August 22, 2016

Knee Replacement fundamentals: an insiders perspective

Doctor examining patient before knee replacement

Facing Total Knee Replacement surgery? Just last year it was my turn to be the patient.

I have always been an active person. I enjoy the outdoors, swimming, working out at the gym. Together with my husband, I have travelled all over the country on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. My right knee had deteriorated steadily for 25 years, to the point that it would no longer function. Because I was only 30 when it began to give me trouble, the Doctors advised me to postpone Total Knee Replacement surgery until I could no longer stand the pain. In 2015, I decided the time had come to get it fixed.

The next few months were interesting. After 15 years as a Medical Equipment Specialist, working with Physicians and their patients to supply the equipment they will need during their post-op rehabilitation, it was my turn at bat.  My name at the top of the prescription came as a bit of a shock. This was going to be my Total Knee Replacement.

I am thankful that I did have the background to know what to expect before and after surgery. After all, I had reviewed this with clients many times. All that information proved itself true, and I can summarize the best of the advice right here:

Before Total Knee Replacement

Do whatever you can to get in/stay in shape. The better physical condition you are in, the easier your recovery will be. I found the elliptical machine at the gym didn’t bother my knee too much, and it was good cardio. I did lots of upper-body work as well to help strengthen my arms and shoulders. If you need to lose weight, try to do so before the surgery as well.

Get the equipment you need before the operation. You will need these thing before your discharge, and I came home the next morning! Don’t think you will go shopping for them when you get out, have them ready. You will need the walker in the hospital, so bring it with you. Your individual physician may have his or her own preferred list, but at the very least, you will need the following:

A walker with wheels. I ordered one with a seat on it as well, so I could sit down if I needed to. That was a big help once I was able to go out to the store, etc.

Rolling Walker Rollator by Drive Medical

This walker and I became very good friends!

Several large Ice bags, or even better, purchase or rent a portable cold therapy machine. They reduce pain and inflammation and aid in a quicker recovery. And I used the portable cold therapy machine EVERY day for at least 3 months.

My doctor prescribed a CPM machine (Continuous passive motion) those units keep the knee joint moving continually so that the new joint remains mobile. That was rented for about 4 weeks only, and my insurance covered the rental fees.

Bath and Shower Seat with backrest

A shower seat, and hand held shower sprayer. Definitely. I felt dizzy for a while after surgery, so it’s a safety thing. Something about the steamy heat of a shower makes me a little woozy anyway, and you do not want to take any chance of falling!

A raised toilet seat. (If your toilet seat is high already you may not need this) The object is to make it easier for you to get up.


 Chrome hand held shower spray by Drive Medical Designs

 Folding Pedal Exerciser

 

 

 

 

After Total Knee Replacement

Take your pain meds as prescribed. Particularly at the beginning keep ahead of the pain and just take it. (I do not like taking pills of any kind either, but honestly, just take it) Take it before you do your Physical Therapy and you will be able to work harder. I took pain meds every day for 6 weeks.

You have to do your Physical Therapist even though it hurts like crazy. Push yourself. Then ice and rest. It gets easier, I promise.

Get back to your regular exercise routine as soon as you can. Stationary bikes are great for new knees.

Honestly, I felt better every day after surgery. I suffered a few setbacks over the months, mostly when I backed off of the stretching and exercises I was supposed to continue doing. It was one full year before I felt completely recovered, and now I am so glad it’s behind me and my surgery was a success.

Last month my family surprised me with a beach vacation on my birthday. I took long, pain-free walks every day on the beach. What a blessing that was, and I am so grateful for my new knee!

 

August 18, 2016

Baby Boomers revisited: The truth about Zoomers

Senior couple having a coffee in a bar. taking selfie with smart phone

 

If you are one of the baby boomers – or have a loved one who is – you are not alone, that’s for sure.

Post WWII, 77.3 million Baby boomers, as coined by the New York Post back in the day, were born between 1946 and 1964. In 2016, that places the baby boomer generation between the ages of 52 and 70. Historically, in previous generations, this meant slowing down and retiring. However, for this generation, retiring may not mean slowing down, but simply changing directions! Yes, Boomers are the new Zoomers.

As sociologists have researched, the trait that makes Baby Boomers different than previous generations is that they’ve maintained an indomitable spirit of growth. This traces back to their coming of age in the 1960s, where personal growth became a cultural norm. That same spirit remains with them today, regardless of their age.

From civil rights to physical fitness, Baby Boomers continue to push the envelope, embracing change and growth.

In 2016, when we look at the demographics of which age groups are traveling the most, adopting technology at lightning-fast rates, and are pursuing late-in-life courtships in growing numbers, Boomers and Zoomers top the charts. You might say, you’re more likely to find Boomers texting on their smart phone than having a conversation on a porch swing.

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August 16, 2016

Diagnosis Dementia: Simple 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.

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.

When your loved one has a diagnosis of dementia, it brings with it a whole different dimension in caregiving. It brings the dementia epidemic home. Today I’d like to share a few practical strategies to help cope with a multi-faceted issue I experienced first hand.  Emotional, social and psychological implications we’ll discuss in future installments.

My vibrant, independent Mother was slipping. It started subtly enough, with forgotten appointments, missing keys, expired milk in the fridge.

These things happen, right? Then, past-due notices on the bills. What bills? She didn’t remember any bills. Unexplained scratches and dents on her car and finally, friends calling to report she was seen driving down a one-way street…the wrong way. What next!?

A referral to a wonderful, kind neurologist confirmed her diagnosis: Dementia. Mom’s neurologist and I would become close partners in her care over the years. There were a few medications available at the time, and we tried them all without much success. Coping with- not curing- the disease was the only path available. Coping with as much grace as possible was our shared goal.

Diagnosis dementia

In the early stages, dealing with memory loss requires making adjustments to the patient’s environment. It’s not enough to encourage the patient to remember, you must help them remember. Do your best to set them up for success. Here are a few suggestions I found helpful:

A bold calendar in a prominent place, marking appointments and important dates on the calendar. I would call Mother every morning and have her look at the calendar, review what was on for that day to help keep her on track.

Purchase a pill container with days and times, and you or another responsible caregiver will need to fill it, then monitor that the patient is being compliant. Special programmable pill containers are available to prevent overdosing.

A basket placed by the front door gave her a place to put her mail each day (until I could go through it) and kept the bills from being discarded.

Along with the memory loss, Mothers’ balance and coordination were affected. We noticed that in order to steady herself she had to hold on to the furniture and walls as she moved about the house. After several falls resulted in trips to the ER, we purchased a rolling walker which she kept constantly by her side. That rollator gave her self-confidence a real boost, and allowed her to continue to be mobile for years to come.

rolling walkers help with balance and coordination

Mom wanted to stay in her own home at all costs. Fortunately, it was an accessible rancher that she had built for my Dad when he became wheelchair bound, so the accessibility assets were already in place. If that’s not the case for you, a safety audit will help you identify potentially dangerous hazards that may need to be addressed.

Bathroom safety is a big issue. Read our blog post Four easy steps to a safer bathroom for some great suggestions.

 

Even though I lived nearby, was my Mother safe alone? Sometimes she couldn’t remember basic things- like using the television remote, or dialing the phone. Sometimes she would invite complete strangers inside her home- just because they came to her door. This scared me to death! What would she do in an emergency? emergency dialing telephone system with emergency pendant

We had to insist, but eventually we added an emergency dialing phone system. It came with a pendant Mom could wear even in bed or while showering, just in case. It was set up to dial several personal numbers (the gal next door and me, of course) as well as 911 for fire and police. Knowing she had that phone and pendant gave us real peace of mind.

 

Dementia is a progressive disease, and learning to manage your loved one’s care will be a work in progress…stay tuned for further articles on coping with dementia, and God Bless!

 

August 11, 2016

5 Fantastic Accessible Playgrounds

Jakes Place accessible playgrounds

Playgrounds have come a long way over the years- check out these accessible playgrounds

It’s not enough anymore to make sure that basic ramps are in place or that standard safety measures are applied. These days, accessible playgrounds are meant for everyone—young and old—to have fun, interact and experience the freedom of learning and play. These places cater to people of all ages with sensory, physical or psychological  needs, as well as the needs of their friends, parents and caregivers.

Here are a handful of our favorites:

Clemyjontri Park, Fairfax County, Virginia

Managed by the County of Fairfax, Clemyjontri is two acres of color and imagination, with everything from a wheelchair drag strip to a wheelchair accessible carousel. A little something for everyone, whether you want to climb and run, or just touch and interact.

6317 Georgetown Pike  McLean, Virginia 22101

Accessible playgrounds Little girl in X'Cape wheelchair wearing TuTu

 

 

 

Jake’s Place, Cherry Hill, New Jersey

Located in Challenge Grove Park, creators refer to Jake’s Place as a “boundless” playground that offers children and adults with special needs with action, lifts slides and sensory activities.  There are even special areas where autistic kids can take off by themselves.

132 Bortons Mill Rd Cherry Hill, NJ 08034

 

Can-Do Playground, Wilmington, Delaware

Located inside the Alapocas Run State Park, this park is nestled in and around gardens and trees, creating an oasis of play for everyone.  Adapted swings, raised sandboxes and mazes give children with almost any level of ability something to do.

Accessible playgrounds two boys playing, one boy in Quickie 2 wheelchair

4361 Weldin Road Wilmington, DE 19803

 

 

Reese’s Retreat, Pasadena, California

What’s better than pirates and a ship to go with them?  Reese’s Retreat is almost a half-acre of accessible fun, with wheel-chair friendly flooring, along with the water and sand play any pirate might expect.

360 N. Arroyo Blvd Pasadena, CA  91103

Accessible playgrounds, special needs child in stroller with lady

Preston’s H.O.P.E.

The largest fully accessible playground in northeast Ohio. Preston’s has everything from kid’s sized houses and stores to sand area and theater.

26001 South Woodland Rd. Beachwood, Ohio 44122

 

August 10, 2016

Cruise your Community in a Personal Mobility Vehicle

Personal Mobility Vehicles on a path

Personal Mobility Vehicle? Imagine cruising around a private community. Maybe you’re headed to the golf course, swimming pool, tennis court or club house.

You’re probably meeting up with neighbors and friends. The ride there isn’t in a car. No, it’s far more practical and, yes, fun. You’re on a comfy captain’s seat. The vehicle’s suspension soaks up bumps. Lights and turn signals are at your thumbs. And, the warm breeze blows through your hair. All this may sound like a high-end golf cart. However, it’s a rapidly growing trend in senior and private communities that’s far more practical and captivating: full-size outdoor scooters, or a Personal Mobility Vehicle (PMV), as they’re officially called.

To rework a phrase, these aren’t your average scooters. PMVs are lifestyle-based, designed to get you to the country club in luxury and style. PMVs are a very convenient, low-maintenance, environmentally-friendly way to travel around private communities.

For starters, PMVs are large scooters, typically sized in-between a mobility scooter and a golf cart. Although not made for indoor use, a Personal Mobility Vehicle is ready for sidewalks and bike paths, with features and performance not found on typical mobility scooters.

Starting with creature comforts, PMVs have high-end, automotive-style seating, with a cockpit to match. Roomy foot platforms allow tons of leg room, and moving up the adjustable tiller, you’ll find cup holders and interior courtesy lights. Steering is most commonly by a loop-around steering wheel, with throttle controls on its back edge, surrounded by turn-signal and light switches, as well as a horn. A LCD dashboard gives line-of-sight data, such as speed, tripometer, and battery gauge. Of course rear-view mirrors and automatic brake lights most often round-out the features.

Personal mobity vehicle looks like a motorcycle

Pride Mobility Sport Rider

As for performance, that too separates PMVs from other scooters. PMVs are designed for true community use and transportation. As such, they’re designed to go faster, further, smoother. The average Personal Mobility Vehicle  travels up to around 9 mph, with a battery range of 25 miles or more, with very sophisticated suspension and even disc brakes. As a result, you can cover a lot of ground quickly and comfortably. This makes PMVs a very convenient, low-maintenance, environmentally-friendly way to travel around private communities.

With such luxury, performance and convenience, accessories are a popular addition. Depending on model, accessories ranging from storage trunks to golf bag holders to canopies are available.

Personal mobilty vehicle for the golf course King Cobra PGV

Drive Medical King Cobra Personal Golf Vehicle

 

 

 

There are a few important notes on use. Firstly, PMVs are not street-legal so they should only be used on designated pedestrian or bike routes, and in areas of private communities where allowed. Secondly, some PMVs with turf tires are allowed on golf courses; however, always check with the individual golf course regarding their rules.

 

 

 

It might sound odd to refer to a scooter as “cool,” but when you park your PMV next to the others at the club house – shined-up, with a bit of a hot-rod look to it – there’s really is something fun and cool about that!