Step ladders are essential to home maintenance, but not all of them are safe for everyone. With this in mind, I’ve scoured the market for the best step ladder for elderly people. I made this buyer’s guide with the hopes of helping people find variants that don’t compromise safety for durability.
Read on below to not only check my top favorite senior-friendly step ladders but also my tips for picking one yourself.
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The Delxo WK20161B-2 3-Step Ladder ticks nearly everything I was looking for in a senior-friendly step ladder. It’s well-designed but doesn’t go over with flourishes, which kept its price tag to a reasonable $59.99. Simply put, Delxo focused on what’s essential — and they delivered with the WK20161B-2.
I have a couple of elderly relatives that weigh upward of 150 and 250 pounds, respectively. Neither had any bad experience stepping onto the step ladder, thanks to its 330-pound max load. Yet that’s not the only reason why: Delxo included a metal lock to further stabilize the ladder.
Granted, the Delxo WK20161B-2 doesn’t have handrails. The next best thing is the handgrip, which feels comfortable even with minor tearing after a few months. None of my rooms had damaged floors — the non-marring shoes worked. Add in the wide, anti-slip steps, and Delxo has done superbly in user safety.
The Cosco 11880PBL1E feels like a better option if I was evaluating it in terms of general appeal, but as it is, the Delxo step ladder is the prime choice for the elderly. Still, this Cosco model features a top tray that removes the need to go up and down when removing fixtures and/or handling a variety of tools.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) checked the Cosco 11880PBL1E and gave it a Type II certification, which means it can hold up to 225 lbs. That’s a far cry from the 330 lbs duty rating of my No. 1 choice. It won’t be able to support even elders who are just slightly bigger in weight than average.
On the other hand, the Cosco 11880PBL1E has a better locking mechanism than the Delxo step ladder: You can use the latch with a single hand, which is great news for the elderly. The handgrip has grooves for a stronger hold. And lastly, it’s a solid long-term pick since it has a 10-year limited warranty.
The Best Choice Products SKY1906 3-Step Ladder has a few advantages over my top pick, but it’s also got room for improvement. I love the top tray, which was also in the Cosco 11880PBL1E. However, I wish the tray in this more affordable step ladder was sturdier and big enough to hold a standard-sized paint tray.
Also, this step ladder is a little shorter than the Delxo WK20161B-2 that has a top pedal height of 28”, but 26.5” isn’t bad at all. Both sport the same 330-pound weight capacity and anti-skid ladder shoes, and my older relatives had no qualms about balance. The step ladder was solid even without a lock feature.
Unlike the usual step ladders, the SKY1906 folds and opens smoothly throughout, no friction whatsoever. I wish the top handgrip had padding all around it like with the Delxo step ladder, but the covered space is alright. And despite being just as light as my top pick, the steel frame hasn’t budged one bit.
If you’re willing to spend more than $100, I suggest the Little Giant 10310BA. It sets itself apart with its aerospace-grade aluminum construction, and I have a guess why Little Giant chose this tough yet light material: If it used steel for the frame, it would’ve been much heavier than it already is at 21.5 lbs.
Instead, Little Giant utilized the tougher but heavier steel only for select parts like rivets and brackets. Yet this may have affected its overall weight capacity, which is at 300 lbs, 30 lbs lower than the Delxo and the Best Choice Products models. Still, Duty Rating is suitable for more elders than the Cosco 11880PBL1E.
If you fold it, the depth is reduced to a mere 5.5”, so you can store it in small spaces — and there are wheels so that the elderly can move it without much effort. The tool tray is durable, and it even has hooks for hanging buckets. It’s much thinner than other trays, but you can use it as a handgrip as well.
Weight is a significant factor in picking a step ladder, especially if you’re an elder. The second Little Giant model in my list, the Flip-N-Lite 15272-001, weighs just 9.48 lbs. It doesn’t have wheels like the 10310BA, but it’s not a necessity since it weighs less than half — and yet it has the same 300 lbs Duty Rating.
Unlike the 10310BA, you don’t need extra hand strength to open or fold the Flip-N-Lite 15272-001. But the compromise is evident: The lower step and top tray are too narrow, and the platform is only as wide as the steps of the rest of the entries. You’ll have to be a little more careful when stepping up or down.
Neither the step nor the platform has rubber treads — just grooves. This isn’t good if your shoes have smooth soles or the ladder gets wet. Thankfully, the latch and the rubber feet work as intended.
As much as you want to rely solely on your height, a time will come when a piece of furniture or ceiling is too high to reach. You’ll need a ladder sooner or later to get the job done. Particularly, step ladders are a favorite choice among household owners due to their safety and reliability.
With a decent step ladder, you can clean the top shelves or replace lighting fixtures on your own. People who live alone are then better off with this type of ladder: It’s designed with a solid base to stop shaking as you step up and down or move to either side.
Likewise, its A-frame structure gives it amazing stability. Unlike extension ladders or telescoping ladders, you don’t need to climb up with your hands and feet, one step and one hand at a time. You just use your feet as if you’re just walking up the stairs. What does this mean? You can climb with tools in both hands.
Plus, a step ladder doesn’t always have to be short. Step ladders aren’t limited to two steps: Some have three, four, five, and even more steps. You can easily go well above six-foot-high step ladders. With this variety in height combined with a self-supporting design, homeowners can fix things as soon as possible.
Step ladders are convenient, but they’re not all suitable for the elderly. Even with the base support, step ladders still have other characteristics that require discernment vis-a-vis the use by senior citizens. They need more than a good foundation to stay safe, especially if they’re alone.
But is there any danger to climbing ladders? Yes. According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), the World Health Organization (WHO) noted over 164,000 emergency injuries in the US due to ladders. Worse, around 300 people die each year because of ladder falls.
As much as you want to stay safe at all times, accidents still do happen. Since the elderly have weakened muscles, slower reflexes, and are prone to geriatric syndromes (i.e. health conditions associated with aging), they must be wary of which tools and equipment they use — and this applies to step ladders.
On a related note, here’s a quick video on how to safely use ladders:
Step ladders have a ton of features worth considering, but these are the ones you need to take note of the most if the elderly will use them.
A good number of senior citizens have significant balancing problems, which is why they should never use a step ladder no matter what.
But for elders who can still stabilize themselves relatively well, they can use a step ladder if it has wide steps and minimum gaps. Each step must be a little wider than their feet. This ensures that they won’t stumble or fall even if they step a little too forward or backward, or to either side.
You want the steps to feel rugged so that an elder won’t slip even if the surface is wet or they’re wearing footwear with smooth soles. Check the steps carefully: They should have non-slip features such as rubber treads and grooves.
Ditch any step ladders with completely smooth surfaces — you want textured steps. The ladder shoes or feet should be made of rubber, ideally.
A typical step ladder doesn’t have handrails since it removes the need to use your hands to climb up and down. In contrast, the elderly need something to hold onto, so handrails are essential to them. If there’s no model with handrails on both sides, you should at least look for step ladders with handrails on top.
Don’t just listen to hearsay when buying a step ladder. Instead, look for advice or recommendations from experts and safety organizations. You want a product that’s been thoroughly examined for its utility and safety, among other factors. Always check if the model has a safety certification from a reputable entity.
If the elder lives alone or prefers to do things by themself, get a lightweight yet durable step ladder. This allows them to carry the ladder from room to room with relative ease. Check if it folds as it should. Still, don’t sacrifice durability for a light ladder — pick models that are stainless, waterproof, and/or rustproof.
Always check if the Duty Rating is more than your body weight. Why? If the maximum weight capacity of the ladder is below or exactly your weight, it may become dangerous for you to step on it while carrying tools or items and wearing extra layers of clothing.
My top pick for the best step ladder for elderly people is the Delxo WK2061B-2 3-Step Ladder. It doesn’t have a tool tray like the Cosco 11880PBL1E, but it excels in all other aspects. First, the lock mechanism enhances stability for any seniors stepping up and down the latter.
Second, all three anti-slip rubber steps are as wide as entire platforms of other step ladders. My feet didn’t hurt standing on them for extended periods, and I could always grab onto the padded handgrip, which had a curved design to offer more standing space on top.
It’s not as light as the Little Giant Flip-N-Lite 15272-001, but its weight is just enough given its safety features the former had to compromise for. It’s still very much portable, and even the two-tone look serves a function: It helps the elderly discern the steps and the handgrip quicker.
All in all, the Delxo WK2061B-2 3-Step Ladder is an excellent pick. Its design has a clear focus on safety and stability, which matters a lot more than portability and convenience for this target market — and its GS product safety certification from the global certification body TÜV SÜD is proof of this.