Don Stutzman of Johnstown knows all about necessity being the mother of invention.
He has designed a ramp that helps his wife, Rosemary, get off the floor when she experiences a fall.
Rosemary, who turns 87 today, suffered a stroke about 10 years ago that destroyed her sense of balance.
"If you stand her up, she goes right to the floor," the 91-year-old caregiver said.
He said when she is on the floor, his wife is dead weight, and he lacks the strength to get her up.
But if he can get her to chair height, he can lift her into her wheelchair.
To make that possible, Stutzman created a ramp with handrails and a 17 degree rise several years ago. He estimates that it is about 10 inches wide, 20 inches long and 17 inches high at the top. He said 17 inches is about how high a chair is from the floor.
When Rosemary falls, he places the ramp against her hips. She reaches behind her and grasps the handrails and pushes with her feet. Don helps by straddling the ramp and lifting her behind the arms.To keep her moving upward, he upholstered the ramp's surface with anti-slip indoor/outdoor carpet.
"It doesn't permit her to slip back," he said.
"Once she gets to the top, we've got it made," he said.
"Those handrails are the key," he said and added that he has double handrails on the steps so she can navigate to the second floor of the house.
"It's scary when I can't give up," Rosemary said, but she thinks her husband is a "pretty smart cookie" for creating the ramp.
"It works very well for us. I think a lot of folks might be interested in it," he said. Don Stutzman added that he would be glad to offer details on how to make the ramp to anyone who is interested.
He said he is craftsman who built their home years ago from the ground up and also makes furniture.
He learned the home building trades while growing up in an orphanage in Tiffin, Ohio. He said at the time, he thought everyone knew how to do those things.
"He's a good guy," Rosemary said of her husband, who does everything from cooking to kissing her good night.