Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ask Doctor Marion...and Capabilities!

You might recall that we met an extraordinary woman a while ago, Doctor Marion, a geriatric care manager who has committed her life to helping families care for aging relatives. We wrote about Doctor Marion's bus tour and her visit to Capabilities. Well, a lot has happened since then. Doctor Marion has completed two more bus tours across the U.S., visiting families, senior centers, churches, assisted living residences, libraries and a host of other places where people gather. She has brought her message of caregiving, providing ideas and a listening ear.

We are delighted that Doctor Marion chose to visit us recently with her camera crew to film us and Capabilities. We are definitely on her "favorites" list as a unique place for seniors and their families. Because we have gathered one of the largest collections of products for independence, Doctor Marion chose us to collaborate with her in the creation of a documentary about caregiving. We also helped her put together some training films that will appear on our website and hers, helping everyday people figure out how to make their way through home modifications, the use of traditional (and not so traditional) medical equipment. and tips for working with your parents or other aging relatives to come to agreements about care and safety. We spent a weekend at our flagship location in Westminster, CO reviewing, filming and interviewing some of our customers, like Exie, our 92 year old example of the "glass half full" type of person. Stay tuned as we bring details of the finished videos your way in 2009.

By way of thanking and honoring caregivers, Capabilities is offering a complimentary copy of Doctor Marion's, Elder Care Made Easier, with your purchase of $100 of caregiving products. Just use (or tell us in person when shopping in our physical stores) the code word CAREGIVING and we will give (or send) you a copy of the book. Her easy to follow steps take some of the mystery out of caregiving.

We are honored to share this partnership with Doctor Marion. You can visit her website at for more information about her and her great work across the country.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Artists Everywhere

Some artists are born. Some are made. Some emerge from life's delights. Others from its challenges. Some art makes you smile. Some art tears at your insides. And then there is art created by mustering large amounts of hope, determination, and hard work. Rocky Mountain Stroke Association (RMSA) recently displayed art created by stroke survivors. While the evening was an art show opening in many ways as we moved around the room, nibbling hors d'oeuvres and commenting on the color, light and form of so many diverse pieces, we knew this night held stories of individuals who have fought the battle of their lives to recover from one of life's harshest blasts, stroke.

Pam attended the art show with grandsons, Arley and Sam. They were especially taken with Sunset Soldiers, a painting by Randy Vaughn. Randy's stroke journey began as a near-death experience. His wife and daughter had moved to their new home in Littleton while he remained in Tucson to finish up with their house. He remembers getting up one Friday night, and collapsing in the bathroom. The house was empty and he was alone. His boss came by the following Wednesday, wondering why he hadn't been to work. Randy had survived for five days by getting water on a sponge from the bathroom sink, but he was unable to crawl to the phone. He was able to yell to his boss through the walls for help.

Randy spent more than a week in ICU where he was found to have 90% occlusion of both of his carotid artieries. A nursing home was the only option for rehab, a unique and often difficult option for a 49 year old person. After a while, he was transferred by air to Spalding Rehabilitation. Despite excellent therapy for the next two months, he went home in a wheelchair. He continued with home PT and it was during this time that he was able to take his first steps in relearning to walk.

While attending a stroke support group, he saw a flyer from the RMSA announcing small group therapy classes. He joined one of the first classes in the program, and has faithfully attended ever since. Randy's artistic talents emerge in wildlife and outdoor scenes. He continues to see improvements in his technique all the time. Despite losing his former life and his marriage because of the stroke, he tries to stay as active as possible. He is now able to drive. He still enjoys hunting and fishing and has done volunteer work for the Department of Fish and Game in spotting wildlife.

The Art Therapy program is taught by a professional artist who lives in Littleton and had used this technique with her mother, who had had a stroke. The class has grown so much that it now meets at 9 and 10:30 a.m. on Monday mornings. Every year, new artists and those whose talents continue to develop display their work at the RMSA event. Art uses the right side of the brain and through the process proves that neurons in the brain can learn new skills. As Randy and others have found, art also provides an avenue of expression, particularly for those who have speech impairment. To learn more about Art Therapy classes and all of the services available at RMSA, contact or call 303-730-8800. RMSA provides physical and speech therapy at Capabilities every Wednesday. See our Events calendar for details.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

It's Like Riding a Bike

There is no end to the opportunities we have at Capabilities to be part of human goodness. In October we were invited to participate in the first annual bike fair for children and young people with disabilities. Sponsored by the non-profit organization, Assisted Cycling Tours, this day was about families and their kids doing something that many of these young people cannot do, ride a bike. Bob Matter, Founder of Assisted Cycling Tours, has created a tandem bike riding experience for kids and adults with physical and/or developmental disabilities. Bob and his son, David, who has autism, worked together to create this Westminster, CO non-profit organization.

The event offered families the opportunity to enjoy a bike ride with their child or to watch him or her ride with a trained Assisted Cycling Tours expert. We brought some of Capabilities' practical tools to help children with disabilities do some of their everyday activities more easily, like eating, drinking and writing. Weighted utensils help stabilize a trembling hand and provide sensory feedback. The remarkable Steady Spoon, designed with a tiny gyroscope, that keeps the bowl of the spoon steady regardless of movement caused by tremors or paralysis. Cups with straws that hold liquid are great for some people with Down Syndrome, autism, and cerebal palsy, helping with motor and muscular development. For writing we featured the Writing Bird, the Ergo Writer, and grips that add texture and weight to pens and pencils making it easier to grip. The Writing Bird encourages the individual to grip the body of the bird to move the pen held in the beak of the bird. Some people with fine motor skill challenges can move in broader motions. The Writing Bird optimizes this approach. The Ergo Writer is ideal for those who cannot grip a pencil or pen. The lever on this tool is designed to hold the thumb providing the appropriate leverage for writing.

We also brought products for the caregiver, meant to soothe, comfort and help chase away fatigue and more. Among the more popular items were some of our incredible teas and very cool steepware for brewing those teas.

What are your particular thoughts and ideas about caring for children with disabilities? What are the types of tools and experiences that you have found useful or would like to see. Post your comments to this blog.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Capabilities Celebrates In A Big Way!

Wow! What a great 3rd anniversary month we had in September. Thank you to everyone who made this big milestone so special for us. We so appreciate our customers, those of you who trust us everyday to work with you and your families to help maneuver through the hard stuff, and the easy things, too. We commit ourselves to continue to give you the attention you deserve, the products you need, and a warm and welcoming staff and store. We are delighted to begin our fourth year with you.

Not only did we offer some terrific products on sale throughout the month, but we had some great giveaways, too. We have some very happy winners! Special thanks to our suppliers, Colorado Physical Therapy Institute, Drive Medical, FLA Orthopedics, and Juzo who contributed gift cards and products.

Thanks, too, to so many of our business partners in the community who joined us on September 16 to share their expertise with the community of customers we cherish:
Adventure Fitness Training
Brookdale Senior Living
Centura Home Health
Colorado Senior Connections
Connections Unlimited
First Choice
Inga Tomasino, Reflexology Massage
Preferred Solutions
ResponselinkSally Allen, A Place for Everything
The Family Hearing Centers
The Prime Time
The Teaspot