Bathroom Safety

Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again. There are things that can be done to help prevent yourself, or your loved ones from falling. This blog will look at things you can do to help improve safety in one of the biggest safety risks in your house, the bathroom. In addition to the NOCA article linked above, this piece includes information from the following articles: 10 Bath Safety Tips For Seniors, Grab Bars à la Mode, Bathroom Safety: A Shower Chair or Bath Bench?, Commodes for the Elderly, and product suggestions from independent living aids, LLC.

Grab Bars and Removable Stability Bars

When people think of bath safety, usually the first thing that comes to mind are grab bars in the bathroom, especially for the bathtub, shower, and toilet. It helps one get in and out of the tub, steady you when reaching for the hand-held showerhead, getting on and off the toilet and if you have an accidental slip, you can grab onto it to prevent a full-on fall.

A grab bar will not be much use if it does not hold you up when you need it most. Do not buy a bar unless it will hold up to 250 pounds. And be sure you install the bar correctly so it can do its job.

There are three main types of grab bars:

Wall-mounted Grab bars: These are the most stable. They attach to the wall at both ends. You can position them any way you want. Some people like grab bars to be vertical – pointing up and down. Other people feel more secure when they grab a bar that is horizontal – stretching from side to side. ILA offers several different types of these grab bars including the Healthcraft Easy Mount Grab Bar 24 with an innovative 9-hole flange that allows it to be installed at varying degrees.

Hinged Grab Bars: Some grab bars attach to the wall at only one end. They connect to a hinge right at the wall. When you are not using these grab bars, they rest against the wall. When you need support, just pull them out to where you need them most.

Sheltering Arm Grab Bars: These provide the best support for getting up and sitting down on the toilet. These grab bars come around both sides of the toilet. They look a little like the armrests on a chair. ILA offers several options of this type including the Foldeasy Toilet Support which provides safe support for people who need help getting on and off the toilet. No need to modify your bathroom or toilet; portable, adjustable & foldable for storage or travel.

There are also removable types of stability bath bars used in the bathroom. Typically, these attach to the side of the tub wall.  They must be securely attached to the side of the tub and as stated above must be able to support your body weight. One such example of this type of safety bar is the vertical bath bar, it extends 14″ above tub edge to provide extra stability when getting in & out of tub.

Show Chairs/Bath Benches, Transfer Chairs, and Wheeled Bath Chairs

Shower chairs (sometimes called bath benches) are ideal for people who have poor balance when showering. A shower chair provides stability for people who have difficulty balancing and serves as a resting place for those who have difficulty standing for long periods of time. A chair with a back is appropriate for persons with limited back strength or balance. A good shower chair has rubber tips on the legs to prevent sliding and when used with a hand-held showerhead, a person can remain seated while bathing. An advantage of shower chairs is they can easily be removed from the shower when others in the household wish to take a shower. ILA has a wide variety of bath benches including the Bathtub Safety Bench, which is a comfortable, versatile bath bench with adjustable legs (14″ to 20″), non-scratching rubber feet and a wide seat. It weighs only 5 lbs. but can handle up to 250 lbs.

A transfer bench eliminates the problem of stepping in or out of the tub. These are ideal for individuals with poor balance or for those having difficulty getting in and out of the bathtub. Individuals can get into the tub safely by sitting down on the bench outside the tub, then sliding over, and into, the tub. The bench is often used with a hand-held showerhead, allowing someone to remain seated while bathing. Benches are available in a variety of sizes and some come with a back support that is appropriate for people with limited balance or who simply want the security of more support.

A shower commode wheelchair is a chair that looks like a small wheelchair but with a hole in the middle of the seat. These type chairs can also come equipped with a commode bucket. It can be rolled right into a shower (provided the shower is large enough) and used while a person bathes. These types of chairs are made from rust-proof materials making them perfect for use in the shower. There are adjustable height and angle footplates as well to provide the most comfort possible. ILA offers this Combi Shower Commode Wheelchair which is particularly suitable for immobile persons who are not able to walk to the bathroom by themselves.

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Exercising for any Age or Ability

If you consider yourself less than physically abled, visually impaired, and/or on the older side you may think it is too hard to nearly impossible to find a doable exercise routine. Luckily, through technology, there are many resources available to help ensure you can get a healthy and safe workout. This blog will look at suggestions for overcoming barriers to obtaining regular exercise, resources anyone can use, as well as resources specifically for persons with visual impairments.

Overcoming Barriers

HelpGuide states that you do not need to have full mobility to experience the health benefits of exercise. If injury, disability, illness, or weight problems have limited your mobility, there are still plenty of ways you can use exercise to boost your mood, ease depression, relieve stress and anxiety, enhance your self-esteem, and improve your whole outlook on life.

It is common for people to feel self-conscious about their weight, disability, illness, or injury, and want to avoid working out in public places. Some older people find that they are fearful about falling or otherwise injuring themselves.

Do not focus on your mobility or health issue. Instead of worrying about the activities you cannot enjoy, concentrate on finding activities that you can.

The more physical challenges you face, the more creative you will need to be to find an exercise routine that works for you. If you used to enjoy jogging or cycling, for example, but injury, disability, or illness means that they are no longer options, be prepared to try new exercises. With some experimenting, it is very possible that you will find something you enjoy just as much.

Be proud when you make the effort to exercise, even if it is not very successful at first. It will get easier the more you practice.

Practice positive self-talk. When certain excuses enter your head think of alternatives to dispel them. A few examples are:

Negative thought, I’m scared of injury. Positive replacement thought, I can choose low-risk activities, such as walking or chair-bound exercises, and warm-up and cool-down correctly to avoid muscle strains and other injuries.

Negative thought, I’m not coordinated or athletic. Positive replacement thought, I can choose exercise that requires little or no skill, such as walking, cycling on a stationary bike, or aqua jogging (running in a swimming pool).

Negative thought, exercise is boring. Positive replacement thought, but video games are fun. I could try playing activity-based video games, known as “exergames.” (Games that simulate bowling, tennis, or boxing, for example, can all be played seated in a chair or wheelchair and are fun ways to burn calories and elevate your heart rate, either alone or playing along with friends.)

SilverSneakers®

In addition to free online resources outlined below, more advanced sources are available through many Medicare Advantage plans. In their FAQ section they state that, SilverSneakers® is a comprehensive program that improves overall well-being, strength and social aspects. Designed for all levels and abilities, this program is generally provided by many health plans at no additional cost. SilverSneakers provides access to fitness equipment, group exercise classes, social networking, online education and a sense of community. With more than 16,000 locations nationwide, you can visit any one of our locations at any time.

If you are looking for a free daily workout challenge thaa fits your ability level, they offer a Get Fit Fast Challenge: 7 Days of Quick Workouts. Each day, SilverSneakers LIVE instructor Sims Corbett will guide you through fast, fun video workouts to help you build heart health, strength, flexibility, and mobility.

Not looking for something quite as structured? They offer a YouTube channel full of varying types of exercises, instructors, and timeframes. The longest videos come in at just over thirty minutes, the shortest at around 10 seconds, and most are somewhere in between. They also offer some exercise videos, and other information, on their Facebook page.

BlindAlive

On their “about us” page they state that all of their exercise products have been tested by blind and low vision individuals to ensure that they are completely accessible to members of this community.  It continues with, “there are many barriers that we as blind individuals need to navigate, but I am doing everything in my power to remove those that can keep us from exercising, moving our bodies, and creating the healthy bodies that we all want.”

One of the ways they promote movement for the visually impaired is through their Eyes-Free Fitness® program. All programs are completely free for your downloading pleasure — no strings attached. These programs allow you to stretch, strengthen, condition, and tone your body, all without the benefit of eyesight. All of these programs are thoroughly described with extra supplementary audio and text materials, should they be needed. As of the writing of this blog there are 22 different mp3 based programs to choose from for download. If downloading mp3 files is not for you, they also offer the Eyes-Free Fitness® program on their YouTube channel and provide additional information on their Facebook page.

If the audio-based yoga sounds like something you would like to try, ILA offers a tactile/Braille yoga mat. It is designed to enable people who are blind, vision impaired, or who may face physical challenges due to age or disability, to practice yoga safely and confidently. The mat has tactile raised and depressed features called ”stations” strategically placed to help the challenged yoga student feel where his or her hands, feet, and head should be placed for all 24 basic yoga postures.

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Organizational Strategies for 2021

“New year, new you” is a slogan often touted this time of year. While change can be both scary and invigorating it does not necessarily have to be anything huge and totally life changing. A few simple strategies can keep you both on track and give you that needed something to help ensure this year is better than the last. Information in this blog came from How to Organize Your Life, Guide to Keeping Organized, 10 Things To Do on a Daily Basis To Be More Organized, 20 Ways To Organize Your Life Now, as well as, product suggestions from the ILA website.

Plan with Calendars and To Do Lists

Life has unpredictable twists and turns. That does not mean a little planning does not go a long way. A task manager, like Todoist, and a calendar are the tools you need to think and plan in advance and organize your life.

If you want to remember things outside of just what is in your calendar or a relevant to do list, put it in writing, or in a digital notebook like Evernote. Keeping your to-do lists and other information written somewhere allows you to look back at it anytime.

Make a new to-do list every day based on the previous day’s list and anything that came up since the last list was created. Even if you are not a big list maker and only jot down the big projects, look at it every day and cross off what you have completed (or what you have deemed no longer relevant). Not only will this help keep you on top of your tasks, but it will also make you feel productive when you cross off that item after it has been completed.

Suggested physical items to help you stay on track and on time include the Large Print Wall Calendar, Appointment & Reminder Book Bold Lines, and the Personal Life Organizer In Large Print.

Keep Things Where You Use Them

It is much easier to find things when you store them at their point of use, says Ann Bingley Gallops, president of the New York chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO).

Leave your keys, wallet, cell phone, headphones, and other such accessories you carry day in and day out, in the same place every single time you walk through the door. Have a spot in your entryway (or entrance) for these items so you are never running around, late for work, wondering where your keys and phone are hiding.

This item is especially true for anyone who has a visual impairment. If things are kept where they are always used and in the same place, then it makes it that much easier for persons with visual impairments to be able to move around unencumbered.  Ideas to help keep and remember where things are stored can include raised bump dots, braille labels, or using the wayaround series.  

Here are a few other tips on how to keep things where you use them:

•             Go scissor happy. Keep a pair of scissors in every room to cut off tags, articles out of newspapers, etc. Other useful items to have multiples around the house are rulers, paper, tape, and tissues.

•             Every phone deserves its own notebook and pen. The notebook can stay open or closed but always at the ready to jot down anything that may need jotting down for later. It is also a good idea to include the date things were written down for future reference.

•             When a friend e-mails you directions to his or her house, print them out and keep them with your maps. Conversely you can save the directions in a file on your computer, email, or cloud. If using mobile devices for GPS you can also just ensure the address is included with that particular contact and if any added information, not provided by GPS, is needed make a special note with that entry. Be sure to back up your data occasionally as well.

Practice 5-Minute Organizing

Not everything needs tons of time for planning and executing. If you have a really long to do list but no set time to finish, then use this 5-minute organizing rule to help you chip away at them bit by bit. Other things just need to be glanced at from time to time but can also be incorporated into this strategy. Here are a few examples of things that can be gradually accomplished with just 5-minute bites of time.

Unsubscribe from unread email newsletters, magazines, and other subscriptions. If you subscribe to a number of newsletters, blogs and other online publications, but haven’t read a single email from them in 3 months, just unsubscribe. You probably will not read any of their content, anyway. While you are at it, unsubscribe from unread magazines, catalogues, and junk mail. It is just a waste of money and space, especially if you do not read them.

Spend 3 to 5 minutes on your meal plan. Daily meal planning to-dos include checking out any meals you know you will need to make and adding the items to your shopping list, then crossing items off your list you have already purchased. Finally, schedule time to grocery shop and cook.

Lay your clothes out for the next day. Laying things out beforehand makes you feel more orderly and efficient. There is no time that is more critical than in the morning when you are rushing to get yourself (and possibly others) ready for school or work. That is why we recommend laying your clothing out the night before. It saves you time in the morning from staring into your closet wondering what you should wear.

Check your bank balance online. Do a quick scan of your checking and savings accounts. Keeping an eye on your financial accounts allows you to see what you spent the previous day, so spending does not get out of control. It also allows you to notice fraudulent charges as soon as they happen.

A few other suggestions that can be tackled under this category are making your bed, sorting through your mail, straightening the entryway to your home, deleting 10 emails from your inbox, cleanout out your purse (or wallet), and filing 10 papers.

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Welcome to 2021: Traditions from around the world, realistic resolutions, and strategies to stay on track

Another new year has started, and everyone is hoping it is much different, for the better, than the last. As we beacon in another trip around the sun, I thought it would be fun to look at traditions in other countries, realistic resolutions, and strategies to help make this year the best yet. Information in this blog came from 9 New Year’s Traditions From Cultures Around The World, 18 New Year’s Resolutions You Can Actually Keep, and Top 10 Most Common New Year’s Resolutions (and How to Follow Through on Them).

New Year Traditions in Other Countries

Common traditions throughout the United States include singing “Auld Lang Syne” to greet the New Year and eating black-eyed peas for good luck. Around the world, cultures welcome the change of the calendar with unique New Year’s traditions of their own. Here are some of our favorite New Year’s traditions around the world.

Brazil: In Brazil, as well as other Central and South America countries like Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela, it is thought to be lucky to wear special underwear on New Year’s Eve. The most popular colors are red, thought to bring love in the New Year, and yellow, thought to bring money.

Colombia: In hopes of a travel-filled new year, residents of Colombia carry empty suitcases around the block.

Denmark: Residents of Denmark greet the New Year by throwing old plates and glasses against the doors of family and friends to banish bad spirits. They also stand on chairs and jump off them together at midnight to “leap” into January in hopes of good luck.

Finland: In Finland, people predict the coming year by casting molten tin into a container of water, then interpreting the shape the metal takes after hardening. A heart or ring means a wedding, while a ship predicts travel, and a pig declares there will be plenty of food.

Greece: An onion is traditionally hung on the front door of homes on New Year’s Even in Greece as a symbol of rebirth in the New Year. On New Year’s Day, parents wake their children by tapping them on the head with the onion.

Realistic Resolutions

It has been a hard year for all of us, so we get that you might be tempted to throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions this year. We know you have seen all those resolution lists before, losing weight, working out every day, and other sincere intentions to do your best to make new healthy habits. Those tend to make you feel overwhelmed, and by January 20th, you are ready to get back to the same old, same old. But change does not have to come all at once. Why not subscribe to the motto, “Progress, not perfection” this year and pursue a few goals in small steps. What follows is a list of resolutions that are not rocket science, but can work within your busy lifestyle, create more freedom, stimulate creativity, and ultimately cultivate connection with those you love and the community around you.

Write snail mail. Start this goal simply by sending a few letters over a couple of months.  If you are enjoying sending letters and postcards to people, think beyond family and friends, and rather than compliment your favorite company, author, magazine, actor, or local hero for the work they are doing, write a quick note to share your appreciation.

Try something new each month. Spice up your new year by setting a goal to try something new each month. If you are a foodie, it could be a new restaurant, recipe, or ingredient. If you tend to get stuck in a rut, maybe changing up your route to work or changing up your hairstyle could be one of the new things you try.

Support local restaurants. After an especially tough year for the restaurant industry, it is now more important than ever to support your favorite local spots. Try to purchase directly from the restaurant as much as possible, because a lot of second- and third-party delivery apps take a large cut of the profits that make a big dent for smaller family-owned restaurants.

Start meal planning with just one meal a week. It takes a while to get the hang of meal planning and find the right rhythm for you and your lifestyle. So, this year, rather than try to overhaul every meal, try to meal plan just one.

Stay in touch. If there is one thing 2020 has shown us, it is that there is no excuse not to stay in touch with those we love. With so many ways to connect, from text, to email, to Zoom and MarcoPolo, to a good old-fashioned phone call, there are so many ways to get in touch. Go into this with a goal of connecting with 1-3 people per week. Start small and be consistent. Try zeroing in on a different family member and friend each week and get creative with how you connect.

Strategies to Stay on Track

Every year, millions of people make New Year’s resolutions, hoping to spark positive change. The recurring themes each year include a more active approach to health and fitness, improved finances, and learning new things for personal and professional development. Despite the best of intentions, once the glow of a fresh new year wears off, many people struggle to make good on their plans. If you want to realize your New Year’s resolution this year, follow these 10 steps (briefly overviewed here but more in depth in the source article):

  1. Mentally prepare for change. Changing ingrained habits is no easy task, so before diving head-first into your New Year goals, it is important to take a step back and get ready for that impending change.
  2. Set a goal that motivates you. You would be surprised how often people set goals that are not for themselves. These goals could be dictated or coerced by a manager, spouse, or parental / peer pressure.
  3. Limit resolutions to a manageable amount. A common mistake in resolution setting is having too many and spreading yourself too thin. We all want to learn 25 different languages, 15 new job skills, and eliminate 5 bad habits, but we are not superheroes. We only have so much attention span we can dedicate to self-improvement, so having too many resolutions is a great way not to achieve the many goals you have set out for yourself.
  4. Be specific. When it comes to setting resolutions, it is easy to set bad goals that could lead to poor follow through. Fortunately, SMART goal setting framework can help you craft better goals. (SMART= Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely.)
  5. Break up big goals into smaller goals. A lot of us tend to be over eager and grandiose when it comes to resolutions. We have the best of intentions and may accidentally take on a goal that is too big to achieve. Thus, it is helpful to divide a big goal into smaller goals that are more achievable.
  6. Write down your goals. While it is great to have goals, it is critical to document them in some way. The source article provides six reasons to write down your goals.
  7. Share your resolutions with others. It is great to make a resolution for yourself and maybe even write it down, but if no one else knows about it, it is easy to forget about or even ignore. And when you do not achieve it, no one will notice or care.
  8. Automate where possible. Nowadays there are a million different apps and services to help you follow through on your resolutions. Some of the free options include Google Calendar, Google Now, Reminders (on IOS), and Boomerang for Gmail.
  9. Review your resolutions regularly. Let us face it, if you are not thinking about your resolution regularly, you are not going to follow through. Thus, a crucial part of realizing your goal is a regular review.
  10. If you fall off track, get back on quick. Setbacks can happen, but so long as they are handled correctly, they will not impact the big goal. The key is to avoid a defeatist attitude at all costs, i.e. “Well, I screwed up once, why should I even try to do this anymore.”

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