We have lived in our home for 20 years and have never had a railing installed at our front entrance. There are only two steps, and they are not usually difficult to climb. Last year I slipped on black ice when I stepped out and ended up in the front garden on my back, fortunately with no injuries. My husband arranged to have a railing installed last week and I am glad for the increased safety it provides. Besides that, it looks nice.
Many of my patients end up unable to return to their homes after an injury or illness due to accessibility issues. I have a patient who had a stroke a number of years ago and still lives in a walk up apartment with 28 steps. She is now even weaker from another illness and her discharge is being delayed due to her inability to do those stairs. She and her husband are reluctant to move from the place they have lived for 40 years and at their age, it will be a difficult move.
Some of our long term patients could go out on a pass to the homes of their families at special times if only they could get in. The trend in newer housing developments is towards smaller lots and higher houses, often with three very inaccessible levels. Bungalows sell at a premium price around here as aging baby boomers look for a suitable home to get older in.
It doesn't take much to increase a person's difficulty doing stairs. My husband broke his ankle a few years ago playing hockey, and like most men, had no difficulty with crutches. Most women struggle with crutches due to lower upper body strength. Whenever I do a community visit, I habitually count entrance steps and look for railings and other safety features. Stair lifts and home elevators are available, and while they are pricey, may be cheaper than moving.
We are all getting older and good health and mobility is something we cannot take for granted. Best to plan for the future before we are forced to move at a difficult time.