November 9, 2016

5 easy tips to avoid falls: Reduce your personal fall risk!

avoid falls

 

“What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs in the evening?”

According to Greek Mythology, this is the classic riddle delivered by the Sphinx. According to the myth, if any person who was asked this riddle could not answer, they were thrown down against the rocks and killed by the Sphinx.  When this riddle was posed to Oedipus Rex, he considered his words carefully and declared the answer in one word; Man.

His reasoning was as a baby, a human goes about on all fours (“four legs in the morning” – morning being childhood).   Then he learns to walk, which he does well into adulthood (“two legs in the afternoon” – afternoon being adulthood).  Finally, advanced age requires him to use a cane to support himself (“three legs in the evening” – evening being old age).

It is the evening I wish to discuss in this post.

It is so important to avoid falls. Statistically 1 in 4 aging adults will be injured in a fall this year. Falls prevention is such a hot topic that the federal government NCOA has devoted a whole program strictly centered on fall prevention.

brava-walker avoid falls

Brava Walker

As we age, our once strong bodies sometimes need additional support to continue to be active.  Using canes, walkers or crutches becomes commonplace as balance or coordination skills become affected. Making certain our home environments are adapted to our new skill level is important.  Here are 5 easy to accomplish tips to ensure your environment helps you avoid falls.

  1. First thing to remember is to remove unnecessary clutter in your home.  Removing unnecessary clutter from walkways will help prevent unwanted tripping over objects that you meant to throw away years ago.  Yes we all have them! Clear the pathways of stacks of books and magazines, extra furniture and scatter rugs.
  2. Next thing is to install grab bars in and around your bathing areas.  Nothing feels quite like a hot bath after a long day, so ensure you can traverse these wet, slick areas by installing grab bars everywhere you may need a handhold.  Apply non-slip appliques in the bottom of your tub for extra traction, or use a rubberized bath mat with suction cups.
  3. Make certain you can see objects around you properly to avoid falls.  Knowing where things are supposed to be in your home is not enough.  Be certain you have the proper lighting in your home to see clearly so obstacles won’t become obstacles to you! Add nightlights that come on automatically as night falls- so you won’t!
  4. Have dual handrails installed on stairs- not just on one side, but on both. While climbing stairs we can                                                                    become fatigued more quickly than walking
    avoid falls

    Sugar Cane

    on a level plane.  Dual handrails will help to steady your gait and provide additional support for the body. Avoid falls as you avoid carrying things up and down the stairs as much as you possibly can. Countless falls happen every year as people negotiate the stairs with hands full.

  5. Finally, review your medications side effects.  If a medicine tells you plainly on the bottle, “May cause dizziness”, avoid physical activity for a couple of hours after you take that medication.  Instead, pick up a book or read your favorite blog to enhance your mind! Always use your walker or cane if you do find that your medication is causing dizziness issues, and do speak to your doctor about any side effects you are experiencing. Your doctor certainly doesn’t want to increase your fall risk either!

What happened to Oedipus?  Once he answered the riddle of the Sphinx he was free to pass and enjoy life.  All of us here at SpinLife wish the same for you, and hope that using these 5 simple tips will prevent a fall that could do serious damage to your “Oedipus Rex!”

 

 

 

 

November 4, 2016

SpinLife in Atlanta: MedTrade Wrap-Up

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Every October thousands of Home and Professional Medical Equipment industry professionals attend the Fall MedTrade convention in Atlanta.

The annual conference is known as the place where the both well-known and start-up manufacturers show off their latest and greatest products. The SpinLife team was there to visit with our vendor partners and meet some new brands. MedTrade is the perfect opportunity for our team to see, touch, and try out the new products we’ll be adding to our site. Every year we see new companies showcasing innovative products, helping SpinLife keep our commitment of bringing the world to you!

We experienced several new exciting products on the show floor. The new Graphite-fiber folding ramps from EZAccess can weigh as little as 7 lbs which is great for life on the go. Pride Mobility is building on the success of the Jazzy Air by releasing it, the Jazzy, and GoChair in new fashionable colors. We got to sit in Golden Technologies’ new space saving wall-hugger lift chairs that only need 4” of clearance against a wall: perfect for smaller homes. One new product we loved was Comodita’s new Avanti rolling walker. It has one-handed braking and it stays upright when folded! Anyone who’s had to load a walker into a trunk will appreciate that.

One trend that stood out at the show was the number of recreational scooters. Manufacturers are introducing many cool new scooters that go faster, longer, and come in fashionable colors. We also saw a trend towards scooters that can seat two people and some even collapse between one and two seats. People of all ages and with many different mobility needs will be well served by the wide variety of scooters coming onto the market, and we’re excited to see what’s next.

Our Merchandising team left the show excited about the new products that will soon be available. And our Marketing team can’t wait to show you what’s in store for 2017!
Stay Tuned! It’s getting exciting!

-Team SpinLife

Below are some snapshots from the expo hall.

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November 1, 2016

Understanding the Best Ways to Help your Aging Parents

Aging parents

It can be difficult to decide on the best ways to help your aging parents. This dilemma faces so many family caregivers every day! Does this readers’ question sound familiar?

“My sisters and I have been taking care of our aging parents who are in their late 80’s.  They live in their home and said they won’t leave until they die. BUT my mother won’t let us hire paid help. What shall we do?”

I have been in your position. My dad didn’t want to hire help either. Even if your parents say they don’t want to be a burden, they would probably always choose you to help them over paid care. Put yourself in their shoes–it probably is a bit daunting to have someone they don’t know doing services for them.

It may help if you can get to the heart of your parents’ concerns. Perhaps you think they don’t see how dirty things are, or maybe you think they are concerned about the cost. One day while scrubbing my own father’s bathroom, he told me, “I’ll pay you forty dollars an hour to do  that.” It dawned on me is wasn’t lack of understanding or concern for money that bothered him. He was just reluctant to have strangers in his personal space.

You and your sisters also need to validate your parent’s feelings by letting them know that you endorse their hope of staying in their home. It may also be necessary to re-assure them that paid help will not substitute for the visits they count on from you.

Your aging parents need to understand that it is impractical to think that you can do it all while taking care of your own responsibilities. You and your sisters should get together and review the tasks you currently do, the ones you no longer wish to do and the ones that are simply not getting done. Sit your parents down and go over this list together.

Suggest a compromise that shifts some of the burden, to start. Perhaps you can get your parents to agree to once-a-week housecleaning and grocery shopping while you and your sisters continue to take them to appointments. Or like my dad, who was willing to accept transportation assistance but needed to ease into the idea of strangers in the house. Continue Reading

October 27, 2016

How to transport a power wheelchair: Valuable expert advice

Once upon a time, to transport a power wheelchair your only option was a wheelchair-accessible van.

While accessible vans remain a popular choice, today there are other practical ways to transport a power wheelchair. Using your existing vehicle they are often very practical and affordable.

Conversion Vans

Van conversion transport a power wheelchair

The most historical way to transport a power wheelchair chair is a wheelchair conversion van. Nowadays conversion vans are usually minivans with lowered floors and power ramps. For those wishing to drive or ride from a power chair (which should be WC-19 crash test compliant, if occupied), a conversion van is a seamless solution. With a conversion van, you can roll right in, secure the power chair with tie-downs or a docking device, and off you go. However, conversion vans have two downsides. Firstly, they start around $45,000. And, secondly, you’re limited in vehicle choice. Nevertheless, conversion vans are literally a roll-in-and-go solution.

 

Vehicle Lifts

In recent years, vehicle lifts have dramatically changed the ways to transport a power wheelchair. Rather than needing an accessible van, as long as one can transfer to a driver’s or passenger seat, a vehicle lift allows a vast range of vehicles to transport a power chair at a remarkably affordable price. Put simply, a vehicle lift allows you to transport your power chair using your existing vehicle for between $1,000 and $3,000, depending on the lift.

 

Types of Vehicle Lifts for Power Chairs

Lifts come in two styles, “boom” and “platform.” Boom lifts resemble a crane that lifts the power chair up and into the vehicle via a reinforced strap. Platform lifts place the power chair on a platform at ground level, then it’s lifted upward like a miniature elevator. Either one is a great way to transport a power wheelchair.

 

Boom lifts are primarily an interior lift application (although they can be mounted in truck beds). This includes placement in the rear cargo areas of station wagons, minivans, and SUVs, as well as in a side-entry location on minivans. Further, boom lifts can be used in conjunction with trunks on large sedans. This is accomplished via a quick-release base where a compact power chair lifts into the trunk, then the boom is removed and stowed, allowing the trunk lid to close. This type of application requires the removal of the seat from the base of the power chair.

Transport a power wheelchair

To lift the power chair into the vehicle, a boom lift features a docking strap that clips on to a special mounting point on the power chair to maintain a level position as it rises in the air. Once the power chair is lifted, the boom is then manually or electrically rotated into the vehicle with the power chair attached, lowering it into its stowed position. A primary benefit of a boom lift is that it takes up minimal space in the vehicle, allowing cargo room when the power chair isn’t present.

transpoprt a power wheelchair

Platform lifts serve as a very practical means to transport a power whelchair, as you simply roll it onto the lift platform, secure it with tie-downs or a mechanical docking bracket, then lift the power chair with the push of a button.

 

Exterior platform lifts raise the power chair well off of the ground, to driving height, with plenty of ground clearance during transport.

Additionally, when not in use, most exterior platform lifts fold up against the rear of the vehicle to ease maneuvering and parking.

 

A variation of an exterior platform lift is a tilt rack, in which the platform serves as a “tilting ramp.” This allows the power chair to be rolled up onto it, where it then manually tilts into a stored, elevated position, ready for transport.

Transport a power wheelchair backpacker

Interior platform lifts allow you to place and secure the power chair onto the platform just like in an exterior lift application. At the touch of a button, it operates in two stages, lifting upward, then slides inward on tracks, stowing the power chair inside the vehicle. The power chair is secure within the vehicle and out of the weather. Interior platform lifts also have no equipment outside the vehicle, retaining the vehicle’s standard length and appearance.

 

Vehicle Lift Installation

No matter exterior or interior, most lifts are remarkably easy to install and some require no tools or modifications to the vehicle whatsoever. Exterior lifts plug into a corresponding hitch receiver. For power, the lift will come with a wiring harness, to connect directly to the cars battery. Some lifts are entirely self-contained -with a rechargeable battery pack that powers the lift, where a wiring to the vehicles battery is not needed.

 

Interior platform lifts are designed to be as unobtrusive as possible to vehicle interiors. They secure to existing seat mount locations or other preexisting mounting points in the minivan or SUV, so no holes are drilled in the vehicle. Power is most commonly supplied via a rechargeable battery pack, but some models connect to the vehicle’s electrical system, tying into an existing power port or wiring.

 

Boom lifts typically require minimal installation by bolting to the vehicle’s floor, with a rechargeable battery pack or vehicle wiring delivering power.

 

Although most lifts feature very practical do-it-yourself installation, many are also available with optional nation-wide installation.  A skilled technician will come to your residence to professionally install the lift for you.

 

Consumer’s Checklist to Selecting a Lift

  • Determine the desired location of the lift, and assess the vehicle’s compatibility
  • Determine the type of lift you want, boom or platform
  • Determine the power chair’s specifications, including length, width, height, and weight
  • Determine the vehicles specifications (hitch classification for exterior lift, or hatch/door opening dimensions for interior lifts)
  • Match the lift’s weight capacity, dimensions, and style to the power chair’s specifications
  • Confirm the lift, power chair, and vehicle compatibility with a sales representative, and discuss installation options

 

Transporting Your Power Chair

From van conversions to vehicle lifts, there are wonderful ways to transport your power chair. No matter a roll-in ready conversion van or an affordable vehicle lift, there are astounding options available today!

October 19, 2016

Bathroom Modifications: From Bathtubs to Roll-In Showers

Bathroom Safety Modifications

When it comes to both independence and safety, the bathroom is the most challenging room in a home for those with mobility limitations.

From slippery surfaces, to the need to step up and over, to varying fixture heights, the balance and dexterity to maneuver independently in a bathroom can waiver from harrowing to dangerous. Fortunately, bath safety has become a major industry unto itself, making products that range from as simple as a portable grab bar to as extensive as a roll-in shower.

Sometimes a Little Means a Lot

For many who need a little assistance, there are a host of inexpensive, of-the-shelf items that dramatically increase safety and independence. A raised commode seat helps with transfers; a bath bench makes transfers and bathing much safer; and, grab bars, of course, are a helping hand wherever needed. These are all wonderfully inexpensive, readily-available solutions for added safety and maintained independence.

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