Shower Chairs: Should I Get One?

Admitting you need a little help in the bathroom can be difficult. It’s one thing to talk about installing a few grab rails. It’s another to start thinking about using a special chair for toileting and showering. However, a shower chair may be your safest option for transferring and bathing. And there are lots of reasons why you may benefit from one.

Why should you use a shower chair?

Shower chairs (especially those that roll from toilet to shower) are sometimes seen as something that only wheelchair users need. While they are a vital part of many wheelchair user’s supply of adaptive equipment, you don’t have to have mobility limitations to need one.

Here are some other reasons you might want to use a shower chair:

  • You are recovering from surgery.
  • You have POTS or faint easily.
  • You have some limitations to your mobility.
  • You like sitting down while showering.
  • You are a fall risk from medications.
  • You have difficulty balancing.

The list could go on. But what it boils down to is your comfort and safety. If you feel more stable and comfortable in the shower when using a chair, then don’t put limitations on why you could justify getting one.

What kind of shower chair should you buy?

There are all kinds of shower chairs, and they have a wide range in function and price. You can find anything from a simple bench to a waterproof wheelchair.

Bench options are usually the most basic, and also the most economical. They function simply as a seat. Typically they are made of plastic and have holes for water drainage. Benches are usually lightweight, easy to move, and cost around $40.

A step up from a bench is a chair (or a bench with a back). These pieces of equipment are very similar to simple benches, but have extra features. Usually, a chair will have a back, some kind of handles or armrests to help you transfer, and they are a bit more sturdy. Depending on how many extra features they have, they can range from right above the $40 mark to a few hundred dollars. And the terminology used for what you might consider a “chair,” and “benches with backs” seems to be interchangeable- so make sure you search for both.

The most supportive option is a shower wheelchair. These chairs can usually roll from toilet to shower, and they have an opening in the bottom. Most of them also have to be propelled by an attendant, but it is possible to find a few that have wheels you can self-propel.

The Combi Shower Chair

ILA carries the mobile Combi commode/shower chair. It is one of the wheelchair-type shower chairs. The Combi allows the user to sit down safely and comfortably during toileting or showering. It has toilet rails and can be used either freestanding, with an optional bucket, or it can be positioned over a toilet. The best part is how easy it is to move and maneuver in different settings. And the stainless steel materials are easy to clean.

 

The Combi is on sale this week. But if it doesn’t fit what you are looking for, you can check out the full range of our bathing and bath accessories here!

 

 

Winter Safety for Seniors

Depending on where you live, winter can come with harsh temperatures and environmental conditions. Even in milder climates, the changes that do occur can be just enough to cause difficulties for seniors.

You might think that the cold weather is the biggest challenge. But other difficulties come with winter that you should be just as aware of.

Injuries and Accidents

Most wintertime injuries come from slipping and falling on icy surfaces. Older people often have trouble with balance and reaction time, making it more likely that they will have an accident. And minor accidents can cause major trouble for seniors. They can take longer to heal and may get more complications from fractures and breaks.

To avoid slipping, practice good fall prevention techniques. Wear shoes that have non-slip soles. These types of shoes aren’t slick on the bottom. They provide good traction. Also, think of the bottom of your cane or walker as you would your shoes. If the tips are worn out and slick, they are likely to slip as well. Go ahead and replace them with new tips that grip.

Once inside the house, be aware of wet spots by the door. If snow and ice come in on your shoes, it can melt and make puddles of water. Take off your outdoor shoes as soon as you come in. Then place them away from the door, or on a mat that will absorb the water from the melting snow.

Avoid driving on ice. If the conditions are bad, find someone else to drive you, or use public transportation. If the roads seem okay during the day, you still might want to stay off of them at night or in the early morning. Lower temperatures overnight can cause water to freeze on the roads during those hours.

Hypothermia

Hypothermia is more of a threat to seniors than it is to the general population. According to a CDC report, most hypothermia-related deaths happen to people over 65 years old. Other contributing factors are conditions that are also often found in the senior population:

  • Dehydration contributes to hypothermia.
  • Lower metabolic rate makes it difficult to maintain a normal body temperature.
  • Perception of cold may be altered in older people.
  • Hypothyroidism and diabetes can contribute to hypothermia risk.
  • Medications can suppress vasoconstriction and the shivering response.
  • Decision making may be affected by medical conditions.

Hypothermia can be prevented by dressing warmly and setting the inside temperature to no lower than 68. It may be tempting to try to save on your electric bill, but mild hypothermia can happen at temperatures as high as 65 degrees.

When going outside, make sure to bundle up with layers. Coats, hats, gloves, and scarves should be worn, even if you think you are only going to be outside for a little while.

Nutrition and Exercise

Cold weather limits how much you can go outdoors. And staying inside often limits the variety of food and exercise you get. When staying in, it’s easy to feel lethargic and resist doing intentional exercise or planning meals. But sitting around watching TV under a blanket all day is not good for your health.

Make time every day to do some indoor exercise. Only 15 minutes a day will make a difference. Find some free videos on the internet and follow along with their program. Or use pedaling machines and free weights to create your own routine.

Eat as wide a variety of foods as you can. Commit to making meals from scratch a certain number of nights a week. Make a weekly grocery store trip. Eating the same old frozen or canned meals day after day can contribute to nutritional deficits. Continue to incorporate as many fresh fruits and vegetables in your meals as possible. You may also want to ask your doctor to test your vitamin D levels to see if you need to add a supplement to your routine.

Take care of yourself in the winter so that you will be in tip-top shape for enjoying the nice weather when spring comes again!

 

Need help keeping your temperature regulated? Our talking programmable thermostat will help you maintain an appropriate temperature all day long.

Valentine’s Day Ideas for the Visually Impaired

Most Valentine’s Day celebrations seem to center around getting the right card. Whether it’s for a class full of children, or a significant other, we put a lot of thought into choosing just the right piece of paper.

But if the object of your affection is visually impaired or blind, a plain paper card from the store might not be all that exciting. The real fun of Valentine’s Day might be found in some other ways of celebrating.

Sensory Gifts

Gifts are always fun. And, fortunately, two of the most common Valentine’s Day gifts make great sensory opportunities. Both candy and flowers present a variety of options to choose from. When choosing for someone who is visually impaired think more about the smell, feel, or taste of the item than about the visual presentation.

That said, for some people, bright red wrappers might be a fun visual cue. Crinkly cellophane or extra layers of wrapping might also add to the unwrapping experience. Just don’t sacrifice the taste or quality of the item just for a holiday-themed wrapper. And take a sniff of those flowers. A good scent might be preferable to a colorful arrangement.

Alternatives to Cards

You’ll probably still want a card to go with your gift. But what are some better options than the standard plain card?

If you prefer to go paperless, you can find or make eCards that are large print, high contrast, and appropriately formatted for screenreaders. The American Foundation for the Blind has a Helen Keller card collection that can be customized with any message. Of course, you could always just design something on your own. Just remember that if you add images to your card, you’ll need to fill out their description field if you want them to be picked up by screenreaders.

If you’d rather stick to the traditional route, make your own card with contrasting colors and tactile elements. Using puffy paint to create raised letters, or adding ribbon, sequins, or foam shapes all add to the card experience.

Valentine’s Adaptive Gifts

It may not seem like it’s possible to turn a practical, adaptive gift into something appropriate for the holiday of love. But ILA actually has several items that make great Valentine’s Day presents.

Combine the practical and the sentimental! Our pendant magnifier comes in a pink heart frame. This 4X pendant magnifier is surrounded by a pink heart-shaped frame- perfect for Valentine’s Day! The magnifier measures a little over an inch across, and the chain is 28 inches.

The Sonic Boom Sweetheart Alarm Clock is a really fun gift. This hot pink heart with multi-colored display will brighten up any bedroom. The Sonic Boom Sweetheart Alarm has been designed especially for young ladies of all ages who are hard of hearing, or just hard of waking. It comes with an extra loud, adjustable alarm as well as a bed shaker.

Does your significant other love pockets? We have a red leather wallet that might fit the bill. This soft leather wallet has a lot of pockets to help organize all your stuff! Its easily accessible compartments include: 3 separate coin pockets, 1 zippered and three regular pockets for bills, 10 spaces for credit cards, a driver’s license, checkbooks, etc. And the Velcro closures are safe and easy to open. Measures 8″ X 3 3/4″

An item doesn’t have to be red or heart-shaped to make a thoughtful present. And you don’t have to only show your love on Valentine’s Day. For more great gift ideas, Check out all of our VISION items.

 

 

 

 

What You Need to Know About Low Vision

“Not all forms of vision impairment come with a guide dog and a white stick.”

This quote, by Sarah Coats, was featured in The Mighty article, “23 Truths Blind and Visually Impaired People Wish Others Understood.” There is a lot of misinformation about low vision. February is the month designated to promote awareness about what low vision is, and make people aware of the benefits of vision rehabilitation.

Vision Rehabilitation

The term “vision rehabilitation” may cause some confusion. We usually think of rehabilitation as a process where you work from being sick or injured to not having those difficulties anymore. And when we’re talking about vision loss, it may seem that in many cases rehabilitation isn’t possible. Once your vision is gone, it’s gone.

But vision rehabilitation has a much broader meaning. While it can include medications or surgical procedures, it also includes adaptation. The focus of vision rehabilitation is for people to maintain their current lifestyle, no matter what new devices or skills are needed.

Vision rehabilitation is usually done by a team of professionals. Often there is an optometrist or ophthalmologist who specializes in low vision. They may be supported by occupational therapists, mobility specialists, low vision therapists, counselors, and social workers.

The focus of the program is usually on how to use devices, such as magnifiers, or other adaptive equipment, how to go through your activities of daily living safely and independently, and how to modify your home to make it more accessible.

Who Has Low Vision?

Just because someone has low vision does not mean they are completely blind. Many people with low vision can see light, shapes, and colors to varying degrees. Sometimes just having better lighting, more contrast, or larger letters can help someone with low vision be able to read or manipulate an item.

There are many causes of low vision. One of the most common health conditions that causes low vision is age-related macular degeneration. Cataracts, diabetes, and glaucoma also damage your eyes. These are conditions that are typically found in older adults. But birth defects and eye injuries can cause low vision at any time of life. That said, low vision is most common in people over the age of 65.

Signs of Vision Loss

Because vision loss can come on gradually, sometimes it’s hard to catch the early signs and symptoms. And if you wear contacts or glasses, you may just think your prescription needs to be updated.

But because lost vision can often not be restored, it’s important to go in for a check-up if you see any symptoms of possible eye disease. Some of the signs include:

  • Being more hesitant to get outside the house or around the neighborhood
  • Having trouble recognizing faces
  • Not being able to see well enough to sew or do small crafts or tasks
  • Having trouble seeing the difference between color shades

If you have signs of vision loss, the sooner you go to see the doctor, the more likely it is that you will be able to retain some of your vision.

ILA has many products that help with vision rehabilitation and independence around the home. Check out our VISION page to see all the categories.