Monday, April 30, 2007

Chanda Hinton

We hope you are enjoying reading the blogs of our guests as much as we are. We are so fortunate to have so many unique and interesting people whose paths we have crossed since the birth of Capabilities. We met Chanda Hinton at our Grand Opening of Capabilities in September 2005. She was the reigning Ms. Wheelchair Colorado at the time. Her warm presence was a wonderful addition to our celebration. And, Flint, her service dog was a great hit, too! A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of attending a fundraising event for The Chanda Plan Foundation. Chanda gathered around her some of the smartest and funniest people in the Denver metro area, including Josh Blue (pictured at right with Chanda and Flint), now a nationally recognized comic. (He won the national comic of the year contest in 2006!) The entertainment was high quality, and so were the caliber of donations for the silent auction. We were touched by the stories of those who are already being helped by The Chanda Plan. When a gun accident at age 9 paralyzed her from the chest down, she could have given up, but that's not in her nature. We are delighted that Chanda agreed to write a blog for us this week.

I founded The Chanda Plan Foundation in February 2005 as my interest in alternative health care grew. In 2003, my spinal cord injury had compromised my health to the degree that my weight had dropped to 59 lbs. I had chronic pain and my immune system had depleted to a dangerous level causing 911 emergency care and numerous doctor visits.

My sister, Crystal, and I decided to take the actions we had been discussing regarding alternative healing treatments. As a yoga instructor, Crystal was connected to many alternative healers. In the following months, I participated in acupuncture, massage therapy, diet, electric stimulation and physical therapy. The results were incredible! I gained 20 lbs. and become almost pain free. More than that, my endurance, strength and movement have increased dramatically.

People with severe injuries and disabilities often have to turn to Medicaid as a primary insurance in order to pay for healthcare and homecare expenses created by a disability. Medicaid will not fund alternative treatments.

I decided to dedicate myself toward having these treatments accessible for others. I created the Chanda Plan Foundation to allow individuals with disabilities to receive alternative treatments through financial assistance, to experience life in good health. It is an exciting journey I am on with others. Watching others find relief from pain and ancillary illness is as incredible an experience as feeling good myself. When you are in good health, fulfilling the things you are passionate about seems limitless.

The Chanda Plan Foundation’s mission is to help people with disabilities enjoy improved quality of life, health and function through the use of complementary alternative treatments. To learn more about the Chanda Plan, please visit: Thank you again, Chanda!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Our Home is "Working" For Us

This week we are delighted to welcome another guest blogger - George Goth. George has held a popular series of informational sessions at Capabilities about reverse mortgages. These financial tools can make very good sense for a large number of people. George helps explain whether they might be a good option for your or your parents. He is also holding a free session on this Thursday at Capabilities. Details on our Events page.

Many people think Reverse Mortgages are just for senior homeowners who have lived in their homes for a long time, own the home free and clear, and need cash. Many homeowners are now utilizing Reverse Mortgages in new and creative ways to finance a wide variety of family needs, ranging from in-home care, to vacations, to remodeling their current home, to purchase of a second home, or even down sizing to a smaller home.

The following is a compelling true story of how one couple used a Reverse Mortgage to pay off their debts, complete some much needed remodeling projects and still receive a monthly income. All of this was accomplished without the requirement to make monthly mortgage payments.

Harvey and Jane Jensen (not their real names) have lived in the Denver area since shortly after they were married in 1965. They still live in the same three bedroom ranch-style home they purchased in 1970. They love their home and have no desire to move.

Harvey’s income situation changed drastically in 1998 and they were forced to take out a home equity loan, just to make ends meet. And that worked well until just recently. Harvey started thinking about retirement, but they were concerned about their ability to continue making the monthly home equity loan payment.

Their oldest son suggested they check out a Reverse Mortgage. He told them he knew they would qualify since they were both over 62 and had equity in their home.

I met with the Jensen’s and provided them with a complimentary, no-obligation, analysis of the Reverse Mortgage program and the funds available to them. They were pleased to learn the funds received from a Reverse Mortgage have no impact on Social Security and Medicare benefits and they did not have to meet any income, employment, or credit score requirements to qualify.

Following my meeting with the Jensen’s, Harvey and Jane attended a free, one hour counseling session with a HUD approved housing counselor. This is a requirement for obtaining a Reverse Mortgage. They left this session feeling even more comfortable with their decision apply for a Reverse Mortgage on their property.

Based on the $193,000 value of their home, the age of the youngest borrower (69), and the current interest rate, the Jensen’s had $102,000 of tax-free funds available. After paying off the existing home equity loan of $38,000, Harvey and Jane still had $64,000 to use however they desired.

The Jensen’s decided to receive a $300.00 monthly payment (guaranteed as long as one of them lives in their home) and leave the remaining balance in a line of credit to use as needed. They plan to use some of the money to remodel their kitchen and upgrade the landscaping.

Harvey said, “The Reverse Mortgage is really great. We paid off our old loan, have a guaranteed monthly income, and now we can finally make the improvements we’ve wanted to make for some time.” Jane added, “All of this is possible without even having to make monthly mortgage payments. We are now making our home work for us. What could be better than that?”

George is a Reverse Mortgage Specialist with Universal Lending. He can be reached at (303) 420-9601, (800) 758-4063 ext. 304, or Consider coming along to George's session on this Thursday at Capabilities. Details are on our Events page.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Made in Colorado

We love finding products we can feature at Capabilities that Coloradans have created. We have already told you about Hotflash! The Game, invented by local Kari Epstein, and Pain Wizard, by Johnstown resident, Mikel Kleess. We also featured our private labeled mobile art, designed by artist Amy Vicioso. And a Colorado Springs-based company founded by Jan Erickson is one of our most recent featured product lines. Janska offers unique and stylish, comfortable and cozy clothing that also easy to get into.

This week we highlight Dawn Wooderson, musician and entrepreneur. Dawn, formerly a college professor at Penn State, Southern Methodist, and Baylor in Texas, always worked with populations of all ages and abilities. It is a well-known fact that our voices drop as we age. Our ability to reach the high notes diminishes significantly and we all start to squeak. From her work with older folks during the past 20 years, she saw clearly that many loved and remembered fondly old spiritual hymns. The only problem is that they are all written in the key of impossibly high for most “mature” voices. Dawn had an idea. What if she transcribed a number of these songs and re-recorded them so that this population could enjoy signing along once more? And so was born Songs of Faith, a series of three companion large-print hymnbooks with a sing-along CD. You can choose the print size and the amount of large-font musical notation that suits you. Sing along with CD and you’ll feel like you’re a member of a wonderful choir with a superb accompanist. Need to strum a little? The chords for guitar, autoharp, or electronic keyboard are clearly written. Just want to sing? The small lyrics book has extra-large print text of the songs on the CD. Her work is incredible and we have heard many a happy person delight in the ability to sing like a bird again to these old favorites.

Dawn also appears here and there to play and lead groups in song. She appears at Capabilities in June. Dawn's pictured above at a recent event at Capabilities. We'll post details on our Events page as details are finalized.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Have you ever spent time roaming around Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia? It’s great to pop in any old word and see what comes up. And you can edit the description if you like. I was thinking about lotion today as I smoothed some on my hands after doing the dishes.
Here’s the way Wiki defined it:
A lotion is a low- to medium-viscosity medicated or non-medicated topical preparation intended for application to unbroken skin. Most lotions are oil-in-water emulsions but water-in-oil lotions are also formulated. Lotions are usually applied to external skin with bare hands, a clean cloth, cotton wool or gauze.

It almost sounds poetic, doesn’t it? The description went on a bit describing versions of lotions, such as creams, and types of lotions, including those with medications included. I took out my bottle of lotion and looked at the ingredients. The first one listed is aloe extract, then purified water and glycerine. It’s what follows that interested me:
• pomegranate
• horsetail
• green tea
• rosemary
And a host of other natural and intriguing ingredients. What on earth inspires someone to make a lotion?

We work with a very interesting company which has created lotions and scents that caught our fancy when we put together our dream for Capabilities. When we were on the hunt for these comfort products, we sought out not only the lotions that were made with care and a fair amount of nature mixed in, but that had an interesting story as well. Caren & Cie, created by Caren Singer, offers us a wonderful spectrum of choices. Caren herself is behind the product’s creation. She looked for a formula that she liked, that made her feel healthy and beautiful. Her company donates a portion of all sales to fight breast cancer through an endowment she has set up at Georgetown University. We liked that story a lot. And we like the lotion a lot, too. Caren offers interesting fragrances – cucumber, stardust, French vanilla, among others, and a fragrance free option. It’s like silk, we think. We have some samples if you want to come try it out.

It was the Caren signature brand that I was putting on my hands earlier that made me think about lotions, and Wikipedia, and comfort, and why someone might actually take the time to create a lotion. Thank goodness!

What are your thoughts about lotions and creams and all things soothing. Post a comment (below) and let us know what you like.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Why Do We Have a Conference Room in the Store?

Last week we told you more about our Events and how exciting it is that the calendar keeps filling up with very interesting things. We did not really talk a lot about why we have a conference room in the first place. We get asked this question a lot. And here’s what we tell people who ask.

We always intended to be more than a store. We’ve both already had big careers at big companies and we loved all that. But when we decided to put our heads together and create Capabilities, we imagined being a “go to” place for resources, information and products. Building a big conference space in the store has given us the opportunity to partner with all kinds of interesting people to provide seminars, most of which are free, as well as a venue for meetings and gatherings of all kinds.

You can see from the Events page just how many groups meet there and just how many classes we have. We have plenty of room and time to do more, so be sure to let us know if your group or gathering needs a spot. If you have a good idea for a class, email us with your idea. We’ll always listen and let you know if it fits.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Sometimes It’s The Little Things…

We are so lucky to see many people at some of their most genuine moments. While there are plenty of curious shoppers in our store, there are also many who might be at their wit’s end to find something to help themselves or a loved one. Each of us can identify with those times of worry and pain caused by an illness or injury. We feel so honored and trusted by our customers. And we are grateful.

What amazes me nearly every day is how so often it’s the little things that make such a difference. There are three on my mind today that are so simple in their design, yet yield such positive changes when applied to the right situation.

The first is an aid for putting on and taking off shoes and boots. This tool is remarkable. There is a handle long enough to use while standing, and while sitting with the leg extended. That makes it already more versatile than most types of sock aids that are meant to be used while sitting only. The Shoe Boot Valet has an easy to use squeeze mechanism that clamps onto the heel of a shoe making it a snap to pull the shoe on or off. The best part is that there is a band that can also be used to hug the heel of a boot, pulling it off the foot effortlessly. We’ve seen many a happy cowboy as a result! It’s such a simple thing, and yet it makes all the difference to some who just want to kick those shoes off at the end of a long day, but sometimes can’t make the kick.

The Ergo Writer is another one that makes me wish I had invented it. I watched a young woman, paralyzed from birth from the waist down, but suffering more recently from growing paralysis in her hands, find such joy when she realized using this aid would help her write again. The key is the extended plastic grip that wraps around the pen and holds the thumb in place. This determined young woman tried every type of grip she could find, always on the search for something that would work. Imagine my delight when she found it with us!

One of my favorite things is a tool that slips into the universal diamond-shaped hole that exists on the inside frames of cars, vans and most trucks. I’m sure that spot was not created for the Handy-Bar, but those clever folks who noticed it surely created something amazing. You stick this tool in that hole and create a lever to hold onto while getting into or out of a vehicle. It pops out easily and you can fling it on the floor of the back seat until you need it again. I found it a while back as my mother had increasing difficulty lifting herself out of the car. She could hold onto the open door, but had nothing on the other side to grab onto. This thing made all the difference for her. There’s even a bonus with this one. You can also slice the seatbelt and smash the window should you find yourself suddenly in a lake or somewhere else where you need a quick exit.

Post a comment (click on Comments below) to let us know what kinds of things make all the difference for you or someone you care about. We are always on the look out for those little things.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

What Can I Do With That Old (or New) Thing?

Since we’ve been in the business of helping find solutions for all kinds of life’s challenges, we’ve become aware of another thing that can drive a person crazy. Used wheelchairs, walkers and scooters! This equipment is wonderful when being used to help someone maneuver through a temporary or permanent illness or injury. But we’ve all been faced with what to do with the stuff when it’s no longer needed. I’m sure you know someone who has a walker sitting in the garage, sure that one day someone in the family or a friend will need it. Or that scooter that Dad loved so much when his MS worsened. He thought for a while he’d never get out and about again. Like most vehicles, even power chairs and scooters lose value the minute they are driven away from the store, but that doesn’t mean there is not still a market or use for them out there. But where to turn?

We have been thinking about this since we opened the store, as we receive many calls about selling or giving away used medical equipment. Or in some cases, someone’s looking to buy something used because the need is so temporary. So, we decided to experiment by putting a bulletin board feature on our new website. To find it, take a tour around, and click on Exchange. You will see a place to post whatever it is you are looking to sell, buy or giveaway. In fact, a group of parents of kids with special needs are organizing a Toy Swap at Capabilities in the summer. They have already posted their event on the Exchange.

Please keep your expectations under control, though. While that power wheelchair Medicare covered for Mom might have had a sticker price of $5000, once she received it, the actual value diminished significantly. And Medicare won’t take it back. You probably know already that if you donate your used vehicle to a charitable or not-for-profit organization, you can most often take a tax deduction. Be sure to speak to your tax advisor on such matters.

You can browse the Exchange easily, but you will have to register and login in order to post items or respond to postings. This is to prevent malicious people from posting spam and other undesirable items.

Check out our Exchange feature and see if it fits your needs. It’s just one more way that we looking to provide resources to the community and each other. Let us know your thoughts by sending us an email or posting a comment (click on Comment link below).

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Last week we talked a bit about how to keep your home from becoming your enemy, especially as illness, injury or the aging process compel us to make changes in our daily lives. “Be unlimited” is our motto, even when there are very real challenges to face.

This week, let’s consider the bathroom in more detail. On a good day, it’s often the most dangerous room in the house. Many newer homes are equipped with grab bars, safety valves to prevent scalding and walk-in showers. However, even some of those features are not enough. And, how many of us have moved into a brand new home lately? (The national statistics say the numbers have leveled off for the moment.) The bathtub, place of great pleasure with long soaks, can become (literally) a slippery slope of destruction with just a tiny misstep. You want to be sure always to have mounted grab bars on the walls around your tub. Please do not hang onto the towel rack. Even the best of towel racks is not meant to offer support over and over again. And be sure those grab bars are mounted into studs, or with molly bolts. We like to add a tub bar that clamps onto the side of the tub to provide another sturdy handle for steadying as you take that first step into or out of the tub.

Some folks have taken to using their tub only for showers, putting a bath bench or shower chair with feet that grip inside the tub. There are numerous styles and colors to choose from, including the type called a “transfer bench” that straddles the tub, allowing you to scoot from outside the tub to the inside while sitting.

One of the more dramatic, and the safest, change you can make is to take out that tub altogether. Many are converting to a walk-in shower big enough to allow a wheelchair to roll in, if necessary one day. But, oh, the tub, you say. I love soaking! Well, there are a variety of walk-in tubs on the market today. We have looked at them all. We like the idea very much, and there’s one in particular that has a number of features we especially admire. Like a door that opens out instead of in, as does one of the more popular brands. Not only does this feature allow for a more spacious entry into the tub, there is the psychology of knowing you could open that door if you absolutely had to, although it’s not advised. Be prepared for quite the flood if you do! And a very low lip that makes navigating the climb in quite manageable for most circumstances. This one comes with jets, too, for your own personal whirlpool. It holds nearly the same amount of water as a regular tub and has a seat cushion to make you comfy. With the included handheld shower attachment, you can easily wash your hair. Some also mount the tub in a spare bathroom or near the laundry room where access to water sources make the installation quite easy.

We often hear people say, though, that they’ll wait until they need it. Remember Sally’s caution from last week’s blog. Sometimes it’s too difficult to do once you lose the chance to make these changes before you absolutely need them. We also hear about the “mess” of converting a bathroom. While it does take some doing to pull out an existing tub, once it’s done, the installation of the Safety Bath is a straight-forward process in most cases. We have a video you can watch that gives the details so you can get comfortable with what it takes.

The other objection we hear is often about cost. We can’t argue that to transform your bathroom takes some money. We offer this reflection, though. When you compare the costs of modifying your home to make it safe and comfortable for your circumstances with moving to either a new home or to a living situation within an assisted community, you will almost always find greater economic value in staying at home. While this is a very personal decision with lots of dependencies, some folks forget to include it among the options. Watch our blogs for more on making the economics of staying at home work. We will feature specialists of all sorts in the future who weigh in on interesting alternatives.

We have a variety of models available in the Store.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Caregiver Pampering Day

We are delighted to have Alan Heileman be our guest blogger today. Alan is with Comfort Keepers in Arvada. Comfort Keepers provides in-home care including companionship, meal preparation, transportation to doctor appointments or other commitments, light housekeeping or in some cases, personal care such as bathing, dressing and mobility. Alan also volunteers his time to the Alzheimers Association on their speakers bureau. He is active in the Northwest Denver's Coalition on Seniors, serving as Vice President from 2005 to 2006.

The family caregiver is one of the most over worked, and under appreciated positions in our society. More people are finding themselves in the position of caregiver every day. Usually it is caring for a spouse that has just had surgery, or just returned from re-hab, or is recovering from an illness. Suddenly, one spouse is caring for the other. The hours are long and the work is hard. But we will do it because that is what we do: take care of our family and friends.
The people who do this work deserve a day off; a day for themselves; a day of pampering.

May 5th is just such a day. Capabilities, Comfort Keepers, The Alzheimer's Association, The Parkinson's Association, Prime Time for Seniors, and The Broomfield Senior Center have joined together to create a day that will reverse roles: a day during which the caregiver receives the care.
This is a day that will be free of charge and free of stress. Anyone who is providing care to family or friends is welcome to come. Pre-register by calling (303) 813-1669. We will have massages, manicures, pedicures, facials, reflexology, journaling, aromatherapy, nutrition, tai chi, and other events for your day of being pampered.

This is something that Fort Collins and Colorado Springs have been offering for several years, but this will be the first time it had been done in Denver. I am pleased to be part of this event. I truly believe that the family caregiver has become the unsung hero of our times. They give tirelessly of themselves in order to care for others. They often feel that they can't take time away from their loved one. This day should be their day. A day for the caregiver.

Posted by Alan Heileman

Thank you, Alan! FREE In-Home Companion Care from Comfort Keepers - this is fantastic! Please reserve when registering.

Please call the Alzheimer’s Association at (303) 813-1669 to register. Registration deadline is April 20th and space is limited.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Brain Fitness!

Calisthenics for your brain! It seems as if there is a lot of conversation going on these days about ways to keep our brains fit. It’s no surprise as we Baby Boomers turn 50 at the rate of 7 every second (and now the first batch is turning 60 at equally phenonmenal rates)!

Our vision from the beginning has been to be a “go to” place, a resource for all things along a health spectrum. We started looking early for products and services that would address brain fitness. Last year, we came upon a software program called, Brain Fitness. Capabilities is among the first in Colorado (and the whole country) to be certified to sell this program to the public.

This whole fascinating field of study was featured on the CBS Evening News recently.

Brain Fitness was developed by a team of neuroscientists in California, led by Dr. Michael Merzenich. His company Posit Science released the software for the general public in 2006. We were nearly first in line after learning about this research on brain plasticity. Their work shows without a doubt that the brain molds and shapes itself over and over again throughout our whole lives. They have proven you gain ten years of brain life by completing 40 hours over an eight week period. As I was giving a demo of the program recently, someone piped up, “I need much more than that!” I guess most of us would take it, though.

So, here’s how the program works. Once you load the software, you are led through a series of exercises designed to stimulate the production and release of key chemicals in the brain that help build new paths and strengthen the ones we already have. This first version of the software focuses primarily on listening and hearing. Dr. Merzenich did early work on the effects of the senses in stimulating the brain. He found compelling evidence early in his research how critical hearing is to the brain’s stimulation. He, in fact, was instrumental in the development of cochlear implants, so essential for those with hearing losses.

It’s a fascinating program! We had to do part of the program to be certified and we continue with our ongoing lessons. Here's Pam dutifully plugging in every day to complete the program.

We give free demos of the program by appointment, organize group sessions, and take our demo on the road for groups of all kinds. See our Events page to sign up for one in April. In the meantime, feel free to post a comment if you have questions or want to chat more about the program. This year we are working with retirement communities to set up work stations for multiple users. Post a comment with your ideas and suggestions of keeping your brain fit.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

"I'm Not Waiting Until My House Is My Enemy."

Sally, 87, spunky, active, seemingly one of the lucky ones for whom aging is slow and gentle, joked about really being in her sixties. She loved telling us her real age. She was proud of the years. We learned later, though, she wasn’t duped into believing she was ageless, despite her good health.

She lingered over all the adaptive and safety products in our store, touching, experimenting; studying their features. As we chatted about the wonder of a walk-in bath tub, the wisdom of adjustable kitchen cabinets and countertops, and the ease of a low profile stair lift, she turned and looked me straight in the eye. “I’m not waiting until my house is my enemy. I’m shopping for independence now.”

“I plan to stay in my home as long as I can,” she went on. I know I’ll have to make changes. I’d rather get to them now while I have choices.” Despite her healthy and buoyant condition, Sally was not letting herself get lulled by the status quo. Denial is one of our most brilliant abilities as humans. It also can be our downfall. Determined not to get caught unawares, Sally left with an armful of brochures, resources and ideas for the changes she would embark upon shortly.

People like Sally make us so happy we do what we do. She got us thinking about how we choose our products. While there are a myriad of reasons, let’s talk a bit about the stair lift. We shopped around a lot before deciding on which brand to carry. What struck us most about ours is how sleek a profile it has. Many of the traditional models are bulkier, more square. Because Sally’s house is older, she especially liked how little room it takes on the stairs. Our brand is made in the U.K. Believe it or not, the U.K. has some compliance standards that are even tougher than our own when it comes to equipment like this. We feel great about the choice we made. Check it out on our Featured Products page for more details and some photos. It’s a great invention, the stair lift. As Sally says, don’t let your house become your enemy.

Monday, April 9, 2007

7 Ways to Make Google Work Better for You.

We love this blog thing! We are getting wonderful response and even a few comments. Please be sure to give us your feedback.
I am excited to announce that we are going to feature “guest” bloggers from time to time. There are so many incredible people out there with useful and fun topics to write about. We are lucky to know so many. Let us know if you know someone (or yourself) who would like to contribute. Send me an email with your idea or submission and we’ll do our best to work it in.

This week I am so delighted to introduce you to Michael Benidt and Sheryl Kay of Golden Compass. Michael and Sheryl are reinventing the idea of computer classes. You won’t believe how relevant and entertaining they are in their presentations. We have had the pleasure of hosting several at Capabilities. There is always laughter and wonder spilling from the room. They have quite the following. Michael and Sheryl recently offered a free sampler class. Despite the nasty weather that day, quite a few hearty souls showed up and had a blast. The grand prize was a three-hour class with Golden Compass. The winner was Dot Nabors (pictured at right). Two other lucky winners received books, "Hidden Google Treasures of the Internet". BJ Hosler (right, lower) and Carol Poore took them home.

Take a look at Michael’s informative blog and sign up for the next round of classes in June. See our Events page for more details and dates.

7 Ways to Make Google Work Better for You

Would you like Google to do a better job for you? Here are some tips to make your Internet searches more productive so that you can save time for the really important things in life – all of which happen away from your computer!

Tip #1 – Bartlett never had it this good
Always use quotes around words that belong together. This is particularly useful if you can only remember a line or two of a song, a poem or a joke. For example, “Once upon a midnight dreary;” “St. Agnes Eve – ah bitter chill it was” or “I was stranded in the jungle.” Try this at home – you’ll win a lot of those dinner table bets.

Tip #2 – Pictures or news?
Google can search many things besides web sites. It can search for pictures, for instance. Just click the “Images” tab and Google will search for pictures of anything you want – Brazilian rain forests, Derek Jeter, even the Hope Diamond. Similarly, if you’re looking for news articles on a subject, don’t search the entire web; just click the “News” tab to restrict your results to late-breaking news about the Brazilian rain forests, Derek Jeter, or the Hope Diamond.

Tip #3 – Triple Google Latte – half-decaf and hold the whipped cream
Want to keep from seeing explicit pictures? Need Google to talk to you in French? Get Google to work the way you want it to – on the “Preferences” tab. Google lets you tell it lots of other things – by far more things than you can ever tell your kids - and, it will listen! The “Preferences” tab is on the Google home page. Give it a look.

Tip #4 – Just Your News – Sent to You
Who wants to spend more time on their computer these days? Stop following your nose for hours and hours on end looking for the latest information. Instead, sign up for Google’s “News Alerts.” You can have alerts sent to you on everything from the stocks you own to the latest news about global warming to your favorite soap opera stars. Save time by letting Google send you just the topics you want.

Tip #5 – It’s a Calculator, It’s a Phone Directory, It’s Super Google!
This is sort of scary, but just type in a telephone number and up comes the name and address of the person who owns that number. You can also type in a stock symbol and, “Bam,” you have the up-to-the-second price. This list goes on and on. For instance, type in your UPS shipment number (you don’t even have to type in “UPS” because it just somehow knows). By the way, when you do type in your UPS tracking number, sure enough, it will tell you that it’s been held up in a snowstorm in Detroit.

Tip #6 – It’s All in How You Say It
Hang on to your hat for this one. If you are new to all things Google, you might want to skip this paragraph. If you’re a Google veteran, this one’s for you. Let’s say you are looking for information about “fixed annuities.” Add the word “site” to zero in on the kind of information you need. If you type “fixed annuities” you will have 355,000 results – mostly from sites that want to sell you stuff. However, if you type in “fixed annuities” site:edu you’ll get much more targeted information from university and educational sites – and leave the sales guys back at the station, where they belong. We have to keep this short here, but if you want to avoid looking for every possible mention of your search term (“Adlai Stevenson”) and are only looking for sites that deal with Adlai, start your search by typing intitle:“Adlai Stevenson” These are just a few of many terms you can use to narrow down your search results and get exactly the kind of information you need.

Tip #7 – Digital Photography without Going to the Madhouse
Google offers photo editing software that is what every software program in the world should be – free and easy to use. Picassa 2 does a lot more than just help you edit your photos. At the click of your mouse it will run a slide show of your trip to Bali, send (and size!) photos of Bali to Aunt Jenny and print your pictures any way you like them. You find it under the “More” tab – which is one of those tabs on Google’s impossibly simple home page.

And One Final, Very Big Tip
Here’s a remarkable statistic. Nine out of ten people are confident and satisfied with their ability to search the Internet. The PEW Internet and American Life Project reports:
“92% of those who use search engines say they are confident about their searching abilities.”

What an amazing number! Do you think 92% of Americans are satisfied with their looks? Are 92% of Americans pretty confident that they weigh as much as they should or have as much money as they need? As Carolyn Myss, the author of Anatomy of the Spirit, has said, “Americans have managed to make lack of self-esteem a national malady.” Except when it comes to the Internet! This is surprising considering that the Internet has appeared in the equivalent of the last instant of human time, and is more enormous than the human brain can comprehend. Astounding then that anyone can believe they know it all when it comes to Internet search.

Deborah Fallows of the Pew Internet and American Life Project says it this way, “In a sense, many search-engine users are a little bit like kids with a fancy new toy. They want to go play with it immediately and have a good time, but most don’t want to read the instructions or much care to know how it works.”

But you are still reading – and that means you’re among the 8% who believe there is more to learn. So, for you, here is one tip that might help you the next time you get one of those annoying messages that say “Page NOT Found” when you do a Google search. Use the “back button” and then click on the word “Cached” in your Google result. Like magic, the web site you wanted will appear – actually a picture of the site, but let’s not argue – and, it will even highlight (in different colors!) each of your search terms. We know friends who are using the “Cache” link for all of their searching – because the highlighted words make it easy to find their search terms quickly.

And the next time you hear someone say they can find anything on the Internet by just typing a few words into Google, just tell them that most of the Internet is not available through Google. The PEW study said it this way: “Finally, there are billions of web pages that users of the popular search engines have no access to. In fact, despite what feels like a veritable and ever-growing glut of information, only a small fraction of existing web pages are actually indexed by the popular engines. The rest are hidden on the “invisible web.” Yes, Virginia, there are a few (billion) things Google can’t do. But, since you’re part of the 8% you already knew that. Keep learning – there’s a lot to find with Internet search!

Michael Benidt and Sheryl Kay teach the power of Internet Literacy. You can learn more about them at both and, or come for a class at Capabilities - see our Events page for details.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Oh, My Aching...

Whether it's from too much gardening or running or playing on the weekend, how many of us start the week with aches and pains we might have never felt before? It seems as if our lower backs are so vulnerable. As the species that stands most of the time, we are more susceptible than others to developing back problems of every sort. Pam recently was diagnosed herself with osteoporosis in the lower back and is now focused on how to stop any further progression and make her back strong again.

For comfort, Pam really likes the Obus Forme Ultra Forme back rest support. This is the only back rest scientifically proven to decrease pressure on the back by 50%. Because sitting is one of the most stressful postures for the lower back, this S-shaped back rest support molds the spine into alignment. Pam testifies to the way her muscles relax when she uses the back rest at her desk. She and a number of our customers use them in their easy chairs or sofas, and also take them on the road, alleviating the discomfort that occurs while driving.

We will share her experiences here, as Pam works through different exercises and treatments for her back. Be sure to post a comment what kinds of remedies you use for lower back pain.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Be Unlimited This Spring: Tips on Choosing the Right Scooter

After the challenging winter we all spent here in Denver, there is something liberating about the warm weather, the fragrant scents, the glorious colors that makes most of us want to be outdoors. If you or someone you care about has an illness or injury that causes difficulty with mobility, there are ways to enhance independence.

Consider the electric scooter. It’s an incredible invention that dates back to the late 1800s, the same time frame as when the bicycle began to emerge. Patents first appeared in 1921. Today’s versions of power operated scooters have design features and functional options that rival the slickest of vehicles on the market.

The most important part when considering a scooter (or any other piece of mobility equipment), as always, is choosing which scooter works best for your needs. We get a lot of folks who come into the store looking on behalf of a loved one. It’s a great gift idea, and we highly encourage such thoughtfulness! It is also so important to be able to answer some key questions whether the scooter is for yourself or someone else. We have listed them at the bottom of this post.

It is important that you test drive scooters. Feeling comfortable is important to driving safely. Having the ability to adjust for seat width, height, reach, and speed are features you simply cannot determine by looking at a picture.It’s also a good idea if at some point before the purchase, the person for whom you are purchasing actually gets to test drive it. Because they come in so many shapes and sizes (both people and scooters!), it’s important to work on making a good match. Be sure to check out Roy Patrick’s story in our About You section. There’s a guy who spent some time thinking through his needs and wants, finally making the absolute best decision for himself.

So, if you’re feeling cooped up after these chilly months, take a test drive! This month we are featuring the Jazzy 1103 by Pride Mobility in our store.
  • What physical condition are you in? What illness or injury is affecting mobility? Is it temporary or degenerating? You want to choose a vehicle that will give you enough flexibility to adjust to your physical changes over a period of time.
  • Where do you plan to use the vehicle? If indoors primarily, you want something with a sharp turning radius to maneuver easily through doors and around furniture. Outdoors, you need something with bigger wheels and the ability to withstand surface irregularities.
  • What feels most comfortable and natural to you?

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Conference on Aging, Chicago, March 2007

(photo: josh on Flickr)
Pam and I recently presented at the annual international Joint Conference on Aging, hosted by the ASA (American Society for Aging) and the NCOA (National Council on Aging) in Chicago. There are thousands of participants and hundreds of topics every year. This year our topic was chosen, Think Unlimited: The Transformation of Assistive Products and Services. We spoke about our experiences as retailers on the hunt for unique, functional AND design-conscious products for health, comfort and independence. Owning Capabilities puts us in touch daily with manufacturers and suppliers of all types. We work to bring what we learn from customers and their needs to our partners on the supply side. Sometimes this is easier said than done. Stay tuned for more thoughts on this dynamic in the future.

For today, some reflections on the conference. The big themes this year were on the emergence of Baby Boomers into their 60s. There are 8000 turning 60 every day. New paradigms about the aging process are also emerging from nearly every corner. There were dozens of sessions and products on the brain and how to stay fit mentally. General health also predominated many of the presentations and discussions, including a big focus on balancing the health of the caregiver and the individual getting the care. The impact of the changes as Boomers age is being traced by businesses of every sort, including those who build retirement communities, assisted living residences and skilled nursing facilities. A number of presenters highlighted these issues and offered suggestions for change.

(photo: mknowles on Flickr)
We gathered a very interesting crowd for our presentation. Care providers from all walks of life, including one, Kim, who was thrust into the role when her father became ill suddenly and needed constant care, attended our session. Kim’s mother, who was supposed to have been the caregiver, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the same time. Kim’s life turned upside down as she moved her family in with both parents. Her father-in-law also suffered life threatening injuries from a fall shortly after the big decisions were made to live together. Absent a caregiver, he, too, joined the clan. Kim had her work cut out for her. Trying to find information and practical tools became her passion. Making it up as she went along led her to founding her own business as a life transition coach. She is now also an inventor with patents pending on a number of practical products that she could just never find. We spent quite a bit of time with Kim over the course of the conference, exchanging ideas and learning more about her product ideas. We will, of course, keep you up to date on these emerging ideas as more progress is made. We might even ask you to give us feedback on a prototype when she sends us one. We are struck always by the truth of that great Plato-ism, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention.”

(photo: rcktmanil on Flickr)We reflected, too, on the word “aging” while we were there and people’s reaction to it. There is heightened sensitivity to words these days. If you have done any reading about Baby Boomers, for example, (or are one) you will know that this generation has adverse reactions to words that suggest aging, like the word “aging” itself. “Senior” does also not test well in opinion polls and surveys. In fact, there is no generation alive today that gives favorable responses to ideas or concepts that use the word “senior” or “aging.” This is quite different, of course, from earlier years when "senior" first became an acceptable substitute for speaking about those over the age of 65. Even the word “retirement” is becoming difficult for purveyors of financial products, especially. Consider the new ads featuring Dennis Hopper, who reads the definition of “retire” from Webster’s (withdraw or retreat, it says). He flings the dictionary. “That’s not you!” Even AARP decided to drop the words for the acronym several years ago since it referred to “retired persons.” You won’t find a reference to the acronym anywhere now with AARP, just the initials. You might also have noticed how they have changed their publications, too, introducing a wider range of features and people of significant age ranges. This focus on language is not just idle worry by a small group. At the conference we spoke with a banker, for example, whose well-known large bank is struggling to find new appealing words for products that help Boomers plan for retirement. “What is retirement now?” he asked. It’s more of a prolonged state, or one that is deferred while the so-called retiree does other things, like start a new business. As we live longer, work longer and continue to change what have been norms and expectations, we need new language to talk about it. Post your thoughts in our Comments about retirement…and what kinds of words you would suggest for all those marketers who are scratching their heads about what to call us now!