Beijing introduces machines to help seniors climb stairs

World Today

A housing community in Beijing has introduced stair-climbing machines in old apartment buildings without elevators, in a bid to help the elderly move up and down staircases.

The Donggaodi Community introduced the machines in late August, making it the first housing complex in Beijing’s Fengtai District to provide such a service.

With just the push of a button, the machine packs up its wheels, unfolds two tracks and begins to climb up one step at a time while the individual leans back on a chair. It’s pretty much like an Autobot in the Transformers. The machine is also equipped with features to ensure passenger safety, including a safety belt.

Although the service is free of cost, people do need to book in advance, so that community workers can set it up for them.

For people like 78-year-old Zhao Shuming, who suffered a paralytic attack 10 years ago, the service has come as a boon. “When I go downstairs by myself, I would use my able hand to grasp the handrail…it’s very comfortable to sit on the machine. It’s also safe and trustworthy,” Zhao told CCTV News.

However, with nearly one-third of the people living in Donggaodi Community being senior citizens, there is a need for more than just the two machines that have been installed at the moment. The management has said that they have taken note of this fact and are looking to attract more investment and train more volunteers to improve the service.

Experts point out more such machines should be introduced across the country to make elderly people’s daily lives more comfortable, especially considering the growing population of the elderly in China.

In Beijing alone, for example, over 3 million people are aged 60 or above, with many suffering from limited mobility and other physical problems.