January 31, 2017

Diagnosis: Dementia. Repetitive behavior; Survival Secrets for Caregivers

The dementia epidemic is worldwide

They refer to it as the Dementia Epidemic. As many as 5.2 million people in America are living with this disease.

To review: Dementia is an umbrella term describing a variety conditions that develop when nerve cells in the brain die or no longer function normally. The damages to these nerve cells cause changes in one’s memory, behavior and ability to think clearly

In the next installment in the series, I’d like to discuss a common trait exhibited by individuals diagnosed with dementia: Repetitive behavior. That behavior may be exhibited as an action- like searching for something, changing the channels on the remote, or verbally-like repeating a question, or making the same statement over and over.

For caregivers, repetitive behavior is enough to get on your last nerve.

You may remember Bill Murray’s memorable performance in Goundhog Day, the 1993 movie where he plays Phil- a TV weatherman doomed to live out the same day every day, for the rest of his life. Answering the same question over and over, day after day can make you feel like Phil, and you are certainly not alone.

First let’s talk about some of the reasons a person with dementia may repeat. The most obvious reason is short term memory loss. Sometimes dementia progresses to the point where the sufferer actually forgets they just asked that question, even in the midst of conversation. So they ask it again. And again. Other reasons can include the inability to grasp what’s going on. Feeling unsure about their situation leads to anxiety and stress. That one question or statement may in fact be the only cognitive thought they can express, so they repeat it. Boredom is a contributing factor as well. If the person with dementia has no social stimulation and no daily activities in which to engage, the mind can simply travel in a “loop” with no outlet. As an example, a woman may endlessly search for her purse, others may seek their car keys all day long. These behaviors may be a non-verbal expression that they just want something to do. Continue Reading

January 25, 2017

Who’s Caring for Caregivers?

caring for caregivers

Among those of us in our 40s, 50s and 60s, huge numbers  are called upon to provide caring for aging relatives. More than ever before.

By 2020, for the first time in human history, there will be more individuals over 65 than children under the age of 5.

What this astounding statistic translates to is that for many of us, if we’re not caring for our aging spouses, we’re likely caring for our parents and grandparents. And if we, ourselves, aren’t caregivers, we undoubtedly are close to someone who is.

With this reality, an intriguing and vital need has arisen: How do we care for caregivers?

While we naturally focus on those who need caregiving due to medical necessity, the fact is, primary caregivers – most often spouses and children – have profoundly important needs, as well. How do we as a society and as individuals assess and support those needs?

The first step as those on the outside is to recognize the breath of the situation the caregiver is addressing. Often caregivers, based on pure love, shoulder far more responsibility than they express. Caregivers can feel every emotion from ultimate obligation to feeling as though their own needs are less important, so they rarely express the true scope of what they’re going through. As a support system for caregivers, we must make an effort to learn as much as we can about the reality of the situation, even beyond what the caregiver shares. We must strive to view the circumstance objectively and determine where the caregiver is at – physically, emotionally and mentally. caring for caregivers

Studies show that caregivers can experience symptoms ranging from fatigue to anxiety to depression – and we don’t need a degree to recognize those symptoms. We know the personalities of those close to us, and when we see adverse changes in a caregiver, it’s a clear sign that he or she needs additional support.

While we never wish to pull a caregiver out of a situation – after all, one’s heart and soul is in it – the single most effective form of caring for a caregiver is by giving him or her a break from the circumstance via respite care. When a caregiver is serving a loved one around the clock, again, we know it takes its toll. A daily form of respite for the caregiver – where someone else assists while the primary caregiver gets a break – dramatically improves the circumstance for everyone. As family and friends of caregivers, if we can ensure respite, whether it’s through outside professionals or loved ones, it dramatically improves the circumstance. A gentleman caring for his wife with Alzheimer’s recently described how, with the support of his children, having one hour per day of respite care, so he can run his errands, has dramatically reduced his stress levels, making him a better caregiver.

Indeed, caregiving to the extent that we are is a remarkably new phenomena of which society has never known. And, more and more families are having to navigate this process every day. We still have a lot to learn, personally and culturally. However, what we know for certain is that in order to best care for those in need, we must also care for caregivers.

January 18, 2017

Relieve Pressure Using these Effective Wheelchair Stretches

pressure relief

Stretching and exercise are great ways to relieve pressure issues that come with prolonged sitting. Here are a couple of easy stretches that can be done, every day and without drawing undue attention to the exercise. Each technique can be done independently or with assistance; depending on your strength and balance. Be sure you are in a wheelchair of adequate weight when doing these stretches- for safety’s sake

Relieve pressureLeaning forward and from side to side: Leaning from side to side relieves pressure over one buttock at a time. Lock your wheels, hold onto the other armrest and lean your body to the opposite side, taking the weight off one buttock at a time. Repeat with the opposite side. Lean forward with both hands to relieve pressure from your bottom. You don’t need to feel “obvious” when doing this- we all shift around and change positions continuously. Think of the forward lean as just some time “fixing” your shoe laces, feet or the hem of your pants to achieve your pressure relief

relieve pressure

 

 

 

 

Crossing your legs: These techniques are easy to do and are less obvious in public places to relieve pressure. You can cross one leg over the other and lean back to one side, holding your knee in position while lifting weight off of one buttock. Or, you can cross your leg by putting on ankle over the other knee and lean forward lifting weight off your bottom.

 

 

Being aware of relieving pressure and shifting your weight often is important for wheelchair users! Prolonged periods of sitting are difficult for the human body to accept, so any method you are able to utilize is going to be a positive thing. Whether leaning against tables, crossing your legs or leaning forward, periodic stretches and will help you stay healthy.

January 4, 2017

Can lift chairs help prevent falls? Learn how today!

fall-awarenessJanuary is National Falls Prevention month, and SpinLife is doing it’s part by hosting our Lift Chair Event.

How can a lift chair help prevent falls you may ask? You may be surprised at the answer! Statistics prove that among our aging population, falls account for an enormous number of injuries every year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1 in 4 older adults fall each year. About half of those are unreported, but 2.8 million older adults are treated in emergency rooms each year for fall related injury. 2.8 million!

Many factors contribute to the increased risk of falling, and at the top of the list is lower body weakness. Lower body weakness has many causes. Lack of exercise, sedentary lifestyle and a myriad of medical conditions cause muscle loss. Muscle loss in turn causes the lessening of strength in your lower body. Muscles beginning at your feet and ankles, all the way up to the gluteus maximus contribute to your ability to maintain your balance. They also allow you to get up from a sitting position to standing. When those muscles lack strength, your balance will be affected, and simply getting up from a chair may become nearly impossible.lift chairs prevent falls

Human beings are great at adapting. As it becomes more difficult to arise from a chair, you may begin to adapt your behavior to compensate for the lack of strength in your legs. Among common ways people compensate is to “scoot” to the front edge of their chair prior to attempting to stand- getting their feet right under themselves, so to speak. Another way is to reach back with both hands and “push” off of the armrests of a chair to boost themselves up, and then struggle the rest of the way.

 

Then there’s the method my own Mother used. She’d rock back and forth – gathering momentum – until she could  propel herself out of her chair…Yikes! Sometimes the poor thing would get to her feet, other times she’d fall face-first over the ottoman.

If you or a loved one has this sort of trouble arising from a chair, and are using one of these methods to get to your feet, you are at a higher risk of falls.

Lift chairs– or Power Lift recliners as they are commonly called-help prevent falls by assisting you safely to your feet.

The lift motor pushes you gently up, and slowly forward at an angle. This allows you to safely plant your feet in front of you and then shift your weight to your feet when you are stable. Since the armrests follow you up, you can hold on to them for a little extra support as you go, and eliminate the need to struggle. You may not even need to lift your chair all the way- just part way. Many folks find that just lifting a few inches gives them the help they need to stand up. No more rocking back and forth to gain momentum, and potentially end up in a face-plant.GT Lift chair TV

Of course Power Lift Recliners have other great benefits as well! First they are super comfortable. They come in lots of great looking styles that are sure to blend with your décor- they definitely don’t look like “medical devices” anymore! The ability to recline and lift your feet helps with relaxation and eases back pain. Some Power Lift Recliners also offer specialized positioning which can aid in the treatment of Edema, COPD and CHF.

So to recap, lift chairs help to prevent falls by safely lifting you to your feet, and taking the struggle out of arising from a chair. Using a lift chair will help you maintain your independence and reduce your risk of falling! Check out our full selection of lift chairs on our website today-

December 29, 2016

Join with Us and Celebrate the True Spirit of the New Year

Celebrate the New YearIn modern times, New Year’s resolutions are goals for the coming year.

However, the New Year tradition dates back over 4,000 years, and was actually about reflecting on the prior year. Put simply, it was about looking back, as opposed to looking forward, and using that momentum to improve.

There’s a lot of empowerment in using the New Year to look back. After all, through the good times and the tough times of the past year, we made it!

It’s via this enlightened lens that New Year’s serves as an especially poignant annual milestone for those of us living with disability, illness or any adversity. We made it!

For those among us who made it through our first year of adversity, it’s a wonderful time to look back on the strengths and wisdom gained – maybe some we didn’t fathom we had until we drew it from deep within. Those among us who have faced years or a lifetime of adversity know it’s a fitting time to look back and remind ourselves how far we’ve traveled on this journey. For all of us, it’s an opportunity to realize that we made it with courage and tenacity through the year, and that, in itself, is something to celebrate.

Hardships are easy to look back upon, but the scars earned can be tough to appreciate. The fact is, no one chooses adversity. However, when adversity finds us, and we move through it, the scars become records of strength and courage – and that recognition is life-affirming.

We owe it to ourselves – and New Years is the perfect time – to look at all life has thrown our way, and say, “I made it, and I’m stronger because of it!”

Within all adversity resides opportunity, and nothing marks opportunity like the New Year. Let us all use what we’ve experienced as wind in our sails, moving with increased strength and wisdom into the New Year.

None of us can predict what the New Year will bring; but, we’ve already proven that whatever it is, we can handle it.

As author, Sarah Ban Breathnach, put it, “Take a leap of faith and begin this wondrous new year by believing. Believe in yourself….”