Medication Management

Whether it’s allergies, high blood pressure, thyroid issues, or for pain relief chances are that most people need to take medication daily. It’s not always easy to remember to take your medication or at times to know if you did or did not take it. Knowing why you’re taking it can be just as important as adhering to your doctor’s orders. What should you ask? What’s available to make sure you’re getting the right medication? What are some ways to better help you remember to take your medication daily? Let’s look at a few of these answers.  These tips and tricks are geared towards the visually impaired but can help nearly anyone who takes medication.

At the Doctor’s Office

When it comes to going to the doctor’s office and obtaining a new script make sure you understand how much you should take and when you should take it. You also need to understand how many doses are in each bottle, and when it needs to be refilled.

Speak up if you have any questions about your medication, including side effects. You also need to find out what to do if you miss a dose. With some medications, if you miss a dose you can take it immediately, or double-up the next day. For others, however, you just skip it and take your regular dose the next day.

Find out in advance what you should do if you accidentally take more than your dose of the medication. This can be very dangerous with some medications and you would need to seek medical help right away. With others, you simply don’t take your next scheduled dose.

This information and more can be found at WikiHow which has a great rundown on things to do concerning medication for the visually impaired including pictorial images to go along with each point.

At the Pharmacy

Most pharmacies in the United States have some sort of system for dispensing medication in a way to make it more easily understood by the visually impaired. En-Vision America offers a free downloadable brochure that helps educate consumers, doctors, pharmacists, and the community about products available free of charge.  Highlights from the brochure include pictorial images for large print labels, talking labels, and the ScriptTalk app. The ScripTalk station (which is a standalone device that reads RFID chips adhered to the bottom of medication bottles) is also free of charge to pharmacy customers.

Important information copied directly from the brochure reads: Sometimes stores are unaware of their corporate policy of offering accessible prescription labels. In other cases, you may be the first patient to request accessible labels at a particular store location. Call En-Vision America at 1-800-890-1180 if you run into issues getting accessible prescription labels. Pharmacies are required to accommodate requests for accessible prescription labels, and by law, cannot charge extra for this service.

For persons taking opioid medication there is also an option to have a Controlled Substance Safety Label (CSSL). A CSSL helps ensure safety for people who have difficulty understanding printed media, cannot read a printed label, or are simply overwhelmed by the amount of information that comes with a Schedule II controlled substance medication.

Even though the information can be found through some of the assistive labels or devices mentioned, it’s still important to make sure you know when your medication is set to expire before leaving the pharmacy. This is especially true for medications that are only taken on an as needed basis. Some pharmacies may have reminder programs that will call you when a medication is due to expire or about to run out.

At Home or on the Go

If your pharmacy doesn’t offer some of the options mentioned above, you can still label your medications at home in a way to ensure that you’re taking the right medication at the right time(s).

  • Mark lids and bottles: Most medication lids are interchangeable with other medication bottles therefore; however you decide to mark the lid you also need to mark the bottle to match. Braillable labels would also work for this option.
  • Puffy Markers or Puffy Paints: If you cannot make out a symbol even when using a thick marker, you may be able to distinguish the shapes of different symbols by touch. Puffy markers and paints allow you to create your symbols with raised surfaces so you can more easily differentiate between your medications.
  • Tactile objects adhered to the bottles: Objects such as buttons, dots, rubber bands, medicine rings or cotton balls also can help you differentiate between medications. These can be helpful if you’re having trouble coming up with symbols.
  • Use Audio Prescription Labels: This would include ScripTalk mentioned above.
  • Fillable Pill Boxes/Organizers: There are many options available including a Brailled Jumbo Portable Pill Box, Revolving Medicine Center, and MedCenter System Talking One Month Medication Organizer and Reminder.

Independent Living Aids, LLC has many of these items and more to help make living with visually impairments more manageable and carefree.

Kitchen Aids For the Visually Impaired

Cooking is more than just throwing a bunch of ingredients together in a pan and hoping for the best. To get the full experience out of the task you must first come to appreciate all that truly goes into it. From purchasing food, to setting up your kitchen for success, to preparing each ingredient, to ultimately a finished product the act of cooking uses all of one’s self and senses. For persons who are visually impaired cooking may seem more of a challenge than it truly has to be. Let’s look at some ideas to make each step more enjoyable.

Ready

Readiness is the biggest step towards being a successful cook. It’s important to ensure that you have all the needed supplies at hand before venturing to the next step. For this section it’s important to have the right ingredients and tools before any further prep is done.

Obtaining the proper ingredients has gotten much easier in today’s technologically advanced world. Some grocery stores allow you to both order online and have them deliver your groceries to you. Other grocery stores allow you to order online and pickup outside the store. There are still other services like Schwan’s, Hello Fresh, Home Chef, and many others that allow you to order either how to meals or complete meals delivered right to your door. Schwan’s is the oldest service of its kind available having been around for over 65 years. To learn more about the other two (plus eleven more) see The Best Meal Kit Delivery Services to Try in 2019. Of course, going to a store in person and picking out each individual item yourself is also still an option and is preferable for some. A few tips for shopping in person include asking in the butcher to precut any meat to fit your needs, smelling and feeling produce to test for freshness, and buying precut fruits and veggies were available to cut down on prep time.

Having the right set of tools in your kitchen is also an important first step in a successful outcome. A few useful tools to have on hand are a low vision black and white cutting board,  a talking kitchen scale, color coded measuring spoons, measuring cup set, low vision timer, flame retardant oven mitt, automatic jar opener, battery powered can opener, finger guard, and palm peeler.

Set

Once you have all of the needed tools on hand it’s important to ensure each item is labeled correctly and put away in an easy to locate spot. There are many ways to setup your kitchen area from using the WayAround Kitchen Starter Pack to using simple bump dots, dots of textured paint, glue, or any other material of your choosing.

The best way to know what to use (if not using a tried and true recipe of your own) is through the use of a cookbook or video explaining what is needed and how to use each item. For a paid subscription, Audible has over 1,000 cookbooks to chose from that can be read aloud to you. Food Network, All Recipes, Yummly (for mobile devices) and YouTube are also good options for recipes and video demonstrations. A good CCTV device, or other technology that translates written word into auditory means, opens up your world of recipes even further.

Once you’ve found the desired recipe it’s time to put your at the ready tools to use. For those with low vision the high contrast cutting board helps you see the item that needs prepping more clearly. The palm peeler and finger guard are good ways to cut up fresh produce without fear of cutting yourself in the process. A talking scale ensures that you are using the correct amount for the recipe as do the color-coded measuring spoons and measuring cup set. The automatic jar opener and battery operated can opener makes sure that opening any jar or can is a breeze.

It’s also important to follow kitchen safety advice such as not wearing long sleeves when cooking, using proper oven mitts, temperature settings, and utilizing a timer. For more tips see Safe Cooking Techniques for Cooks Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision.

Cook

There are several different appliances and cooking vessels that can be used to prepare your end dish. The stainless-steel 7 piece pot and lid set is an affordable and handy option for stovetop cooking. Speaking of stovetop cooking this flameless induction cooktop is a great option if you don’t want to heat up the whole kitchen or are scared of burning yourself when cooking. Unlike traditional gas or electric cook-tops, the induction surface does not heat up. Only the vessel holding the food gets hot. If you prefer to mostly cook via microwave there are several options for the visually impaired here too including a stainless-steel microwave with tactile stickers and a Magic Chef talking microwave oven.

The last thing to do is cook. The ingredients are prepared, your timer is at the ready, the oven(s) or stovetop are the way they need to be used, tactile dots or some other indicator is in place to tell the correct temperature, and you have the proper safety equipment on. Happy cooking!

 

 

 

Dressing Aids: Tips and Tricks for the Visually Impaired

Doing laundry, putting clothes away, and get dressed can be mundane boring tasks for most but for persons with disabilities it can also be overwhelming and frustrating. Luckily there are many tips, tricks, and assistive devices that can make things more manageable and less nerve wracking. These tips are mostly for the visually impaired but can be used and/or adapted for most anyone with a disability looking for advice.

Laundry

Laundry no longer has to be the chore it once was with the use of assistive technology. There are several different gadgets that can be utilized to help ensure that each piece of clothing is being washed correctly and that your colors are not mixed in with your whites (unless you want them to be).

The WayAround Starter Pack is a great tool to help with most of your laundry needs. This product works in conjunction with a smartphone app available for both iPhone and Android. Each type of tag is good for different items around the house. To label your detergent bottles and dryer sheets you can either use the WayTag Stickers (permanent) or the WayTag Clips (reusable). The WayTag Clips can be used as is or with an elastic loop that can go around cylindrical and other shaped containers. The WayTag Buttons can be attached to clothing and both their care instructions and descriptions uploaded to your smartphone to retrieve as needed. There are two types of WayTag Buttons. The 2-Hole Button can be sewn into your garment and the Oval Button can be attached to your garments with a safety pin. It’s advisable to attach the buttons at the same relative position of each piece of clothing for further ease of use.

If you do not have access to a smartphone the RNIB PenFriend Laundry Labels are another option. These labels are 1-inch square and are self-adhered (preferably to the garment label). You can record the care instructions and garment description with your own voice. A couple of things to note with these are no ironing or stitching is required, suitable for both washing machines and tumble dryers for 50+ washes, once adhered wait 7 days before washing to ensure they adhere correctly, and all labels should be used within 6 months of opening.

Putting Clothes Away

Both items mentioned under the laundry section can also be used to label clothes to assist in putting them away where they belong. There are also a few low-tech options that can be utilized in putting clean laundry away.

The  Braillable Labels are little transparent hard plastic labels that have room to Braille three lines. Each non-adhesive label has a hole in each end for the black elastic band peg to push through so that the label can be stretched around whatever you are marking.

Using Thick Sock Locks you never have to worry about matching socks again. From wearing to washing, once you slip socks into the Sock Lock, they remain paired while in the washing machine, dryer and sock drawer.

These Closet Organizers fit around the hanger rods to organize your closet into any categories that make it easier and faster to find your clothes. You can use the 60 pre-indexed labels, with identifiers such as ‘sweaters’, ‘dress pants’, ‘dressy’, ‘jackets’ or write your own categories on the 3 extra labels. The dividers can also be identified using Brailled labeling tape. (To read about more tips and tricks for organizing your closet please see our blog Closet Organization Strategies for the Visually Impaired.)

Visionware offers many more tips and tricks including using an empty egg carton to organize jewelry, using Ziploc bags to organize socks and hosiery, using various things lying around the house such as shoe boxes, craft boxes, and baby food jars.

Getting Dressed

Everything mentioned thus far can also be used to help find matching and appropriate clothing to wear. If you don’t have the time, technology, or patience to use some of the ones mentioned above or need help in a different area here are a few more items that can be beneficial when it’s time to get dressed.

The Colorino Talking Color Identifier detects 150 nuances of color and distinguishes sources, intensities and locates light sources. It speaks clearly at 3 volumes and has an earphone jack. Using this tool will help ensure that you are color coordinated every time.

The Zipper Pull/ Button Loop is specifically designed to help you grab and hold those small little buttons and zipper pulls with the greatest of ease.

The Telescopic Shoe Horn can help you finish off your look by enabling you to put on your shoes easier. It gently guides your foot into your shoe from either a seated or standing position. Its compact telescopic design adjusts from 22” to 32.5”.

For more wardrobe time saving tips for the visually impaired see this article from Visionware.

Independent Living Aids, LLC has many other daily living aids, technologies, and gadgets available from their homepage at https://www.independentliving.com/

 

Working Around the House

Working around the house can be a tedious chore for anyone but can be even more so with persons having any sort of disability. There are certain home improvement strategies, including both assistive and adaptive technologies, that can make life easier in the long run. Here are some tips and tricks to making your living environment more user friendly with specific ideas for persons living with a vision impairment.

Using Color Contrast to Your Advantage

The Blind Guide states: Having colors that are starkly different from each other can help a person with low vision get around the home easier. It’s best to use contrasting but solid colors, as patterned upholstery and rugs can be confusing to the eyes.” Using complimentary colors on the color wheel is the best way to achieve ultimate contrast. The basic complimentary color combinations are red/green, yellow/purple, and blue/orange. To learn more about color theory or to use an interactive color wheel calculator to help figure this out see Canva Color Wheel.

There are many other ways in which you can use color to your advantage including using contrasting colors to indicate a change in surface level, using brightly colored post-it notes to arrange bills and other important documents, painting door knobs and door frames a bright color, and using dinnerware that contrasts with the color of your table or tablecloth.

With a littler work and a little practice utilizing this trick will ultimately save you from frustration down the road. A few examples of daily living aids that illustrates the concept of using high contrast are:

Low Vision Black and White Cutting Board: One side is black to contrast with light colored food you are cutting. The other side is white to define dark foods being cut on this full-sized plastic, washable board.

Color Coded Measuring Spoon Set: Bright colors help differentiate the 4 measuring spoons. Spoons are made of sturdy plastic that is dishwasher safe.

Rainbow Pill Holder: Each compact box is a different color, with the day of the week and the four compartments marked, ‘Morning, Noon, Evening and Bedtime’.

Housecleaning with Safety In Mind

Housecleaning is important for a happy and healthy life. Doing so with a disability can be tricky but not impossible and eventually not overly hard once practiced. Live Accessible offers this YouTube video outlining her top 5 cleaning tips for the blind and visually impaired. A more in depth look at cleaning with vision loss can be found on wikiHow.

Both assistive and adaptive aids can be beneficial in keeping a clean and organized home. A good first step before bringing any big items into your house is to ensure that it will fit in the space you intend for it.  Using a Talking Measuring Tape is a fast and easy way to ensure a proper fit.

Vantage Mobility provides a few examples of devices that can help you work smarter and not harder around the house:

Vacuum Robot: Most models work quite well on carpets and swerve their little dirt-munching bodies under every available surface. Newer models even have sensors that detect what area of the house the cleaning bot has visited, so it won’t get stuck cleaning just one area. Most modern models also let you set a cleaning schedule, and a few fancier options even let you program the robot to return to its dock after cleaning and stay there until its next scheduled session.

Floor Mopping Robot: These ferocious scrubbers are nearly identical in operation to the vacuum robot, but they have a water reservoir to scrub clean your hardwood, linoleum or tile floors.

In addition to color contrast and cleaning other ways to help ensure everyday items are clean and secure include keeping desk and table chairs pushed in, keeping pathways free of clutter, utilizing tactile assistance markers to help locate various areas in the house, using handle bars near the toilet and shower, using non-skid, non-glare cleaning products on any non-carpeted floors, taping down any area rugs, and making sure that all exits are marked.

These are just a few suggestions on how to make your home easily accessible and safe. To learn more about home safety and for further suggestions check out this Bright Focus Foundation article about living with low vision.

Lighting Is Important

An article on home modifications for the visually impaired found at Hire a Helper states, “You will want to provide plenty of light in the areas of the home that are used for recreation, reading and socializing. Light should always be aimed at the point of focus, i.e., where you will be doing work, not at the eyes.”

Things to remember when considering lighting include using floor and table lamps, using lighting that is between 60 and 100 watts, allowing for natural light using blinds and curtains, ensuring light is uniform, and keeping flashlights readily accessible.

An easily accessible small light flashlight that can carried around with you is the Lil Larry Light. At only 6.25″ high, it has a high power 250 lumen COB LED light, which can be changed between a high or low setting and a flashing emergency red light. it is water resistant, so you don’t have to worry about getting it wet.

It’s important to experiment with lighting to see what works best and where it works best. The lighting used in the kitchen may not be the best light for the bedroom. To learn more about lighting see our previous blog Light Bulbs Explained.

Once everything is in place and lighted correctly grab a book sit back and relax with this TheraBeads Neck Collar.  It is ideal for soothing the neck and upper shoulder area after a hard day’s work.

To discover everything that ila has to offer check out our homepage independent living aids, LLC.