back, "pushing him up" as she said. When I sold the house the realtor asked I put up a hand rail, so I retrieved the old railing from the attic.

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    1. You're first. I'm determined to keep up my exercises each day, walks and bike rides (and swimming when it starts again), regular gardening, household jobs and anything else I can to stay fit and put off what seems to be the inevitable. Depressing thought.

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  14. Interesting comments, I remember pulling myself upstairs on my behind after fracturing an ankle. At least it taught me to walk down carefully from then on. Old Age is one of the Seven Ages of Man (or woman) accept and be philosophical about it ;)

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    1. I had to do that for a week when I pulled my back, and it taught me the same

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  15. I always use stairs in preference to lifts. I call it exercise.

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    1. The UMIST building (now gone) in Manchester was great. For a time I was based on floor L. Always walked. Put to shame by a student who used to run up with loads of books in a back pack.

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  16. Arthritis has a habit of seeking out old joint injuries, but I never expected it to attack my jaw joints. Cartilage damage, followed by abnormal bone growth = very painful, and life restricting.

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    1. I seem to have escaped that so far, but I'd no idea it could affect joints like the jaw.

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  17. I remember that in a mood such as the one you seem to be in this very moment, Tasker, I got the idea that I needed to begin yoga immediately to stay the hands of time. So I bought myself a mat and I hied away to a yoga class. I was doing one stretch, and I heard/felt the tiniest pop in my knee. I thought, "How odd."

    I have well and truly crippled myself and now walk up and down stairs holding tightly to handrails, be they pig earred or not. Moral of this story? BEWARE, Tasker. BEWARE, I say! Accept the fact that you are on your way to old fart-dom just as we all are.

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    1. Thanks for the helping hand. But old fartdom won't be my destiny. I was a young fart.

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  18. That staircase is almost as steep as the ones in Amsterdam.

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    1. P.S. The advert at the bottom of this post is specifically targeted at me. Do I need a suspended ceiling from a company in Bath? I hope they are paying you for them.

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    2. The adverts amuse me. I've no idea how they target them. I only seem to get ones for women's clothing. We're now half way to a payout to donate to charity. Should be there in another 6 or 7 years.

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    3. Mine was for DIY wire railing.

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  19. i can't wait for the vaccines to kill off the boomers. There have been a shitload of deaths, at least 200,000 so far, related to the vaccines. Obviously the media isn't gonna talk about this. You boomers wanted to destroy your own children's future, well guess what, YOU are the ones being destroyed now. Boomers are living in terror and horror now, and this is their karma for ruining their own children and grand children's lives and futures. And even if the vaccine doesn't get you, the doctors are openly calling everything "covid19" now and ramming tubes down boomer's throats and putting them on death machines known as "ventilators". Either way, you boomers are fucked. You are the most evil generation to ever exist. You get what you deserve, boomer scum!

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    1. A warm welcome back, Baby Boomer Burner.
      Your love of humane discourse has not dimmed I see.

      Speaking as a sprightly septuagenarian, the lockdown has been the most tranquil period of my life. My sorrow is for the world.

      Far from living in terror I am listening to Bach, Mozart, Brahms, and reading old books: Shakespeare, Dante, Cervantes, Racine.

      What did we Boomers do that makes you so angry?
      Would you have a glass of beer with an old Boomer like me (maintaining social distance) so that we can talk it through?

      Anger like yours is as corrosive as acid.
      Anger becomes an addiction and ratchets up blood pressure, increasing the likelihood of a stroke. Young guys get strokes.

      Forgive we Boomers our many sins, laddie.
      It will take a mighty weight off your chest.

      Boomer Haggerty (1951 - )

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    2. Boomer Haggerty, may your words be a balm to his soul. PS: This is hilarious!

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    3. That's interesting, Anonymous. How do you know the vaccine has killed 200,000 people if it hasn't been reported? I'd like to see the evidence first hand. It isn't a good idea to believe everything you read or are told without trying to check it.

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