Seniors traditionally are uncomfortable with change. They resent products and services disappearing and morphing into newer versions or eliminated altogether. For this group it also comes at a time when their synapses might not fire as quickly, memory is becoming harder to retain and even focus takes more effort. The Baby Boomers have been using technology for the last 30 years but did not grow up with it so learning curves are difficult the new improved is relentless. Many of us didn’t even have TV’s during our early elementary school years. Our learning curves involved how to work physical things like bicycles, swimming the breast stroke, skating, sports or creative arts.
Life moves onward so fast now. Like being on a really fast merry-go-round things past by in a blur but as it slows down periodically you begin to recognize the landscape and all of a sudden you notice things are missing since the last time you slowed down enough to notice. There are no pay phones, big blue mail boxes sitting on corners, VHS rental stores, paper maps or full service gas stations to mention a few and on their way out is land lines, CD’s, music stores, small bookstores, classified ads, cameras that use film, wrist watches, yellow pages and DVD players.
There are many I did not get around to mentioning that have already been phased out and much more in the process right now. However, there is an upside to this ever moving, ever changing, momentum of progress. New technology has and will continue to open doors of freedom for all ages. The ability to multi task well into the golden years is made possible by cell phones, web search options and wireless design. Being older or disabled is no longer confining because of the safety of cell phones to stay in contact. As they say “knowledge is power” and web research gives you unlimited power. Entertainment is enjoyed through internet TV which can stream movies as well as offer closed captioning, hearing enhancement and visual settings for low vision.
Social media sites enable seniors to keep in touch with family no matter how distant and web cam opens yet more doors. In my opinion the time spent over coming frustration and fear in order to learn new technology is well worth it. It will literally set you free to enjoy life independently and on your own terms. If you want to age in place be sure to put cutting edge technology in that place,
In 1989 my life changed forever. I did not realize yet, as I awoke from a coma, that I would never physically function the same again. I did regain walking with the help of adaptive aids but remained weak from nerve and muscle damage which remains. After I was home recovering I wrote the musings below but I have since learned hindsight is worthless except for beautiful memories. My life turned out to be wonderful with joy and successes I could have never imagined possible.
Every once in while I drag this prose out because it now makes me smile that I have come so far in my ability to appreciate life with no regrets.
If I would have known,
I would have ran one more time
I would have raced until the wind took my hair,
Until the landscape was but a blur
Until my muscles were used up with joy and exhaustion
My heart beat thundering in my ear
My skin glistening with sweat
My eyes burning from salt
I would have jumped with abandon
Every stump, every fence,
every moss covered rock
I would have hiked a lonely trail
And walked after dinner until sunset sent me home
If I had known,
I would have ran one more time.
These labels can be very confusing if you are not familiar with the jargon of disability world. They are not only quite different but are not treated equal under the law. The definition of service animal was changed July 23, 2010 defining only dogs and miniature horses as a category for service animals. People are always surprised to see that miniature horses were approved as a service animal. While not common, they have earned a reputation as an alternative to traditional service dogs. They can be house broken, a requirement for service animals under the ADA and their life span of 30 years is a much longer working life span than dogs. Typically, people using dogs as service animals must find a new dog every 10 years as their service dog ages. For many reasons this can become an emotional trying experience. The miniature horse must be a docile, intelligent temperament even in the hectic urban environments just like the dogs are expected to be.
To be considered a service dog they are required to perform a “task” to qualify such as fetching a cell phone, opening or closing doors, taking garbage out, pull a wheel chair up an incline, etc. The task performed is based on the individual needs but they must perform one to qualify as a service dog.
Emotional support dogs assist people with mental impairments. They are not protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Needing glasses would be an impairment not able to see it all is the disability. This distinction is why a person using an emotional service dog is not protected under the ADA since the most important criteria is that the person has to have a disability according to the ADA definitions. However, there are provisions under the Fair Housing Act that allows them in HUD housing if proper paperwork is filed.
Psychiatric service dogs on the other hand can be taught to do tasks similar to mobility service dogs. Examples would be retrieving things dropped because on certain medication bending over would cause dizziness to the person, reminding or redirecting people with OCD to stop behaviors, alerting to smoke alarms, door bells, tornado warnings. They are a huge help for social phobias and much more so you can see how psychiatric service dogs would qualify because of the “task” they perform and the person’s status of disabled.
To clarify there is NO certification required by law. There are many organizations that are very good at training service dogs to accomplish tasks but it is not required. However keep in mind a service dog must act like a service dog. They should be socially trained to not only perform tasks but know their place in all situations so that’s the great benefit of the organization that knows their stuff and can instill that training in the service dog. An average training process for these dogs is typically 18 to 24 months, a huge investment of time and money.
If a service dog is not socially trained and barks and bites or growls or disturbs other people the business you are visiting can ask you to leave and not bring your dog in again and it would b their complete right to do so. These service animals’ open doors of freedom for people with disabilities that were once closed. They fill many roles such as companion, helper and unconditional love but they are also a tool when working and must follow regulations in order to have access to all the places a person wants to go. For more information visit the website http://www.swcil.org a nonprofit Center for Independent living and request an advocate to assist you with the current laws and compliance in your state. .
I love to cook! But, I have difficulty keeping my balance because of neurological damage. It especially bothers me if I try to bend down to look into cabinets or do too much walking back and forth in the kitchen. So, I adapted my kitchen area to accommodate my limitations. I wanted to share some ideas that have worked very well for me. These changes would actually work well for anyone.
- Add A Pantry
I bought these outdoor units from Walmart. They are intended for garage storage but they work perfectly in my kitchen. I relocated my pots, pans, baking sheets, etc. so that I did not have to stoop to the lower dark cabinets and dig these items out. They are neutral in color so they went with all of my decor. I actually bought three because I have one for baking and cooking supplies another for my pots and pans and one for food storage. They were around $77 each. I just bought one at a time.
- Add a small 4 drawer chest
I bought this same style and color in a four drawer chest to house my big utensils, foil, zip lock bags, plastic storage containers and other attachments I don’t use every day. Also found at Walmart for $59. Although my kitchen has a good amount of floor space it only had two small drawers for utensils and the drawers would stick. This little chest has drawers that slide out very smoothly and the drawers are very deep.
- Add a crate under your sink
I have a milk crate under my sink with all the cleaning supplies I use in the kitchen. I can easily slide it out to get what I want without getting on my hands and knees to find something in that dark space.
- Refrigerator organization
I organize my refrigerator so that breakfast things are together, left overs are on their own shelf and heavy milk and juice containers are on the top shelf. This keeps me from stooping and pushing things around to find the butter hiding behind a big leftover dish that has to be moved out first before I can find it.
- Utility cart
The utility cart can hold my heavy appliances like the KitchenAid mixer, the bread machine and food processor. Not only does it open up counter space but keeps me from lifting items that are too heavy. All I have to do is roll it over to the outlets and I’m in business. I found this one at Lowe’s.
- An office chair
I use an inexpensive armless office chair and wheel around to gather ingredients for recipes. It works great for going from pantry to refrigerator to the working areas. It also works great for cleaning out those low refrigerator shelves and for cleaning the oven.
- The garbage bowl
I learned this little trick from watching “30 Minute Meals”’ on the Food Network channel. Using a garbage bowl sounds trivial but believe me saving your time and energy walking back and forth to the garbage 20 times during meal prep is well worth the effort!
- A good spice rack
I bought a spice rack that fits flush against the wall and sits on my counter. It saves reaching and looking for spices I use the most and it keeps things in order. There’s nothing worse than trying to find a certain spice in a cupboard full of 50 or more that have fallen over or rolled to the back of a cabinet you can barely reach.
- And finally the two things I could not live without
I could not function at all without my two sets of cheap kitchen scissors. I use them to open up packages boxes snack bags you name it. They are my extra set of hands. The second thing is the simple wooden clothespin. I use these to fasten snack bags, bread, brown sugar bags and anything else that needs a closure. They are cheap and easy to use and not near as frustrating as those little twist ties.
Diagnosis and prognosis are very different concepts based on different criteria. Diagnosis refers to identifying the nature or cause of the condition. Prognosis refers to the future of the condition based on previous case histories. People very often get these terms confused and link them together as a predetermined outcome of their injury or their illness. In other words, the prognosis is the likelihood of the person’s future with their condition based on other cases. It is a subjective not an objective conclusion but remember there are no two humans exactly alike physically, mentally, with beliefs or inner strength and ability. So really, how much credibility does that really give a prognosis?
In my long career as a disability advocate I’ve seen hundreds of people come for help as victims and helplessness because some doctor told them that they would never be able to do this or that and their future would be pretty bleak. Negative prognosis is more dangerous than the diagnosis itself because it fosters an attitude of giving up and giving in.
Why do doctors continue to make these negative diagnosis? I think there are two main reasons. One is that they are trained to look at facts based on previous outcomes and not to give patients “false hope” (how I hate those two words). Another reason is they are medically and scientifically trained and are not invested in transitioning their patients into the world after the hospital or diagnosis. In summary, they do not know the almost unlimited options living with disability.
They rely on a rehabilitation facility to do that but the rehabilitation staff is bound by doctor’s orders and his prognosis. Our whole medical system is based on specialists who are all under the control of the doctors. But guess who has the control over the doctors? You and only you. That’s right, you have the last say, you decide your own prognosis. You empower yourself by digging out the options, learning what is possible. You are a unique human with your own brand of determination and courage. Only you know what you’re capable of. Don’t let the medical field take away your self-determination by telling you what you can’t do.
The life journey is not about the destination but the process of every day and how you live that process is totally up to you. If you or someone you know needs a peer support or options in technology or just a place you can see people who have beat the odds and are living life on their own terms take a look at the website www.swcil.org it could possibly change your life. There is also a blog where you can ask questions and find resources.
It’s the Holiday season! This is dedicated to those organized early Christmas shoppers (gotta love them) and their quest to find the perfect gift. The big stress, besides money, is selecting that perfect gift for someone who seems to have everything. These are great ideas for those seniors or disabilities in your family. This year why not pick something useful as well as unusual? Assistive Technology offers an endless array of items to make life easier, especially for the person with a disability or senior on your list. You would be amazed at the effect a few adaptive aids have on a person’s personal freedom.
- Walking canes – folding & designer
- Key turner
- Zipper pull
- Button hook
- Sock/stocking aid
- Extra long shoe horn
- Portable book holder
- Jar openers
- Easy grip rocker knife
- Hand held shower sprayer
- Portable tub grab bar
- Bath seat
- Pill organizer
- Pill timer
- Easy grip garden tools
- Voice activated phones and tablets
- Universal TV remote with large buttons
- Multifunction heating/cooling pad
- Hand writing aids
- Card holder/card shuffler
- Lap desk
- Lumbar cushion
- Talking watch or large number watch
- Cordless TV amplifier
- One handed can opener