Monday, April 13, 2009

Caregiver Aids #2: Suitcase Ramp

After I posted the Surehands lift piece the other day, Skip and I were talking about it and I decided there were a ton of things in our lives that could qualify as "caregiver aids." So, I thought a series of posts about them would be good. And as I thought about this further, I realized the posts could have value for others even when the MSer wasn't as disabled as Skip, since some of our aids have morphed over time, and I can discuss both the past and the present. For instance, the shower set up has gone through 3 distinct phases over the last 15 years, each of which might give some insight into someone with MS trying to decide how to handle shower access.

So, for the second caregiver aid, I thought I'd talk about our trusty suitcase ramp.

Only one of our friends/family members has a house that can be entered by getting up only 1 step, which I can easily navigate with Skip's manual chair. Everyone else has multiple steps or even a full flight of stairs to get into their home. So, when a wheelchair became the method of mobility outside the house, we bought a suitcase ramp. It's probably about 5' long, folds in half, is made of aluminum, and has a handle for easy carrying. Not heavy at all ... about 10 lbs. It has a slight lip on either side to keep from rolling off and the base is corrugated for traction (though I am still paranoid of slipping when using it in the rain). Before buying our Honda Element, we used to own a Toyota Camry station wagon. It fit in both vehicles, though not so well in the wagon.

It's ideal for just a few steps but, in a pinch, it can handle up to 5. For steeper inclines, I always use a spotter or 2, particularly going downhill. Going uphill, Skip faces forward. Downhill, she faces the same way and goes backward.

It has given us continued access to others' homes. And even a few restaurants and businesses. Typically, we boycott places that are not accessible, but occasionally need to get into a place that hasn't modified for access (in New England, there are a LOT of old buildings), and have found this gets us in the door.

We bought this over 10 years ago and it's still in great shape. If we were to make this purchase today, I'd look into the suitcase ramps that fold both in half and lengthwise. These can fold out to a longer ramp, which effectively reduces the incline to manage. I would be much more comfortable using it when there's 5 steps to navigate.


awb said...

Thanks Cranky, what a huge help it will be for people who are looking for things to make it easier to give care to someone. Really a good idea,


Cranky said...

Andy - thanks!