Five (Unusual) Wheelchair Friendly Travel Options

Here’s a quick roundup of some fun activities you might not have thought you could do in a wheelchair. From taking to the skies, to hitting the hills, there are plenty of accessible options available throughout the country.  We’ve listed some ideas nationwide to inspire you to find options locally.

Ride in a hot air balloon

Everyone wants the chance to leave the confines of the day-to-day grind behind, to throw off the shackles of gravity and to go soaring among the clouds. Fortunately, soaring can be done without leaving your wheelchair on the ground in a range of wheelchair-accessible hot air ballooning trips across the country.

At Love is in the Air Ballooning, which prides itself on being Nevada’s only wheelchair-accessible hot air balloon, riders can take an hour-long journey and see “Sin City” from a different angle. The trip starts over the west side of Las Vegas and offers incredible views of Spring Mountains, Red Rock National Park and, of course, the Strip.

The ride is suitable for anyone who can comfortably sit for at least an hour. Access to the balloon is via a ramp. A special side-viewing window means everyone has a great view of the passing landscape, whether they are sitting or standing.

In case you are worried about safety, the balloon has an FAA-approved locking system, which secures passengers traveling in a wheelchair. Anyone traveling in a wheelchair must be accompanied by at least one caregiver.

Visit the beach

Sand and wheelchairs don’t make the best bedfellows. But all that is changing as more and more beaches across the country up their accessibility. There are generally two options for enjoying the beach on wheels – using a specially designed beach wheelchair or making your way to the water’s edge down a rubber mat in your own wheelchair.

California’s beaches are especially well set up for wheelchair users, as a great example of accessibility, with many counties offering free beach wheelchairs. These have large, wide wheels that make navigating the sand a doddle. While many of them need users to bring a beach buddy to help with pushing, several offer motorized chairs that can be self-propelled. Availability is usually on a first-come, first-served basis, although some require advanced booking. Many of the beaches allow the manual chairs to go into the water, up to about 6-inches deep, so you can get your wheels and your feet wet.

If you prefer to stay in your own chair, check out one of the nation’s beaches with a mobi-mat or other beachfront access way. The mats were inspired by the mats used by the US Marine Corp for beach landings. They are made from 100-percent recycled polyester. The mats are in use at over 30 Florida beaches, for example, and at plenty of other places across the country.

Take to the hills

Visiting the beach is one thing, but too often, regular chairs just can’t handle rugged and hilly terrain. Thanks to the Action Trackchair, visitors to Staunton State Park in Colorado can experience the best of nature.

The Trackchair is a combination wheelchair and tank in one. The electric tilt mechanism means users can stay level even while crossing hills and uneven terrain and with a battery that last up to 10 miles (six-eight hours of continuous use), this is one chair that won’t let anything stop you from conquering the great outdoors.

The park has designated trails for the chair (which is available free of charge) that give access to some of the most stunning parts of the park. These include high grassy meadows, a variety of fauna, geological and water features and incredible views of Pikes Peak, Lions Head and Mount Rosalie.

If you prefer to stick with your own trusty wheelchair – electric or manual – there are plenty of accessible paths, trails and tracks at state and national parks across the country. If you don’t already have one, apply for an Access Pass. This lifetime pass, available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who have been medically determined to have a permanent disability are eligible to receive a pass granting access to more than 2,000 sites, including those run by the National Park Service. And did we mention it’s free?

Go camping

Camping isn’t for everyone (think mosquitos, “rustic” toilets and things that go bump in the night), but if it is your thing, there is an increasing number of wheelchair-accessible options springing up over the U.S.

Wisconsin is especially proud of its accessible cabins. It offers two rustic (read: basic) cabins in Copper Falls and Blue Mound state parks and eight cabins with more facilities throughout some of its other parks.

The two rustic cabins are wheelchair accessible indoors. Outside, there is an accessible fire ring and picnic table. Bathrooms include an accessible pit toilet (we did say it could be rustic!), flush toilets and a shower near the cabin.

For those who are more “glampers” than campers, the eight larger cabins might be more your speed. They are wheelchair accessible, have a kitchen with low counter, stove, microwave and fridge and come equipped with two hospital beds with lift. The bathrooms have a wheel-in shower, bench and shower commode chair and, yes, we pretty much guarantee their fair share of creepy crawlies! Enjoy.

Take a hay ride

A traditional fall hayride doesn’t exactly scream something you can do without transferring from a wheelchair, especially as most hay wagons aren’t exactly easy to get into or out of. Fortunately, the folks at Oak Ridge Prairie County Park in Indiana decided years ago that their seasonal hay rides (offered in September and October, only) should be open to all.

The site has a permanent ramp that leads straight into the wagon. Once on board, the wheelchair can be locked into place for the duration of the ride for maximum safety. The only downside of this “traditional” ride is that the horses have been replaced by a tractor.

Guest post from accessibleGO.com  is a travel platform for people with disabilities offering bookings, reviews & community.

K9 Companions for the Disabled: Learn About Service and Therapy Dogs

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Traditionally, dogs are pets that are appreciated for their companionship and affection. They are fully dependent on their human owners. Owners might be lonelier if the dogs weren’t around, but it wouldn’t affect their daily tasks. However, not all dogs are pets. Such is the case with assistance dogs, that is, those animals that undergo extensive training to be able to perform specific tasks. There are several types, but the two major categories are service dogs and therapy dogs.

The relationship between a disabled human being and their service dog is symbiosis. The dog helps the human perform tasks they would otherwise be unable to do and in exchange receives food, shelter, hygiene and love. Service dogs are not pets and are therefore legally permitted into grocery stores and housing that may otherwise not allow animals. However, the law does not apply if the dog is violent or serves as a serious health risk. It is not necessary for a service dog to wear a vest or tag, but many owners choose to dress their dog anyway so others can identify it. Regardless of identification, many people, especially children, do not know proper behavior when a service dog is in the vicinity. Some will try to pet it or speak to it, effectively distracting it from doing the work for which it is intended. This behavior should be discouraged by the owner through the use of verbal explanation or etiquette cards. Service dogs are generally German Shepherds, Labradors or Golden Retrievers.

Therapy dogs are different from service dogs in that they haven’t been trained to assist humans with a variety of activities. Instead, these dogs are stress relievers trained to be “bombproof” against the tugging and hugging of small children in hospitals. They’re also sometimes sent into nursing homes for the benefit of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Unlike service dogs, most breeds can be a therapy dog with the right training.

The following links lead to assistance dog resources. Included is information about service dogs, their training and what they can be trained to do. There are answers to frequently asked questions about assistance animals. Also provided are specifics about the laws permitting their use as well as proper etiquette both for the owner and the onlooker. The last few links lead to information on how a qualifying individual can apply for an assistance animal.

If you find this article useful, please free feel to link or reuse it. All we ask is for a credit back to our site.


Check out 1800wheelchair’s list of their best wheelchairs or aids to daily living (ADLs) which include: reachers, pill cases, ponchos and sleeping pillows.

Can I Be Fired While On Disability Leave?

The following is a guest post from Alex Granovsky.

CAN I BE FIRED WHILE I AM ON DISABILITY LEAVE – WHAT’S THE DEAL?

Short answer – yes, but….

CAN I BE FIRED WHILE I AM ON DISABILITY LEAVE –BUT I’M ON SHORT TERM/LONG TERM DISABILITY LEAVE?

Short and Long Term disabilities are not job protected.  But, there are cases where you may qualify for leave under the FMLA and/or the ADA.  The FMLA provides you with job protection, and the ADA protects you from discrimination on the basis of your disability.  We detail your protections under the FMLA and ADA below.

CAN I BE FIRED WHILE I AM ON DISABILITY LEAVE –ISN’T IT DISCRIMINATION?

Not necessarily, but it might be.  There are plenty of legal reasons for an employer to fire you.  One reason may be that you are on leave indefinitely and that cannot be accommodated by the employer.  Another reason may be economic/business necessity.  Just because you were terminated and disabled/on leave is not enough – you need to prove that you were terminated because you were disabled/on leave.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of disability (or perceived disability).  The ADA also requires the employer engage in an “interactive process” to determine whether your disability can be “reasonably accommodated.”  Sometimes, a leave of absence may be a reasonable accommodation – at a minimum, your employer is required to investigate/consider (i.e. engage in the interactive process) whether this is possible.

Ultimately, it comes down to why the employer made the decision to terminate.  If the decision is made because of your disability, it very well may be illegal.

CAN I BE FIRED WHILE I AM ON DISABILITY LEAVE –WHAT ABOUT THE FMLA?

The Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) is a federal law that applies to employers that have 50 or more employees. Under the FMLA certain employees may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain reasons, like a serious health condition.  Although FMLA is “job-protected” (meaning you should be returned to your prior or equivalent position), you can still be terminated while on FMLA if the reason is not related to the leave and is not otherwise not discriminatory.   If your employer can show that the decision to terminate is unrelated to the FMLA leave, it is legal.

About Granovsky & Sundaresh PLLC Can Help

Granovsky & Sundaresh is a boutique labor and employment law firm with offices in New York City and Cleveland that helps employees with all aspects of employment law.  Our practice specializes in discrimination, severance negotiations, employee wages, medical leave and non-compete/non-disclosure agreements.  We offer free consultations and have a proven track record of results.  If you need help, call us to set up a free consultation today.

Down Syndrome Resources Online

This article is brought to you by 1800wheelchair; we offer wheelchair ramps, rolling walkers, mobility scooters, & walkers.

Down syndrome (also known as Down’s syndrome in the United Kingdom and often referred to as “DS” among families of those with Down syndrome) is the most prevalent genetic cause of learning or intellectual disabilities. One in every 800 babies is diagnosed with Down syndrome. Down syndrome is an abnormality of chromosome 21 that results in extra genetic material, and can be caused by three distinct genetic variations. Over 90 percent of Down syndrome cases are caused by Trisomy 21, in which children have three copies of chromosome 21 in all of their cells (instead of the normal two). Children with Mosaic Down syndrome, a rare form of Down syndrome, have three copies of chromosome 21 in some of their cells but the usual two copies in other cells. In children with Translocation Down syndrome, part of chromosome 21 attaches to another chromosome.

Children with Down syndrome can have other health conditions. Half of children with Down syndrome have congenital heart defects, some of which require surgery. People with Down syndrome have a higher chance of developing leukemia in childhood and are more susceptible to pneumonia and other infectious diseases. Later in life, people with Down syndrome are at increased risk of sleep apnea, dementia, and obesity.

Children with Down syndrome can benefit from early intervention programs to help them increase their quality of life and realize their full potential. Early intervention programs are specialized programs for children with Down syndrome that helps to stimulate them in infancy and as young children with motor, sensory, and cognitive activities. Special therapists help children develop their motor skills, self-help skills, social skills, and language skills.

Parents and families of children with Down syndrome can benefit from the help and support of other families impacted by the condition Online support groups allow parents to talk directly with others to share advice, stories, and help. The websites of national and international organizations offer parents information about Down syndrome as well as information on how to educate children with Down syndrome both at home and at school. Many of these organizations also offer advice on transitioning young adults with Down syndrome to living independently. Some national and international organizations offer in-person support and social groups and activities and may match parents to other families in their area.

Organizations

Education

  • Birth Defect Research for Children: This organization provides information for parents of children with Down syndrome and other conditions. The organization will match parents with other families whose children have the same or similar conditions and links to support groups.
  • National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities: This organization advocates for children with disabilities. The website includes information on Down syndrome, disability awareness, inclusion, and resources for parents.
  • Down Syndrome Information: The Centers for Disease Control’s informational pages on Down Syndrome.
  • Learning about Down Syndrome: Information about Down syndrome and its diagnosis and treatment.
  • Living with Down Syndrome: Basic information on Down syndrome and related medical condition; site also includes information on early intervention and education.
  • Caring for a Baby with Down Syndrome: Information for new parents of a child with Down syndrome.
  • Resources for Parents: Answers to parents’ questions about parenting a child with Down syndrome; includes information on parenting newborns to young adults transitioning to living on their own.

Inclusion

  • Making Inclusion Work: An article on best practices for the inclusive education of children with Down syndrome.
  • Council of Exceptional Children: This organization advocates for children with special needs.
  • Goodwill Industries: Goodwill Industries works with people with disabilities to help them find and keep jobs and increase their independence.
  • People First: An organization of people with learning difficulties that advocate for the rights of people with learning disabilities. This website lists affiliates of the group in the UK, Canada, Australia, and the United States.
  • TASH: An organization that advocates for the inclusion of people with disabilities.
  • Education: Educational resources and inclusion for people with disabilities.
  • Inclusion Solutions: Resources for parents and educators on inclusion.
  • School inclusion: Inclusion information for children from preschool to high school.

Healthcare

Personal Stories

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Caregiver Mental Health – Part 2

Making the assisted living decision

In Part 1 of our focus on caregiver mental health, we outlined a few of the factors that can lead to stress, anxiety and depression among caregivers. In Part 2, we take a look at one of the most difficult decisions a caregiver might face: Moving from in-home care to assisted living.

This clip from the Independent Lens documentary “You Can’t Care for Dona Anymore” shows the heart-wrenching moment when a mother leaves her intellectually disabled adult daughter in a residential facility. The mother’s guilt about her decision is apparent in the clip, as is the family’s belief that the move is the right decision for their loved one, Dona. Families face decisions like this one every day, and it can create a lot of stress and doubt.

Why consider assisted living for a disabled adult

As we discussed in Part 1, caring for a loved one with a disability can often become more challenging than anticipated. Caregiving is more than a full-time job, and all the love in the world is often not enough.

Sometimes, in-home care is the right answer, but there are a number of reasons to consider a residential facility instead:

  • If your loved one is prone to wandering, falling or risky behavior, staying in your home might lead to injury. A residential facility can provide a safe, controlled environment for an adult with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
  • Level of care. Keeping track of medications, physical therapy sessions and day-to-day care can place an undue burden on the caregiver. In a residential facility, trained staff provides the right level of care for each resident’s needs.
  • Social aspects. While you can provide love and care to your loved one, he or she may still need friends or other social outlets. A group home or assisted living facility can provide that valuable social network to your loved one.
  • Caregiver’s health. In many cases, the caregiver has health concerns that can make it difficult or impossible to continue caring for a loved one with disabilities. Opting to place your loved one in assisted living allows you to focus on your own health while ensuring quality care for your loved one.

Making the right choice for you and your loved one

There are a variety of options available for adults with disabilities, including:

  • Group homes
  • Assisted living
  • Section 8 housing
  • Skilled nursing facilities

The right living arrangement for your loved one will depend on a number of factors. If your loved one can manage some level of independent care, for example, an assisted living or group home can give them some independence combined with help bathing, cleaning, managing medications and more. This article offers a helpful overview of the types of options available to you.

Another major factor in your decision will be cost. Each option comes with a different financial impact, and assistance programs and insurance only cover some options. To learn more about the financial aspect of caring for disabled adults, this article offers some guidelines and helpful links.

Managing guilt and worry

For a caregiver faced with big decisions, such as choosing assisted living or a group home, feelings of guilt and worry can become overwhelming. If you are faced with making this decision for a loved one, be gentle with yourself first and foremost. Remember that placing your loved one in a residential care facility is often the most loving and responsible choice you can make.

To cope with the feelings that arise along the way, remember to:

  • Seek support. You don’t have to keep your feelings inside. Reach out to understanding friends and family, find a support group or schedule time with a therapist. Talking honestly about your role as a caregiver can help ease some of the stress and guilt you might be feeling.
  • Take time for you. As a caregiver, you often place yourself and your needs last. As you transition your loved one to a residential facility and work to develop a new routine, be sure to take time out to enjoy your own hobbies and interests. Focusing on something other than your loved one’s care can help you relax and reduce the effects of stress and worry.
  • Acknowledge your important role. Too many caregivers are quick to brush off compliments or kudos for the care they have provided a loved one. Take a moment to honor yourself: You have provided such important love and care to someone with a disability, and now you are helping him or her achieve a new level of independence and social interaction in a residential facility. The work you have done matters.

Scott Kohner MSW, LCSW is a psychotherapist in Denver, CO working with individuals, couples and families. To learn more about Scott, visit www.ScottKohner.com.

Focus on Caregiver Mental Health

How to make caregiver mental health a priority

In a recent article, we discussed common mental health concerns for people with physical disabilities. A related, and sometimes overlooked concern, relates to the loved ones who care for them. Caregiver mental health can decline over time without the proper resources, support and self-care.

Caregiver mental health risks

The emotional burden placed on caregivers can be intense. Often, loved ones take on the responsibility of caring for a family member who has health concerns or physical disabilities. Depending on the circumstances, this caregiver role can be short–or long-term, and many people may not be fully prepared for what the role will entail.

The Family Caregiver Alliance estimates that 44 million Americans offer this type of unpaid care to their elderly family members or those with disabilities, and:

“Evidence shows that most caregivers are ill-prepared for their role and provide care with little or no support, yet more than one-third of caregivers continue to provide intense care to others while suffering from poor health themselves…

A substantial body of research shows that family members who provide care to individuals with chronic or disabling conditions are themselves at risk. Emotional, mental, and physical health problems arise from complex caregiving situations and the strains of caring for frail or disabled relatives.”

The Alliance goes on to cite several alarming statistics, including:

  • Up to 70 percent of caregivers show clinical signs of depression; and up to one-half of those individuals show signs of major depression.
  • For many caregivers, depression symptoms do not ease after their loved one is placed in a nursing home or care facility.
  • Women, as well as people caring for loved ones with dementia, show the most signs of depression and anxiety related to their caregiver role.
  • Caregivers are more prone to substance abuse than non-caregivers.

Those sobering statistics indicate a significant problem in our communities. What’s more, caregivers may be reluctant to seek help or care themselves.

Caregiver resources

If you are a caregiver, or if you know someone who is providing care to a loved one, there are a few steps you can take to minimize the strain of the often stressful role. The first step is to make use of the resources available to you, which include:

  • Respite care. A variety of organizations recognize that caregiving is often high stress and that caregivers need breaks. Here in Colorado, for example, The Colorado Respite Coalition connects caregivers with respite care options. Adult day centers, senior associations and others also offer respite programs.
  • Support groups. Joining a support group for caregivers can help you feel a lot less isolated. Sharing stories with others who are on a similar caregiver journey can help ease your emotional burden. This site lists several caregiver support groups by state.
  • Counseling. Whether you are struggling with caregiver depression, stress and anxiety, or you just need a listening ear, a good therapist can help you cope with your role.
  • Other support services. Many caregivers go above and beyond caring for the individual and also care for their loved ones’ homes, pets and more. Consider hiring out some of that work to a maid service, dog-walker, handyman or other service provider who can take some of the load off your plate.

Caregiver self-care

Focusing on self-care is perhaps the most important step you can take to prevent caregiver mental health issues. If you are not taking good care of your own physical and mental health, you can’t provide the best care for your loved one. Your health matters and you deserve a break, time to enjoy your life, the company of good friends and more.

So, what qualifies as self care? In short, it’s anything that helps you feel refreshed and helps you enjoy life more. Here are a few ideas to try:

  • Eat well. Make time to eat a balanced diet, and be sure to load up on fruits and vegetables. Good nutrition is the foundation for good mental and physical health.
  • Exercise. Take a long walk, go for a bike ride, or join a weekly Zumba class. Do something active that you enjoy. It not only supports your physical health, it can be an outlet for stress, and it gives you an hour or so of time dedicated 100 percent to you.
  • Visit the doctor. As you work to keep track of your loved one’s appointments and medications, do you neglect your own? Stay on track with your own preventive health appointments.
  • Do something fun. Take an art class, go to a concert, or pack a picnic and sit in the park. Fun can take many forms, so what you do is your choice. The point is to bring back a little relaxation, enjoyment and laughter into your life.
  • Meditate. Many studies have shown the positive effects of mindfulness and meditation. Even five quiet minutes each day can make a difference. Don’t know where to start? Try a free meditation or download an app like Calm.com.

That list is just a starting point for self-care–there are many other activities and techniques you can try to boost your sense of well-being. The point is to make yourself a priority. As a caregiver, of course, your loved one’s health is top-of-mind, but be sure to place yourself on the priority list.

About the Author:

Scott Kohner MSW, LCSW is a psychotherapist in Denver, CO working with individuals, couples and families. To learn more about Scott, visit www.ScottKohner.com.

 

Helpful Resources for the Aging

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Aging is a part of life that nobody can avoid. Whether it’s yourself or a family member, it is important to remember there are resources available to help target almost any obstacle or question. An aging person should be treated with dignity and respect. Below is a useful resource guide targeted to help anyone with questions.

Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia

National Institute on Aging — Information on Alzheimer’s Disease including symptoms, general information, coping, and treatment of the disease.

Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center– Information and different ways to rate cognitive and functional performance related to Alzheimer Disease.

Memory and Aging Center — A list of dementia resources available including websites, books, articles, and videos.

Alzheimer’s Association — Learn about Alzheimer’s Disease and recent news on it.

Alzheimer’s , Dementia, and Driving — Information, resources, and support on Alzheimer’s Disease.

Assistive Technology and Aging

Sage Advice Information and help with assistive technology.

CODI — Information on assistive technology resources for people with disabilities.

Intellectual Disabilities, Aging & Dementia — Information and help for people with disabilities, including research and training.

Caregiver Resources

The Family Caregiver Handbook — Information and help to find caregiver support and resources based out of Massachusetts.

Caregiver Resources— A collection of various links for caregivers on topics from resource materials to finances.

Patient/ Caregiver Resources— Guidance and a list of websites on how to find the proper help after receiving a diagnoses.

Other Resources— Various websites with caregiver information.

Resources for Caregivers of Elders— Educational resources for caring for the elderly.

Consumer Protection & the Elderly

Elder Consumer Protection Program– A progressive and educational program for professionals on general and legal topics for the elderly.

Internet Resources for Gerontology — Information on The Elderly Abuse and Exploitation Project.

Molly Bish Center– Information on a center focusing on the protection of the elderly.

Disability and Aging

Maine Aging Resources — A wide variety of resources and links for adults, seniors, and children with disabilities.

Aging Resources Available at the Center for Disabilty Resources Library– Resources available for elderly with disabilities.

Aging and Disability — Resources available promoting aging and disability resources.

Disability Programs — Information for people who are on disability through social security.

Disability Research Institute — A page of various resources of online information for elderly people with disabilities.

Elder Law

Elder Law– A resource page of links of elder law information and research guides.

Aging with Dignity– A medical directive in 20 languages giving the patient 5 wishes the elderly patient wants to have made.

Older People Work Longer for Less– A resource available that helps older people claim their rights and challenge discrimination.

International Federation on Aging — Information on an international non-governmental organization who believes in positive change for older people throughout the world.

Exercise and Fitness

The Age Antidote Information on the effects exercise has on the brain.

Physical Exercise Protects Your Brain as it Ages- Statistics — Information on how physical exercise helps an aging brain.

Regular Exercise Helps Protect Muscles in Elderly From Soreness, Injury– An article wrote on the evidence of why exercise is important and beneficial to the elderly.

Nursing Homes

A Place for Mom— Local Senior Living Advisors offer personalized guidance at no charge to caregivers as they search for the right senior care for a loved one.

Listing U.S. nursing homes and their quality ratings.

Resource Page for Nursing Home Social Workers– Information about nursing homes and social work services.

Family Resource Center– A list of skilled nursing home resources.

Nursing Homes– Resources on nursing homes and different units available.

Before Moving into a Nursing Home– An article about what you should consider before moving into s nursing home.

Resource Center on Aging — A center providing information and education on the elderly and nursing home resources.

Mental Health and Aging

Mental Health and Aging– A resource for mental illness and the aging web links.

Center for Mental Health and Aging– A center for education, testing, and disseminating information on the aging and mental health.

Mental Health & Aging Project– A program offering education, training, and consults for clinicians.

Center for Mental Health and Aging– A center dedicated on improving lives of older people living in the community.

Mental Health & Aging — A project devoted to educating and strengthening networks for older adults with mental problems.

National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project– A study geared towards finding ways to improve health as people age.

Transportation and Mobility

The Mobility Needs of Older Americans: Implications for Transportation Reauthorization– An article about the importance of transportation for the elderly.

Safe Mobility for Older Persons– Information on effects elderly driving has on society and the negative consequences for older people.

Healthy Aging Column- Transportation for the Aging Population — Information on the increased number of traffic accidents caused by the elderly.

Pedestrian Mobility Aids for the Elderly– Information on the elderly and how important it is to have mobility.

Workforce & Aging

Aging & Work– Information on the aging in the workforce.

Economics of the Aging Revolution– Information and web links in defense for the elderly at work.

Workers Affected by Chronic Conditions: How can workplace policies and programs help?– An article on workplace policies and chronic conditions and the effects on elderly people.

AGS Foundation for Health in Aging — Resources for the elderly in the workplace.

Programs— A program from the School of Labor & Industrial Relations dealing with laws against discrimination of the elderly in the workplace.

If you find this article useful, please free feel to link or reuse it. All we ask is for a credit back to our site.


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Physical Disability & Mental Health

How physical disability and mental health are connected

Greers Ferry National Fish Hatchery_ Kid's Fishing Derby _ Flickr_files
Source: USFWS/Southeast via Flickr Creative Commons

Americans living with physical disabilities face a number of significant challenges that can impact their quality of life. For many, physical disability and mental health go hand-in-hand. As you take care of your physical needs, it can be all too easy to neglect your mental health.

Below are a few common challenges faced by people with physical disabilities, as well as some ideas for taking care of your mental health:

Lack of work

For many individuals, a physical disability can impact their ability to work. Although Social Security, Medicaid or other financial resources may be available, these benefits may not cover all living expenses (the average SSDI benefit was less than $14,000 in 2016). Several studies have linked worry about finances or debt to higher risk for mental health issues.

Beyond financial stress, unemployment can also lead to depression or anxiety for some people. If you are not able to work due to a disability, that can leave a void in your life. Many people find enjoyment and a sense of identity in their work, so missing that aspect of life could affect mental health for some people. This National Institutes of Health study illustrates that impact.

Depression and isolation

Surveys show that people with disabilities often experience a sense of social isolation and loneliness, which can also lead to depression and other mental health issues. Inaccessible environments and misunderstanding from non-disabled individuals can sometimes lead to feeling left out, isolated or even shunned.

Recent research links loneliness to a number of other health concerns, including a greater risk for premature death, dementia and heart disease, as well as decreased immunity. The mental and physical impact of loneliness and isolation can be tremendous.

Acquired disability vs. congenital disability

Whether you were born with a disability, or have experienced the onset of a disability to injury or illness later in life, can affect how you perceive your disability. In turn, how well you cope with the idea of living with a disability can support a better quality of life –  including your mental health.

Researchers have identified eight phases of “responses to a physical disability” in people who acquired a disability later in life:

“The onset of a chronic illness or disability typically triggers a chain of psychological reactions, which correspond to eight phases of responses to physical disability. Phases 1 to 6 (Shock, Anxiety, Denial, Depression, Internalized anger, Externalized anger) include the initial stages of adaptation (representing negative adaptation to disability), which an individual hopefully goes through, in order to reach phase 7 and/or phase 8 (Acknowledgement, Adjustment), which are considered as the final phases of adaptation and represent positive adaptation to disability.” (Source: European Journal of Counselling Psychology)

For those who achieve the Acknowledgement and Adjustment phases, mental health and quality of life outlooks are much better:

“Researchers have found that persons with acquired physical disabilities, who adjust more successfully to their disabilities are physically and psychologically healthier. On the contrary, the difficulty of an individual to accept his/her physical disability has been associated with poor physical health and several psychopathological symptoms.”

In a wonderful piece for BBC Radio’s “Point of View” program, sociologist Tom Shakespeare describes his experience with a congenital disability, achondroplasia, as well as an additional disability that occurred later in his life:

“If you think about it for a moment, you realise that people born with an impairment have nothing to which they can compare their current existence. Someone lacking hearing or sight has never experienced music or birdsong, visual art or a sublime landscape. Someone with an intellectual disability may not consider themselves different at all. Someone like me, born with restricted growth, has always been that way. Even if life is sometimes hard, we are used to being the way we are.

For people who become disabled, there’s a typical trajectory. I can say this from personal experience, having become paralysed in 2008. Immediately after the onset of injury or disease, one can feel profoundly depressed, and even contemplate suicide. Yet after a period of time, people adapt to their new situation, re-evaluate their attitude to the disability, and start making the most of it. Sometimes, they are driven to greater achievements than before.”

Shakespeare points out a common myth that people with disabilities are sad or have a low quality of life. On the contrary, he says, many people with disabilities report high levels of satisfaction and a good quality of life.

Taking care of your mental health

As noted above, living with a physical disability doesn’t have to mean a lower quality of life, and there are several steps you can take to support your mental health. They include:

  • Talking to your doctor. When you visit your primary care physician or specialists, discuss your mental health symptoms as well as your physical ones. Your doctor can often connect you with helpful resources.
  • Working with a therapist. A trained therapist can help you work through the phases of coping with and accepting your disability, as well as give you tools and techniques for changing negative thinking and developing positive coping strategies.
  • Exercising. Exercise has been shown to boost endorphins and support mental well-being. In this article for Psychology Today, wheelchair rugby athlete AJ Nanayakkara discusses the positive impact people gain from participation in wheelchair sports.
  • Finding social outlets. Cultivating friendships and a social network can help prevent feelings of loneliness, isolation and associated depression. Join a local interest group, take a class, try a sports club, or talk to your therapist about other ideas for connecting socially.
  • Developing a mindfulness practice. Numerous studies have shown that mindfulness and meditation can help prevent or offset the impact of stress and anxiety.

About the Author:

Scott Kohner MSW, LCSW is a psychotherapist in Denver, CO working with individuals, couples, and families. To learn more about Scott, visit www.ScottKohner.com.

 

Americans With Disabilities Face Too Many Bumps in the Road

Our survey of Americans with disabilities revealed that:

  • 28% encounter a barrier to a building, transportation or service once a week
  • 20% encounter a barrier at least once a day
  • 36% live in a home that is not wheelchair accessible; of this group:
  • 70% have steps leading into the home
  • 51% cannot afford to make their homes wheelchair accessible
  • 25% say they find ways to “deal with” the challenges and inconveniences
  • 16% say that landlord/homeowner/condo board won’t allow modifications

Top 5 challenges to wheelchair/scooter users:

  1. Unsafe sidewalks due to hazardous slopes, uplifted/deteriorated/blocked sections of sidewalk.
  2. Narrow aisles/thruways in public places
  3. Non-compliant curbs and crosswalks
  4. Blocked wheelchair ramps
  5. Buildings that are completely inaccessible

In January 1987, Robert L. Burgdorf Jr. drafted the The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as “a response to an appalling problem: widespread, systemic, inhumane discrimination against people with disabilities.” On July 26, 1990 the bill that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public was signed into law. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. Problem solved, right? Not exactly.

In March 2017, we surveyed 554 Americans with disabilities (including people who live with or are companions to people with disabilities). The provisions of the ADA have effectively removed many barriers, but our survey revealed that far too many still remain.

Barriers Everywhere

Americans with disabilities often encounter barriers that prevent them from entering a building, accessing transportation or accessing a service. 28% of survey respondents say that, on average, they encounter a barrier once per week. 12% say it happens multiple times per day!

What Gets in the Way?

Those who depend on a wheelchair or scooter (or accompany someone who does) were asked to rank a list of common barriers and obstacles that prevent them from entering a building, accessing transportation or accessing a service in order of the most frequent challenge to the least frequent challenge. The #1 complaint: Unsafe sidewalks due to things like hazardous slopes, uplifted and/or deteriorated sections and sections of sidewalk blocked by poles, trees and other obstructions.

Crumbling sidewalks and roads are a common sight in many communities. In 2015, the city of Los Angeles agreed to fix a huge backlog of crumbling, impassable sidewalks and remove other barriers that prevented wheelchair access–a violation of the ADA. The L.A. City Council took this action only after attorneys for the disabled filed a lawsuit.

At Home, You’re On Your Own

36% of our survey respondents who depend on a wheelchair or scooter, or live with someone who does, say that their home is not wheelchair accessible.

70% face a huge hurdle before they can even enter their homes: STEPS! Once inside, 55% say narrow doors impede their ability to maneuver around the home. 53% are inconvenienced by inaccessible bathroom fixtures.

What’s the Big Deal?

Why wouldn’t a person who needs a wheelchair or scooter simply renovate his or her home to make it completely wheelchair accessible? The #1 reason: money. 

51% of survey respondents say they can’t afford to make alterations to their homes. While some federal and state organizations and private non-profit charities offer grants to subsidize remodeling costs, Americans who depend on a wheelchair or scooter are typically responsible for the costs associated with modifying their homes, even those who live in a rental property.

Many of the 25% who say they find ways to deal with the challenges and inconveniences of living in a home that is not wheelchair accessible certainly have a reduced ability to live independently or even spend time alone. When the challenge is a flight of steps, assistance from one (preferably two) people is required, which adds another challenge: finding people who are ready, able and willing to assist whenever needed.

Define “Reasonable”

Under the ADA and the Fair Housing Act, Americans who have a disability, can ask for a reasonable accommodation for that disability.

16% of our survey respondents say that they haven’t made their home wheelchair accessible because a landlord/homeowner or condo board won’t allow them to make alterations to the home.

According to this
joint statement by the US Department of Justice and the Department of Housing and Urban Development: “A request for a reasonable accommodation may be denied if providing the accommodation is not reasonable – i.e., if it would impose an undue financial and administrative burden on the housing provider or it would fundamentally alter the nature of the provider’s operations. The determination of undue financial and administrative burden must be made on a case-by-case basis involving various factors, such as the cost of the requested accommodation, the financial resources of the provider, the benefits that the accommodation would provide to the requester, and the availability of alternative accommodations that would effectively meet the requester’s disability-related needs.”

Try to make sense of that.

Willful Disregard for the Law

The ADA guarantees protections to people with disabilities but too often, rules are broken, provisions ignored and ambiguities exploited without consequence to anyone but the people with disabilities.

Essentially, a landlord or anyone who has authority over the property can use the “undue burden” clause to deny a request for accommodations. The person with a disability can file a Fair Housing Act complaint to challenge that decision and in the meantime endure barriers that may be in violation of the law.

New York Has a Great Subway, if You’re Not in a Wheelchair” writes Sasha Blair-Goldensohn in a March 2017 “New York Times” opinion piece. After an accident eight years ago, the lifelong New Yorker found himself dependent on a wheelchair and “became increasingly aware of how large, inflexible bureaucracies with a ‘good enough’ approach to infrastructure and services can disenfranchise citizens with disabilities, many of whom cannot bridge these gaps on their own.”

Joyce Forrest, a Washington DC resident, risks her life everyday just to travel to her bus stop in her wheelchair. Matt Trott of Falls Church, VA, one of the wealthiest counties in Virginia, faces similar obstacles. Like many wheelchair users, they suffer tremendous inconveniences and dangers, and they do not have the same opportunities as everyone else, but local officials do nothing. Apparently, it takes a lawsuit or a news team to get government officials to look into the problems. Not fix, look into.

Too often, people with disabilities have to fight long and hard for the rights and protections afforded under the ADA.

What is Disability Discrimination in New York?

New York State Flag

What Laws Apply to Disability Discrimination in New York?

If you work in New York, you are protected from disability discrimination at the workplace by both federal and state law – the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL).  If you work in New York City, you have an added layer of protection under the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL).

What are Your Rights?

Discrimination on the basis of disability is illegal.  If you have suffered an adverse employment action (e.g., you have been fired, laid off, suspended, subjected to a hostile work environment, demoted, etc.) and you believe that your disability played a role in the decision to take such adverse employment action, you should contact an employment lawyer.

How is a Disability Defined?

ADA

Under the ADA, to qualify as “disabled,” a person must have “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual,” have a “record of such an impairment,” or be “regarded as having such an impairment.”

In 2008, the ADA Amendments Act was passed and added the following guidance to how “disability” should be defined such that:

  • “The definition of disability in this chapter shall be construed in favor of broad coverage … to the maximum extent permitted by [law].
  • “An impairment that substantially limits one major life activity need not limit other major life activities in order to be considered a disability.”
  • “An impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active.”
  • “The determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity shall be made without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures such as (I) medication, medical supplies, equipment … prosthetics … hearing aids and cochlear implants … mobility devices, or oxygen therapy equipment and supplies; (II) use of assistive technology; (III) reasonable accommodations or auxiliary aids or services; or (IV) learned behavioral or adaptive neurological modifications.”

What is a Major Life Activity?

“[M]ajor life activities include … caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.”

The term “major life activity” “also includes the operation of a major bodily function, including … functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.”

What is it to “Be Regarded as Having an Impairment”?

“[a]n individual meets the requirement of ‘being regarded as having such an impairment’ if the individual … has been subjected to [discrimination] … because of an actual or perceived physical or mental impairment whether or not the impairment limits or is perceived to limit a major life activity.”

NYSHRL

The NYSHRL defines disability as “ (a) a physical, mental or medical impairment resulting from anatomical, physiological, genetic or neurological conditions which prevents the exercise of a normal bodily function or is demonstrable by medically accepted clinical or laboratory diagnostic techniques or (b) a record of such an impairment or (c) a condition regarded by others as such an impairment, provided, however, that in all provisions of this article dealing with employment, the term shall be limited to disabilities which, upon the provision of reasonable accommodations, do not prevent the complainant from performing in a reasonable manner the activities involved in the job or occupation sought or held.”

Note that this definition is a bit more limited than the ADA because it requires an employee to show that his or her disability can be reasonably accommodated.  On the other hand, the definition is a bit broader in that it does not exclude temporary or transitory conditions.

NYCHRL

The NYCHRL offers the broadest definition of disability.  Under the NYCHRL, disability is defined as “any physical, medical, mental or psychological impairment, or a history or record of such impairment.”

Physical, Medical, Mental or Psychological Impairment

“Physical, medical, mental, or psychological impairment” is defined as “an impairment of any system of the body; including … neurological … musculoskeletal … sense organs and respiratory organs… cardiovascular … reproductive … digestive and genito-urinary … hemic and lymphatic … immunological … the skin … endocrine system … or a mental or psychological impairment.”

What Damages Are Available?

Plaintiffs can recover damages for the following: reinstatement, compensatory damages (damages to compensate the employee for lost wages), punitive damages (damages to punish the employer for its act(s) of discrimination), injunctive relief (a court order forcing the employer to do – or not do – something), attorneys’ fees (the amount that a Plaintiffs’ attorney would be paid based on a reasonable hourly rate and the amount of time put in by the attorney) and costs (hard costs for litigation, e.g., filing fees, depositions, court costs, photocopies, mail, etc.).

What Other Laws Are at Play?

Wage Payment Laws – Are you sure you are being paid for all of your time worked?  Even if you are paid a salary or have a “manager” or “supervisor” title, you may still be entitled to overtime or other wages.  The laws at play here are the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the State New York Labor Law (NYLL)

Workers’ Compensation – If you suffered an injury at work, you may have a workers’ compensation claim.

Medical Leave Laws – Certain employees are entitled to unpaid leave under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  If you suffer an adverse employment action based upon taking or requesting leave (for yourself or a family member), you may have a claim under the FMLA.

What Should You Do?

If you have suffered an adverse employment action, and you believe that it is related to your physical condition and/or disability, you should absolutely call an employment lawyer.  We respond to all inquiries within 24 hours and offer free initial consultations.  Contact us today.

Granovsky & Sundaresh PLLC Can Help

Granovsky & Sundaresh is a boutique labor and employment law firm with offices in New York City and Cleveland that helps employees with all aspects of employment law.  Our practice specializes in discrimination, severance negotiations, employee wages, medical leave and non-compete/non-disclosure agreements.  We offer free consultations and have a proven track record of results.  If you need help, call us to set up a free consultation today.

Flag image courtesy of Wikipedia

5 tips how to get back on track after a knee injury

Knee injuries are no fun, because they not only come with pain, but they also limit your movements and take quite a long time to heal completely and for you to get back to where you were before the injury. Lucky there are thing you can do to aid in your knee injury recovery and to make this process take a bit less time than it usually would.

#1: Rest, ice, elevate

The vary first thing you should do when you are recovering from a knee injury is give your knee time to heal. If you start activity too soon, without the injury being properly healed, you can easily re-injure your knee and  even make the injury worse. So rest your knee and avoid putting stress or weight on it, if it still huts to do it. And start to walk on it only when that doesn’t hurt anymore. Then I would also recommend your icing your knee to keep the swelling down and to ease the pain that knee injuries bring, as well as elevating your knee when you aren’t standing will also provide pain relief as well as quicker healing.

#2: Talk to your doctor

Before you start any additional activity, you should talk to the doctor that is treating your injured knee. There are many different knee injuries that one can sustain, and they all also require different times to heal and different recovery process. Consult with your doctor as to when would be the best time for you to ease back into exercising and how to exactly do it, so you can do it without being scared that you will do something to hurt your knee again. You can even go to a physical therapist if you want, because these doctors specialize in injury recovery and will be able to provide you with the best possible advice.

#3: Stretch and strengthen

One of the first things to do, when your injury is beginning to heal and you want to get back on track of  being active and working out, is to stretch the knee and strengthen it. Many times knee injuries take your knee out of commission for several months, in which time the muscles around your knee can get weak and stiff. So do strengthening and stretching exercises with your injured knee, and your knee will be able to bare your weight and the stress of movement better, hurting less and letting you get back do exercising and doing simple everyday activities as soon as possible.

#4: Ease back into it

The most important thing to remember when you are starting to be active and working out after a knee injury is to ease into it. You absolutely cannot just start vigorous training, not only because you will be in excruciating pain if you do this, but also because that can hurt your knee again, throwing all of the healing that your injury had done out of the window and leaving your injured once again. Start slowly and make sure to intensify your workouts for about 10 to 15 % at most, because this way you won’t be over-working your injured knee, but still will be able to get back in shape.

#5: Compress your knee

Also think about getting a some sort of compress for your injured knee. It can be knee sleeves, simple elastic bandages that you tie around your knee or even basketball knee pads that often have the sleeve like abilities plus an added padding on the knee for shock absorption. This type of compression gear will keep your knee tight, in shape as well as will keep your joint warm for longer, which will all help you with the pain or discomfort you will be sure to feel at first when you start exercising after a knee injury.

This article was brought to you by KneeSafe.com

Wheelchair Bowling – Adapative Bowling Equipment Review

Many sports have been adapted for wheelchair users and bowling is a popular one. The American Wheelchair Bowling Association has more than 500 members and growing. Many bowlers enjoy the sport without the use of any special equipment. They are able to roll up to the foul line lock their brakes and throw the ball. However, in some cases a person’s disability may not make it that simple. In these situations, additional equipment may be needed. Luckily, there are is a wide range of adaptive bowling equipment created specifically to assist wheelchair bowlers, such as ball ramps, ball grip handles, and ball pushers.

Adaptive Equipment for Bowling in a Wheelchair

Maddak-Two-Piece-Bowling-RampThe first piece of equipment that wheelchair bowlers can use is a ball ramp. Ball ramps are perfect for bowlers who have limited range of motion because they allow the user to easily control the ball’s release from their lap. These ramps are usually made of lightweight aluminum and work by allowing the user to simply place the top end of the ball ramp over their lap and the bottom end at the foul line; the bowler then places the ball at the top of the ramp and then releases it down the lane.

Other popular bowling ball ramps works by allowing the user to press a large button/switch with light pressure from their hand or foot to activate the ball release for a guided roll down the lane.

An additional tool is the grip handle bowling ball. For wheelchair users, the grip handle allows for better power and easier control by allowing them to use a grip handle rather than finger holes. There are two parts to this special ball—a spring-loaded handle, and the bowling ball. Once the handle is released, it retracts into the ball, allowing it to roll smoothly down the lane.grip-handle-bowling

Finally, there are bowling ball pushers. These super simple tools give the bowler control over the force and the angle of their roll. Ball-pushers have an easy grip handle at one end and forked prong at the other. Simply use the stick to push and angle the ball down the lane. These are so simple in fact, you could DIY-it, if you so desired.bowling-ball-pusher-2

Using this knowledge and equipment can help make bowling a more competitive and fun sport for wheelchair users. Also, check with your local bowling alley, they may have special lanes or even hold regular wheelchair events.


By Dustin Via The Bowling Universe who’s mission is to help bowlers, of all skill levels, find great products that improve their game.

Three Ways to Help Your Child

All parents ask “What more can I do to help my child become the best he can be?”

 All parents are scared to death when told their newborn will likely not make it through the night.  My Mother and Dad were no exceptions.

During the first year of your child’s life, you are the center of his world. As the mother, you have carried this tiny human being within your womb, supplying it’s every need for entrance into this world.   As the father, you have been at your partner’s side, comforting her, choosing a name and enjoying planning the arrival of your son or daughter.

The day comes, and your dreams are about to burst into reality. But suddenly, something is wrong.  Your newborn is not placed into your arms but is instead rushed to a neonatal unit, leaving you more frightened and confused than you have ever felt in your lives.

Each passing day brings gratitude;  your baby is still alive, but you walk around with millions of questions and very few answers.  What did I do wrong?  You searched your head, trying to recount every moment of carrying your pregnancy.  You kept every doctor’s appointment; you ate right, never missed taking a vitamin.  You exercised, and dreamed of giving birth to a beautiful, healthy child.

Every newborn needs great care, but your little one needs more specialized care and handling.  You soon learn how to feed and attend to your child’s condition, and you do everything the doctors, nurses, therapists have instructed.

There are many things you as a parent can do to help your son or daughter progress that no one else can do.   Simple things costing very little financial burden can help your child reach goals.

Sleep tapes are a great way of helping your youngster gain self-confidence in hs ability to achieve the best his physical condition will allow.

Studies, such as the one done by Sid Kouider at the Ecole Normale  Supérieure in Paris, and his colleagues found that our brains are as active when we are asleep as when we are awake and capable of acting upon given concepts.

This means that no matter how damaged a brain is, it is still open to accepting positive suggestions, especially when drifting off or already asleep.  Unencumbered by grown-up issues, children’s brains are like sponges, ready and capable of soaking up all the positive reinforcement given to them.

When positive concepts are repeated over and over night after night, the brain translates these ideas to the body.

Sleep tapes can be found on the internet offering a variety of topics, anything from improving inner and outer health to positive reinforcements for champion bowlers.

Your voice is the best

The best way to help your child accept positive suggestions during sleep is to record a tape yourself.

Before birth, your baby knew your and your husband’s voice feeing your love and the comforting, safe sound of your words, sensing you were a safe, positive environment for growth and fulfillment of all of his needs.

Listening to your voice at night will sooth and help the things you say to be absorbed and translated, into action when your child is awake.

My Dad made the tapes.  I   loved his voice.   They relaxed me, and I believed everything he told me.  They became my bedtime stories that would come true.

At first, they were filled with concepts he wanted for my future; health, strength, a great unconditional love for myself and others, a great desire for knowledge, and the ability to learn quickly and easily.

It worked. Within a year, I went from a third-grade reading level to eighth-grade level.  The following fall I enter a regular high school, only a year older than my peers.

At fifteen, Dad encouraged me to write my night tapes.  We sat for hours deciding what to write and taping it.   How we giggled and joked when I tried to taped it. I couldn’t understand half of what I reordered, but Dad got every single word.  I know it was the prelude to my love of writing.

Nothing happens overnight.  In the case of sleep tapes, it’s true, but if you play the tapes three to five times a night, you will very likely notice positive results within a few weeks.

Fill your home with music and your heart will heal

Every living plant, animal, and human being respond to sounds, internal and external and each sound vibrates at  different frequencies   Our universe is composed of an infinite number of sounds constantly stimulating our sense of hearing.

Noises such as traffic, chatter, and phone ringing are giving off Bata waves at a rate of fourteen to twenty hertz per second.  This speed causes our brains to send different chemicals to our bodies.   If the sound we hear is too harsh, our bodies react in a negative manner. We walk around feeling tense, have stomach aches, and are worried and depressed.

When we are doing something we love, being creative, and happy, our brain is experiencing alpha waves at eight to thirteen hertz.  At this speed, the chemicals have a positive effect on our health.

Listening to music with a pulse of about sixty beats per minute can shift the human consciousness from the beta state to the alpha range, enhancing alertness and enabling the brain to release Dopamine.  This natural chemical helps the body to relax and heal.

Dopamine affects our pleasure center, allowing us to enjoy our favorite melodies.   Your child will benefit by listening to happy music. If your son daughter is deaf or hard of hearing, place them where they can feel the melody and the beat. Their body will respond to the movement and the vibrations of the music.

While listening to our favorite music, our pain tolerance increases due to the release of Endorphins from the brain.  When we feel pain or stress our brain immediately sends out endorphins to the affected area of our bodies.

Music being played before bedtime or during physical/occupational therapy sessions helps tightened muscles to relax, easing movements needed in performing the exercise. Therapy is more productive done to soft music.

I grew up in a home alive with musical notes.  Dad and mom loved to dance.  A night rarely went by without my parents either jigger bugging or tangoing across the floor.

Daddy played the Flamingo guitar.  He knew it wasn’t my taste, but my Rock and Roll wasn’t his.

Studies have shown that different types of music send specific chemicals down to our bodies.  Folk music releases Serotonin, a neurotransmitter helping our emotions.

Jazz and R&B can release either Serotonin or Norepinephrine, both a mood enhancer.

Classical music from the great composers fills the heart, body and soul with Norepinephrine or Dopamine allowing us to relax and experience theta range brain waves. Mozart, Handel, Chopin, and Debussy always gave me a sense of comfort, good will, and a sense of security.

Enjoying Music Together

Each individual has a preference for the type of music that sets their souls soaring and their body responding happily.  Play different types of music for your child.   No matter how young or what your child’s disabilities are, fill your home with music.  Discover what makes him smile, kick his feet or clap his hands.

Create family time with everyone participating.  Your child will feel love as the whole family listens to his/her favorite music.

Dance with him.  If your son or daughter can walk, perform different moves with him. Swing your arms, kick your legs, and have fun.  If he has trouble balancing or is confined to a wheelchair, pick him up in your arms, dance around with him, letting him feel the beat and the rhythm.  Show him the music is alive.

Give your youngsters something they can make noise with, a pot and spoon, a toy drum.  It doesn’t matter what it is as long as he can make ‘his’ noise with it.

When I was very young, Mom tied small bells on my wrists and ankles encouraging me to move.  Lol. I was a natural when it came to shaking them!

There are so many ways for you and your child to enjoy music together. Sing his favorite songs with him.  Watch his reaction to different sounds and types of music.  Do certain melodies help him relax, smile, and respond to the world around him.  Do other kinds of music make him anxious and uncomfortable?

The magic of music not will only shower many benefits upon all your children as it brings your family together, it will give you, as parents, a sense of being somewhat in control of your children’s health and welfare.

It will lift your spirits, and you’ll feel more balanced within yourself.

A picture is worth more than 1000 words

No saying is truer than this one when it comes disabled kids

Remember, your son or daughter who was born with a disability doesn’t realize he can’t do things like other children.  Until exposed to the outside judgements, all isjudgmentsh his world.

It is your role as parents to help him accept these differences in a way that it instills confidence, and yes, pride in who he is and his accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

Never tell him that he can’t be a doctor or a singer.  Dreams are vital fo the healthy development of your child.  Even if your son or daughter dreams of becoming a baseball or ballet dancer are unrealistic, do not quash. it

Encourage and enhance all dreams.  My parents did.  At age five, I was strapped into braces up to my chest.  I loved ice skating more than anything.   My Father knew this was impossible given my condition, but each day, in every way, he helped me build my dream.

Dorothy Hamill was my favorite skater.  I longed to be like her.  Dad helped me cut out every picture her we could find in newspapers/magazines and plaster them all over my room.  He bought me a bright red skating outfit and a pair of ice skate which we hang on my bed post.  They were the first things I saw in the morning and the last things I saw at night.   We visited the local skating rink, and Dad held me in his arms (he was an expert skater) and skated around with me, so I could feel the movements and feel the wind rush through my hair.      And I was so proud of my Dorothy Hamill haircut

I asked Dad on the day I got my Master’s degree in Special Education, why he bothered to go through all that for a dream he knew, could never come true?

He looked at me with his big brown twinkling eyes and said, “I love you.   I knew you wouldn’t ever be a skater, but I wanted to give you the self-confident to strive for any dream you wanted.”

Give your child the gift of dreams and confidence to do be his best. Don’t limit them with your fears and doubts. Don’t worry about dreams that won’t come true.   Living with a disability has a way of changing each dream into a goal that can come into reality.  Every dream that doesn’t come true leads to the possibility the next one will.

myfaceSunday Erickson, was born with cerebral palsy. According doctors, much of her brain was destroyed at birth. Despite these dire predictions, she obtained BA in Social Anthropology, and a Master’s in Special Ed and Rehabilitation. She taught United Cerebral Palsy in Ft. Lauderdale, and is a freelance writer and is the author of TU-TU MUCVH.

 

References

http://www.superconsciousness.com/topics/art/how-music-affects-body

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/01/study-performing-music-gets-us-high/267138/ Study: Performing Music Gets Us High/ Scott Douglas/ Jan 1 5, 2013/Health

http://www.neurogenesis.com/Neurotransmitters/norepinephrine.php

http://www.babycenter.com/404_is-listening-to-negative-lyrics-or-angry-music-really-harmfu_71171.b/ Is listening to negative lyrics or “angry” music really harmful for my child?/Douglas Gentile developmental psychologist

http://apneasleepdisorders.com/advantages-sleep-tapes/what  are the advantages of sleep tapes/charles moore

http://www.relax-online.com/susan2.htm//sleep tyapes/susan castle

http://www.scope.org.uk/support/families/sleep/tips

http://www.wonderbaby.org/articles/music-development/mu sic and development: musical ways to engage developmentally disabled children

http://stress.lovetoknow.com/Top_Ten_Relaxation_Techniques_Children/top ten relaxations techniques for child

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/232248.php/serotonin facts, what does serotonin do?/by james mcimtosh/ed by helen webberley

http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/norepinephrine/

http://www.articlesforeducators.com/article.asp?aid=92#.VzjGvjbSnSE/understanding the brain and learning disabilities/copyrighted by marcus simmons/2008

http://www.themindfulword.org/2012/guided-imagery-scripts-children-anxiety-stress/meditaion/use these scripts to help children cope with  anxiety and  stress/dr tara zuckerman, phd/psychologist  for children , young adults and adolescents

ttps://www.quora.com/At-what-age-does-a-child-individual-become-conscious-aware-of-his-decision-making/At what age does a child-individual becomes conscious/aware of hi s decision?/Mateusz Szumala/organizational psychologist with a clinical twist

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/gradeschool/Pages/Gender-Identity-and-Gender-Confusion-In-Children/Healthy   Children/ Ages & stages/

http://www.princeton.edu/futureofchildren/publications/docs/09_02_0Jacquelynne S. Eccles, Ph.D., is professor of psychology, education, and women’s studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor2.pdf

http://www.ldonline.org/article/5937/Helping parentd deal with the fact  that their child has a \disabilty/

William C. Healey/CEC Today Vol.3 No. 5 – November 1996 The Council for Exceptional Children

 

10 Technologies that Are Redefining Disability Right Now

Advances in technology affect all kinds of people, but this sort of progress can truly transform the lives of those with physical and mental disabilities. From mind-controlled exoskeletons to driverless cars, the past couple of years have been a windfall for accessible tech and we’ve compiled a list of 10 exciting innovations that are already redefining disability.

Mind-controlled Exoskeletons

We’re kicking things off with what may just be the most sci-fi sounding entry on the list. Bafflingly, when a 29-year old paraplegic man named Juliano Pinto kicked the ceremonial first ball at the 2014 World Cup using a mind-controlled exoskeleton to help him walk/kick, it didn’t make for major headlines. What should have been frontpage news was mentioned in passing, but it was an incredible achievement that would have seemed implausible just a short time ago.

Eye-controlled Wheelchairs

From mind control to eye control. There’s no more intuitive way to pilot anything than with your eyes. There have actually been several successful eye-controlled wheelchairs in the past couple years, but one of the most promising systems was the Eyedrivomatic, developed by Patrick Joyce, a 46-year old British inventor with motor neurone disease. The technology gives the old “watch where you’re going” refrain a whole new meaning.

Accessible Clothing

Unfortunately, those with disabilities are often forced to use goods and services designed for the non-disabled population and adapt them to their particular situation. In recent years, however, there has been a boom in accessible fashion, and companies like IZ have created fun, fashionable clothing lines truly catered to the disabled community.

3-D Printed Limbs

As we mentioned earlier, 3-D printing is a godsend for accessibility and we’ve seen the technology work wonders in the field of prosthesis. We’ve seen custom-made, 3D-printed arms and legs help folks navigate and manipulate the world around them and but Alex Pring’s prosthesis takes the cake. The 7-year old, Central Florida boy was gifted with a 3-D printed version of his favorite superhero’s arm and Iron Man Robert Downey Jr. delivered it to him in person.

Wheelchairs that Climb Stairs

Stairs: The bane of every wheelchair user’s existence. That may soon change, however, as several stair-climbing wheelchairs are currently in development with a few already in production. One of the most promising is Scalevo, the brain-child of a team of students at ETH Zurich and the Zurich University of the Arts. While ramps are still integral to accessible design, this technology may soon provide wheelchair users with a way of tackling a previously insurmountable obstacle.

Driverless Cars

Tesla Motors and Spacex CEO Elon Musk has thrown substantial weight behind this idea and recently made waves by saying that Tesla could have a commercially-available driverless car within two years. Why is this technology accessible? It allows those with disabilities that leave them unable to drive traditional cars to own and operate their own vehicles. That sort of mobility could be life-changing for thousands, perhaps millions around the world.

Accessibility Maps

Sadly, many major cities around the world lack accessible public transportation and infrastructure, but in recent years, a host of dedicated applications have aimed to make it easier to navigate a frustratingly inaccessible world. Case in point, Jason DaSilva’s AXS Map, which maps accessible locations around the US and uses community input to rate them from their friendliness to those with disabilities.

“Smart” Wheelchairs

These days, it seems everything is “connected,” and wheelchairs have benefitted from that revolution. Just like TVs, cars, and a host of other technologies, wheelchairs have gotten “smarter” in recent years and some models can now store and connect to a user’s health history, monitor their vital signs, and even send out distress calls in case of emergency.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality was once a staple of science fiction, but of late, it has been a hot topic in the real world. Head-mounted VR sets like Occulus VR’s Occulus Rift provide an immersive experience and wide commercial availability could make VR the talk of 2016. While the technology is still in its infancy, it could soon provide disabled users with virtual access to a variety of experiences that would otherwise be inaccessible. It has become cliche to say, but the future truly is now.

Wheelchairs for Animals

Human wheelchairs are a time-tested, age-old invention, but in the last few years, we’ve seen an influx of wheelchairs designed to accommodate both furry and not-so-furry friends. 3-D printing could very well have its own entry on the list, but the technology has allowed inventors to cheaply produce highly specialized mobility devices for dogs, cats, turtles, guinea pigs, and even goldfish.

Ten Things You Need To Know When Buying A Transport Wheelchair

 

 

Video Transcript

1. What is a Transport Wheelchair?
A transport wheelchair is a wheelchair that is pushed by a companion, it has smaller wheels than a standard wheelchair and it is lighter in total weight. Making it super easy for traveling and lifting into a car.

2. What are a Transport Wheelchairs best uses?
A transport chair is primarily used for short trips to the doctor, the mall, or a restaurant

3. What to look for when buying a transport chair?

The two most important things are:


4. How do I choose the correct size?
Transport chairs come in 3 Sizes:

  • Narrow – a 17” wide seat – for users under 120 lbs.
  • Medium – a 19” wide seat – for users between 120 and 300 lbs.
  • Wide – a 22” wide seat or wider – for users over 300 lbs.


5. Are Transport Wheelchairs foldable?
Yes, all transport wheelchairs fold to a size of 2.5 feet by 9 inches wide – compact enough to fit into any car!

6. Are Transport Wheelchairs comfortable?
When sitting in your transport wheelchair for more than two hours a day, we recommend you sit on a wheelchair cushion and back cushion to increase your comfort.

7. Are Transport Wheelchairs delivered assembled?
Yes! All transport wheelchairs are delivered assembled. No tools needed. All you need to do is take it out of the box and you are ready to go.

8. Do the legrests remove?
Yes, all transport chairs come with removable legrests, that hook on and hook off.

9. What else should we look for when buying a Transport Wheelchair?


10. Which Transport Wheelchairs do we recommend?
Here are three chairs we recommend: Good, Better and Best