Honoring Veterans

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), more than 2.7 million veterans currently receive disability benefits for hearing loss or tinnitus, a ringing in the ears.  In addition, more than 158,000 veterans are blind or visually impaired, according to the Blinded Veterans Association. If you or a loved one is a veteran that falls into one of these categories, you may not realize the resources that are available to help.  This blog will look at a few of these resources, discuss the use of service dogs, and share a new commissary benefit that will start on January 1, 2020.

Resources

There are a wide variety of resources beyond the US Department of Veterans Affairs  available to help veterans throughout the nation. These are just a few of the organizations centered on veterans. To learn more about your local state, county or parish specific assistance you can look them up at VA Locations.

Blinded Veterans Association: BVA is a nonprofit Veterans Service Organization of more than 11,000 members and chartered by the United States Congress. They are designed to be the exclusive voice for blinded veterans before the legislative and executive branches of government. BVA provides a voice for blinded veterans, disseminates information, provides scholarships, offers support, and holds a national convention each year.

Disabled American Veterans:  DAV is a nonprofit charity that provides a lifetime of support for veterans of all generations and their families, helping more than 1 million veterans in positive, life-changing ways each year. Annually, the organization provides more than 600,000 rides to veterans attending medical appointments and assists veterans with well over 200,000 benefit claims. In 2018, DAV helped veterans receive more than $20 billion in earned benefits. DAV’s services are offered at no cost to all generations of veterans, their families and survivors. DAV is also a leader in connecting veterans with meaningful employment, hosting job fairs and providing resources to ensure they can participate in the American Dream their sacrifices have made possible. With nearly 1,300 chapters and more than 1 million members across the country, DAV empowers our nation’s heroes and their families by helping to provide the resources they need and ensuring our nation keeps the promises made to them.

Veterans Criss Line: The Veterans Crisis Line is a free, confidential resource that’s available to anyone, even if you’re not registered with VA or enrolled in VA health care. The caring, qualified responders at the Veterans Crisis Line are specially trained and experienced in helping Veterans of all ages and circumstances.

Wounded Warrior Project:  Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) serves military service members, who incurred service-connected wounds, injuries, or illnesses on or after September 11, 2001, and their families.

Service Dogs

Service dogs can be an important recovery and sustainability tool for veterans coping with anxiety and/or PTSD. The VA defines service dogs as “guide or service dogs prescribed for a disabled veteran under 38 CFR 17.148 for the purpose of the veteran being diagnosed as having a visual, hearing, or substantial mobility impairment.” To view the requirements and rules to obtain a service dog  through the VA, including veterinary benefits, see Service and Guide Dogs.  VA approved service dogs come from licensed partners of Assistance Dogs International (ADI) or International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF).

Another option for obtaining a service dog is through Southeastern Guide Dogs which is accredited through both ADI and IGDF.  Their landing page states “they serve those that cannot see and those that have seen too much. When people lose vision, it’s easy to lose hope. When veterans lose hope, it’s easy to give up. It’s easy to let the darkness define life instead of living life to its fullest. That’s why we develop extraordinary partnerships between our dogs and the people who need them, and offer our dogs and services at no cost, throughout the United States. We operate the most advanced training facilities of any service dog organization in the world. We create elite working dogs and provide life-changing services for people with vision loss, veterans with disabilities, and children with significant challenges such as vision loss or the loss of a parent in the military.”

Commissary Benefits Beginning January 1, 2020

The following information is taken from Military.com.  The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs are gearing up for what will be the largest expansion of patrons to the military commissary system and exchanges in 65 years, making sure that shoppers will be able to get on base and find the shelves fully stocked.

Starting Jan. 1, Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war and all service-connected disabled veterans, regardless of rating, as well as caregivers enrolled in the VA’s Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers program, will be able to shop at Defense Commissary Agency stores and military exchanges.

They also will have access to revenue-generating Morale, Recreation and Welfare amenities, such as golf courses, recreation areas, theaters, bowling alleys, campgrounds and lodging facilities that are operated by MWR.

Since most new patrons lack the credentials needed to get on military bases, installations will accept the Veteran Health Identification card, or VHID, from disabled and other eligible veterans. For caregivers, the VA plans to issue a memo to eligible shoppers in the coming months, which will be used in conjunction with any picture identification that meets REAL ID Act security requirements, such as a compliant state driver’s license or passport. Please note that all IDs must be unexpired to be accepted.

As a side note, many veterans are not aware that they can already be shopping online through the military exchange.  If you or a loved one are an honorably discharged veteran you can learn more at Veterans Online Shopping Benefit.

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LED Lighting

Light Emitting Diodes, or LEDs, are both energy efficient and long lasting. They are available in many options, including Christmas tree lights, and seem to be taking the world by storm. What makes these lights different than older versions? What do terms such as lux, lumen, and kelvin mean? Let’s look at the magical world of the LED.

What are LED bulbs?

Information in this section is taken from Energy.gov and Interior Deluxe. Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are a type of solid-state lighting (SSL) — semiconductors that convert electricity into light. Although once known mainly for indicator and traffic lights, LEDs are one of today’s most energy-efficient and rapidly developing technologies. ENERGY STAR-qualified LEDs use only 20%–25% of the energy and last 15 to 25 times longer than the traditional incandescent bulbs they replace. LEDs use 25%–30% of the energy and last 8 to 25 times longer than halogen incandescents.

Basically, LEDs are just tiny light bulbs that fit easily into an electrical circuit. But unlike ordinary incandescent bulbs, they don’t have a filament that will burn out, and they don’t get hot. It is expected that LEDs will completely replace incandescent and halogen bulbs sometime in the future.  Their light output is measured in lumens instead of watts. Because of their durability and performance these bulbs work well in both indoor and outdoor environments. To fully understand LEDs, and to better figure out which lights best fit your needs, it’s also important to understand watts, lumens, lux, and kelvin.

Watts, Lumens, and Lux

Interior Deluxe, using information from the US Department of Energy, has an easy to use calculator to compare watts to lumen. It also provides definitions for what watts and lumen mean.

Watts measure the amount of electrical power used to light a bulb. This means that the more watts a bulb shows the more power it will consume to produce light. So, a 200-watt bulb will use more power than a 100-watt bulb, giving just a little bit better and brighter light. These bulbs use only 10% of the electrical power to produce light while wasting the remaining 90% in producing heat. So essentially bulbs that give a watt reading are just letting the consumer know how much electrical power it will consume. The brightness of light or the output is up to the consumer to determine once they plug that bulb in the socket.

In contrast to watts, lumen is a measurement of light that is more appropriate for consumers. Lumens measure the output of light. In other words, lumens tell us how bright the light produced by a bulb will be. A few examples include a 40-watt incandescent bulb equals around 450 lumens, a 60-watt incandescent bulb equals around 800 lumens, and a 100-watt incandescent bulb equals around 1600 lumens.

Hunker provides an easy to understand explanation of the relationship of lux and lumen. Lux is a measure of how many lumens are present in a given area. To illustrate the difference between lumens and lux: While the sun always produces the same number of lumens, on cloudy days there are fewer lux outdoors. At night, only the lumens provided by the moon and stars reach the ground, leading to extremely low lux under a night sky. To achieve a desired lux level in a given space it may be necessary to use many light bulbs, each producing a given number of lumens.

Kelvin

Apart from brightness, you also must consider the color of the bulbs. This is typically denoted by a Kelvin rating (usually 2,700 to 6,500) and accompanied by a descriptive name, such as soft white or daylight. The following ranges are taken from a CNET article on warm light bulbs versus cool light bulbs.

Soft white (2,700 to 3,000 Kelvin) is warm and yellow, the typical color range you get from incandescent bulbs. This light gives a warm and cozy feeling and is often best for living rooms, dens and bedrooms.

Warm white (3,000 to 4,000 Kelvin) is a more yellowish-white. These bulbs are best suited for kitchens and bathrooms.  This OttLite Cobra Color Changing LED Lamp is a color changing LED desk lamp offering 3 levels of lighting, from warm light to cool light to natural daylight (3,000K, 4,000K and 5,000K.) Just select the color that is best for your needs.

Bright white (4,000 to 5,000 Kelvin) is between white and blue tones. With a less cozy and more energetic feel, bulbs with this color range are best for workspaces (such as a home office or garage) and kitchens with chrome fixtures. The OttLite Cobra Color Changing LED Lamp mentioned under “warm white,” transitions between warm white and bright white lights.

Daylight (5,000 to 6,500 Kelvin) has a more bluish tone. This light color will maximize contrast for colors, making it ideal for working, reading or applying makeup. An example of a task light falling into this category is the Uno LED Flex Desk Lamp. It has 28 high performance LED bulbs, 4 different brightness levels, and a flexible arm allowing for optimal positioning. Another option to consider is the Z-Line Lamp by Enfren BLACK. This modern-looking desk lamp offers brilliant white LED lighting with glare-control filters that help reduce eye strain. It reproduces natural light and prevents flickering.

While lights with a bluer hue make it easier to see contrast and small detail it’s also important to consider the health pros and cons. The main source of blue light is the sun and it’s the light that helps the body manufacture adequate amounts of vitamin D. Moderation is the key though as too much blue light can potentially increase your risk of macular degeneration as you age, as well as, cause eye strain. Blue light absorption rates are especially important after cataract surgery. Conversely, blue light can also increase alertness, help with memory and cognitive function, and can even elevate your mood.  If you’re worried about too much blue light exposure through your electronic devices using things such as computer glasses (they come in both prescription and non-prescription) or screen protectors (such as these Reticare screen protectors) can help.  To learn more about blue light, including scientific definitions, see All About Vision.

With that in mind, when choosing light bulbs for a room, think of what you normally do in that space and buy bulbs for that purpose.

To find more products and ideas to make your life easier check out our full site at https://www.independentliving.com/.

Tips, Tricks, and Treats For Holiday Events

Whether you celebrate Halloween or not, for many people October 31st signifies the beginning of the holiday season. This article will look at tips, tricks, and treats to help yourself and/or your loved ones with visual impairment make the most of your time together during this season and throughout the year. Many of these items can also help persons with other sorts of impairments as well.

Hosting a Holiday Event

Shopping, prepping, picking out the right outfit, and cooking are likely the first things that come to mind when hosting an event. Looking beyond the obvious what else should you be concerned with when you’re the one in charge?

When thinking about your guest list you need to keep several things in mind including any potential allergies. If mailing out invitations be diligent in including an RSVP with space to write in any food allergies your guest might have. If verbally inviting your guests practice working, it into the conversation to be sure it’s covered when invited. Michigan Health offers an in depth look on circumventing allergy pitfalls. One of their suggestions is to label each dish. To help visually impaired guests using this Braille Label Maker will make it easier for them to know what they are putting on their plates. (For Halloween trick or treaters the Teal Pumpkin Project helps take the guess work out of handing out allergen laden treats when knocking at your door)

Being able to hear or see when your guests arrive is also something that needs to be considered. This Wireless Doorbell could make their arrival easier for the host to notice. This doorbell has three different volume settings with four different chimes and a small light that flashes when the doorbell button is pressed. This can prove to be quite the handy doorbell signaler for hard of hearing users or anyone who needs a quick and easy to install wireless doorbell.

Planning for Events Away from Home

Knowing where each event will take place will make planning for the event easier. If the event is local then chances are planning will be minimal at best. If the most you must worry about is walking from a vehicle to a building, or even walking around your neighborhood, ensuring you have adequate lighting is important. This Dual Beam Flashlight is an excellent choice to illuminate both the ground to see where you’re walking and in front of you to see where you’re going. Its compact design with built in handle makes it easy to carry as well.  If you desire a more versatile light another good option is the Larry Light C LED Pocket Work Light.

If you’re traveling out of town, or even out of the state or country, different types of planning need to be done. If the mode of travel is out of your direct control (plane, train, bus, boat, etc.) then it’s important to call ahead to ensure they can accommodate all your needs and that every step along the way is accessible. Step by step tips can be found within this Wikihow article. Two items that can be obtained prior to heading out the door to your location of choice include the Revolution 7 Section Folding ID Cane and the Victor Reader Talking GPS. The first is quite useful for letting those around you know that you are blind or visually impaired. The second is multifunctional and can be handy throughout your travels. During passive travel you can listen to audio books or music and when actively traveling it doubles as a talking GPS; allowing you to hear your location no matter where it may be.

Time Management

In addition to the intricate planning that can be needed when hosting or attending an event proper time management can help everything go off without a hitch. Using a large print calendar or a braille calendar can help keep planning simple, organized, and timely.

Speaking of time, this Atomic Talking Time and Date Alarm Watch can be just what you need to not lose track of time. This watch is ideal for anyone with visual impairments or who are blind. It clearly speaks the time, day, date, and month in a pleasant male voice. Plus, being an atomic watch it’s particularly useful when the clocks change November 3rd (or any time change). Simply set your time zone and it automatically sets the time with no adjusting from you.

For more tips, treats, and tricks check out previous blogs or product info at independent living aids, LLC.

Monitoring Your Health: Tips for Healthy Eyes

Monitoring your health is important to every day living but it’s especially important for your eyes. Things you eat, habits you partake in, as well as, genetic factors all play a part in your vision. Conversely your eyes can reveal many things about your overall health as well. Let’s look at some of the bigger issues that play a part in general health and how you can better your chances of a long and healthy life. Your eyes will thank you.

Diet and Exercise

The American Macular Degeneration Foundation, WebMD, and The National Eye Institute all agree that a healthy diet and regular exercise are both keys to good eye health.  A healthy diet includes eating foods rich in green, leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, and collard greens. It also means eating citrus fruit including oranges and natural fruit juices. Eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids at least once or twice a week is also recommended. This includes salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, and albacore tuna. It is also suggested to eat eggs, nuts, beans, and other nonmeat protein sources. Knowing what to eat is just as important in knowing what not to eat. Avoiding overly processed snack foods including chips, cake, cookies, soft drinks, and candy is also important for good eye health as suggested by a 2001 study.

Exercise is another important factor in good overall eye health. Walking is an easy exercise that can help you stay active and fit. This Multifunction Talking Pedometer is an inexpensive and easy way to keep track of your steps and how long you walk.  Being physically active helps you stay healthy. It can also lower your risk of health conditions that can cause eye health or vision problems — like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Checking your blood pressure on a regular basis is also important and easy with this Talking Bilingual Premium Digital Blood Pressure Arm Monitor.

Habits; the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Good habits to practice include wearing sunglasses and a hat with a visor whenever in bright sunlight to protect your eyes from potentially harmful ultra-violet (UV) light and blue light. It’s also important to wear safety goggles for dangerous jobs, some sports, or anywhere airborne particles risk getting into your eyes.

Bad habits including spending too much time on the computer or other electronic device and not taking proper care of your corrective lenses. Move the screen so your eyes are level with the top of the monitor. That lets you look slightly down at the screen. Choose a comfortable, supportive chair. Position it so that your feet are flat on the floor. Rest your eyes every 20 minutes. Look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Get up at least every 2 hours and take a 15-minute break. Make sure your glasses or contacts prescription is up to date and good for looking at a computer screen. If you wear contacts, take steps to prevent eye infections including always washing your hands before you put your contact lenses in or taking them out. Be sure to disinfect your contact lenses and replace them regularly.

Ugly habits include smoking and never going to an eye doctor. Smoking isn’t just bad for your lungs it can hurt your eyes, too. Smoking increases your risk of diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts. If you’re ready to quit, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for free support. You can also check out the resources on Smokefree.gov.

Genetic Risk Factors

The main ways to know about genetic risk factors are through a detailed family history and/or routine doctor appointment. It is important to get a regular dilated eye exam. If you have no risk factors it may be possible to go several years in between eye exams but if you’re over the age of 60, African American and over the age of 40, or have a family history of glaucoma (or other eye diseases) it’s imperative that you go every 1 to 2 years.

The National Eye Institute states that getting older increases your risk of some eye diseases. You might also have a higher risk of some eye diseases if you are overweight or obese, have a family history of eye diseases, or are African American, Hispanic, or Native American. Other health conditions, like diabetes or high blood pressure, can also increase your risk of some eye diseases. For example, people with diabetes are at risk for diabetic retinopathy — an eye condition that can cause vision loss and blindness. Talk with your family members to find out if they’ve had any eye problems. Some eye diseases and conditions run in families, like age-related macular degeneration or glaucoma.

It’s much easier to prevent or ease severity of any potential issues if they are caught before they have time to become bigger issues. Even if your eyes feel healthy, you could have a problem and not know it. That’s because many eye diseases don’t have any symptoms or warning signs.

To find more products that can make living your healthiest life easier, including this Talking Six Language Ear and Forehead Thermometer see our homepage at https://www.independentliving.com/.

World Sight Day: Raising Public Awareness of Issues Surrounding Blindness and Visual Impairment

World Sight Day is celebrated the second Thursday of October every year. The event is celebrated all around the world by numerous organizations, eye care professionals, and other eye centric businesses. The aim of World Sight Day is to focus global attention to blindness and vision impairment.

History of World Sight Day

The SightFirst Campaign of Lions Club International Foundation (LCIF) originated the event in 1988. Ever since Helen Keller inspired Lions to champion the cause in 1925, LCIF has served and advocated for the blind and visually impaired.  They are now one of many organizations worldwide that take part in the event. Today, it is co-sponsored by The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and the World Health Organization (WHO).  The IAPB coordinates World Sight Day under the VISION 2020 Global Initiative.

This year’s event is the seventh annual World Sight Day under the VISION 2020 Global Initiative at the direction of IAPB and WHO. The goal of all World Sight Day partners is to prevent avoidable blindness and improve quality of life for people who are blind and visually impaired. This year’s call to action is Vision First.  

The goals, as set forth by IAPB, for World Sight Day are:

  • Raise public awareness of blindness & vision impairment as major international public health issues
  • Influence Governments/Ministers of Health to participate in and designate funds for national blindness prevention programs
  • Educate target audiences about blindness prevention, about VISION 2020 and to generate support for VISION 2020 program activities

By the Numbers

The numbers are staggering but have improved slightly since 1990. Most cases of vision impairment are avoidable if given the proper care.  The following statistics are taken from both LCIF and IAPB.

  • 253 million people are blind or have moderate to severe distance vision impairment (MSVI)
  • 1 billion have near-vision impairment simply because they don’t have a pair of glasses
  • >75% of all blindness and MSVI is avoidable
  • 89% of people with visual impairment live in developing countries
  • 55% of moderate or severely vision impaired people are women
  • The prevalence of blindness and vision impairment combined has dropped from 4.58% in 1990 to 3.37% in 2015.

To look at a visual representation of statistics and/or to view statistics projected through 2020 check out IAPB’s Vision Atlas.

Ways to Save Your Sight

Make sure you go for regular eye exams.  Enhanced vision states that early, accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment are essential for preventing avoidable blindness and preserving sight. Regular comprehensive exams from an eye care professional can help detect signs and symptoms of many sight-robbing diseases.  Before you head to your exam learn about any family history of vision problems. Many preventable vision problems run in families.  You must also take all medications as prescribed.

For minor eye corrections reading glasses may be purchased over the counter. One example of a new, distinctive, fashionable high-quality line of reading glasses that are worn high on the nose are the Boca Linear Reading Glasses.

WebMD points out that good eye health starts with the food on your plate. Nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc, and vitamins C and E might help ward off age-related vision problems like macular degeneration and cataracts. A well-balanced diet also helps you stay at a healthy weight. That lowers your odds of obesity and related diseases like type 2 diabetes, which is the leading cause of blindness in adults.

It’s also a good idea to either limit electronic screen time or use safety equipment to help prevent eye glare and strain. The Reticare 17.3″ Universal Laptop Eye Protector is an example of such a device. This eye protector not only protects the screen of your electronic device, it protects your eyes from glare and toxic light emanating from the display of your device.

Lastly, as shared previously, it’s important to  use adequate lighting in everything that you do to help prevent eye strain and glare. This 24 Watt Better Vision Floor Lamp by OttLite is a perfect example of lighting that adjusts to your needs. This lamp emits a very “natural” 24 watts of light, which reduces glare and increases contrast. A weighted base gives it stability, and its flexible top section allows you to position the light exactly where you need it. The height of the lamp can be adjusted between 4 and 5 feet.

For more options to make every day living more accessible and carefree please visit independent living aids, LLC.

 

 

 

 

 

Look Your Best

Looking your best not only applies to what you wear and the confidence you have about yourself but also in how you prepare yourself prior to getting dressed. Learning to navigate basic hygiene tasks while visually impaired or blind doesn’t have to be daunting if you learn and familiarize yourself with a few basic tips and techniques.

Hair

There are two very different basic hygiene tasks when it comes to hair. One is keeping it clean and the other is shaving it off. Both can be important when trying to look your best.

Knowing if you’re picking up a bottle of shampoo or conditioner has just gotten easier with one line of products. According to Allure, Herbal Essence has done a total redesign for the packaging of the brand’s Bio:Renew line of botanical shampoos and conditioners. The redesigned shampoo bottles will feature a row of raised lines on the bottom of the back of the bottle — “S” for shampoo — while the conditioner bottles will have two rows of raised dots in the same place with a “C” for reference.

Shaving doesn’t have to be any harder than shampooing. VisionAware states, “Many people consider shaving to be a personal grooming task that is potentially dangerous for someone who is blind or has low vision. In everyday practice, however, the skill is not dangerous at all. Many of the skills and techniques involved in shaving do not rely upon vision and may only require basic safety adaptations and closer attention to tactile feedback.”

Your basic shaving supplies should include a razor, shaving cream or lotion, after-shave, a washcloth, and a towel. Wash the area to be shaved with soap and water and pat dry. This will soften the hair making it easier to shave cleanly and safely.  Shaving cream will protect your skin and help you better locate the areas you’ve already shaved. A popular razor with our customers is the Norelco Triple Head Electric Shaver.  If you are partially sighted you might find it useful to utilize a magnified mirror such as the 10X LED Lighted Travel and Home Mirror.  Lightweight, foldable and just what you need at home and when you travel – a lighted, 10X distortion free glass mirror with bright lights surrounding it. Cover folds back and mirror becomes self-standing for hands-free viewing.

Skin

More and more companies are incorporating braille into their products’ packaging. One of the first to do so was L’Occitane. In the 1990s, founder Olivier Baussan noticed a blind customer in a store feeling the bottles to get familiar with the product. He started putting braille on the company’s packaging in 1997. About 70 per cent of L’Occitane products now come with braille labelling. An article by the Unseen Blogger looks at five L’Occitane products that she personally tried including; shea light comforting face cream, verbena foaming bath soak, lavender relaxing roll-on, shea butter hand cream, and almond shower oil. She provides the pros and cons, as well as, links to the aforementioned products.

Beauty is Within discusses a new makeup line by Visionary Cosmetics designed for the blind and visually impaired. Visionary Cosmetics offers a wide range of makeup and beauty products including eyeshadow, lipsticks and glosses, highlighters, makeup remover, and more. The website is fully accessible, so shopping is very easy for those without sight. In addition, the buyer has a choice of braille or large print on every product.

If your vision is limited, a useful tool when doing eye makeup is the 3X Makeup Magnifying Glasses.  Flip the magnifying lens away from the eye you are putting eyeliner or mascara on and look through the 3X magnifying lens covering the other eye.

Nails

Keeping your nails clean and fungus free is an essential part of good hygiene and a great finishing touch towards looking your best. You should clean your nails daily. Scrub your nails with a pumice stone or soft scrubbing brush, warm water, and soap.

Trimming your nails is also important to keep them in shape. If you have loss of vision and just need a little help in seeing where you’re clipping this 2X Magnifying Nail Clipper could be just what you need. For someone who is totally blind it is recommended to feel where the clippers are touching and to clip a little at a time in a slight upward angle.  Sam, from The Blind Life, both talks his way through and shows you a nail clipping technique in this video. Commenters were quick to note that there is really no necessity to go outside to do this if you’re able to sweep up behind yourself.  If you’re worried about cutting too much off, you can also use a nail file to both smooth any rough edges and to further trim the length down.

Want to add color to your nails? Cold nail polish or a nail polish pen are the best ways to apply color to your freshly cleaned nails.  It’s advisable to plan ahead and put the nail polish in the fridge for at least two hours prior to using it. Alternatively, you may find it easier just to keep the nail polish in the fridge at all times. The cold nail polish is easier to feel and makes it less likely to paint outside of the nail area. Nail polish remover on a cotton swap may be applied around the cuticles of each nail to remove any potential smudges.

Looking for other items to make your life easier and more carefree? Be sure to check out the other great products offered at independent living aids, LLC.

Mobility at Home

Whether you’re able bodied, dealing with a chronic illness or disease, have aged not quite as gracefully as you had hoped or through an unfortunate injury everyone wants to be able to have the freedom and mobility to get around their own homes.  This blog will focus on making the living room, bathroom, and bedroom safer, more mobility friendly, and help lessen the chances of accidents occurring.

The Living Room

Chances are the living room is one of the very first rooms upon entering a house.  Our living rooms are where we go to relax and unwind or socialize with family and friends. Carpet and rugs in this common area may be problematic if there are wheelchair, canes, or walker considerations. Consider changing to tiled, hardwood, or laminate flooring. Make sure there is some traction on the floor as surfaces can easily become slippery when using canes, crutches, or some shoes. Keeping clutter at a minimum in all walkways is another important step to take.

Next is the living room furniture. It should be welcoming and not overly jumbled together creating a risk of bumping into things or even falling. Replacing your furniture may be out of the question but there are things you can obtain and utilize to make your current furniture more user friendly. One option would be to buy a set of furniture risers if it is difficult to rise from a seated position. Another option, that can be transferred between rooms, is the SafetySure StandEase which looks a bit like a backwards walker. This lightweight device makes getting up or sitting down easier with the sturdy bars to grasp on to. Plus, it can easily go with you whenever you find yourself traveling or on the go.

The Bathroom

Bathrooms are hot spots for falls and injuries. Fortunately, many bathroom safety measures are simple and inexpensive. WebMD offers an article on home safety tips for persons with limited mobility. Most of these tips are taken from that article.

  • Don’t rush in the bathroom. Hurrying can make you less careful. It’s important not to wait too long before going to the bathroom.
  • Install skid-free mats. Low-pile, non-skid bathmats can prevent falls on wet and slippery floors. Non-slip mats or appliqués are also helpful in the tub or shower.
  • Put in extra seating. If your bathroom is big enough, put a sturdy chair by the sink so you can brush your teeth and groom yourself while seated. Shower chairs, such as the Deluxe Bath Bench with Back, are a great option whether you have a tub or an open shower to help keep you safe while keeping clean.
  • Don’t bend and stretch. Instead, put in a bath organizer, shelf, or wall-mounted dispenser for shampoo, conditioner, and liquid soap. A long-handled scrub brush makes it easier to wash feet, legs, and other hard-to-reach places. A standing toilet paper holder can help if it’s difficult to reach a wall-mounted holder.
  • Make it easy to get up. A toilet seat riser or toilet safety rails (with or without a toilet seat) are helpful if you have trouble getting up or down from the toilet. A grab bar or two next to the toilet is another option.

For more suggestions on mobility aids for the bathroom or to purchase check out ila’s bathroom aids.

The Bedroom

If possible, keep your bedroom on the main level of your living quarters. Climbing up and down stairs could pose an accident risk, especially if tired or having issues with your balance. Keep essentials next to your bed including any nighttime medications, drinking water, a flashlight, and a phone. If you frequently find yourself waking to use the bathroom at night a nightlight is an inexpensive aid to help you find your way.

One of the simplest ways to make a bedroom more comfortable is to look at choosing a bed that fits your needs. According to This Caring Home, Falls around the bed area are common. The bed may be too soft or not at a good transfer height. It could be that your mind wants to get in or out of bed but your body refuses or the other way around. One mobility aid that could assist in the case of balance issues or weak muscles is the SafetySure Bed Pull-Up. It easily attaches to the bottom of the bedframe and has eight, equally spaced, cushioned handles allowing you to rise at your own pace.

Finally, one last tip from the WebMD article.  When it comes to getting dressed, sitting in a sturdy armchair to dress and undress can be more stable than sitting on a bed or standing. And you can use the arms to steady yourself when you sit down, reach, or stand up. Use a long-handled shoehorn to put on shoes without bending over. A dressing stick – essentially a stick with a hook at the end – can help you pull on pants or skirts, take off socks, and reach clothes that are hung up high.  To purchase these type of mobility aids or to browse more options see dressing aids.

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/