Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Foundation Fighting Blindness

We mentioned recently that Pam was named President of the Denver Chapter of Foundation Fighting Blindness. She recently attended the annual conference for the organization in Kansas City. Read her blog for details about FFB and her experiences at the conference.

As you know, I have the honor of being President of the Colorado Chapter of the Foundation Fighting Blindness. The Chapter is made up of a combination of professionals, among them, Dr Alan Kimura, a Retinal Specialist, Steve Starzec, local banker and others with vision loss. Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) is a national non-profit whose urgent mission is to drive the research that will provide preventions, treatments, and cures for people affected by retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, Usher syndrome and the entire spectrum of retinal degenerative diseases. For years my mother complained of vision problems from her stroke and cataract surgery yet no one could give her any help in understanding what was wrong. Nor could they help make her vision more clear. FFB is fighting to find cures and treatments for people just like Mom and the over 9 million Americans who are affected by retinal degenerative diseases.

Luckily for me, my new orientation to FFB included attending the annual Visions Conference, held in Kansas City, Kansas. I was amazed at the energy and the dedication shown by a mostly volunteer group of chapter leaders and members. The conference brought together experts in vision, FFB staff and chapter members to learn information about the latest research findings and trials. Bill Schmidt, CEO of FFB shared the Visions 2012 Plan of Growth along with the highlights from the 2006-2007 results. In 2007, FFB gave over $15 million to fund research. There are two major human clinical trials now going with the assistance of FFB funding.

At the luncheon, I sat with Nancy Kerrigan, Olympic skater, who is now the spokesperson for the Foundation. Nancy’s mother suffered a vision loss after an infection and Nancy knows first hand the struggles experienced with such loss. I told her about my mother’s struggles, too, over the years.

At one session, I met young Jessie, a 14-year old who was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa seven years ago and is now eager to tell her story so that others with that condition can learn. The conference helped her see the need to tell her story. She is developing her leadership capabilities along with meeting others with the same condition under the guidance of FFB. I met Jim Platzer from Fort Wayne Indiana who had to retire 3 years ago due to vision loss from RP. Since that time, he has been leading the charge in his home town
FFB is establishing the National Neurovision Research Institute (NNRI), which will give early stage development assistance for companies and academic investigators with promising new treatment ideas. NNRI will provide funding, advice and referrals to potential sources of funding. All in all, the FFB organization is tireless in its work in finding the cure! I was impressed with the conference, the attendees, and their dedication to educating the public about the existence of FFB and the need for more research.

Among the many fundraising events established by FFB, the Vision Walk is the one I am jumping into. It’s the signature event for the Foundation and has raised over $2M in its first 18 months. There are 30 walks planned for 2007!. The Colorado Chapter has its Vision Walk on September 29 at Hudson Gardens. I created a team, the Be Unlimited Team at Capabilities. I’ve sent out emails inviting everyone to join with me to raise money for research and to exceed the record from last year. Last year, the Denver chapter raised over $115,000 in the Vision Walk. We have the challenge. I know we can meet it.

Please join me, then, at the Vision Walk at Hudson Gardens on September 29th and walk for a great cause, supporting research and cures for Retinal Degenerative Diseases. Colorado has a huge number of persons with Macular Degeneration, Cataracts, and other degenerative diseases. Let’s raise the money together to fund the research to find cures and treatments.

I’m proud to be part of Foundation Fighting Blindness and to learn about new breakthroughs in treatments and cures. I will continue to share what I learn through my involvement with you, our customers and colleagues.

Please do join Pam and support her Vision Walk - you can use her pledge page here.

Monday, July 30, 2007


As a regular reader of our newsletter and blogs, you know that we like to introduce you to new products and to great providers of new services. Our guest blogging feature has allowed us to feature many collaborators whom we know and admire. It has also attracted many new people and services to our attention. We love connecting with folks all over the country who are passionate about finding solutions to life’s challenges.

This week we have the pleasure of introducing you to LynxCare whose mission is to create better medical information and improved communication between patients and doctors. Having recently been through the process of gathering medical records from a variety of the physicians I have seen over the past ten years for the simple purpose of changing insurance companies, I was attracted immediately to LynxCare. Pam and I met with Founder, Sharon Feder, and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Michael Victoroff to understand more about their product and services. In a nutshell, LynxCare organizes your entire medical record, producing a concise and accurate summary of current concerns and past history. You are in the driver’s seat as you work directly with a doctor and a nurse assigned to you. With your permission they obtain your records (if you have not already done so), review them with you, and organize them in a concise and understandable way. LynxCare also offers an array of consulting services, including research on the best available evidence and treatment options across the country, both in traditional and alternative medicine. So, if you, like most of us, ever have more than one physician involved in your care, if you’ve ever looked to get a second opinion, or if you are caring for a parent, child or other loved one who has multiple medical providers, you can appreciate immediately just how valuable this product and set of services might be.

Ask us to send you a free information packet.

Sharon's blog:

I came to the field of medical advocacy through my experiences as the mother of a child with many overlapping and highly complicated medical diagnoses and as the daughter of one parent with a spinal cord injury and another parent with early and rapidly progressing Alzheimer’s Disease. I had also participated in parent support for families of babies in Neonatal Intensive Care, had been a volunteer emergency medical responder for six years, and had heard many more stories of people experiencing difficulties with the medical “system.”

What became clear to me was that the more often a person receives healthcare, the more frequently they experience difficulties. In part, this is because there was never, in fact, any actual “system” designed to provide healthcare. What we have is a vast array of well-intentioned providers and participants (and even many payors), waking each day, getting on their ponies, and trying to ride their hardest - to do their best - more or less independently of one another.

It took me many years to realize that, in fact, there was no one – anywhere – who could do in-depth personal medical research; arrange a conference between doctors; communicate the necessary details of every recent medical appointment accurately to each successive doctor; to interview and select the experts-expert who would ultimately call the shots on life-and-death and quality of life decisions; to, in fact, make sure that each of the doctors and practitioners were even aware of what the other was doing!!

The challenges and lessons brought on by my parents' deaths (they were both in their 60's) and the ongoing nature of my son's confounding medical diagnoses, led me to develop the Lynxcare method. At its essence, Lynx gives people the knowledge and information they need to access the very best of our healthcare system. The involvement of Dr. Michael Victoroff in Lynxcare, has further improved our services. His many years of highly regarded family practice experience, medical ethics, medical information technology, and knowledge of health insurers bring invaluable resources and substance to our process.

My goal has always been that if my young son were to become unable to walk, or living with the progression of his illness to unending pain, that he would look me in the eye and know I had done everything possible. I want others to have this same confidence, whether they are caring for their children, their parents, spouses, friends, family, or themselves.

Please take a close look at Lynxcare and let us answer your questions.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Low Vision: Exploring Options

Millions of Americans lose some of their vision every year. Eye diseases and health conditions, such as macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, cataracts, glaucoma and diabetes, are just some of the causes of low vision. In fact, for those of us in Colorado, the state has one of the highest levels of macular degeneration in the country. While there are normal changes in our vision as we age, low vision itself is not an automatic part of growing older. Corrective lenses are designed for changes in the shape and function of the eye itself. Because low vision is generally the result of some other condition, it cannot generally be treated with regular glasses, contact lenses, medications or surgery.

We will write frequently about low vision as we continue to expand access to tools and resources across the country. As Pam assumes the presidency of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, she will bring us up-to-date information on the latest research efforts to fight diseases that affect vision at all ages and levels of ability. She will also introduce us to specialists and support groups nationwide. Feel free to contact Pam directly for more conversation on her work with FFB. Her blog posting on this is here.

Happily, there is an emerging field of specialty among optometrists and ophthalmologists that explores alternatives for those who experience low vision. Many eye care experts are expanding their own “vision” about low vision. These specialists may recommend diet, exercise and supplements, as well as new optical systems and technology to augment traditional vision tools. We have had the pleasure meeting many of these specialists since we opened Capabilities. Because we make a special effort to address our customers’ needs, low vision is high on our list.

Not only did we set about educating ourselves about low vision, we now make it our mission to educate the general public. We offer seminars in our community room, usually quarterly, on various aspects of low vision, featuring often one of these specialized low vision experts. We also showcase all the latest equipment and tools for low vision with representatives from high quality manufacturers. It’s become one of our most popular events. The next one is this week on July 31. If you are in the neighborhood, please plan to drop by for an informative session with Dr. Jennifer Tasca. Linda Beyleu-Conklin, principal of AGA, will be on hand to demonstrate some of the most impressive equipment for low vision on the market today. Please RSVP in our Events section.

If you are diagnosed with low vision, you will, no doubt, have many emotions. We spend a lot of time just talking with our customers about how they feel once diagnosed. We know so many courageous people who are facing their fears and taking the bull by the horns to stay as independent as they possibly can. If you would like to speak to one of them, contact us and we’ll hook you up with someone who has been there and is figuring out how to do the things they love. You, too, can take control, gathering information about resources to help you you’re your independence.

At Capabilities you will find an ever-expanding selection of low vision tools. Here’s a sampling of just a few of the tools available to enhance every day life.
  • Hand-held magnifiers and stand magnifiers are traditional resources. These tools are best when performing tasks requiring near vision. The latest versions come with a choice of lights to enhance the visual field. Try incandescent, halogen and LED lighting for what works best for you.
  • The closed circuit TV (CCTV), or video reader as it’s more popularly called, provides greater degrees of magnification when magnifiers are no longer convenient or effective. Improvements to an earlier design provide flat, movable screens and a variety of color contrasting options to suit your needs. The battery-operated, portable versions are great for traveling or doing routine activities, such as shopping and reading menus. Wait until you see the latest of these which features a movable camera to allow for near and far vision options.
  • Telescopes and bioptics help improve distance vision and come in various forms. Some attach to your current eyeglasses, others are attached to headbands that fit around your head while you watch television or a play. We are showcasing the latest of these models at our upcoming seminar.
  • Solar filters are essential for reducing glare and enhancing contrast. They come in fashionable styles nowadays as well as the traditional wrap-around versions.
Exploring options will give you hope and a vision rehabilitation plan that works for you! Let us help you find out about the many options available to you. Send us an email with your questions or contact us by phone and we’ll share all that we know with you.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

"There hasn't been a new mattress in the White House since Nixon..."

I found myself thinking about a different aspect of sleep this week as I wrestled with my pillows and covers several nights in a row. I remember a time at a much younger age when I could lie down almost anywhere and fall asleep. The type of bed or pillow or even the temperature did not much matter. Babies and teenagers, they say, can sleep for large parts of the day and nearly anywhere under most conditions. As we mature, the regenerative process that depends so much on sleep is less needed, explaining why it is that the older we get, the less sleep we seem to need or want. And, the more dependent we are on the tools of sleep.

Oh, the quote in the title is from President Allen, played by Gina Davis, on the tv show, Commander in Chief. Why ever did they cancel that show?

I did a search on “mattress” and over 17 million entries appeared, almost every one describing features of some brand mattress or other. Over a third of Americans spend as much now on mattresses as they do on televisions. And nearly 20% say they are willing to spend as much on a mattress as on a vacation. Interestingly, a vast number of Americans say that sleep is more important than exercise or nutrition and are willing to “invest,” they say, in the tools to help them sleep better.

So, as I flipped over and over the other night, I wondered if it were time for a new mattress. How do you know? It’s a good one and nowhere near the lifespan of the mattresses in my childhood. So, I searched again to see if there is checklist for determining the life of a mattress on the Internet. Lo, and behold! The Better Sleep Council (bettersleep.org) has an informative site, including a section on Mattressology with a quiz on evaluating the effectiveness of your mattress. They suggest a new mattress every five to seven years, although they do admit that most people hate to give up their mattress, or dislike shopping for mattresses so much they just hold onto them. Key signs that it’s time to get rid of the one you’re on, they say.
  • You wake up sore, stiff, numb or in knots.
  • You see visible lumps, dips and other aberrations when you look at the mattress.
  • You slept better somewhere else (e.g., a hotel bed).
  • You cover it so no one else will see the shape it’s in.
As for pillows, I found over 21 million entries on that subject. I have yet to find the perfect pillow, although we have quite the collection at Capabilities. I have tried all of them and have a couple that work better than any so far. The Postura Thermoform Foam Pillow, for example, provides very good support for the neck, helping keep the spine in alignment while sleeping. I like the memory foam more than I thought I would. My only complaint is that it gets a bit hot in this summer weather. Obus Forme makes a versatile Neck & Neck Pillow ($52.99), too, that provides four different sleeping options depending on the type of sleeper you are. You also have a choice of comfort foam or memory foam. The comfort foam provides a flatter surface while the memory foam has more contoured support. There is a high and a low end to match your needs for height while sleeping. Finally, there is a pleated surface for more air circulation that also reduces pressure points, and keeps you cooler.

So many choices! I lie awake thinking about them.

Let us know your thoughts on the many angles of sleep. How old is your mattress? How do you shop for one? And how many pillows do you use? Tell us about your favorite one? How often do you replace your pillow? Post your comments to continue the conversation.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Partnership with Progressive Health Center

We are so happy to let you know about the Progressive Health Center, located in Englewood, Colorado. Chairperson and CEO, Sue Goodin, leads this non-profit organization dedicated to helping individuals through complementary and holistic therapies that integrate with conventional medical treatments. These therapies are not designed to replace traditional medicine, but rather to work in conjunction with them. Utilizing a team of health professionals, trained both in traditional and alternative medicine, the Progressive Health Center offers individualized treatments. Sue and her team also focus on education through a robust series of seminars and training sessions.

Client-advocate and care coordinator, Mary Frances Collins, RN, BSN, CN, tells us more about their approach and results in her web blog below. Be sure to check out the link to Progressive Heath Center in our Resources section. You will also find there a host of resources designed to help you address numerous needs and questions. Please also feel free to contact us if you have specific questions or are in need of finding information or resources. We love helping you find solutions to life’s challenges!

Be sure to register to attend the “Beyond Pain” conference sponsored by Progressive Health Center to be held at the Denver Athletic Club on August 25, 2007. For more information, call the Center at 303-788-9399.

The Progressive Health Center, located on the Swedish Medical Center campus in Englewood, Colorado is doing just that. Envisioned, developed, and managed by Sue Goodin, MA, the center’s mission is to provide the highest caliber complementary and holistic therapies and integrate these services with conventional medical treatments.

While conventional medicine addresses the physical needs of the body, complementary and holistic therapies provide services that address the needs of the whole person; body, mind, spirit, and emotions. In addition to assisting those who want to improve their general health and well-being, these therapies provide viable options for individuals with chronic conditions such as stress and anxiety, chronic pain, Multiple Sclerosis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and many other forms of dis-ease.

Recently, a woman was referred to our center by her daughter in New York, who found the PHC on the Internet. The woman was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and was adversely affected by the medications she was taking. When she first consulted with our registered nurse, she rated her pain “fifty” on a scale of 1 to 10. Since receiving acupuncture treatments, she rates her pain “three” on a scale of 1 to 10, and has reduced her need for medications.

Other complementary and holistic therapies offered at the center include therapeutic massage, Tai Yi (an ancient form of Chinese energy work), Jin Shin Jyutsu (an ancient form of Japanese energy work), meditation, hypnotherapy, counseling, stress management, and yoga/pilates. Contact the Progressive health Center at 303-788-9399 or check out the web site at progressivehealthcenter.org for more detailed information about complementary and holistic therapies.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Rolling Walkers: Another Way to Be Unlimited!

We see our share of rolling walkers or rollators as they have been called by some manufacturers. Walkers with wheels are a great invention that have enhanced the lives of many, restoring mobility and independence to them as age, illness or injury impeded the ability to walk easily and without assistance. The first rolling walker appeared in the late 1970s as manufacturers in Germany experimented with the application of swivel wheels to a basic walker frame. The model evolved into the A-Frame four-wheeled walker somewhere in the late 1980s, early 1990s and has persisted as a preferred mobility device for over 15 years. Outfitted with brakes, this piece of equipment is ubiquitous in assisted living residences, nursing homes and rehab centers.

Requiring relatively low maintenance makes the four-wheeled walker desirable. Its functional design, including a seat and basket, provides comfort and portability. It is understandable that many people never think about caring for the rollator once it is in hand. We see our share of these rolling walkers to be sure. And often they are in need of some TLC.

Here are some clues that your four-wheeled walker (or that of a loved one) should have some maintenance:
  • Pulls to one direction or the other.
  • Squeaks or clicks when operated.
  • Brakes do not apply easily or completely.
  • Brakes drag and do not release fully.
  • Cables are worn or torn.
  • Wheels or tires are worn, torn or pitted.
Other safety concerns need to be considered when purchasing a rolling walker. While the seat is a wonderful and helpful attraction, the process of sitting on the walker can be dangerous if the individual fails to lock the brakes first before sitting. We find this to be one of the more difficult habits to cultivate when using a rolling walker. The other temptation is for individuals to sit and “scoot” along with their feet. Often, however, because of the way the seat is affixed to the walker, individuals propel themselves backward. The walker is not intended to be used this way and therefore does not have the stability required. We have heard of several who have tipped over and injured themselves with this action. It is also not advised to push anyone while s/he is seated on a rolling walker for the same reasons. The unit is meant to be used while walking as a stabilizing and assistive device.

We were happy to discover the Nexus III when we opened. This is a rollator manufactured by Dana Douglas, a Canadian company. Its design, however, is completely unique. Instead of the traditional A-frame, the Nexus has a vertical front leg making the unit significantly more stable. This feature also allows the walker to fold and store easily. Uniquely, this walker can also be partially folded to access narrow doorways, for example, without compromising its stability. We carry the cable-less version at Capabilities and find it to be a popular and satisfying purchase for many in the market for a rolling walker.

If you or someone you know has a rolling walker, tell us more about their experiences with it. If you have interest in learning more about the Nexus, email us for more conversation about it. You can also read more about it in our Featured Products section. If you have service or repair questions, visit our FAQs or contact us.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Medicare, Capped Rentals and Other Mysteries

As we continue our series on understanding Medicare, we focus this week on the phenomenon called “capped rentals.” We mentioned them earlier when we spoke about how Medicare covers manual wheelchairs. It’s a kind of “rent to own” program, designed to deal with the fact that people sometimes need certain types of equipment temporarily. Hospital beds, also known as patient beds, also fall into this category, as do TENS units, patient lifts and oxygen.

Here’s how the “capped rental” process works. You still need all the documentation required from your physician explaining why you need the equipment. As outlined in our previous blogs, the physician’s chart notes must clarify the diagnosis and length of need as well as other details of your condition. For items specified as “capped rentals you work directly with the provider or dealer of the equipment who sets up a rental agreement. If you qualify for Medicare coverage, you have up to 13 months of coverage from Medicare. As with all Medicare coverage, providers/dealers are authorized to bill Medicare either through assignment or non-assignment. Assignment means that the provider/dealer is reimbursed directly by Medicare for up to 80% of the “capped rental” costs. Non-assignment means that you, the consumer, are reimbursed. You pay for the rental of the equipment directly to the provider/dealer and you receive the reimbursement of up to 80% of the rental costs from Medicare directly. In all cases there are agreements that specify terms of the capped rental arrangement. The provider/dealer explains which terms (assigned or non-assigned) and works with you and your physician to complete the necessary paperwork.

After 10 months of reimbursement from Medicare you have the option to buy the equipment. If you decide to purchase the item, the supplier transfers ownership of the item to you following the 13th rental month. The decision to buy the equipment changes the rental payments to installment payments. Remember, if you decide to continue renting the equipment, Medicare will stop paying for the equipment following the 13th month, except for certain service and maintenance.

It is usually quite clear after that 10 month period whether you will continue needing the equipment. It is important to discuss these needs with your physician and the provider/dealer with whom you are working. At Capabilities, we stay in touch with our customers through the billing process. We make reminder calls when the monthly rental period is due for renewal and conduct the renewal process over the phone through the use of credit card transactions. Each provider/dealer will have a specific process to follow.

If you do not have need of the equipment after the 10 month rental period, you are obligated to return it to the provider/dealer. Your physician or other health care professional will help you determine your needs.

At Capabilities we rent manual wheelchairs, TENS units, patient beds (semi-electric only are covered by Medicare), and patient lifts. As a Medicare provider, we accept these items on non-assignment, which means that we expect payment for the rental term from you before delivery of the equipment and submit billing on a complimentary basis to Medicare. As with all Medicare claims, we help you and your physician complete the extensive paperwork required to determine your eligibility.

Please contact us through email or a post here to ask your questions about capped rentals, Medicare and any other insurance-related question you might have. At Capabilities we pride ourselves on being a source of information and resources as well as the provider of one of the largest selections of products for health, comfort and independence.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Humor and Resilience

Laugh! Go ahead, just laugh. It’s amazing to me just how many of life’s natural processes are now the subject of intense scrutiny and analysis. Take laughter, for example. The study of laughter is now well considered and here are some facts that are not disputed.
  • The average human laughs (or does some form of this activity) about 17 times a day.
  • Laughter is contagious. You know this one to be true.
  • Laughter almost always during pauses at the end of sentences or phrases.
  • Laughter strengthens human connections.
  • The physiological study of laughter is called gelotology.
  • Laughter balances the immune system.
  • There is an actual practice now called “laughter therapy.”
There are plenty of laughter specialists out there. We are happy to know one in our own backyard. It is our pleasure this week to introduce you to Lynn Grasberg, a.k.a. Penelope the Clown,. She was born on April Fool’s Day, which probably has something to do with her choice of professions. She is the former director of the San Francisco School of ReMirthing and is currently Chief Comic Officer for Humor Relations Associates. As a keynote speaker, corporate trainer and presentation coach, she helps her clients use humor to handle serious issues. We struck up a partnership with Lynn shortly after we opened Capabilities, offering our community space to her for classes and coaching sessions. What a delight it is for us once a week for the eight weeks of her classes to hear laughter, big and hearty, pouring through the walls into the store. We can’t help but smile.

This Saturday, July 21 at 4 p.m., Lynn hosts an event open to the public. Laugh Yourself Healthy is an hour and a half of mirthful activities where Lynn is joined by students from her most recent classes to entertain and delight. It’s an event not to be missed, especially if you are feeling especially grumpy. You will leave smiling and perhaps even laughing out loud! See our Events page for details.

This blog is excerpted from Lynn Grasberg’s book, Bounce Back! The New Play Ethic at Work (book and music CD available at Capabilities).

Humor: [n.] a healthy perspective. The ability to notice the difference between what IS and “what’s sposed to be” . . . and find it amusing.

I’m a humorist because I’m on a serious mission – to help adults recover our ability to laugh and play together in order to:
  • Stop worrying.
  • Honor and cherish all children including the child that lives inside each grown-up.
  • Make better decisions and policies under rapidly changing conditions.
  • Work together more harmoniously.
  • Have FUN while getting things done.
Inclusive Humor
I specialize in inclusive humor – the kind that means everybody “gets the joke” and no one is the butt of it. Inclusive humor connects people and promotes collaboration. In contrast, abusive (“put-down”) humor evokes laughter at someone else’s expense and contributes to an atmosphere of veiled criticism, fear and isolation.

Humor helps us have perspective on our tragi-comic dramas. Not to mention, boring meetings. Ah, perspective. So easy to lose while multi-tasking in the muck.

We all have the ability to shift our perspective, although sometimes it feels like we need a two-ton truck to help move us when we get stuck. Humans are amazing though. We can do it, especially with practice. Humor helps.

Nobody is required to be a victim to his or her own bad attitude.

Our ability to flexibly shift our viewpoints is a learnable skill that has positive repercussions on our health, our ability to communicate with difficult people (especially ourselves) and our capacity to solve “impossible problems.”

The following two humor techniques are the best things I learned when I went to clown school. Since most of you probably didn’t go to clown school, I’m happy to share these remedial techniques with you. Once you start applying them, you may wish you learned them in kindergarten.

Enjoy and broadcast your mistakes.

Most of us were taught that it’s bad to make mistakes so we cover them up. Of course, this is VERY STRESSFUL and usually makes things worse.

Instead of minimizing your mistake, make a BIG deal out of it. Point it out with an enthusiastic “Oops!” and enjoy the event with others rather than feel mortified by yourself.

The Oops Advantage
When you let other people know about your mistakes, you are more likely to get help. (You’ll never get any help if it’s a big secret. Besides, your willingness to show what’s going on with you might open the door for other people to do the same.)

If you practice saying Oops when you don’t need it, it’s easier to remember when you do. All together now: OOPS!

Celebrate EVERYTHING (starting with yourself).

When you go to the circus (and admit it, doesn’t your office sometimes seem like a circus?), there is a find old tradition that we expect as audiences and that we NEED in order to feel that the show is complete. It’s the applause part.

After someone does a death-defying feat or a ridiculous trick, they raise their arms, the music declares “Ta-DAH!” and everybody claps, sometimes even standing to do so.

Create a Culture of Appreciation
We are constantly surrounded by exhibits of beauty, courage, mastery and kindness, but many of these events go unacknowledged. You can do something about this! When you see a natural wonder (an incredible sunset! A co-worker pulling of an amazing project! Your child cleaning up a mess without even being asked!), draw attention to it by point to it and ringing out an exuberant “Ta-DAH!”

Then lead the applause.

For more humor techniques and the principles, pick up a copy of Lynn’s Bounce Back! book and music CD at Capabilities.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Sleep, Sleep, Sleep

How are you sleeping? Most Americans report difficulty sleeping as I wrote in last week’s blog. We received some emails from people who have overcome sleep disruption and we gathered some of their advice, along with that of some experts. There is some common ground of acceptance when it comes to basic things like this:

Institute rituals that get associated with sleep.
Choosing the same go-to-bed and get-up times help set your internal clock and keep it ticking. Sleep disruptions multiply when you change these times. Your body can never properly adjust to its own internal rhythms. Another piece of advice by the experts is to keep your bed as a place for sleep or sex. Avoid working in bed or worrying there. They say to get up if you can’t sleep and do something else until you feel sleepy.

Wind down before you get into bed, so you are relaxed.
For some this means putting work away, turning off TV, getting a mini-massage from the one you love, taking a warm (not hot) bath, incorporating standard rituals, such as brushing your teeth, putting on face cream or lotion, setting the clock (which should not have a bright face on it, by the way, to shine light on you while you are trying to sleep).

Choose the right mattress/bed combination.
There are so many choices of sleep furniture today. It is a bit mind boggling. Shopping for beds is not the easiest thing, although I note that some manufacturers and dealers give 30-day trial periods. I’m sure they have tested the waters a lot before making such an offer. A mattress is not something that can be repackaged and sold as new again, if you know what I mean. In any case, many experts say the mattress should be firm, but not rock hard. I find in my conversations on this subject that firmness is definitely a personal thing. You will have to experiment. If it’s been 15 or more years since you have purchased a new mattress, you might want to consider a new one. Many folks replace them more frequently, and I know more than a few who cannot remember when they bought a new mattress. Probably time for a new one if that’s the case! Check out our Featured Product this week for another option to consider. The adjustable bed helps you find the right position regardless of your situation.

Eat or drink the right thing.
You’ve heard no doubt that alcohol can rob you of sound sleep. While it initially acts as a depressant, it ultimately is a stimulant and gives restless and fitful sleep. Caffeine is another culprit. Wisdom says don’t drink anything with caffeine after about 2 or 3 in the afternoon. Milk or herbal teas are preferred by those who have conquered sleeplessness. Having a very light snack (e.g., yogurt, a cracker with peanut butter, some cereal) is on the short list of ways to induce sleep and the stimulation of growth hormone while you sleep. Growth hormone is a subject all unto itself these days. Maybe we’ll do a blog on that one soon.

Finding the right sleep position.
You’ve heard by now of sleep apnea. It’s one of the most frequently diagnosed conditions these days now that we are all more sensitized to the fact that snoring is not just a natural phenomenon, especially the gasping, can’t-get-enough-air kind of snoring. If you suspect you or a loved one has sleep apnea, call one of the sleep programs in your local cities. Spending a night in a sleep lab can help you determine whether you have the condition or not, and if so, what degree you have and what the appropriate treatments might be. For many sleeping on the back helps alleviate sore muscles in the lower back. For others, side sleeping helps reduce snoring. You probably know what position works best for you, but you might not know if you snore. Be sure to ask whoever is within hearing distance so you can start to take it seriously.

Exercise during the day.
Without a doubt the single most helpful thing people say about overcoming sleep disruption is incorporating a regular exercise routine into their lives. With so many of us occupied with jobs that are mentally and emotionally draining, but not physically demanding, we underestimate sometimes just how important it is to get the muscles going.

See your doctor.
If you have tried everything in the book, it’s time to see your doctor. There could be medical conditions contributing to your sleeplessness. The recently named, Restless Leg Syndrome, for example, has always existed, no doubt. But with the name comes the prescriptions for it. You will want to be sure to share everything you have tried with your physician to be sure s/he understands all your symptoms.

Please send us an email or post your comments on sleep and your favorite remedies.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

It’s Independence Day! Get Going Again!

Since we opened Capabilities, Independence Day has new meaning for us. Of course, the Fourth of July always reminds us here in this country of our many freedoms. We appreciate the idea of freedom, mobility and independence even more now that we know so many folks who face physical challenges every day.

One of the services we offer is conducting home evaluations. We got a call just the other day from someone who wanted help determining whether her mother could safely stay at home. While that decision requires a multifaceted approach, we can help when it comes to analyzing just how safe (or not) the home is. It’s obvious that the condition of the individual, including diagnosis and prognosis, and other relevant medical information needs to be at the center of the decision-making process. Assuming some level of independence is indicated, you can then turn to someone like us to help assess what kinds of aids will provide comfort and safety.

“Aging in place,” as the phenomenon is now more commonly called, is on the radar screen. So is “universal home design.” Watch our Events for an exciting one in the Fall as we join forces with those in the building community to provide a seminar open to the public. We’ll keep you posted on details and as soon as we have the date we’ll get it on our Events listing.

Let’s consider some of the more obvious aspects of the home by listing some of the questions we help families answer.

Outside the Home:
  • Does access to the home require climbing steps?
  • Can the individual maneuver stair climbing?
  • If so, are there support rails?
  • Is the lighting sufficient?
  • Are there tripping hazards leading to the point of entry?
  • Is there a safety door?
  • If so, is there an easy-to-use opener to control closure while the individual is unlocking the main door?
  • Does the individual require an automatic door opener of some kind?
  • Does the individual require a remote system to turn on lights, open doors, ensure safe entry?

Inside the Home:
  • Are there thresholds?
  • Are the doorways wide enough to accommodate mobility equipment (e.g., wheelchair, walker, scooter, power wheelchair or other assistive device)?
  • Is lighting sufficient?
  • Are there tripping hazards (e.g., stacks and piles blocking easy access; pull cords on curtains or blinds)
  • Is the house multi-leveled?
  • If so, can the individual manage stair climbing safely?

We then look at each room in the house with a similar list of questions. The evaluation can take up to a couple of hours, depending on the circumstances. We ask that someone in a care giving capacity also be around to answer questions that the individual him/herself might not be able to ask.

We will revisit this topic frequently. Be sure to post your questions or email your questions. We will be sure to answer them in subsequent blogs. Also, check out my earlier blog on the subject, I'm Not Waiting Until My House Is My Enemy.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Featured Product: Golden Comfort Luxury Adjustable Bed

Shopping for beds is always an interesting task. It’s quite a difficult one, too. How on earth do you choose something that you will spend hours a day in just by laying on it in the store? We found the same problem as we hunted for attractive adjustable beds to offer among our array of comfort and practical products. We did the same thing you do. We went to the trade shows featuring beds and threw ourselves upon them…over and over again! I was tempted to spend the night at one of the places we visited.

We chose the Golden Comfort Luxury Adjustable Bed over many in the marketplace for a couple of key reasons. First and foremost, it is one comfy place to lay your weary bones regardless of age, health and circumstance. Golden provides two types of mattresses, including a Visco-foam upgrade that fits the bill for many.

Next we looked for expert craftsmanship. Because anything that has motors in it can be a headache sometimes, we wanted to go with a company we knew and trusted. Golden has been in the furniture business for years. They have combined that expertise to deliver high quality products for everyone, including those with mobility challenges. Available in all sizes, this luxury adjustable bed features independent foot and head operation controlled by a single, low voltage, incredibly silent motor. On some of the models you can get their state-of-the-art dual motor WAVE motion massage system with up to three different wave selections and infinite wave intensity adjustments. We had this one on display for a while and we couldn’t keep the staff off it!

So, we picked this brand because it offers more options, more settings and the most positions all controlled with a hand control that is actually easy to understand and use. More standard features include heavy-duty casters, backboard brackets so you can attach your own headboard, and wood trim skirting.

All in all, this adjustable luxury bed is a perfect fit if you are looking for comfort and practicality, or for a soothing solution to some of life’s annoying challenges. For example, here are just some of the conditions and situations for which an adjustable bed might be a great solution:

• Recovery from just about any type of surgery
• Weakness in legs and hips caused by stroke, MS, Parkinson’s Disease or any other neuron-muscular condition
• Edema, or swelling of the limbs, especially feet and legs
• Breathing conditions such as COPD, emphysema and sleep apnea

If you are in the Denver Metro area, stop by for a test nap! Otherwise, contact us for more information and testimonials from those who are sleeping much more restfully.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


This week we introduce you to Seth Braun of High Energy Health and author of Healthy, Fast and Cheap. Seth is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, affiliated with Columbia University. He is a certified Holistic Health Counselor with the American Association of Drugless Practitioners and practices at the Mandala Integrative Medicine Clinic in Boulder. We were struck this week by an email that Seth sent around with his musings on the just-released film, Sicko, by Michael Moore. Whether you love or hate Michael Moore, the film provides enough fuel for hours of conversation, conversation we should all be having, according to Seth in his note. With his permission, we publish his thoughts this week as part of our guest blogger series. Please post your comments on our American health care system and any other thoughts you might have to continue the dialogue.

I am inspired. More than ever, I am ready to serve the world. I am sad and excited at the same time. I just saw SICKO with the founder of the Mandala Clinic, Marco Lam. It was agreed that we would recommend the film to our patients. Yeah, the film is one sided and over emotionalized, but the basic premise is unarguable. American health care is corrupt. Any politician or economist would be an idiot to try and argue otherwise.
Here is the gist of the film:
  • Our health care ranks incredibly low internationally in terms of qualitative and quantitative analysis.
  • 50 million people do not have health insurance (including yours truly!).
  • Health Insurance companies actively seek ways to deny you coverage, reverse coverage or get out of their agreement to cover.
  • American 9/11 rescue workers, either not employed by the government, or unable to claim benefits from their insurance went to Cuba and were treated there for free!
  • French, Canadian and English health insurance is free, effective and well run. (A woman from Detroit drives her kids to Canada to get free health care.)
  • One of the rescue workers from 9/11 with a lung condition bought an inhaler for $.05 in Cuba that cost her $120.00 back home.
  • Big Pharma and the Insurance Companies have 4 lobbyists to every 1 congressperson and have given contribution any where from $25K to $900,000K per person.
  • The French may not be healthier because of red wine, but because of 5 week vacations, paid, by law, and additional vacation time paid for recovery from major illness. (That is my own deduction.)
So here are my own set of provocative questions:
  • Where will American health care go in the next 5 years?
  • How much responsibility does the individual have for their health?
  • What is real health insurance?
The answer to that last one is what I do. I provide the real health insurance. I am stunned at the number of people I speak to that shrink at paying out of pocket for the best education in the world on healthy diet and lifestyle, yet they are paying hundreds a month for mediocre health insurance.

If you want to stay out of the health insurance / pharmaceutical / surgical model, take the precautions to live a healthy, high energy life; eat a local, plant-based diet, breath deep, practice good hygiene, get outside, move your body, love yourself and one another, develop a connection to God or principles such as compassion, kindness, integrity, willingness, acceptance, intelligence, love and honesty, see preventative health care specialists, work with an acupuncturist, chiropractor or osteopath to move stuck energy in the body and dedicate yourself to finding your path of service to the world.

That is my prescription for health. Take two and call me in the morning. And if you need any more help or know any one that does, I am always here, ready to help those who are ready, willing and able to take the next step in claiming their health.

High Energy Health
Author of Healthy, Fast and Cheap

To contact Seth, visit his website HighEnergyHealthCounselor.com.