Before Steve Saling was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in February 2006, he worked as a landscape architect in the Boston area. His disease, however, progressed to the point where he soon was dependent on others for daily activities.
Then Sailing met Barry Berman, who was in the process of developing a nursing home with a dedicated ALS unit in the Leonard Florence Center for Living in Chelsea, MA. After discussing what an ALS unit might entail, Berman offered Saling the chance to work on the residence. Saling agreed to work on the project when Berman promised to provide full vent support and fully automate the residence.
When Saling’s disease progressed even more, he moved into an assisted living facility on the same site as the nursing home.
“It was a hard choice to move in with strangers when my mom was ready and eager to be my caregiver, but there is no doubt that it was the right choice,” says Saling, now 42.
With Salings’ help, the ALS unit gives residents the ability to operate an elevator, control window blinds, adjust the thermostat, turn on a fan and more, all by eye movement technology.
“Most of the technology I anticipated needing was readily available, but no one had put it all together in a comprehensive package targeting removing barriers for the disabled,” he noted.