It is the way of life. As you age, you will find it harder to navigate simple things like steps. Your body just can’t lift your feet as high as you used to and that can cause problems when you are trying to get in or out of your RV or trailer.
There are 3 good options and you can use them separately or combine them. One is to build a nice ramp that is not too steep. Another is to put hand rails up for balance and the third one is to build new stairs. All are equally good and can be adapted for your mobility situation.
To find out more about this good and handy project, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can solve this issue for your RV situation. The costs are not that great if you keep it all simple.
RV steps are not known for stability or strength. They are an added feature because many RVs and trailers are a good way off the ground and it is very difficult to leap inside. They are also made of cheap materials that may not last.
The way to make them safer has several options to the process. The first option would be to simply reinforce those steps with more metal pieces. That would make the steps stronger and more stable.
The only drawback to this option would be to find a way to have that reinforcement retract in the same way the steps retract. This is not impossible but it may be a challenge for some RV owners.
The second option would be to build a second set of stairs that go over the top of the original RV steps. You can design these steps in the best way that fits your mobility needs.
The drawback to this option would be storage as those new steps may not fold up as small and be put away like the original steps you are improving. You would have to find a way to fold them up and slide them into a safe storage area to take them with you as you travel.
The third option would be to build a ramp. You can make it incline slightly so that you and other elderly passengers can walk up nice and easily to your RV entrance. Or out of it. You may want to put a landing between the ramp and the door for better navigation.
The drawback to this option would be like the steps. You may not have the best storage space available. Also, for this option and the steps, you have to consider the weight factor.
Probably the best option when it comes to storage and wight would be the last one. You can install handrails that fold against the exterior of the RV or trailer. These come in different sizes so you can pick the best one for the height of the people who are going to use it.
Plus, they are easy to install, strong, and not hard to keep clean. These may not cost that much so picking the right one should fit your budget
It really is not hard to build a set of steps that your elderly parents or you and your spouse can use. These same steps can be used for younger RVers when they have medical issues that impede their mobility.
The best way to construct steps for an elderly person is to make sure that the rise of each step is not that high. For some older folks, lifting their legs high is painful and very hard to do.
Keep the rise low but not so low that you are adding too many steps to the design. Then make the step wide enough so that their whole foot can safely stand on it.
Don’t give them too narrow of a step where their foot is hanging over the edge. This could cause navigation problems and miscalculations of where the step is. When you are using wood, 2 x 10s or 2 x 12s are the best for the steps. Risers can be 2 x 4s or 2 x 6s.
Then add in a removable handrail so senior citizens can balance themselves if they need it. The handrail can be made of wood or metal, whichever you prefer. Add some no-slip treads to the steps to make sure your elderly parents, etc., do not slip as they walk up.
Also, make sure the staircase is at least 32 inches wide. You want to have enough room to maneuver on the steps. If you want metal steps, the best thing to do is buy one of the many prefabricated options you will find just about anywhere steps are built or sold.
You can pick the best one that fits your needs and still meet your budget. Most are better built than the metal steps that come with your RV or trailer. Plus, they are or should be easy to attach to your RV, etc.
These metal options come in different lengths, and slopes, and some have handrails already attached to them. These options make your installation task much easier.
There are companies that make ramps that will fit your RV situation. One company makes these ramps that can hold up to 1000 pounds and can be used for wheelchairs, walkers, or scooters.
They are well designed and should be able to roll or fold up to fit in your RV storage compartments or pass-through space. They set up in less than 30 minutes and they can come with a small landing space for maneuverability.
They can also come with handrails to make walking up or down safer. These ramp options are great if you are only staying temporarily at one site before moving on to your next destination.
If you do not like these ramps and you are staying permanently in one spot, then a good wood one will suffice and be very secure. You can design the wood option to meet just about any RV living space and that flexibility gives the wood an advantage over the metal ramps.
It may be cheaper to make one out of wood than to buy a metal one, but compare prices to make sure. Ramps are good for the elderly but they are also good for dogs who do not like to climb stairs or older dogs who have the same mobility issues as humans do.
Using thicker pieces of studs like 2 x 6s is the best support you can use and then 3/4 inch plywood would be best for the floor of the ramp. This project does not take long to build and use carpenter’s glue and drywall screws for added security.
Don’t forget to include a landing for maneuvering. As a reminder, end grains do not hold nails and screws so design your wood ramp accordingly.
Mor/Ryde International and Lippert make steps for RVs. While they are fairly good steps and well constructed, they seem too steep for elderly people to use. Unfortunately, they happen to be the top 4 of 5 of some top best step lists.
The Quick Products platform step will only be good if your RV or trailer entry way is low to the ground. It is a wide step but it is more like a short stool than a step. It will be good as older folks or those with mobility issues do not have to climb a lot of stairs to get inside the RV.
Stromberg Carlson makes a great step for elderly people. The steps are wide and easy to go up and down plus, the top step is a little larger for obvious reasons. What we liked about one of their options is that it comes with a handrail for stability.
Then Buyers Products makes plastic steps that should hold 350 pounds. These steps are okay if you are on a tight budget but they can be bulky, hard to store and there is no handrail.
Also, the bottom step is wider than the top which may cause some problems for some people. Then there are those steps made by these and other companies that are mere replacements for your current RV step design.
They may be stronger than your current steps but the design is the same and may not work out too well for your RV situation. But that is up to you to determine. They do store away easily as they will fold under your RV or trailer as your original steps do.
As to the best steps for elderly people, there are many different RV situations. One design is not going to work for everyone and the mobility issues you or your parents face may not be accommodated by a one-size-fits all design.
The best steps is the one that solves your entry or exit problem when you have elderly people in your RV with you. These can be made out of wood or metal and you have to decide which design and construction material will be the best in your RV situation.
You get to do those things you always wanted to do but couldn’t because you were working, raising kids, and meeting your responsibilities. Here are some tips to help guide your time as you travel:
1. Don’t pull a trailer- pulling a trailer can be hard work and can cause some injuries if you are not careful. It is better to drive an RV as it is easier to drive, set up, level, and use the restroom as well as being able to pull a smaller vehicle.
2. Install a handrail- you may not need it and it is not an insult if it is there. It is just handy to have as some people can trip accidentally at any age going up or down stairs. This is just a safety device when you need it.
3. Use a headlamp- the strap goes around your forehead and lights up the area without using your hands. Or install a nice over the door light that illuminates a large area. At night it is hard to see and any extra illumination is safe and comes in handy.
4. Purchase a satellite phone- Cell phone service is not universal in the country. You can easily end up in an area that has no cell phone service. The satellite phone makes sure you can contact others when you need to.
However, they can be expensive to use so have one as a backup for emergencies.
5. Safety in numbers- when you can, travel with other RVers going in your direction. You can join a group traveling or create your own. Not only are you safer but you also have more companionship and friends to talk to, etc.
6. Get your American The Beautiful Seniors Pass- this lets you camp at any National Park in the country for free. You have to be over 62 to get one and a lifetime pass only costs $80. An annual pass is $20.
Building or getting a ramp or steps for your RV is always a good idea. Those original stairs are not that strong or well constructed. It pays to upgrade the steps as you will be using them often.
Check your budget then shop around. You should be able to find or build a set of steps that are better and safer than the ones currently on your RV or Trailer.
Just make sure that your upgrade work does not void your warranties. The RV companies can be fairly picky and look for a variety of reasons to avoid paying for any damage to your RV or trailer.