portable ramp advice needed

gellchom

Well, my MIL is in her assisted living apartment and adjusting well, although of course there is an adjustment period. We are waiting to fine tune her level of care until the doctors and physical and occupational therapists let us know what her needs truly are.

Anyway, my question today (one of many I will have, I'm sure) is about getting her in and out of our house when she comes over. We have a very inaccessible house, unfortunately. It was just a mess the other day; she had to sit on her rear backward on each step and we had to lift her over each one. She's pretty heavy even for both of us to lift her over, and I am sure I can't do it myself.

She can stand and walk some, especially with her walker, and she can manage to get down steps, so I wonder if we can't manually lift one of her feet up onto a step, have her lean forward to transfer her weight to it gradually, and then lift the other one for her. Does that sound like it might work, or do you think it would still be too hard for her to shift her weight up?

I'm thinking that maybe what we should do is get a portable ramp for the front steps. There are two sets of 2-3 steps and then a short step up into the house; I'm figuring we could just get a short one and move it along as we go. I know the recommended ratio is 12":1"; we might be able to get by with a bit less, especially as we don't need her to do it in a wheelchair (yet).

Does that sound like it would work? What advice do you have for me, about ramps or other thoughts?

Thanks so much in advance.


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Comments (18)
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jakkom

Don't skimp on the ramp. The longer it is, the easier the access. It's only going to get harder for her over time to deal with steps, not easier.

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sushipup1

Build a good ramp from the start.

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sunnyca_gw

What steps are in garage? Sometimes just 1 step up into house & she could hang on to doorframe. Would it be possible to install a ramp with railing so she could make it into house from garage? We found that easiest . Or is there a patio in back with just 1 or 2 steps where you could put a wrought iron railing as that's something she could firmly grip herself. It's better to try to find a solution where it's not noticeable to people going by. That way she can take her time & feel secure.

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gellchom

Both the front and back doors seem just impossible to me. I can't see how we can do ramps at either unless they were really light and easy to move along and remove when not in use. The garage is even worse (is there such a thing as worse than impossible?) -- we could spend thousands for a ramp for the front, but at any price the garage (unattached, with an awful little steep staircase up to a porch) would be impossible except I guess for an elevator.

I think I need an expert to advise us. Is there some sort of service in most communities (we live in a pretty big city, Columbus, Ohio) that does that? I see that Lowe's sells many ramps; do you think that if I took photos and measurements there or a similar place that they could advise me well?

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sushipup1

Try talking to a good carpenter. We had a fellow who did work on our house prior to our selling it, and I was always amazed at how he saw things differently than I did. What seemed difficult to me was no problem to him, and he was always right. Good luck!

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sunnyca_gw

With both my parents ending up in wheelchairs, front was impossible as it was open gate & go down 4 steps, then short sidewalk & 1 step up to front patio. So garage worked but not with wheelchair. Both parents could still stand for short periods. So you may be able to use walker, get her close to step & holding on & then lift it up onto lowest step, but if steps are not wide that wouldn't work. Is there area that slopes near front steps that you could go up the slope to wider step & then on in. Would there be room close to front door so that ramp could be placed parallel to house or could a nice wrought iron railing be added to just 1 side of front steps so she could use it to support herself & you could just hold on to 1 side of her.

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gellchom

Thanks, everyone. Those are great suggestions. I have arranged for someone from a really good medical/handicap access supply place in town to come for an assessment next week. I am sure my experience will be like yours, sushipup -- he will have ideas I'd never think of. And once I know the place and shape, I can also see if it would be better to have a carpenter make a permanent ramp.

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CA Kate z9

Have you thought about putting in a chair lift? It would go on the side of the stairs - so they could easily be used by others - and she could sit in a chair that would carry her up and down the stairs safely. Both she - and you - would be safer.

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gellchom

Good suggestion. I'll ask about that, although we'd have to make a long path around to it, and there is still the last step into the house -- I don't know what to do about that with a ramp, either. Are chair lifts okay outside?

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eandhl2

Yes,there are outside chair lifts.

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maifleur01

I was going to have Lowes do a ramp but for one that was max 30 inches top using the recommended distance the cost would be $6,500 with probably additional for unforeseen things. Given some HOA's could you leave the ramp in place and use it yourself? Ramps are heavy and moving them is a hassle. Since it is your house I don't believe any of the senior agency's can help except for advice. Some chairlifts can be used outside but the person on them will get wet if raining or other bad weather.

If you can find a used transport chair vs wheelchair you could place her in the chair then pull it backward up the stairs and through the door. Person on the bottom doing lifting to assist but you can develop pulled sore muscles from this.

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sushipup1

This might wind up to be a bigger picture for you. You want to have everything 'normal' and just like it always was before for your MIL. But sometimes that just is not possible. And that's a major adaptation in your caregiving. So perhaps you can no longer have Sunday dinners at your house, for example. Wrap your mind around some of the realities, like the Serenity prayer, changing what you can change, accepting what you cannot and the wisdom to know the difference.

Instead of bringing her to your house, you may find a restaurant with easy access, or take the party to where she lives. But sometimes forcing that square peg into a round hole is just futile. My caution here is to be flexible in your thinking.

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gellchom

Thank you for your wise words, sushipup. I think it's just what I needed to hear right then; she had a bad weekend and the last thing on my mind was how to get her in and out of our house; I couldn't even help her get adjusted on the couch.

The fellow from the medical supply place came out and said that one 6 foot ramp and one 4 foot ramp ought to do it for us. The front is 2 steps, then a path, then one step up to a big square front step, and then the step into the house. We'll have to use the 6-footer twice and then the 4-footer, but the 6-footer is easy to move. He said we will probably need 2 people to push the wheelchair up, though, and the walker might not work at all. But that is do-able, I think. At most she will be coming over once a week; probably less. It's just much easier for us to go to her for anything that doesn't have to be at our home, and, when she feels up to it, go out to accessible locations.

I'd be more inclined (no pun intended) to put in a permanent ramp if our house weren't so inaccessible once you get inside -- i.e., ramp or no ramp, this house would just never work for anyone who needed accessibility. Good enough for the occasional visitor -- she'll be able to access the dining room, kitchen, sitting rooms, and powder room -- but not the bedrooms, full baths, or sunken family room, which is open to the kitchen, though, so she can still be part of whatever goes on down there, and if it's like a party or something, we can actually wheel her around to the patio door off that room.


Thank you all so much for helping me. All advice very, very welcome!

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eandhl2

gellchom, I went by where I know they had an exterior lift. Still there quite a few years. Here is just one link,. http://stannah-stairlifts.com/stairlift-range/stannah-outdoor-stairlift/

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sushipup1

Another consideration: the situation will never get better, only more difficult as time goes by. For example, if you were temporarily in a wheel chair or on crutches, such as after an accident, the presumption is that you will be getting better and the situation is only temporary. But your MIL will not improve, and probably require even more assistance as time goes by. So plan that accordingly.


I was at the grocery store the other day when a woman pulled her car up right across the ramp at the front door, you know the curbless part so you can get your cart to the car. At first I was thinking how stupid/selfish/pushy she was got blocking the ramp to the parking lot. Then she got out, came around and got a walker out of the back seat. And I understood. All I said to her was "Been there, done the same thing" as she rushed into the store to help move her elderly charge. She just said with a smile, "Thank you for understanding."


No one ever said this was all easy!

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gellchom

We bought the two "suitcase" ramps, one 4', one 6'. I am happy to report that it worked fine when she came over for dinner Friday night, even though it was our first time and it was drizzling. It is helpful to have two people doing it, but if my husband had to do it alone, I think he could; he was able to push her up the ramp himself.

It wasn't cheap, but a lot less than building a permanent ramp. And I think we can fit them in our car to take to other places if she ever needs us to.

So, one problem solved, at least for now! Thank you all for your help.

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sushipup1

Great news! I'll bet it feels good to scratch that off your list!

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eandhl2

Glad you found a workable solution. Caregiving for elderly parents can be a difficult position.

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