Hoyer/lift

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TammyS

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Hi all,

This is my first time posting. My husband is at a point where he almost can't walk. I'm not really prepared for this. I've thought about what I should be doing, but haven't gotten it done yet.

I was wondering if anyone has any comments about a hoyer lift that you have been using. I see that there are different brands. I would need a battery operated one. I have problems with my shoulders. Does Medicare give you a choice of brands? If so, I wouldn't know which one to pick. Are they all the same?

Thanks in advance.
 

lgelb

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Hi, Tammy, sorry to welcome you here. And no, you can never really be prepared if only mentally for his loss of mobility -- just remember, neither is he, so be good to each other. Does your husband have or are you in the process of getting a wheelchair? Shower chair?

Often, your local ALS Association (ALSA) chapter can provide a loaner lift so you do not have to buy one. Medicare only reimburses for a manual, but pretty much of all us need power.

It is also worth checking what other loan items are available that might be helpful, though there are also many things you will want to buy, that are not Medicare-reimbursable. If you can tell us more about your husband, that would help us suggest things to think about.

Most commonly, the brand you will be lent is the original -- the Hoyer/Joerns/Sunrise types -- the company has changed hands -- but they are all similar.

Best,
Laurie
 

TammyS

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Thanks Lauri. We are in the process of ordering a power wheel chair. We bought a van and we are hoping the get a loaner chair soon. We are installing a ramp to get out of the house. He uses a rollator in the house and uses a travel chair when we go out. We've raised the toilet so high that it really looks like a throne :) He has a lift chair that we got a while ago. We installed a stair lift so he is still able to be upstairs.

Someone is coming on Tuesday to look at our house and see if there is anything to do that we haven't thought of. I can't see getting my husband into bed without a hoyer for too much longer. He has trouble feeding himself.

I'm worried that one day soon he just won't be able to walk anymore and I won't be ready for it. I have children with special needs of their own and I feel like I don't have enough time in a day to get this together.
 

GregK

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Tammy, for your long term planning be aware that the stair lift will be unusable when he loses core strength.
 

Diane H

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Medicare doesn't pay for a battery operated lifts although private insurance might. If you can't get it covered, check Craig's List, Facebook Marketplace, or similar listings for used Hoyer or similar lifts. Many are quite new and briefly used. Before buying, consider how usable even a battery powered one will be for you. If the room(s) you will be using it in are carpeted, it may be difficult to move the lift with your husband in it.

A frequent problem is that a Hoyer lift simply won't fit or have enough space to turn and position in the bathroom. You could still use it for transferring him onto a shower chair/commode and moving him into the bathroom and over the toilet on that. Catch 22: Medicare doesn't cover equipment for use in the bathroom or equipment on wheels so it can be pushed into the bathroom. That means using a bedside commode in the bedroom and having someone empty it. This a big emotional stumbling block for most people but the fact is that at some point your caregivers will be wiping your bottom for you -- and more -- anyway.

That leaves you paying for a shower chair or commode on wheels yourself or finding a way to put wheels on a standard bedside commode. Unless his progression is very slow or money isn't an issue, don't buy any type of lift that doesn't fully support him -- arms, head, and trunk -- or require him to grip a hand grip or bar. It will be a temporary solution.

A better solution (but also not covered by Medicare) is an overhead lift in the bathroom. Another Catch 22: A power wheelchair can be as difficult to use in a bathroom as a Hoyer lift.

As Greg said, a stair lift is a short-term solution as he gets weaker. Even with a seatbelt on it, it becomes difficult to sit upright and to keep your feet on the small footrest. More importantly, you will need to be able to transfer him to and from the stair lift to a wheelchair both downstairs and upstairs.

The bottom line is that you need to plan for having a place for both of you to sleep downstairs. If money is an issue, spend it on equipment and modifications for that rather than more short-term solutions for upstairs.
 

TammyS

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Thanks Greg and Diane. Six months ago I thought about whether or not a stair lift would be a prudent purchase. It was very expensive and I realized it's temporary, but I decided it was worthwhile for us. Because of our family situation, we we hadn't been able to go on the expensive vacation we had planned (my husband would have been able to go at the time). So we got the lift instead. My husband has been grateful to be able to continue to go upstairs.

I'm going to see if we can use a ceiling lift in the bathroom to get my husband on the toilet. I know he would be very happy with that. I will see on Tuesday whether or not it's feasible when the man who is going to do the assessment comes to our house.

I figured we would have to move downstairs eventually. The only place would be the living room. We have a large family room so I don't think it would have too big of an impact. We can use sliding wooden doors to close up the openings and the PWC can still fit through. It has a hardwood floor so it shouldn't be too difficult to move a hoyer around (hopefully), but I will see about a ceiling lift for there. I've ordered room darkening curtains and I will need to put the furniture someplace. The problem is the downstairs bathroom. It's very small. We might be able to take away the laundry area next to it and maybe it will be workable. I doubt it. He will probably have to use a commode which I know he won't be happy with.

I guess things aren't as bad as they seemed in my head now that I've written this all out. I just have to do a number of things. Hopefully my husband will continue to be able to walk as I get this ready. He has been using a brace for one foot for a while so we got one for his other leg. That has helped a little. I'm a little nervous that they are still looking for a loaner PWC for him. I hope we'll get it soon.

I feel like there was this "honeymoon" period where he didn't need much help and now that's over.
 

Diane H

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We only have a half bath downstairs so when I could no longer use the stair lift, we had to get creative to allow me to even get into it. There was no room for a shower and I really don't miss the effort of using the one upstairs. I had already limited showering to very infrequent. We found that I could have a comfortable and thorough bath while sitting on the toilet and getting a good soaping and wash down. Dripping water on the floor there isn't a problem! We expanded the floor space by using double doors from the hallway. See ALS Patient Care From Both Sides: An Accessible Half Bath

Taking down the wall between the bathroom and laundry room should give plenty of space. It may require some other rearranging and door widening. A stackable washer would free up floor space if you can find one with big enough capacity for your family's amount of laundry. The person assessing your space should be able to say if the space is workable. For your current upstairs bathroom, look into a wall mount overhead lift. They don't require the added expense of installing using the ceiling joists. And when he does move downstairs, the actual hoist, the expensive part of a lift, can be re-used downstairs.
 

Nuts

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I was thinking that it's time for Diane's downstairs half bath solution, and there you are!!! Your site is absolutely the single best I've come across, and it's helped me immensely. Diane, if you ever wonder about your purpose in life, you can count that site. Most people don't contribute that much to so many.
 

TammyS

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Thanks Diane and Nuts. I'm looking forward to see how the bathroom can be worked out. Diane, thanks for your advice. I'll talk about it to the man on Tuesday.
 

Chincoteaguer

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Hi Tammy;

We had a loaner electric lift but it became defective and failed during a lift. We had to accept a manual lift. We like it much better. It is smaller, has large wheels - better on carpet, and I don't have to worry that it will lose power. I have control and do not have worry that the electric will fail in mid lift.

The hydraulic lever on the manual lift does not require a lost of muscle.
 

affected

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Deciding electric or manual will have a few factors. One of the best things about a forum like this is the range of collective answers. What worked for me with Chris isn't always what will work for everyone, so the range of answers really helps make choices.

A small woman looking after a large PALS will need an electric lift because they will be working against actual body weight. My Chris ended up weighing less than me because of the weight loss he went through. I have helped with a friend PALS who was more than a foot taller than me and weighed close to 3 times what Chris did. No way would I ever hoist him without electric and no way would I have managed all day pushing him in a manual chair. I often took Chris out in a manual chair and it seemed nothing to push him around.

Hope that makes sense.
 

Jrzygrl

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I agree with Tillie. Electric or manual is situation dependent.

My PALS, my DH is 6'2 and about 225. We originally had a manual hoyer. After a while, my arms and back were aching. (I am not an unusually small woman either.) I think part of our problem was that he has a long torso. I needed a lift that would go higher. He is also limb-onset, so his limbs are like dead weight. I was ready to order and pay out-of-pocket for an electric lift - then our ALS Association Loan Closet came through with one. It has been much easier for me. I kept the manual in case of emergency. One day we had a battery issue and I had to use the manual. Boy am I glad we got the battery working again!

He has been in a power chair for a while, but before that, I had a problem pushing him in a manual chair. Not that I couldn't handle the weight, but my hands ended up being practically in his armpits! :p Again, I think it was the long torso issue. Uncomfortable for him and sweaty for me! I found wheelchair handle extensions, but by then, the Loan Closet again stepped in with a loaner PWC. (Since replaced with his insurance paid chair.)

As others have suggested, connect with your local ALS Association and see what they can help you with. They have been a Godsend for us.
 

affected

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On top of what I said about manual v electric, we had 2 different electric hoyers. The first one was nowhere near as good as the second because the legs did not expand out as far, and it could not go low enough to lift from the floor.

So lifts ain't lifts, either!
 

TammyS

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Thanks! We are having a hoyer delivered tomorrow so I will check out these points.
 
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