Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Come Party With Us!

If you’re in the Denver Metro area, be sure to make your way to Capabilities on Friday, September 28th and Saturday, the 29th, to join in our celebration and appreciation for these two years in the community. We have so many to thank we have spent all month offering the most wonderful seminars, terrific sale prices, great conversations and treats. The big party kicks off on Friday when we open at 9 a.m. And that’s just the beginning. See just what we have planned in Events. We’ll have plenty of good food, beverages, and prizes galore. Here is a sampling of just what will be going on.

On Friday
11 – 3 Vein Testing with Troy Briddle from Juzo
11 – 3 Brain Fitness Software Demos
11:30 – 4: 30 Foot Reflexology Demonstrations with Inga Tomasino
Noon – 3 Demonstrations of the Colorado Cycle with Ed Kalin from Rand-Scot,
Inc., a Fort Collins based company
And Early Afternoon Tea Sippings

On Saturday
11 – 3 Vein Testing with Troy Briddle from Juzo
11:30 – 4:30 Foot Reflexology Demonstrations with Inga Tomasino
Noon – 3 Janska Comfort Fashions with Jan Erickson, creator of Janska Clothing
Afternoon Brain Fitness Demos

And Early Afternoon Tea Sippings

Our wonderful prize line up includes a wide array of gifts from our suppliers and vendors:

Blood Pressure Cuff and Stethoscope from Graham-Field
Travel Transport Chair from Drive Medical
Two Air Back Supports from Michael Ignatz Sales
$50 Dillard’s Gift Card from Drive Medical
$50 Gift Card from FLA Orthopedics
Gift Card from Golden

And generous gifts from our Brookhill Shopping Center colleagues
Bottle of Wine from Brookhill Liquors
Gift Basket of Care Products from Super Cuts
Gift Certificate for a Free Manicure from Reality Nails
An Introductory Lesson Package from Fred Astaire

And our Grand Prize: A Pride Reclining Lift Chair courtesy of Capabilities!

We hope you will stop by so we can say thank you in person!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Arthritis: Taking Care of Your Joints

This week we pick up on a topic that nearly 46 million Americans know about, arthritis. Arthritis is the overarching term for over 100 conditions affecting the joints and the areas around the joints. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and affects nearly 21 million. It is a degenerative disease in which the cartilage around the joints deteriorates, causing the bone to rub against bone. (We’ll talk about some of the others in future blogs.) There was a time when this condition was considered a consequence of aging. No more. The Arthritis Foundation reports that researchers have recognized and are studying the impact of genetic defects, musculoskeletal conditions, overuse and injury. People of all ages and abilities suffer the pain of arthritis. If you have it, you know how limiting its effects can be. Only heart disease ranks above arthritis as a cause for work interruptions and disabilities. More women than men are affected. Over half of those affected with arthritis do not believe anything can be done to help them. We will discuss treatments in subsequent blogs as well.

First and foremost, though, let’s talk about how to protect your joints. It may seem obvious how to take care of ourselves, but it’s not always easy to do the simple stuff the way our busy lives take us. And with health care costs soaring, it is clear we all do not do what’s good for us! For example, maintaining a sensible body weight. The pressure and strain of too much weight on our joints can do a body in too soon. Exercising helps with the weight and it is a must to keep joints healthy. Strengthening the muscles around the joints ensures protection around those joints and prevents the cartilage from thinning and weakening. Listen to your body. If something hurts while you’re doing it, stop! Ease into activities you have not done before. Be especially wary of the “weekend warrior” phenomenon. You know who you are. You strap on the in-line skates to glide around the park on a fine Indian summer weekend. Only trouble is, you have not skated all summer. Ouch! Be careful. When you do take up something that requires moving at speeds through the power of your own body, wear a helmet or knee and elbow pads. When you fall (and you most likely will at some point), the potential damage to those joint areas will be minimized if you have protected them. So far, all sensible stuff, right? And you know all this, right? Me, too. And yet, we pummel our joints all the time.

In my reading on this topic I found a suggestion I had not heard before. “Use the big joints.” When lifting, pulling or pushing, focus on using the biggest and strongest joints and muscles, knees, hips, shoulders, rather than hands, wrists, feet and ankles. Maybe we do this intuitively, but when I read it, I stopped to think more about how I had recently moved some displays in the store, or carried the grandkids. That may explain why my wrists and thumbs are a bit sore this week. I used the wrong parts.

The other thing is to change position frequently. You know this, especially after you’ve stayed at your desk too long, or in that economy seat on your last trip, the window seat no less. Staying in one position too long stiffens most of us. It makes us more vulnerable to repetitive motion problems, too, which affect joints and the tendons around them. I’m reminded of the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. It’s one of our jobs to stay limber and resilient, I think. Consciously engaging in activities that provide a range of motion will, the experts say, keep those joints strong and healthy. For example, Pam is now working with a specialist in neuron-kinetics to learn new ways of moving as she looks for alternative treatments for her osteoporosis. She will write more about these treatments in a future blog and we will also hear from her practitioner as well. What are some of the things you do to stay flexible? Post your comments here.

It’s always a good idea to talk to others and to ask for help, too. In fact, if you have some thoughts on the topic of arthritis, take a minute now and post them here. Let us know how you handle your arthritis. Next time we will share your ideas along with the latest suggestions we have uncovered in our research.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tea Tasting: A Huge Success!

Last Friday, Capabilities hosted a tea tasting with Rob Cooke from The Teaspot and Sue Wood, Activities Director at The Retreat at Church Ranch, and former resident of the U.K. Sue came in period British attire and offered scones and cucumber sandwiches to our guests as she spoke about the history of afternoon tea. Both Sue and Rob covered the history of tea. Did you know, for example, that all tea comes from the same species of plant in Asia? Guests had the opportunity to taste several types and flavors of tea, including Red Rocks, a specially mixed naturally caffeine-free tea that I adore!

Here are just a few of tea facts shared at our event:
  • Tea contains antioxidants that protect our bodies from the nasty stuff, like pollution, and other insults that come our way during the course of a day. Some studies suggest tea even helps fight cancer.
  • Tea has less caffeine than coffee.
  • Tea helps keep arteries smooth and clog-free. A study from the Netherlands found a 70% lower risk of fatal heart attack in people who drank tea at least two to three cups of black tea daily compared to non-tea drinkers.
  • Tea protects your bones.
  • Tea contains fluoride and tannins that may keep plaque at bay.
  • Tea bolsters our immune defenses.
  • Tea helps keep you hydrated, especially if you choose caffeine-free teas.
  • Tea does not have any calories.
  • Tea increases metabolism.
If you missed the tea tasting, not to worry. We will have sippings of these delicious teas at our two-day anniversary party later this month. Be sure to see our full schedule in Events. We will also invite Rob and Sue again at the start of the new year, so be sure to watch this space.

If you attended the event, we welcome your reactions and impressions. Please post your comments here!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Afternoon Tea: A Brief History

Tea is in…again. It keeps making a comeback. There are tea rooms springing up. And even some of my die hard coffee drinking friends find themselves making room for a cup of tea. Most of us have a hint of the history of tea. Its roots are Asian. While the British have made a lovely ritual of afternoon tea, they did not know about tea until the 1700s. In fact, the ritual itself began when Ann, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, looked for a way to curb her hunger and low energy in the late afternoons. This was already early 19th century when she happened upon tea and a light meal, scones and bread and butter sandwiches. She liked the idea so much she asked her friends over. They spread the practice with their friends and soon others in the upper classes were incorporating the ritual into their days. Eventually, the practice spread to the middle and lower classes. Tea rooms opened and a business was born. Interestingly enough, the notion of “high tea” grew from the lower classes who used the late afternoon meal as a main meal and introduced meats and potatoes.

Capabilities is hosting an afternoon tea on Friday, September 14 at 2 p.m. We bought a new collection of gourmet and health teas from The Teaspot in Boulder, Colorado. We thought what better way to sample the teas but with a few yummy scones and cucumber sandwiches. We asked Sue Wood, Activities Director at The Retreat at Church Ranch and former U.K. resident, to join us with her stories of afternoon tea. She and her mother are providing the traditional fare. Rob Cooke of The Teaspot will host the tasting with samples of their delicious collection.

So, pause a bit on Friday and come on over to Capabilities if you are in the metro Denver area. You might enjoy it so much you’ll start your own tradition of afternoon tea…just like the seventh Duchess of Bedford!

We’ll do more on tea in the coming weeks as we focus on its origins and health benefits. In the meantime, tell us about your favorite tea and goodie to go with it.

See all the details for this Friday’s event (and others) and RSVP for this unique Capabilities experience in our Events section.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Guest blog: Foot Massage

This week we are delighted to introduce you to Inga Tomasino, EFT Practitioner Advanced. EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique, introduced by Stanford Engineering graduate, Gary Craig, in lifelong pursuit of personal well-being. Negative emotional experiences disrupt the energy meridians that run through our body. The physical changes we feel from those disruptions, like nausea or anxiety, become attached to the memory of that experience and affect the way we see the world until we heal that disruption. EFT realigns the energy paths, meridians as they are called, with respect to negative memories, disconnects the physical discomfort that we attach to it, and quite often removes the resulting symptoms. Improvements have been shown in a wide variety of issues, including personal performance (weight loss, abundance), emotional challenges, depression, severe trauma (post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD), grief issues, children's behavior, relationships, migraines, phobias, addictions, physical disease. Inga practices Reflexology using this methodology and brings her 12 years of experience to Capabilities during our anniversary celebration this month. Look for Inga on Friday, September 28 from 11:00 – 4:30. She will be at our store offering demonstrations of her technique to anyone who wants to feel the “ahhhhh” of relief! You can read more about Inga at her website ninevoices.com.

My first foot massage was in the year 1994 in the country of England. Ouch! Oh, that hurts! Hey, what do you think you are doing? Oweeeee – my eyes are watering…then bliss, followed by giggles, a feeling of floating on air and wondering…..how can a foot massage make me feel so good! I want to learn how to do this!
So what about your feet? This is a common question I ask as a Certified Reflexologist practicing for 12 years. An often over-looked area of the human body that is crucial to health, your feet, when taken care of properly, can aide in keeping the body healthy. Since the entire body is mapped out on your foot, once learned you can identify the area(s) that need looking after.
I believe in taking care of the whole person, not just physical but also mental and emotional. Along with reflexology I also practice psychotherapy in the form of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), Reiki, chakra balancing, past life therapies, co-authored a book on the Enneagram system offering coaching, as well as being a nurse assistant.
Look for me Friday, September 28th from 11:00 am to 4:30 pm and get a demonstration of YOUR FEET.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Swelling Feet or Hands? This Might Be More Than You Think.

UPDATE: We are holding vein testing sessions September 28 and 29 11am-1pm as part of our Second Anniversary celebrations. No appointment necessary and it only takes a few minutes. This test can help determine whether you are at risk for potential circulation problems. Troy Briddle from Juzo, manufacturer of high quality compression garments, conducts the testing and answers your questions. Free, of course.

Once we reach a certain age, all kinds of things start showing up. If you are around that certain age, you know what I’m talking about. One of the surprises that might appear on the scene is unexplained swelling. Usually, it’s the result of overwork, a strain on certain parts of the body and with a little TLC, things go back to normal pretty quickly. However, there is a condition called lymphedema that is worth taking a close look at. If you have lymphedema, you will want to know how to care for it.

Lymphedema is a common cause of leg or arm swelling due to the collection of too much lymph fluid in a particular part of the body. Nearly 1,000,000 Americans are affected by this condition. In fact, worldwide figures are approaching 100 million. This condition might cause pain; it almost always causes limitations in a person’s ability to use arms or legs and increases the risk of certain infections. Most people who suffer with lymphedema have some kind of emotional distress as well.

The lymphatic system plays a significant role in our immune function and circulation. There are lymph vessels just under the skin which meet up with lymph nodes located in our necks, armpits, and groin. The job of lymph vessels is to move fluid out of the tissues. Since we are made up primarily of water and other fluids, it is not unusual that sometimes too much fluid will collect in a certain part of the body. Lymph vessels help drain the extra fluid, which often contains waste products, bacteria, dead cells and large protein molecules. These waste products are carried to the lymph nodes where they are broken down and eliminated along with other toxins in our bodies. The protein rich fluid is transported back to the heart to rejoin circulation. If these tubes become plugged or broken, these extra fluids build up and cause the part of the body that is not draining to swell.

There are two essential types of lymphedema: primary and secondary. Primary is caused by malformation of the lymphatic system. They are most common in women and be present at birth or develop later, during puberty or pregnancy. Primary lymphedema is most common in the legs, but might occur in the arms or torso.

Secondary lymphedema is a result of damage to the lymphatic system from cancer, infections, surgery, certain injuries, radiation therapy, insect bites. You will see secondary lymphedema most commonly in the arms, especially after mastectomies or lumpectomies with radiation. Removal of the lymph nodes almost always leads to lymphedema.

You will notice the first symptoms of lymphedema when swelling occurs, swelling characterized by “pitting.” You will recognize this when the skin is depressed for a few seconds and the indentation does not immediately disappear. Other symptoms may include a tightness or heaviness in the affected area or changes in the texture of the skin. Jewelry and clothing might feel tighter. Your body will start working harder to circulate this build up of fluid. When it no longer can handle it, swelling continues.

It is rarely possible to “cure” lymphedema, but it can usually be treated with success. Simple procedures, such as elevating the swollen limb whenever possible will help drain the excess fluid back into the blood. Sometimes the use of pumps to squeeze the swollen body part or massage to push fluid out of the swollen areas are techniques used by some. Wearing compression garments, tight fitting wraps around the affected part of the body, is the common approach to treating lymphedema. Graduated compression garments replace bandages that were applied in earlier times.

Some individuals wear compression garments for the rest of their lives to manage swelling. Others use compression garments when they are engaged in repetitive motion activities, cleaning, working in the garden, exercising. Many individuals, even those who do not have chronic lymphedema, like wearing low level compression when they fly or have to stand on their feet all day. These garments help keep the swelling down, improve circulation and prevent lymph fluid from re-accumulating in the affected area. With serious lymphedema, there are also special compression garments to wear at night, designed for non-ambulatory states.

Living with lymphedema, as with any condition, requires attention and consciousness. Here are common tips to follow:
  • Take care of your skin. Keep it clean and dry, but be gentle.
  • Wash hands frequently and apply lotion afterwards. Avoid over-drying skin.
  • Avoid injury or overexertion of the affected area.
  • Wear compression support garments as prescribed during waking hours, removing when you sleep. Repeat skin care tips before and after wearing the garments.
  • Avoid blood pressure cuffs, needle sticks, injections or procedures on the affected limb.
  • Wear a “lymphedema” alert bracelet or necklace.
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing or jewelry
  • Don’t carry heavy purses, shoulder bags or luggage.
  • Avoid excess heat, such as hot showers, direct sun, hot tubs and saunas. Do not get sunburned.
  • Use an electric razor.
  • Avoid cutting into the cuticles when trimming fingernails or toenails.
  • Maintain normal body weight.
  • Exercise daily as your ability allows.
  • Drink plenty of water
As I mentioned earlier, wearing graduated compression stockings when traveling is a good idea for everyone. You might notice more swelling when you drive or fly for long hours. Light compression socks will help with circulation while you are sedentary. If you have lymphedema, your physician will prescribe compression garments. You will need to be fitted for these garments so you will have the appropriate fit. We are certified fitters at Capabilities. Be sure to contact us if you have lymphedema and have questions or concerns about fitting or purchasing compression garments.

Caring for compression garments is fairly easy. Wash them daily in mild detergent. Depending on the brand you purchase, you might be able to machine wash and dry. Do not use fabric softeners, chlorine or bleach which might damage the garments. At Capabilities, we will give you complete information concerning the care of your garments. We carry several brands so you have the choice you prefer as with all purchases.

Putting on compression garments requires some practice, especially garments with high levels of compression. Wearing rubber gloves usually helps with grip and slide. They also protect the garments from fingernails, rings and other jewelry snags. There are numerous tools that help putting on and taking off garments easy and comfortable. As you may know by now, we focus on your comfort at Capabilities. We have several sock aids and stocking donners for you to try while you are purchasing your compression garments. One of our suppliers, Juzo, makes an incredible assistive device, Slippee Gator, that helps with donning and doffing socks and stockings. Come by for a demonstration if you are in the Denver metro area.

Let us know your thoughts or what kinds of treatments have worked for you if you have lymphedema. Email us or post your comment.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

A Place for Everything

This week we are pleased to introduce you to Sally Allen. She started her company of experts in home organization, space design, and relocation to optimize her own skills and to address the very real needs she was seeing in the communities around her. She found that many people resist “planning ahead.” She saw this particularly when it came to friends whose parents were showing signs of difficulties living independently. They would urge their parents to start thinking about alternatives, but the parents would resist. While we all want to stay at home, Sally suggests beginning the process of rethinking home. It’s about treasures and important memories most of all. Sometimes we need coaches to get through to the next level of performance. Sally Allen and her team provide that coaching and the muscle, too, including downsizing empty nesters and seniors. They motivate and assist you to start the process now, one small step at a time. Sally and her team at A Place for Everything help you enjoy the trip before/during/after the move. Sally Allen offers a four-class series starting later this month to help you think about answering these key questions: What will I do with my valued treasures? Do I have systems in place so people know what my wishes are? Where and how do I begin the sorting process? These questions and more will be answered in this important workshop series. Many folks indicate that they wish they’d have participated in a series like this prior to transitioning from their home into something more carefree. You can bring someone with you to this series for the price of one registration. You also get a workbook and a bit of homework to help you begin the planning process now. Please see more detail and information about signing up for this important seminar in our Events section. Due to the nature of this type of seminar, enrollment is limited, so please be sure to sign up early.

Planning Ahead – “What To Do?”
Right-sizing Right Now….It’s never too early to start the process.

Are you:
  • Struggling with dismantling your family home?
  • Unable to take those first steps?
  • Need a helping hand?
It is never too early to start the process. (You don’t have to be moving to start right-sizing right now.)

The phone rang. The caller identified himself as a senior in crisis. Could we, would we, help them move as quickly as possible into their new home and get their existing home ready to sell? His wife’s health was fading; although she insisted that it was only temporary. They had lived in their home for over 23 years, and needed to find their treasures to take with them and leave the rest behind. They are now settled into their new home, but not without diversions along the way.

Many trips to the doctor, the inability to stay with the editing process due to pain and fatigue, and his undying consideration and insistence that we not “edit” until his wife was well enough to assist, extended this right-sizing process well beyond the norm. It was agonizing for us to watch as he became more overwhelmed with the state of the situation and his wife became more disabled. Fortunately, we were able to continue to move behind the scenes and provide hands-on assistance removing items to be shredded, donated, sold, and purchased. We coordinated the packing, loading, unloading and settling-in. Did they wait too long to start the process? Probably.

We spend hours/days/weeks planning a vacation, finding insurance for covering catastrophes, finding the “perfect” job, planning for our children’s future, and a host of other events in our lives. We rarely spend the appropriate amount of time preparing for the inevitable, downsizing at the appropriate time and into the appropriate place OR caring for our aging parents.

As individuals live longer and families disperse geographically, more adults in their 70s, 80s, and 90s are faced with the trauma of relocating, often from a home of decades. Every nook and cranny holds moments of memories. The thought of leaving them behind is overwhelming. You don’t have to leave them behind. You have to make choices of what physically goes with you and what mentally stays with you. Planning ahead is crucial.

It is much easier to start the downsizing process while you are still able to do so, and while you are still able to make your very own decisions. Downsizing does not get better with age. Consider beginning NOW before the crisis when others have to make the choices for you.

To learn more about A Place for Everything, visit sallyorganizer.com.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Fall Prevention: A Primer

Falling. Kids do it all the time. It’s quite another thing, though, when an adult falls. Oh, sure, if you’re in the middle of a rousing game of volleyball or backyard football, you are sure to fall. And it happens on the slopes. But when you see your mother or grandfather, aunt or brother fall, it sends signals of worry and concern racing through you. You can probably remember the first time you saw one of your parents fall, seemingly for no reason. Whether it was missing a step, tripping over a threshold or crack in the sidewalk, or falling out of bed, it makes an impression. Falling cannot be taken lightly. Breaking bones, especially at an advanced age, is so often the beginning of a serious decline.

Science tells us that as we age, our bones often become more brittle through osteoporosis. Muscle mass declines typically 5 to 10 pounds per decade of life. And then there is the delicate, but amazing, process of balance that we rely on. Balance is the result of a highly sophisticated process that originates in an organ in our inner ear, called the labyrinth. The balance process, referred to as the vestibular system, relies on the motion of fluid through the three canals within the inner ear. The functions of each of these semicircular canals work in conjunction with our musculo-skeletal system to achieve states of balance. There are countless elements at play. It’s a wonder we ever keep our balance! With so many parts involved, it is also no wonder that some go awry occasionally as we age.

So, what’s to be done? Of course, if someone you care about if falling, you want to find out what the cause is. Eliminating cause is always an important place to start. However, if it’s due to an illness, diagnosis may take a long time, or treatment may not be fully possible, depending on the condition. There are often environmental hazards that contribute to falling, regardless of why an individual falls. Sometimes, those hazards might be the cause. As someone who cares, there are a few tips to ensure that the environment is safe for the individual. Here are some well-proven ideas:
  • Get rid of those throw rugs! A designer’s delight, these things are a fall waiting to happen.
  • Install night lights in bedrooms, hallways, and bathrooms.
  • Be sure to have grab bars well-positioned near the bath tub, shower and in front of the kitchen sink. Some even place them in hallways. There are some lovely designer bars available today to go with a home’s d├ęcor.
  • Using bed rails, the versatile Bed Cane, or installing a SuperPole near the bed ensures safety in the bedroom.
  • Place non-skid mats in the bathtub, shower and in front of the kitchen sink. We find adding Soapy Soles to the home makes showering safe AND fun.
  • Tie back or remove loose electrical cords from common thoroughfares in the home.
  • Install handrails outside and inside the home.
  • Install a stairlift to ensure safe access to places in the home with stairs.
  • Remove clutter from thoroughfares in the home. (See our web log this week on A Place for Everything for more ideas.)
  • Keep floors and walking surfaces dry.
  • Switch to cordless phones to eliminate phone cords.
  • Avoid wearing loose fitting slippers, sandals or shoes. Shoes with rubber soles are best if falling is a problem.
  • Bifocal lenses can often be a source of difficulty. Having two separate pairs of glasses, one for reading and one for movement, might help solve a problem of depth perception.
  • Watch out for alcohol consumption. Especially when taking medication, consuming alcohol can be a problem, impairing balance.
  • Use a walker or cane. Be sure to get usage tips and training before using this equipment.
  • When exiting from a car, use the HandyBar or Car Caddy which provide a handle for stability and balance.
  • Install an alarm on the bed or chair of a loved one if s/he is in danger of falling when getting up. These systems can be minimally invasive to the individual and provide you with peace of mind.
  • Gait belts are used when the individual you are assisting needs help transferring from one location to another. The use of a gait belt is also useful as someone is rehabilitating after a stroke or other injury or illness. Be sure to discuss the use of gait belts with a physician or physical therapist to avoid injury.
Of course, working on strength and balance during your life is essential. Exercise, stretching, balancing training are all essential to ensuring that your body stays fit and strong to prevent falls in the future. Try an exercise ball or use a Sit Fit disc to strengthen core muscles, even while you work at your desk. Or, a foot flexer designed for use sitting or standing to stretch the Achilles’ tendon and ham strings, helping with overall foot flexibility and health. Resistance bands also provide a way to enhance upper body strength.

If you find yourself in a position with a loved one where you are worried all the time about his or her propensity for falling, please find resources to help you. Please contact us at Capabilities for a list of providers who offer in-home services or provide more detailed training for you and your loved one on how to prevent falls. We also offer home evaluations to help you assess safety and offer ideas for accessibility and fall prevention.

What kinds of prevention have you used? Please submit your comments so others can benefit from your experiences.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Multigenerational Living: Should Grandpa Move In?

As we celebrate another Grandparents’ Day, I find myself musing about a discussion that many families find themselves in the middle of these days. A couple just the other day came in to talk with us about getting ready to move her mother in with them. They talked about how many months they’ve been discussing this as a family, and with the mom. It’s a decision that comes easy for a few; more difficult for many. While the days when generations of families shared homes as a regular course of events seems to have dwindled in the past few decades, there is the suggestion of a national trend afoot for families to stay connected. John Graham and his sister, Sharon Niederhaus (pictured, right), have written a book, Together Again: A Creative Guide to Successful Multigenerational Living.

The siblings found in their research that with rising life expectancies and diminishing finances, families are looking for alternatives to costly care options. There is also a resurgence of craving connectedness, after a generation or two of dispersing as the norm. The family I chatted with the other day had already tried a living community for her mother, but she did not adjust well. They decided that having her mother at home with them would be good not only for her and them in the peace of mind category, but for the teenage kids, who had lost some touch with Grandma, finding it difficult to make the time to visit her at the assisted living community. So, after much discussion they all decided it would be worth a try. She is moving in at the end of the month, giving them time to make a few transformations in their home. (See our blog, Independence Day, for ideas on home modification.)

The U.S. Census Bureau says that there are roughly four million multigenerational American households, an increase of almost 40% since 1990. Graham and Niederhaus offer some ideas for how to assess whether or not to have dad move in, or mom, or Aunt Mary, and how to manage the process well to ensure there will be few surprises (since with humans there will always be surprises).

For example, try a vacation together to see if you all drive each other nuts or not. If the time together is pleasant and satisfying for everyone, maybe there is a chance co-habitation will work. One family we chatted with a few months ago would have mom over every other weekend to stay for two nights. This way, they all had some experience of being together for a few days in a row and over a period of time. It also gave the couple time to figure out what worked and did not work in their house in terms of accessibility, safety and comfort. Everyone was more comfortable when the time came to make the move. The latest update is that things are going quite well for everyone.

Talk candidly ahead of time about legal and financial issues and put everything in writing. There are plenty of legal and financial specialists, including those with a special designation, CSA (for Certified Senior Advisor), who are trained to help families assess financial issues clearly and outline options.

Creating ground rules is always a good thing regardless of life stage and living arrangements. There will be the need for boundaries for all parties. Specify as clearly as possible beforehand just what those boundaries are and how to respect them. We have all had the experience of stepping into it (“Oh, %&#$!”) and having to fix things later. Graham and Niederhaus suggest, for example, that laying out acceptable guidelines when it comes to the kids, especially if they are still small, is essential. While it was okay when the kids went to Grandma’s house to have treats or go to bed late if they were staying over, a steady diet of this behavior just won’t cut it when they are all living together. Grandma has to support the rules of the household she’ll be in. Another big mistake the authors chronicle is expecting grandparents to be build-in babysitters now that they are in the home, or vice versa, expecting the adult children to be on-call taxi drivers. These are just a sampling of the many situations to anticipate ahead of time BEFORE moving someone in with you.

And communicate, communicate, communicate. What is it about this activity that we constantly need reminding about? Speaking clearly about needs and listening to all parties helps anticipate issues, solve problems when they arise, and stay positive about the possibilities of multigenerational living.

So, on this Grandparents’ Day, be sure to celebrate those in your life who have gone before you. And, if you are considering a new plan for living, discuss some of these things over dinner on Sunday.

And, if you are still looking for that perfect gift, consider shopping at Capabilities. We have a number of unique gift ideas, not to mention practical items to help them “be unlimited.”

We would love to hear your story if you have recently made the decision to move a parent or relative to your home. Or let us know if you have already considered multigenerational living and made a different decision. Please leave your comments here.

Monday, September 3, 2007

On Being Two!

An Anniversary “Thank You” from Pam & Kathryn.

If you are a regular reader of our newsletter or a regular visitor to Capabilities, you know we are now officially two years old. Wow! It’s an important milestone for us as something on the order of 90% of new businesses fail within the first two years. On the other hand, we dare not feel we are on easy street just yet. Another 50% of small businesses cannot make it to their fifth anniversary. The challenges are enormous and, while some diminish, others come in with a fury. We are delighted to be celebrating this month, and we choose to be among those who believe the successes we have accumulated so far are a sign of a strong future.

Most importantly, we have you to thank. There is no business without the collaboration and agreement of so many people. To name just a few:
  • To those of you who have purchased something or come into the store in Westminster, or shopped online, many thanks for choosing us.
  • To pharmacists, and those who work at the many pharmacies around the metro Denver area, thank you so much for your many referrals and confidence that we will treat your customers with the levels of service your cherish in your business.
  • To physicians who have entrusted us to be part of your referral network, we appreciate you very much and look for additional ways to continue the important work of healing and comfort that is your mission.
  • To physical therapists and occupational therapists who suggest our products and services for your clients, we are grateful to collaborate with you as we all help people to be unlimited in ways they might not have found otherwise.
  • To special educators, fitness specialists, coaches, and practitioners focused on helping people reach their potential and face challenges, we are proud to work with you in the ways we can by providing tools and access to unique products.
  • To the many business owners, suppliers and vendors who have helped us become Capabilities and who support us in countless ways, thank you for being partners with us as we make a difference in the communities we are part of.
  • To those who find us everyday or who tell someone about us, we are thankful and hope you will continue spreading the word about Capabilities.
  • To our staff, you who are our right hands, who help translate our vision into the high day-to-day service levels we expect as founders.
  • To our families who offer us support, comfort, belief and understanding when the demands of a new business keep us from always enjoying each of them as fully as we would otherwise. We simply could not give all that we do to this dream of ours without all of you. We are so lucky to have you!
So, as we turn two and continue to take our fledgling steps towards growth and stability, we are so grateful to all of you who have supported us from the idea to the storefront to the launch of our website. Having believers is half the battle! And your belief and confidence in us mean so much. We promise to continue doing everything possible to make your experiences with us examples of exceptional service, friendliness and comfort. Being a part of the communities and people’s lives that we serve is as important to us as providing the right solutions for the many challenges that need to be faced everyday.

Please celebrate with us this month as we honor you with savings (up to 40% in some cases), many educational and fun seminars, and two days of partying on September 28 and 29 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. We will have yummy food and beverages, complimentary reflexology treatments (see details in a future blog this month), complimentary vein testing on your legs (a must nowadays to check for signs of deep vein thrombosis). You can also meet many of our wonderful vendors on these two days. They will be at the store to answer your questions, tell you about how they decided to offer their products, and give you lots of time. We are also hosting our first ever New Products Showcase where you can help us decide what products would be great to carry in the future. Please see details in our Events section. To sign up as a tester, please send us an email. You become eligible for a great giveaway if you sign up.

We will not take you for granted and we welcome your ideas and suggestions for making the improvements or additions to our product listings that would satisfy what it is that you are looking for. Please email or call us with your thoughts and suggestions.

As we turn two, we feel grateful for the opportunity to bring Capabilities to life. We also feel excited and full of energy for what is ahead as we begin to implement our dreams of expansion. Our website has launched and we have had our first international order! We are working on improving the shopping portion of the website and you will hear more about that in a month or two, making it a lot easier for holiday shopping online. Next year, more storefronts. If you are interested in talking with us more about our expansion plans or would like to play a part in those plans somehow, please contact us. We would love to talk more with you.