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Active member
Dec 29, 2006

I am new here - just found this place. I am 1 year from diagnosis - maybe 2 years from first overt symptoms - basically bulbar ALS. Most of my arm function is gone - shoulders, upper arms and lower arms. Some wrist motion left, and fingers work, but very weak.

Anyway - have been adjusting as best I can so far, but now the legs are going. I am starting to have real problems walking, and I fall down a lot. That is a real problem because my wife and I live in a three-story town house with two flights of stairs which I am starting to have real difficulty climbing. Going down hasn't been a problem YET, but going up is usually questionable.

One option is to move to another house with everything on one floor. That would require a new mortgage , and I don't know if there are any banks / lenders who would write a mortgage on an ALS patient - anyone have any experience with this? We are living on my Soc Sec Disability, which can pay our present mortgage OK, so paying on a new one would not be a problem. However, since we would have to vacate this home before putting it on the market, we would need some way to buy the new one before selling this one. If that requires a second full mortgage, we are out of luck - our resources won't stretch that far. So it looks like we need some kind of "magic" financing here. Anyone know what might be out there to help with this kind of situation?

Any thoughts, experience or ideas will be appreciated.
Hello Justme. Welcome to the forum. You raise very good questions and I for one will be watching the answers that come in. Every time I try to make long-term financial plans I get overwhelmed! My resolution for 2007 is to find out what options are available to me and to start by solving at least one thing.

How is your spouse doing with all this? It can be a lot to digest at first. Good luck as you seek answers and keep in touch! Cindy
Financial info

Hello CindyM:

Thanks for you reply - frankly, I doubt that there is any magic financial solution out there, but it doesn't hurt to try.

My next thread is going to ask about any modifications that anyone knows of to allow a wheelchair / scooter user to go up and down stairs.

As for my wife, she is doing a lot better than I think I would in her position. Especially considering that she has another really serious problem with her 83 year old mother. I am actually concerned that between the two issues she may be too overloaded. Don't know what can be done to help her, either.

Thanks again.
Hi JustMe. Welcome to the forum. I'm assuming you're American so can't offer any advice on the mortgage thing. Things are different here in Canada. As for the way to get scooters up stairs there are elevators that will go in houses or outide to move people in chairs up and down. There are pictures of my outdoor lift at the top of one of the headings under Lift Pictures. There are links posted elsewhere from a couple of other companies in the search feature. Hope this helps. AL.
Hi Justme, I am not really sure about financial institutions but my father inlaw has ms, and we went through the department of social services to get assistance for him. I know it will depend on your financial situation but I would check with them. They gave him a bed, a wheel chair and a lift. Plus we got an aide 3 hours a day, 5 days a week. An aide would at least be able to grocery shop for you. Good luck to you, your in my prayers.
Hi Justme,

I had a friend with ALS who also lived in a three story home. Her husband was not interested in moving so he decided to "invent" a lift that would carry her and her wheelchair upstairs. This worked for her very well right up to the last day of her life.

Basically this was a platform with railing about 30 inches high that rode up the wall on a cable to the third floor which had the master bedroom and an office. The railing at the top of the third floor was removed in a section about three feet wide and replaced with a gate that could swing open and allow the wheelchair to roll out. The lift was constructed with a moterized pully cable system. It was operated by a simple lever within the platform that was pushed forward or backward. After my friend lost her ability to push or pull the lever, it was possible to push her into it start the lift and run down or up the stairs and wait for the lift then stop it by pushing the lever. This worked very well for her needs. True, it only allowed her access to two levels of the house but they made it work for them. I remember that the cost for this was only about $1300.00.

Anyway...I hope that this gives you some idea of what may be an option for you.

God Bless and Happy New Year.

I know that this is a very poor discription of the lift. If you are interested to learn more about it, I can ask my friend's husband for a better discription and possibily a picture or two.
do-it-yourself stair lift

Thanks for the info - I would very much like a more detailed description and pictures. I had thought about something like that and it would really help to see what someone has done along those lines. The only real problem in my case is that the stairway is not a straigh run from bottom to top, but is split in the center. It goes half way up to a landing, then goes the rest of the way up going back the way it came - - - like you took the top half of the stairway and twisted it backward - same angle but going in opposite direction.

Anything you can provide will be appreciated.

I'll get that more detailed description and a photo or two to you as soon as possible.
It will probably take me a couple of days.

Hi Justme,

Welcome to the forum. Depending in which province you live, financial aid varies. You best consult with your provincial ALS society. If you live abroad, then search out the equivalent. (Note, it is very helpful to respondents if posters include their province or location in their profile; go to

I had a two storey house and had to face the same questions. After some research it became clear to me that moving to a one storey was the best route and in hindsight I am now very glad I did. I have used a scooter for mobility for the past three years and having to face the hassle of using an elevator (even a good one) would have no appeal. With a three storey I would say moving is your best option. You can make the sale of your home dependent on your purchase of another one but since it is probably easier to sell yours than find a suitable one storey (at least if your province is similar to mine) I would recommend that you find your new house first. You can also make the purchase conditional on your selling yours. If your place is highly marketable, the vendor probably wouldn't have a problem with this.

Another option for you would be bridge financing. Bridge financing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia An advantage to this approach it that it would provide adequate time to make some renovations like ramping, roll-in showers, wider doors, etc before moving in. In my situation I had to raise the driveway in front of the door a couple of feet to eliminate the front steps, put some small (up to 14" high) ramps to access all rooms and and renovate the bathroom. I did it all after moving and there are advantages to this as well since you can experience the place first and better see what you really need.

As well I don't think your having ALS would be a serious deterrent for a lender since you would have plenty of equity in your new home and he would be well protected in the event that you couldn't make your payments.

Good luck.

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Photos of chair lift


I've got the pictures I said I'd take for you. Only problem is I can't figure out how to post them. I've sent a message to Al (our trusty super moderator) to find out how.
If you would like me to email them to you send me a private message with your email address.

After viewing the photos, if you think this application might work for you we can film the lift in action and put it on a CD for you to see.

I should hear from AL soon. I'll keep in touch.

I've sent instructions and if that doeesn't work we have a plan B. AL.
Lift Pictures

Justme & Al,

I am going to try to attach the pictures now. There are 12 of them. After looking at them if you have questions let me know.
More Lift pictures

Here are the final two pictures.

Thank you for the instructions as well as the "resize2mail" resource. I am sure to use it in the future.


The correct term for the operation of the lift (the mechanical stuff) is "wench driven hoyst" and the weight capacity is approx. 1300 lbs.
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