Jun 5

For people with Parkinson’s Disease, one of the most telling signals of the disease is their gait, or shuffling movement of the feet when they walk. Instead of walking heel to toe, many times they don’t lift their feet at all. They sometimes shuffle their feet on the ground or stride with the toe first.

As the disease progresses, this gait shuffling becomes more pronounced and eventually they may become susceptible to falls or “freezing of gait” symptoms, also known as FOG.

Freezing of gait episodes are closely related to falls and both can be debilitating. Medication can help decrease the chances of episodes or the severity of episodes, but as things progress, medication can only do so much.

When freezing episodes occur, the patient has trouble starting to walk and may stand in the same spot for a minute or two. The brain wants to walk but the feet don’t move. There are a variety of stimuli that may trigger gait freezing such as small spaces or stressful situations, but there are ways other than medication that can also reduce freezing and minimize falls.

One of the most effective prevention techniques we’ve found is with the use of a Parkinson walker that uses a laser beam near the feet. The laser provides a visual cue to the brain to walk.

Parkinson Walker with Laser beam to prevent gait freezing

Not only does the laser aid in reducing freezing of gait episodes, it is a very stable walker with features designed specifically for Parkinson’s. The automatic braking and reversible handle and brake combination make this an attractive walker for a person with Parkinson’s Disease.

While it may be impossible to eliminate freezing of gait completely, it is possible to reduce the tendency to freeze or fall with the right equipment, and ensure safer daily routines.

We have more information and a video about the Parkinson Walker on our website at:
AccessibleConstruction.com/services/walkers/parkinson-walker

May 30

One of the problems facing wheelchair users is scraping the walls and doorways when wheeling through the house, not to mention scraping fingers and knuckles. Offset hinges widen doorways a few inches by expanding the door opening at the hinge. These are an easy and cost effective way to solve the problem.

But sometimes there is a door opening in a hallway that doesn’t have a door to expand – it’s just a narrow opening. While it’s wide enough to fit through, it’s a snug fit.

These narrow openings are easy to spot, as the wheel marks are evident on the walls and doors where the paint has scraped off. It’s bad enough when you own the home you live in, but it’s worse if you’re a renter and have to pay to fix the walls when you move out.

We recently helped a wheelchair user by attaching clear, plexiglas wheelchair wall protectors to a narrow door opening. The plexi sheets are thin enough that they don’t impede movement through the opening but save the paint and wood from being scraped away.

Wheelchair Wall Protectors

We’ve seen commercial wall protectors in parking garages and even offices where furniture is constantly being moved, but we haven’t found a commercial solution for homes yet. So we fabricated our own wheelchair wall guard.

It’s a fairly simple procedure to install them, and until somebody comes out with a pre-made protector, take a look around your own home and see if it might help save your paint and wood.

May 16

With Baby Boomers now hitting their stride into retirement age at record numbers (10,000 per day), many consider where to retire as a key consideration.

An AARP study concludes that most people want to remain in their own home for the rest of their lives, or at least as long as possible. That leaves a few people to consider moving to someplace a little warmer and sunnier. So we did a little digging and found 6 Lists from different sources that discuss the Best Places to Retire.

Best Places to Retire

Here are a few things to consider when thinking about where to retire:

  • Can you financially afford to sustain your ideal lifestyle for many years to come?
  • Will you need a car where you live?
  • Is there good public transportation in the area?
  • How close will you be to family and friends?
  • Does the area offer good amenities such as shopping and restaurants?
  • Are there plenty of options for recreation and exercise?

While these are just a sampling of things to consider, make a list of what’s important to ensure that the area where you choose to retire will meet your important needs.

There’s no shortage of retirement ideas on the internet and we’ve found a few that looked interesting.

Yahoo Finance recently ran a story, “The Best Place to Retire Overseas on a Budget,” that discusses the attributes of Ecuador.

U.S. News Money had an article called, “The 18 Best Places to Retire Overseas,” with a short summary about why each place made the list.

The Huffington Post weighs in with, “Best Places To Retire: 10 Most Relaxing U.S. Cities To Enjoy Your Golden Years,” that has a photo slideshow with descriptions.

CNN Money offers a list of the “25 Best Places to Retire” with a focus on reasonably priced homes, low crime and tax rates, and quality health care.

AARP writes about “10 Great Sunny Places to Retire” from their Best Places to Retire in 2012 list.

We also found a Pinterest Board called, “Best Places to Retire” that has plenty of photos and links to resources. If you don’t know about Pinterest, it’s one of the hottest things on the web today and is certainly worth a look.

You may not be planning to retire just yet, but it is highly recommended to begin planning in advance to be sure you can afford it and find the best deals before they get too expensive. Eventually, others find the hidden gems and the prices always go up in due time.

May 9

Summer is always a great time for exercise because the weather is nice and most of us would rather be outside soaking up some of the sun’s Vitamin D energy than staying indoors. With the high temps we’ve had across the country in previous years, being in a pool makes it all that much better.

Pools are a great way for seniors to get low impact exercise that is easy on the joints but still gives a pretty good workout. Not only does the exercise release feel-good endorphins, it’s a refreshing way to stay active outside and beat the heat.

Pool safety is imperative though, and it’s always advised to not swim alone – and that goes for all age groups. Just as children should always have a parent with them, seniors should also be accompanied by a caregiver, friend, or other family member when using a pool. As kids at camp learn every summer, it’s called the buddy system and it’s a lesson that should be followed all through life.

Every pool should have a secure pool rail adjacent to the steps for getting in and out of the pool. Public swimming pools are required to have at least one at every entrance and the same should be followed by private residential pools. In fact, public pools over a certain size are now also required to have an ADA Pool Lift. While a pool lift may be overkill for your home pool, many styles and sizes are available should one be needed.

We recently installed a pool rail at the home of an elderly couple in Los Angeles. We do quite a few pool rail installations every summer. As you can see in the first photo, both the pool and jacuzzi were without any railings to aid in getting in or out.

Pool Rail before Installation

The next photo shows the pool rails we installed that extend out across the length of the steps. They take up very little space and do not impede the walkway area around the pool. They help ensure the safety of the person using the pool, as well as allowing a caregiver to get into the pool to help with exercise routines.

Pool Rail after Installion

Also notice in the second photo, the pool area is free from any obstacles that may cause somebody to trip and fall into the pool. Inside the home we’re always careful to keep cords out of the way and carpets tacked down to prevent tripping and falling. The same care should be taken outside around the pool.

If you have a pool, but haven’t been using it because of safety issues, it might be worth it to have a backyard assessment. It usually doesn’t take much to get a pool in shape to begin enjoying it again.

Apr 30

We often discuss fall prevention for seniors and older adults and have offered dozens of ways to make the home safer. It’s an important topic. It all boils down to tripping, slipping, and falling.

Here are three problem areas and solutions for seniors to prevent tripping, slipping, and falling:

1. Prevent Tripping – Remove Loose Carpets From Walkways

Loose rugs, carpets, and even electrical cords and cables may seem necessary but they are a main cause of people tripping in the home.

Slipping Tripping Falling

In this hallway there is not one but two throw rugs in the main walking area of the home. Tacking them down might help but if the foot hits on the exact edge, they won’t give and could cause a fall for sure. Unless absolutely necessary, avoid using these types of carpets. If you’re concerned about carpet stains, try treating the carpet with a stain protector like Scotch Guard in frequently traveled areas of the home.

Cost to implement: It costs nothing to remove loose carpets and next to nothing for fabric protector.

2. Prevent Slipping – Use Shower Strips or Bath Mats in the Bathroom

Bathrooms are where we find most slipping accidents because the shower floors are wet. Bathroom floors outside of the shower can be wet too.

The best way to prevent slipping in the shower is to use a bath mat or non-slip shower strips. Grab bars are essential but they just give you something to grab if you do slip. Prevent slipping from ever happening by adding a non-slip surface to the floor.

Slips Trips Falls

Outside the shower, bathroom floors become wet from water leaving the shower or tub. Here it is okay to use a throw carpet such as a towel-type bath mat. It will give you something to step on as you get out of the shower to absorb the water. For a walk-in shower, shower dams can be installed at the threshold to keep water in the shower area.

Collapsible Water Retainer Shower Dam

Cost to implement: Cheap. Bath mats and shower strips costs less than $20. Collapsible shower dams cost a little more but they work well at keeping water in the shower and make cleaning the bathroom floors easier.

3. Prevent Falling – Add Handrails to Outside Steps and Walkways

Walkways in and out of the home with just a few steps can be the major cause of falling, especially for older adults who have trouble seeing. Make sure these areas are well lit at night and each step is clearly visible.

Outside Step Railing

Here is an outside entrance we modified by adding a wooden handrail. As you can see, the steps all look the same and it’s difficult to see where one step ends and the next begins. To make this more problematic, the steps were made of stone with hard, sharp edges. Falling on these steps could be a disaster. The area was also very wide and there was only a handrail on one side.

Railing on Stairs

We matched the wood and color and extended it all the way across the front of the house making the entire porch safe from falls. A second handrail leading up the steps offered two areas to hold on to for added safety. The result looks great and matches the home perfectly.

Cost to implement: It depends on the size and style needed. If you have a large area to cover and need custom wood or iron railings it can be costly. But it’s also possible to have it done without spending more than a few hundred dollars. Not only is it worth it, it can be an attractive add-on to your home.

Feb 28

Many seniors have trouble getting in and out of the car because of arthritis, joint pain, and general symptoms caused by aging. There are many ways to make a home easier to use, but how do you make a car easier to use? Here are our three favorite car mobility aids that make getting in and out of a car safer and easier.

Handybar Car Standing Support Lever

Handybar
The Handybar is a car standing support lever that fits inside the u-striker of the car door frame when the door is opened. It’s been around forever and is a simple device to use and store in the car. This is a great tool for people who need something sturdy to hold onto when getting in and out of a car.

The Handybar easily fits in the glove compartment or better yet, a door pocket so it’s available when the door is opened for use getting in.

For those unusual circumstances, it can also be used to break the window or cut through the seat belts. Even though it is rare that these features will ever be used, they show how well the device is designed.

Car Caddie Car Window Standing Strap

Car Caddie
The Car Caddie is a car window standing strap that attaches to the top of the door frame and has a gripper handle.

It can be used like the Handybar except it works better for people that have more strength “pulling” themselves up instead of “pushing” up. Because certain disabilities or injuries require different motions, it’s nice to have an option that works with a person’s strength.

It can also be attached to a grab handle in the ceiling on newer cars. The Handybar and Car Caddie are both ideal for use in the front or rear seats and they both aid in entering and exiting the vehicle.

Swivel Car Seat

Swivel Car Seat
A Swivel Car Seat sits on the seat of a car and works similar in motion to a lazy susan and allows the driver or passenger to sit and swivel in or out for easier transfers to the car seat. It’s a simple device but really does its job.

Other products that deserve mentioning are the Beasy Transfer Board and lightweight Transport Chairs, which work well when traveling by car.

Seniors and people with disabilities rely on their cars for getting around but they can be cumbersome to use when getting in and out. These products help make using the car safer and easier to use.

Jan 24

Nearly 29 million people in the United States have Diabetes, which is the leading cause of foot complications, often times leading to amputation.

Obesity and an unhealthy diet are leading causes of Diabetes but many times it can be cured with lifestyle changes. Diet, exercise and getting weight under control might eliminate it, all by following a few simple changes in routine.

Below is an infographic that shows how to beat Diabetes. To see the full-szie version go to Daily Infographic.

How to Beat Diabetes

We have some Diabetes Resources on our website along with several products that can help those who suffer from Diabetes.

Nov 29

The infographic below is from The National Council on Aging (NCOA) website and shows that almost 4 million adults over the age of 60 face hunger in America. A large majority of them might be eligible for benefits but aren’t getting them.

Senior Hunger in America During the Holidays

While this problem is ongoing all year long, it’s especially heartening when seniors go without enough food at the holidays. Most of us take it for granted that there will be plenty to eat during the holiday season in November and December but there are plenty of ways to help older adults less fortunate.

Inviting senior neighbors, friends and family members to dinner during the holidays is the most obvious way to make sure they have enough food. Or better yet, visit them in their own homes and take food with you. Make sure you help clean up afterward and be sure to leave leftovers with them.

While visiting seniors in their own home, take a look around to see if they’re able to properly take care of themselves. Are the bathrooms and kitchens safe? Maybe they could use grab bars in the bathroom, or a low, steady stool with a handle for reaching into the cupboards in the kitchen. Check to make sure they have enough food in the refrigerator and cupboards.

Check around the house to ensure there is proper lighting in living areas, and carpets or cords aren’t in walking areas that might cause them to trip and fall. These are the most obvious hazards, but watching them move around in their own home will give you clues as to problem areas.

If you invite them to your own home, see if they have trouble getting around. Do they need a walker or have problems with putting shoes on?

It may seem like you’re being nosey, but you’re actually looking out for their best interest and signs of something that may become more problematic in the future.

The NCOA can help provide annual benefits to seniors for a variety of things such as food, prescriptions, and medical costs. According to the infographic, every $1 donated equals $40 in benefits.

For more information, visit The National Council on Aging (NCOA) website at:
http://www.ncoa.org/donate

Happy Holidays!

Sep 30

Healthcare fraud and medical identity theft is a growing problem with over a million cases each year.

Healhcare in America is a hot topic but not for the reasons most people expect. The infographic below outlines some of the major issues with healthcare fraud.

One way to fix the problem is to streamline the healthcare process and it needs to be done through legislation. Educating the public is the first step to enabling the legislation.

To see this image in its full size, visit Daily Infographic.

Healthcare Fraud and Medical Identity Theft
Aug 30

Wheelchair Ramps come in a wide range of sizes and styles that offer different functionality. While the main goal of a ramp is to allow wheelchairs, scooters, and even walkers to go up and down stairs, they also help with thresholds and getting in and out of accessible vehicles.

Here we’ll take a brief look at 8 different types of wheelchair ramps to gain a better understanding of which ramp works for which situation.

Lego-Style Threshold Ramp

Lego-Style Threshold Ramp

Lego-style Threshold Ramps are very lightweight, allow water to flow through, and can be used on both the inside and outside of the doorway for easily rolling over the threshold. These are available in .75-inch and 1.5-inch heights and have a 300-lb weight capacity.

Aluminum Threshold Ramp

Aluminum Threshold Ramp

Aluminum Threshold Ramps come in sizes to fit 1-inch to 6-inch high thresholds. These are very lightweight, with a non-slip surface and a 600-lb weight capacity.

Rubber Threshold Ramp

Rubber Threshold Ramp

A Rubber Threshold Ramp is one of our favorite ramps for getting over thresholds for doorways and sliders. They’re a great looking, very durable ramp made from recycled materials. These are heavy ramps but they stay in place and have an almost infinite weight capacity. They come in a variety of heights ranging from 1/2-inch to 2-inches.

Portable Suitcase Ramp

Portable Suitcase Ramp

Portable Suitcase Ramps come in several styles and lengths from 2-feet to 6-feet in length. They fold in half for easier traveling and storage, and they support up to 800 lbs depending on the model. The all-aluminum construction and non-slip surface make them ideal for wheelchairs and many scooters.

Telescoping Track Ramp

Telescoping Track Ramp

Telescoping Track Ramps are made of sturdy aluminum and not-skid finishes. They are lightweight and compact for storage but they can be a little tricky to set up and align with the wheelchair wheels. They telescope in and out making them even more compact and go up to 10-feet in length.

Pathway Ramps

Pathway Ramps

Pathway Ramps offer temporary to permanent secure solutions for wheelchairs and scooters. Sizes vary from 2-feet all the way up to 10-feet and all have non-skid surfaces. These usually work well for areas with only one or two steps and some have optional handrails.

Modular Wheelchair Ramps

Modular Wheelchair Ramps

Aluminum Modular Ramps are ideal for both commercial and residential areas that require longer runs for going up more than a few stairs. Modular Ramps are more permanent than the previous ramps discussed here and they can accommodate almost any configuration option with handrails available for extra safety when needed.

Custom Permanent Ramps

Custom Permanent Ramps

Custom Ramps for permanent installations can be made from redwood or concrete and are very sturdy and hold up well outside. They are usually built to have a very high weight capacity and have handrails at least on one side to aid caregivers. This is a great option for homes and commercial areas that need an attractive, yet permanent solution for wheelchairs, scooters and walkers, especially areas that get a lot of use.

We said this would be about 8 Types of Wheelchair Ramps but we’ve added a Bonus:

Roll A Ramp

Roll A Ramp ®

Roll-A-Ramp® is a portable ramp system for wheelchair and scooter users who want an alternative to expensive chair lifts, permanent ramps, or conversion vans. They come in a variety of styles and support up to 2,000 lbs.

For more information about Wheelchair Ramp solutions, give us a call Toll Free at (866) 902-9800, or visit our website: http://www.accessibleconstruction.com/services/ramps

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