Saturday, October 31, 2009

Help for visual problems

I am so excited I found this product and believe it can help many people with visual problems.

The PenFriend creates a talking label - how ingenious!.  Place one of the labels on the object and then record a description into the pen recorder.  When the tip of the pen is placed on the item label it will speak the recorded message.  This would be a great aid when taking medication, identifying containers of freezer or refrigerator foods, and an assortment of daily living activities.

Click on the picture to link to the product.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Memory Problems

Memory problems first showed up for me on my job when I had a case I needed to present to a supervisor.   This supervisor was the type of person who had no patience if you were not clear and succinct in your presentation.  In order to explain what happened with this client, I needed to recall various dates crucial to the outcome of the case.

My dilemma required a little creative problem solving and what I did turned a negative into a positive.  I created a document with a chronology of events with dates and descriptions.  There were a lot of dates to remember which almost took up a full page.  I kept one copy for myself and gave one copy to the person receiving the report.  My presentation went better than I had anticipated.  My “cheat sheet” helped me stay on track with no worries about flaws in my recall.  In fact, this technique helped those listening to follow my story better.   I left my supervisor shaking his head in appreciation.

I have used this trick with doctor’s visits.  With the assistance of these written notes, I can relate when symptoms first began and my response to treatment without having to worry about memory lapses.  By putting things in writing, I do not have to worry that the listener might miss an important point.

An unanticipated benefit is that these little brain exercises seem to be helping to train my brain to work more efficiently.  I feel I am sharper and quicker in thinking than ever before.  They say there are a lot of unused brain cells…maybe this will put a few spare ones to use.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

How I Made a Handicapped Scooter Work For Me

When I could still drive, my scooter allowed me to be independently out in the world. With my van and scooter lift, I could put my scooter in and out of the van in one piece. I could zip around town and only needed to be able to walk to the back of the van. The lift did all the work. One difficulty I had was closing the back lift gate but with the automated lift gate on some vans, this problem would be solved.

I was even able to grocery shop alone. The store scooters were too slow and more difficult to operate. My thumb, which operated the controls, would get tired and they are harder to turn.


 Using the following process, I was able to manage independent grocery shopping:  

    1.  When I enter a store, I would ask an employee to put a store cart at the end of the first aisle.
    2.  There was a small basket on my scooter. I would go up one aisle and down another filling my scooter basket.
    3.  At the end of the aisles, I would transfer things to the store cart.
    4.  I would then move the cart down two aisles and repeat the process.
    5.  The last aisle was close enough to a register for me to hold the side of the cart and get in line.
    6.  I could stand to empty the basket but usually a store clerk would help me.

One day an older, unknown gentleman came up to me and told me how proud he was of me.  (Take into account that he proceeded to tell the cashier that she could take the rest of the afternoon off after she finished his order and he did not work for the store.)

By making a few modifications to the way you go about a task, you can roll away barriers preventing independence.  Maybe you cannot do things the way you used to but, by changing your approach to the task, it is still achievable.  Start thinking, “I can do it.  I just need to figure out how.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Canine Assistants

I always thought helper dogs were for blind or hearing impaired people. As I began to learn more about these dogs, I realized they also offered a variety of assistance to people with physical limitations.

Service dogs can be trained to retrieve objects that are out of reach, pull a manual wheelchairs, open doors and turn on lights, retrieve help, aid with dressing or undressing, and assist in many other ways. Some service dogs are specially trained seizure response dogs, and there are dogs trained to offer a person counter balance when ambulating. One less tangible benefit is that these dogs can actually expand your world by giving you opportunities to meet people and get out in the world.

This web site may help you find programs throughout the country:

When comparing the different programs consider the following:

  1. Does the organization offer to train your dog or does it train only their dogs?
  2. What kind of assistance is their service dogs trained to provide?
  3. Does the organization provide services only to a certain territory? You want to make sure you are in their service area.
  4. What are the costs to the recipient?
  5. Is there an age restriction? Some programs take children and adults and other limit how young the recipient can be.
  6. How long is the wait to get a dog?
  7. How long is the training camp for you with your dog?
  8. What are the costs to you for the camp? Some programs pay for training camp costs such as room and board and, others, leave these expenses up to the recipient.
  9. Is there support after the training camp?

Check out this inspirational video about service dogs: