Accessible Adventures: Help Your Patient with Physical Disability to Enjoy the Outdoors

Everyone needs to experience at least one outdoor adventure in their lifetime. It’s a fun escape from the mundanity of our everyday lives. 

A study published in the Environmental Research, Volume 166  highlighted the benefits of spending time in forests or parks. The study found that people who spent more time in green spaces had lower risks of chronic illnesses like type II diabetes.  

 Unfortunately, going outdoors also poses a considerable challenge for people with limited mobility. Not every park or hiking trail is wheelchair-accessible or disabled-friendly. If you’re taking care of someone with limited mobility, here’s what you can do to help them enjoy the beauty of nature.

Getting the Right Equipment

Getting suitable equipment to support your patient is crucial for their comfort during a trip or hike outdoors. Not every scooter, wheelchair, or crutch can be used on the trail. Have them invest in a good all-terrain scooter or wheelchair if they plan on making their nature trips a regular thing. Make sure you have the right tools when lifting your patient off a wheelchair to avoid any injuries.

Finding a Suitable Destination

Accessibility upgrades for national parks are relatively new. The National Park Service’s (NPS) Accessibility Task Force was formed in 2012. In 2015, the group drafted a five-year plan to make all national parks accessible. It’s been about four years since the plan was enacted, and a number of popular destinations under the NPS have made great strides in upgrading their facilities to welcome everyone.

 

The Grand Canyon

One of these places is the ever-famous Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. This historic landmark is wheelchair-accessible. Its shuttle buses have ramps that can carry passengers with mobility equipment. However, some motorized scooters might not fit on the vehicle, so you better check ahead. The park also offers a “scenic drive accessibility permit” that allows physically disabled visitors to go to places that are closed to public traffic.

 

 

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is another popular destination that’s working to be universally accessible. Most of its trails are wheelchair-friendly, though its staff is still trying to eliminate barriers in some areas. The park allows motorized personal vehicles, stand-up devices, and service animals. Its “NPS Yellowstone National Park app” has updated accessibility information that people can use to plan their trail.

 

Glacier National Park

Accessibility improvements are also being made for Glacier National Park. This has a wonderful view of the rocky mountains of Montana and its gorgeous Avalanche Lake. Park management recommends calling them in advance for a special program that lets disabled guests enjoy the place without worrying about hazards. The destination also has accessible shuttles that lead to various campgrounds, lakes, and lodging.

 

It’s smart to get an “Access Pass” from the government. This allows U.S. citizens who have a permanent disability to enter over 2,000 federal recreation sites (like parks) free of charge.

Wrap-Up: Testing Their Limits

While it’s a great experience for you and your patient to see the beautiful views and scenery in forests and national parks, it takes a little preparation before they can take the trip and enjoy the hike. Get them ready by strolling with them around the neighborhood to see how long they can stay outside without feeling too exhausted.

Once you find their limit, you can ask for longer or shorter hiking trails and programs from your park of choice. With a little creativity and the NPS’ continued efforts, it won’t be long before the outdoors can truly be a place for everyone.

Get a Reliable Patient Lift

It can be difficult to lift your patient from their wheelchair to another place they can rest on while you’re on an outdoor trip. Here at 1800wheelchair.com, we offer manual and electric motor patient lifts that help with this challenging task. With over a decade of experience in helping the elderly with their mobility challenges, we’re here to help you move your patients safely and with ease.

 

Call us today to learn more about our mobility products.

Accessible Travel: Exploring the World When You Have a Physical Disability

Air travel has its set of challenges for people with disabilities (PWD), despite industry efforts to make air travel easy for them. Sure, there’s the American Disabilities Act that requires facilities in the U.S. to be accessible for everyone, but it’s a different story when you’re going to another country. This is why you need to make the necessary preparations to ensure a smooth flight — and vacation.

Here are a few tips for PWDs who want to explore the world.

Following Air Travel Guidelines

Let’s face it, getting a fabulous air travel experience is rare unless you’re in first class. It’s important to call the airline you’re planning to book for your trip. U.S. airlines like United have a disability desk you can call to assist you with any special needs, like a therapy animal or a mobility scooter for seniors. Every airline in the U.S. has a disability policy on its website, as well. Read them, fill out the necessary forms, and notify your airline for any special requests you may have.

Choosing an Accessible Destination

As much as you want to experience all the world has to offer, not every country is completely accessible. Wheelchair user and avid traveler Cory Lee, in his website “Curb Free with Cory Lee,” recommended wheelchair-accessible places to visit. South Korea was number one on his list because of his recent visit there during the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. He reported that its capital, Seoul, and the Olympic host city Pyeongchang are ideal for wheelchair users.

 Accessible travel guide WheelchairTravel.org also stated that the capital has the world’s best public transportation when it comes to accommodating wheelchair users and other PWDs. Planning a Euro-trip? Make Vienna your first stop. Most of its tourist destinations are accessible to wheelchair users. Its Albertina museum provides full access for those using wheelchairs. It even offers guided tours for people who are deaf, blind or have slight to moderate dementia. If you’re looking for a regal experience, the city’s Forchtenstein Castle has wheelchair-accessible restrooms and restaurants. They offer a 50% discount on the admission price.

Hitting the Road Instead

If airline travel is just too much of a hassle for you, you can always have a nice road trip with family and friends. Lee suggested going to the sunny city of Orlando, Florida. He credited the place for having “flawlessly flat” roads and great entertainment destinations like Walt Disney World, Seaworld, and Universal Studios. What’s great is that all these theme parks are accessible!

The U.S.’ capital, Washington, D.C., is also a prime choice for wheelchair users, according to WheelChairTravel.org. It’s filled with historical monuments. It has magnificent architecture and public transportation. The city’s Natural Gallery of Art offers beautiful paintings from renowned authors like Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt. If you’re looking to learn a thing or two about science and history, the Smithsonian Museums (Air & Space, American History, and Natural History) provide full access for those using wheelchairs and other persons with disability.

Traveling with a physical disability might be difficult, but the rewards are worth it. All it takes is preparation and resourcefulness. With the increasing number of countries and American cities making their public transportation systems and buildings accessible, you’ll be checking off all your travel goals in no time.

Get the Right Mobility Scooter for Your Travels

When it comes to traveling, you want your mobility scooter to be light and durable. Here at 1800wheelchair.com, we offer sturdy but portable power scooters like the award-winning eFoldi, which has a battery designed for air travel. We also provide walkers, patient lifts, and wheelchairs for all ages. Explore the world with us.
 

Contact us today to know more about our mobility products.

Accessible Architecture: What Makes a Disability-Friendly Home?

According to an annual survey conducted by the US Census Bureau, people with disabilities make up 12.8% of the US population. This percentage is likely to grow as the US population ages, since the older people get, the higher the rate of disability increases. Still, even with physical limitations affecting such a large part of the population, most existing and new housing structures lack the basic accessibility features differently abled people require. That is, of course, unless the current occupant has a disability.

An accessible home is one that enables all its occupants to do what they need to do as independently as possible. Accessibility is achieved not only through architectural design but also through integrating specific features, particularly in bathrooms and along stairways. There are many ways that you can make your home more accessible. Here are just some of them.

Yard

To enter a house, one may have to go through the yard. You can make your yard more accessible by installing paths with a firm and level surface so that wheelchair users can go on them without any problem. Installing a ramp is a good way to make your entrance accessible to those in wheelchairs. Don’t forget to add handrails and curbs to prevent people from slipping or falling from the ramp. If you cannot install a ramp, you should have a folding aluminum wheelchair ramp at the ready.

Interiors

Having an accessible interior means having clear paths of travel throughout your home. It is vital that you have doors that are at least 32 inches wide and that your threshold is rounded and is no more than one-half inch higher than the floor. Having a high threshold is difficult not only for people who use wheelchairs but also for those who use canes and walkers. In addition, your hallways should be at least 36 inches wide to accommodate wheelchair users.

One potential limitation to think about is your flooring. Plush carpeting may not be such a good idea for wheelchair users. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design, the carpet pile shouldn’t be more than one-half-inch thick so that they don’t get stuck in the wheelchair’s wheels. Throw rugs, which can shift position, are not recommended, as these can get caught in the wheels and also present trip and fall hazards.

Bathrooms

One way to make your bathroom accessible is by replacing your bathtub with a shower since showers can be used by those in wheelchairs and those with limited mobility, alike. You can even install a shower seat and a hand-held shower head for extra versatility. For added stability, it is a good idea to install grab bars in proximity to the shower and toilet.

A taller toilet is more accessible to those with limited mobility. Don’t forget to leave enough room around the toilet and sink for the wheelchair.

If you’re looking to make your home more accessible and friendlier to differently-abled people, then turn to none other than 1800wheelchair.com. We have wheelchairs, and walkers, among others, that will help you or your loved ones address your mobility needs. Also check out our fantastic resource on wheelchair accessibility in you home here as well.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today for more information. We would love to hear from you.

Keep Your Mobility Scooter Working: A Maintenance Checklist

Seniors and people with physical disabilities have to deal with limited mobility every day. This can hinder their ability to complete daily tasks and increase their risks for slips and falls, which can cause serious injuries. Fortunately, there are mobility aids, like electric scooters, that can improve the quality of their life and minimize their risks of accidents.

 

Electric mobility scooters, however, require proper maintenance and the right accessories to keep them in excellent condition and prolong its lifespan. Otherwise, you’ll lose not only your investment, but also your or your loved ones chance to live independently amid mobility issues.

 

Self-Reliance with a Properly Functioning Mobility Scooter

 

A well-kept scooter provides several benefits that significantly improve the lifestyle of users. These include the following:

  • Lowering the risk of falls. A scooter allows seniors or physically challenged individuals to move around without the risk of falling. Falls can lead to injuries that can cause further complications.
  • Encouraging individuals to stay active. One major purpose of a mobility scooter is to provide users with the independence to move around indoors and outdoors. The ability to move independently can motivate them to stay active, which promotes better wellbeing.
  • Less hospital stays. A mobility scooter helps users avoid injuries, which can save money on costly hospitalization.
  • Making shopping more convenient. Errands become easier with a mobility scooter. You or your loved one can head to the mall or the neighborhood store to get supplies for the house without relying on further assistance from friends or family.

 

Maintenance Tasks to Prioritize

 

Knowledge of proper maintenance ensures the scooter will last for as long as it’s necessary, even with daily use.

Here are some maintenance tasks that you should do:

  • Check the batteries. You should know what type of battery your scooter has to determine the right maintenance method. Some batteries must be discharged completely before recharging, while others can be recharged anytime.
  • Clean your device at least once a week. You may use a damp cloth to clean the surface. There are also special cleaners designed for cleaning mobility scooters. Avoid damaging the surface when cleaning.
  • Consider getting the device serviced once a year. It’s vital to the health of your scooter if a professional will check on it at least once a year. A professional can spot any problem that needs an immediate solution before it gets worse.
  • Read the manual. Some users would skip this part, but the manual has maintenance instructions specific to the brand and the type of scooter (e.g., three-wheel, heavy duty, or portable). It may also contain guidance on common signs that indicate your scooter may break down.

 

Invest in High-Quality Accessories

 

Apart from proper maintenance, the right accessories can help you protect your mobility scooter against various elements. These can contribute to extending the lifespan of your mobility aid. Some accessories, like scooter lifts, also make it convenient for you to carry your scooter.

Here at 1800wheelchair.com, we offer different mobility scooter accessories to help or your loved one maximize the use of a mobility aid. You can choose from our selection of bags, covers, and lifts, among others that fit your needs. We use only durable materials to meet your requirements.

 

Contact us for further information.

Transportation for Seniors : Improving Quality of Life for Your Loved Ones

Aging may affect a persons ability to move freely and travel from one place to another because of muscle loss, joint stiffness, and balance issues. Mobility problems can also occur in people who have developed certain diseases, such as Alzheimers, Parkinsons, and other similar conditions.

 

There are equipment pieces that can provide seniors with assistance, including wheelchairs and electric scooters designed for the elderly. Transportation, however, can be difficult for seniors with mobility problems. This may prevent them from visiting their doctors or running important errands.

 

Current Transportation for Seniors

 

Younger members of your family can drive your senior loved ones when they need to go somewhere, like for a checkup, shopping, or visiting a relative or a friend. But there will be times that you may not be free to give them a ride. If this happens, your loved ones may rely on other transportation options.

 

Seniors can take public transportation, including buses, subways, light rails, and others. Most buses can accommodate wheelchairs and mobility scooters, too. And some transportation also offers discount fares or coupons for seniors. The availability of these options varies depending on your area. Not all cities, unfortunately, have public transportation designed with people who have limited mobility.

 

Improving the Quality of Life of Seniors

 

Mobility scooters are helpful equipment for seniors with limited mobility. These allow them to move around either at home or outdoors. Staying in one place for a long time can be depressing for seniors, that’s why they should be able to move more despite their condition.

Investing in quality scooters provides several benefits, including:

  • Prevention of falls. Seniors, especially with mobility problems are more prone to slips and falls. These can cause bruises and broken bones. In some cases, falls can lead to head and neck injuries. Scooters reduce these dangers, keeping seniors safe.
  • Convenient shopping. Mobility scooters make shopping easier for seniors, especially if they go to big shopping malls. They can enjoy their time with family and friends without worrying about fatigue and falls.
  • Improves caregivers lives. Scooters are not only beneficial to seniors, but they also benefit caregivers. Looking after seniors can overwhelm caregivers over time. Since scooters allow seniors to move independently, caregivers can focus on other chores.

 

Choose a Scooter Based on Your Loved Ones Needs

 

There are various types of mobility scooters in the market, which come in a range of features. Selecting one for your senior family member will mean understanding their needs.

A three-wheel mobility scooter, for example, fits indoor use. They usually have a smaller turning radius, depending on the size of its tires. Some of these scooters also come in different driving range and weight capacities. A four-wheel mobility scooter, on the other hand, has a bigger turning radius, making it ideal for outdoor use.

 

There are also portable varieties that you can disassemble and place in a car trunk. Some of these scooters also come in different driving range and weight capacities.

At 1800wheelchair.com, you can find a wide range of scooters. We carry different designs and style to match the individual needs of your senior loved ones. Our products suit different purposes, like shopping, strolling in the park, or moving around the house.

 

Call our representatives for more information or order online today.

Helping Someone with Limited Mobility Accomplish Everyday Chores with Ease

The sight of a person on a wheelchair brings misconceptions. Many non-disabled individuals assume wheelchair users are severely sick, have mental conditions, or cannot walk completely. While this may be true in some cases, many wheelchair users can function well enough. The only reason they need a wheelchair is that they have limited mobility. The wheelchair helps them get on with their everyday activities.

 

Many wheelchair users can accomplish the following chores despite their conditions, proving that they can get by with their mobility issues:

  1. Vacuuming with a handheld cordless vacuum
  2. Sweeping with a lightweight broom
  3. Gardening on an elevated bed planter
  4. Cleaning dishes with a dishwasher
  5. Doing the laundry with a front-loading washing machine
  6. Prepping meals on a height-adjustable work surface
  7. Creating shopping lists and grocery inventory
  8. Keeping track of finances and budget
  9. Paying bills online or through digital means

 

In 2016, approximately 1.85 percent of the world’s population required a wheelchair, according to the Wheelchair Foundation. That percentage translated to about 131,800,000 people.

 

Making the Home Wheelchair-Friendly

 

With more people requiring wheelchairs, it’s time for home builders and contractors to design residential structures that adapt to the needs of these individuals. Family members must also keep these needs in mind when thinking of the layout of the home, to accommodate the wheelchair user.

 

Start with the doorway and the ramp. The Americans with Disabilities Act sets the standard for doorway width, which should allow a wheelchair to enter or exit, as well as maneuver easily. Family members or landlords must also simplify the interior layout to facilitate wheelchair movement and maintain the safety of the disabled resident. Here’s how:

  1. In the kitchen, invest in wall ovens instead of standard floor units. To help wheelchair users see the contents of pots and pans while cooking, place mirrors where necessary. Still, though these handy tools are available, someone should assist the wheelchair user cook to ensure safety.

 

  1. Remove unnecessary objects from the living room, so there will be fewer items to dust and clean. Also, furniture should be strategically positioned to allow for wheelchair access.

 

  1. In the laundry room, place all hampers, detergents, and other laundry materials in one reachable place so that the wheelchair user doesn’t have to go back and forth to fetch things. Opt for non-slip flooring in this part of the house.

 

  1. Place storage cabinets on the floor in kitchens, laundry rooms, and washrooms. Make sure they have side openings for easy access to stored items.

 

While the wheelchair is a part of who they are, wheelchair users are not defined by their wheelchairs or their conditions. Friends and family should not be quick to dismiss their interest to help out around the house. Instead, they should encourage these individuals to find something valuable or meaningful to do. When wheelchair users are not pitied or treated differently, they can start feeling like 98 percent of the population.

 

If you or your loved one is looking for a place to buy a wheelchair to help with your loved one’s mobility needs, you’ve come to the right site. Here at 1800wheelchair.com, we offer various wheelchairs that suit your unique needs.

 

Talk to us today for any questions and subscribe to our newsletters for exclusive deals.

The New York Subway: Why it’s Inaccessible for People in Wheelchairs

 

Getting around New York is a challenge everyone in a wheelchair has to face. Using a portable aluminum wheelchair ramp is helpful, but there’s a great need for the city to become accessible for all.

 

Inaccessibility: The Subway Challenge

 

There are many accessible spots in New York. But the subway is one of the culprits for challenging accessibility in the city. Subways in other states are accessible; all stations in Washington are wheelchair-friendly, in Boston, it’s 74 percent of the stations and 67 percent in Chicago.

 

The New York Times reports that it’s not just New Yorkers in wheelchairs who struggle with using the mass public transportation system. Other commuters, like parents with strollers and travelers with luggage, find the subway difficult to navigate.

 

The main problem: the elevators in the subway stations. Only about a quarter of the 472 subway stations in New York are wheelchair accessible. It’s a low percentage for any major transit system across the globe.

 

The small number of elevators isn’t the only problem because many of them don’t work. Every subway elevator malfunctions on an average of 53.2 times a year. Although some of the elevators work, commuters then have to deal with the issue of foul odor and the inaccessible location of the elevators, typically at the far end of a narrow platform.

 

The Hope of a Wheelchair-Friendly City

 

Access is one of the defining issues that many persons with disabilities (PWDs) across the world face. It’s either a shop has too large steps or raised doorframes, or worse, has no wheelchair ramp.

 

Small wonder then that PWDs are less likely to mingle with other people or worked. Of course, the law requires cities and any establishment or property to provide wheelchair accessibility. The mandate doesn’t only benefit PWDs; it’s good for the economy, too.

 

With wheelchair-friendly transportation, people in New York, from residents to tourists, will have more confidence to explore the city. PWD employees will also find it easier to go to work, helping businesses meet their goals.

 

New York, however, is still on its way to becoming one of the most accessible cities for those with disabilities. Funding is hard to come by for the city’s transportation system, and when it does, it is usually diverted to new cars or signal improvements. Gabriel Amari, supervisor for the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled, also points out that money for the subway is usually insufficient.

 

Although mass transportation needs further improvements to be wheelchair-friendly, you don’t have to be limited when traveling.

 

 

A Portable Wheelchair Ramp Can Help

 

At 1800wheelchair.com, we have a variety of portable wheelchair ramps. Our products can make it easier and better for people in wheelchairs to get around the city. The ramp system offers a semi-permanent yet durable solution to inaccessible places, including homes without wheelchair access.

 

Choose from our selection and find the right length and weight you need. Some will come with their own bag, allowing for further convenience.

Contact us today for more information.

 

Alzheimer’s Care: Assisting Seniors in the Bath

Alzheimer’s disease affects more than five million Americans, and this number may continue to grow over time. An American develops this degenerative brain disorder every 65 seconds. This health condition takes a toll on patients lives as well as to their family. It limits them from performing daily tasks, like bathing and dressing.

 

As a caregiver, whether you’re a professional or a family member, it’s important to understand how to assist a patient in their daily life. Bathing, for instance, can be one of the challenging tasks for them. They can get into an accident without proper assistance.

 

Preventing Seniors from Performing Daily Tasks

 

Alzheimer’s symptoms include memory loss, which makes it difficult for patients to complete simple tasks. They may also suffer from other challenges like difficulty in concentrating and thinking. The disease can limit their ability to multitask, too.

 

Since Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, you may notice significant changes in the patient’s personality and behavior. Patients may experience depression, irritability and aggressiveness, and delusions, among others.

 

It may become more challenging to provide care to patients during the late stage of Alzheimer’s. You need to be patient and gentle to help them live a comfortable life despite their condition.

 

A Caregivers Guide for Bathing Alzheimer’s Patients

 

Bathing can be a confusing task for patients with Alzheimer’s. Some patients may guard their privacy and not want to get help. As a caregiver, you need to make the patient feel comfortable during the process. You may play soft music to help them relax.

 

Investing in bathroom assistive devices can enhance the safety of a patient. For example, the bathroom must have sturdy shower chairs, rubber bath mat, and safety bars in the tub. Even with these devices, you’ll still need to practice safety precautions:

  • Never leave a frail person alone in the shower
  • Before the patient gets to the bathroom, the temperature of the water should be right for the patient
  • The soap, shampoo, washcloth, and towels should be ready, so you don’t have to go out and get them in the middle of the bath
  • As much as possible, don’t use bath oil because it can make the tub slippery
  • When you’re bathing the patient, put a towel over the person’s shoulders or lap to make them feel less exposed
  • Talk to the patient about other things to distract them, especially when they get upset

 

The bathing process may vary depending on the condition of a patient. Always consider a method that’s comfortable and convenient.

 

Making Your Bathroom Safe for Seniors

 

Your bathroom must be safe for seniors with Alzheimer’s. They should be able to use it comfortably with minimal risks of slip and fall. A variety of devices can make this everyday task easier, even enjoyable for your loved one.

 

Here at 1800wheelchair.com, you can find different devices that can improve the safety in your bathroom. We offer commodes, bathroom wheelchair, shower accessories, and more. We design our products to address the needs of people who struggle to bathe or use the toilet on their own.

 

These devices also reduce the stress that caregivers and family members may experience.

To know more about our products, contact us today or explore our online store.

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

air balloon, wheelchair travel, 1800wheelchair.comEveryone 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

Track Chair, 1800wheelchair.com, disability, 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

golden retriever helper dog

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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 and therapy 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.

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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

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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.
  • 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.
  • 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

Large tree with cloudsIn 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 Risks

How to make caregiver mental health a priority

women blowing on a dandelion

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 risks. 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.


1800wheelchair is committed to helping those who help others. Full time caregiving is an essential component to the aging, elderly, and disabled, here are some tips to coping with the stresses.

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.

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.

Disability and Aging

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

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

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.

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.

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.

Transportation and Mobility

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.

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.

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