Don’t Let Limited Mobility Keep You From Enjoying The Outdoors: Consider These Three Mobility Devices

When the weather starts to warm up, and you have the perfect balance of sun and cool breeze, it makes it hard to say inside. Getting outdoors to enjoy the sights, sounds, and fresh air can lift your spirits as well as give you a healthy dose of Vitamin D.

But if you have limited mobility, you may be hesitant to get out and about. The fear of falling or not being able to navigate certain surfaces can cause you to resign yourself to staying inside.

That’s why a variety of different mobility aids have been invented. The benefits outweigh any reservations you may have about using a piece of medical equipment. Mobility aids can give you more independence. They reduce the risk of injury from falling or overusing a body part. They reduce fatigue and pain. And they increase your confidence as they allow you to continue to do things on your own.

Canes

Canes are a good choice for someone who needs just a bit of support on a temporary or even regular basis. Since canes are a one-sided solution, they are best for people who may have a problem with one particular foot, knee, leg, or hip.

Canes can prevent your arthritis or injury from worsening by keeping weight off of and reducing stress to the affected area. They can also prevent falls by helping you maintain balance.

Some people overuse the opposite part of their body when trying to avoid using a painful area. In this case, using a cane can help you prevent injury to the “good” limb when you try to compensate and shift your weight.

Rollators

Rollators provide a medium amount of support, and they are incredibly versatile. Most people don’t realize how well rollators are equipped for going outside. They are easy to transport and can usually be folded up and thrown in the back of a car. But despite being lightweight and space conscious, the rollator has substantial wheels that are great for navigating outdoor terrain.

Another benefit of the rollator that many people don’t think about is that it often comes with a fold-down seating attachment. When adventuring around town or on a trip, the rollator’s seat makes the perfect place to sit and rest a spell. You’ll never have to push yourself too hard to find a place with seating where you can stop and take a break.

The only downside to a rollator is how easily it moves. If you need moderate support and want to be really active, the rollator is great. If you need a maximum amount of stability, the rollator may not be for you.

Traditional Walkers

Traditional walkers are the way to go when you need a maximum amount of support. They provide support for both sides of your body, and they aren’t likely to roll away from you if you lean into them too hard.

The traditional standard walker has four feet that rest on the floor, often covered with rubber tips. While the standard walker provides maximum support, that comes at a cost. Advancing the walker is more difficult because you must lift the entire walker off the ground with your arms, then put it back down. Traditional walkers don’t allow you to move with the ease and speed of canes and rollators.

One option is to get a walker that has two wheels on the front legs. This allows you to move the walker without having to lift the entire thing. It also makes walking faster. But, like anything with wheels, it increases the chance of you losing balance and allowing the device to slip away from you.

No matter what level of support you need, or what device you choose, don’t let your hesitancy to use a mobility aid keep you from enjoying the great outdoors. They don’t exist to give you the freedom and independence you deserve.

ILA carries a wide variety of canes, rollators, walkers, and other mobility aids. To get an idea of what device might suit you best, check out our products and descriptions under the “Mobility” category page.

Three Common Causes of Hearing Aid Damage

Hearing aids are sensitive pieces of equipment that can be damaged easily. The best way to keep your hearing aids in good working order is to take care of them according to manufacturer’s recommendations and to clean them regularly using approved methods.

But what are some common causes of hearing aid damage? Surely they can’t come in contact with too many dangerous substances while nestled safely in your ear. The fact is, you may be surprised at a few of the things we have on our list.

Earwax In The Tubing

Earwax (also called cerumen) can damage your hearing aids both temporarily and permanently. When earwax builds up in the tubes and holes in your hearing aid, then it is unable to transfer sound. The wax blocks the sound from getting through. When this happens, your listening experience may seem muffled.

A little earwax is an easy fix. Regular cleaning with the appropriate tools can help clear the tubes and keep your hearing aid working to the best of its ability. However, if earwax is allowed to remain in the hearing aid for too long, it can eventually cause permanent damage.

Earwax that works its way farther into the device can damage sensitive electronic parts. This is not just because of its gummy texture. The chemical composition of earwax includes salt and corrosive body acids.

Cleaning With Water

Moisture is one of the worst things you can expose your hearing aids to, and that includes during the cleaning process. Cleaning hearing aids with water is generally not a good idea.

Many people are used to just washing things off when they get dirty. But a hearing aid is not like a pair of glasses or a stained tie. Hearing aids should be treated more like stereo equipment. Just as earwax can damage the electronic components of your device, so can water.

Batteries can also be ruined by water, and if they get wet, they should just be thrown away. However, sometimes there are a few outer parts of a hearing aid you can carefully wash with water. If you think this is the case, check your care manual and follow its instructions to the letter.  

Never Removing Your Hearing Aid

It may be frustrating not to be able to hear well, but there are times when you must remove your hearing aid to keep from damaging it. Here are a few activities that may ruin your device.

  • Taking a shower or going swimming- these two activities would introduce water into the hearing aid, causing the damage and corrosion we just talked about.
  • Blow drying your hair- Blow dryers create high, targeted heat. This heat can damage or even melt components in your hearing aid.
  • Using hairspray or spray sunscreen- Like with drying your hair, if you must use hairspray, finish your beauty routine before inserting your hearing aids. Hairspray can clog up the tubes and holes in your hearing aid. And it’s tough to clean out! Sunscreen also creates a greasy, gummy, microphone-blocking mess.

The best way to keep your hearing aids undamaged and in good shape is to follow manufacturer instructions, keep them away from excess moisture and heat, and maintain them regularly using approved tools and cleaning solutions.

ILA has several products to help keep your hearing aids in great shape, including this hearing aid maintenance kit. It comes with cleaning tools as well as a battery tester and is small enough to carry in your pocket.

Reading Resources and Technology for the Visually Impaired

This week is National Library Week, so what better time to take a look at the reading resources and technology for the visually impaired. Whether you prefer to buy the latest technology and create a personal collection of books, or you are looking for free resources to borrow, there are plenty of options to help you enjoy both educational and recreational literature.

The National Library Service

According to the Library of Congress website, the “National Library Service (NLS) is a free braille and talking book library service for people with temporary or permanent low vision, blindness, or a physical disability that prevents them from reading or holding the printed page.”

The NLS offers books in braille and audio format. Libraries across the country cooperate to deliver free downloads or postage-paid hard copies of books and magazines. You have to register for this free library service, but once you do, you have access to all of their programs. For those who are unable to read large print or handle print materials, the library will also send loaner playback equipment for the audio materials.

Books For Digital Readers

Whether you borrow a digital reader from the library or decide to buy your own, you’ll find that this little piece of technology can open up a whole new world of recreational or educational reading.

Readers like the Milestone 212 Ace Book Reader can read aloud National Library Service (NLS), Audible.com, and DAISY downloaded books. It can also retain and play MP3, WAV WMA and iTunes AAC audio files.

Digital readers are convenient because they fit in the palm of your hand. If you enjoy using traditional “books-on-tape” you’ll love the convenience of a digital reader. You will no longer be confined to listening in your car or near a full-sized player or stereo. As the weather is changing, you’ll find digital readers are very convenient to take to the beach or on other outings.

To find out what new books are available for digital readers, you can check out Talking Book Topics. This resource lists the latest audio books and magazines that have been added to the library’s collection within the past two months.

Braille Copies

Braille copies of books, magazines, and even musical scores are also available. The Braille Book Review lists the newest titles and selections.

Certain books and magazines are deliverable in hard copy, while others are only available through ebraille.

The NLS explains ebraille like this, “On a computer, downloaded ebraille (electronic braille) materials can be embossed or read with a refreshable braille display. Users must have a braille display, braille-aware device, or braille embosser to read ebraille files. Ebraille materials are available in contracted and uncontracted format and can be downloaded by individual volume or in a ZIP file containing all volumes of the book (or parts of the magazine).”

If you are not sure how to access these services, here is the contact information from the NLS website: To get books if you live in the United States or its territories, contact your local braille and talking book library. Find a Library or call 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323) to be connected with the library serving your area. If you are unable to locate a library or wish additional assistance, please contact NLS via nls@loc.gov, call (202) 707-5100 or toll-free 1-800-424-8567, or request an application packet be mailed to you.

ILA has a large selection of NLS readers, recorders, and players. If you are looking for the latest technology in digital readers, check out what we have to offer!

Save Money!: Three Tips for Senior Adults

Many people eagerly look forward to retirement as a time to get to enjoy some of the activities they had to put off when they were working nine to five. But the majority also have some concerns about finances. Without that regular paycheck, the budget may get tighter.

Despite government benefits and 401(k)s, their new income may not feel completely comfortable. That’s why we’ve found three ways that senior adults can save money, both in the immediate and long-term.

Senior Discounts

As the baby boomers continue to age up into retirement, many companies have been reexamining and revamping their senior discount policy. Some are improving their programs while others are cutting their benefits.

Another thing that can be confusing from store to store is that while some stores have store-wide policies, others allow each location or franchise to make their own decisions. So while you may think a particular store doesn’t offer a discount, it never hurts to ask at each location. You may be pleasantly surprised!

Senior discounts typically range from 5% to 20% off, with most being around 10%. This amount may seem small, but it can add up across the board, especially on consistent purchases. A 10% discount on groceries each week may afford you a recreational trip out to eat by the end of the month.

To get started on your quest for the best senior discounts, you can start with this compilation of 100+ stores from Brad’s List.

Stay Healthy

The advice to stay healthy may not seem that it belongs in an article of money saving tips, but avoiding health problems can make a huge dent in your budget. Not all conditions are avoidable by lifestyle change, but many can at least be improved upon. Improving your health will cut back on expenses for prescriptions and doctors visits

One way to stay healthy is by eating healthy meals. Home cooked is usually best, unless you are only cooking by eating processed foods in the microwave. When you cook at home, you can better control what ingredients go into your meals as well as your portion size. Eating natural foods and cutting back on excess sugar and salt can help control blood pressure and diabetes. Portion control will also help you manage your weight.

Exercising goes along with diet to reduce weight and improve physical health and fitness. Even if your activity is limited for health reasons, there are gentle range-of-motion exercises you can do to help with flexibility, strength, and balance. Improving these areas will reduce your chances of having an injury related to falls.

Don’t Make Quick Decisions

Making quick decisions can be the downfall of your budget. Most people know the dangers of impulse shopping. We’ve all stopped by the store for one item and come out with a basketful instead. Those types of purchases can really add up. But it’s not just impulse buying that can run up the bills.

You also need to think carefully before saying yes to extracurricular activities, charities, or parties that may incur extra expense. While you will want to spend time out with friends and family, participate in the local church drive, or go to that 50th wedding anniversary, accepting these types of invitations may come with a price tag for presents, food and transportation, or donations.

Before making any decisions, consider the overall possible expense and see if it fits into your budget. If not, you may have to politely decline, or at the very least offer to participate in a different manner. For example, if you can’t make donations to the local can drive, maybe you can volunteer to help collect donations or arrange the shelves.

ILA carries several products to help you keep your finances organized. Our Personal Financial Management Kit is one of the most popular for those with low vision.

Transform Your Health With These Three Simple Sleep Routines

The benefits of sleep are often underrated. We think we can stay up late, have inconsistent routines, or get by on little sleep without too much harm done. But according to the CDC, “sleep is involved in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.”

There are many other benefits to good sleep as well. It lowers your risk of obesity, improves your immune system, helps balance your hormones, improves your mental abilities, and helps fight depression.

If you don’t regularly get a good night’s rest, it’s safe to say that getting better sleep could radically change how you feel. So let’s take a look at three simple sleep routines that can transform your health.

Don’t Lie Awake In Bed

Some people don’t sleep well because they can’t fall asleep in the first place. Insomnia is a common condition that may run in families. It can be caused by situational stress but doesn’t have to be. The feeling of being “wired but tired” is what often characterizes insomnia.

One of the worst things you can do when battling insomnia is to lie in bed awake for longer than 15 or 20 minutes. When you do this, you start to associate your bed with being awake, or maybe even the feelings of frustration about your insomnia. You begin to form an expectation that when you lie in bed, you are going to have trouble falling asleep.

To solve this problem, use your bed for sleeping only. If you are having a bout of insomnia, then get out of bed and sit in a chair in the dark. Stay sitting up until your mind starts to calm down a bit. Some people even like to read, but this could possibly keep you up even longer. The best thing to do is try to relax and let your thoughts run themselves out. Once you start to wind down, lay back down in bed to fall asleep there.

Unplug Before Bed

Computers and phones can be disrupting your sleep on multiple levels. One of the most obvious being that they can be a distraction that keeps you from going to sleep at your desired time. It may seem harmless to check your emails or messages one last time before bed, but five minutes can quickly turn into thirty as you respond to or look at “just one more thing.” And by keeping your mind alert and engaged, you are convincing your body that you need to stay awake.

Once you’ve finally put the devices down, don’t forget to turn off notifications for texts, calls, emails, or any other apps or reminders. Even if you think you’re a heavy sleeper, the constant dings, blips, or vibrations in the night can keep you from going into a deep, restful sleep. Put your phone as far away from you as you can at night, so when notifications are off, you won’t be tempted to pick it up and sneak a peek.

Another big problem with using screens before bed is that they emit blue light. Blue light suppresses melatonin, the hormone that controls your circadian rhythm. Melatonin is usually produced when it gets dark outside, triggering our bodies to go to sleep. Staying away from screens (and keeping lights in our homes dimmed) for about an hour before bed will allow these natural processes to occur.

Stick With A Consistent Sleep and Wake Time

According to sleep.org, erratic sleep patterns can make you feel bad. To solve this problem, they recommend for you to, “Pick a bedtime and a wake-up time—and stick to them as much as possible.”

If you have a late night on the weekends, you can sleep in an extra hour or two, but try not to drastically change your schedule. This will mess up your overall sleep routine and may make you lose more rest over the course of the week. It’s better for your body to be tired and ready to sleep the next night than to get extra sleep in the morning and have trouble going to bed in the evening.

If you are a deep sleeper or are hard of hearing, getting up at a consistent time may be your biggest challenge. Alarms such as the Serene Bluetooth Bedshaker can ensure that you wake up when you want to. The Serene pairs with your smartphone alarm so that you can use it at home or while traveling. The vibrations start off gentle but gradually increase to extra strong ones that even the deepest sleepers can’t ignore.

Making a small effort to change these three parts of your sleep routine can yield big results.

 

ILA has a variety of alarm clocks and bedshakers to meet every need. Check out our inventory and find what might work best for you!