Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Featured Product: PolyWog Transport Chair

This wheelchair is a dream come true for those who give care. How many times have you wished for a wheelchair that was lightweight, that could fit in your trunk easily, that could be used sometimes as a self-propelled chair when your loved one feels strong and able, and transform just like that into a transport chair? Pop off the big wheels and swingaway footrests and you have a transport chair that weighs in under 20 lbs. If you have not yet seen the PolyWog, or PolyFly as it is also called, take a good look.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Exhausted No More: Overcoming Fatigue With Wholeheartedness

David Whyte, a passionate poet originally from Wales and now the Northwest, writes that the antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness. Exhaustion is the hallmark of our times of overwork, war, politics, fear. This call to action might seem out of place when what most of us want is a good night’s sleep, or two. And while sleep deprivation is a very real concern in our culture and must be addressed on a number of fronts, I write here of a component of fatigue that is as lacking as eight hours a night for many Americans.

Wholeheartedness. You recognize it in someone else when it’s there, that quality of being sincerely devoted, determined, enthusiastic and marked by complete commitment. Free from all reserve or hesitation. In it with one’s whole heart. You know it when you feel it. Are you feeling it now? How do you become wholehearted when you are in demand, pulled in too many directions?

Our bodies and minds naturally want to withdraw and tighten up when we are overwhelmed, overworked, over-stimulated. This natural tendency serves us well for the occasional period when work, worries and obligations weigh us down. Research shows, however, that when a human being lives in a nearly constant state of physical and emotional overload, this natural response becomes unnatural. To close down, clench teeth, and be on the lookout for the next assault put enormous strains on our bodies and psyches. While we imagine we are helping ourselves by saying “no,” it turns out we create more exhaustion by not saying “yes” more often and more fully.

If you are a caregiver, you know all about feeling overwhelmed and overworked. You most likely wrestle with the internal dialogue endlessly, knowing you are brave, generous and loving, in spite of feeling tight, closed and ornery sometimes. What about this idea of “yes?” What does that really mean for you?

There is an ancient story about the seeker of enlightenment who finally finds the wise one on a mountaintop. “How do I attain happiness?” the seeker asks breathlessly. The wise one utters one word, “now.” The seeker asks again. The wise one responds with the same word. After several rounds of question and same answer, growing more frustrated, the seeker turns away in disgust, bemoaning the time lost seeking the truth only to find someone so dumb as to utter a single meaningless word. What bad luck, the seeker cries in self-pity!

Doing what we love brings us to the moment and there is nothing like the moment to convince us to be wholehearted. Getting lost in the pure joy of tinkering or a favorite pastime, lingering over tea and a sweet with someone cherished, painting, writing, playing music, doing work that underscores competence and creates confidence are the sure paths to happiness, to feeling energized and whole, to being wholehearted.

So, next time you feel stuck or trapped, and are looking for a shortcut to an obligation, instead of trying to make it go away or pass quickly, stay in it for a while. Imagine having found the wise one who says over and over, “now.” Or as the American journalist and inspirational writer, Mignon McLaughlin wrote, “What you can’t get out of, get into wholeheartedly.”

And then get some sleep. The combination will do wonders! Try our Anti-Snore Pillow and let your partner sleep well, too.

Winter Clearance: Capabilities Win-Win Solutions in this Economy

Now that February is just a few days away, we, at Capabilities, are thinking about spring. To make way for new products and even bigger selections of your favorites, we invite you to help us clear our shelves. Throughout the month of February, you will find incredible savings at our store and online. This economy is taking its toll on everyone. We know there are important items that you need to stay healthy, to get healthy, or to care for those you love. We are committed to doing whatever we can to continue to offer you enough choice at various price points throughout this whole year. For now, we can find a win-win. We are launching our big February clearance sale. You stop by and pick up some great products at big reductions! Let's manage these times together.

Among the many products on sale, these are just some of the great deals you can find at Capabilities starting this weekend, January 31:
  • Lift Chairs currently on the showroom floor are reduced 10%!

  • Go Go Ultra Scooters will stay at our holiday low price of $899.95!

  • Other scooters are reduced 10%!

  • Look for savings on incontinence products, an array of comfort items, including Caren lotion products, and many coveted low vision products!

If you are shopping online, use the code WINTERSALE to get your savings on many of these same items.

Thank you, as always, for your loyalty and support of Capabilities. Let us work with you this year to find solutions to the many physical challenges you or your family may face.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Something We Need: Have You Seen It?

Our job at Capabilities is to help you find solutions to challenges, mostly physical challenges accompanying temporary or permanent illness or injury, or as the effects of aging find their way into your life. Every so often we get stumped. Not too long ago a suffering mother arrived, still rocked by an accident that left her 20-something year old son without his right arm. He was finishing up some advanced rehabilitation and was now back home. She wept as she told me the story, and worried as she thought about her strong, brave son facing the rest of his life with this challenge. While he wrestled with his emotions and the realities of relearning basic everyday skills using one arm, she talked about his progress, but said that one of the most challenging things is getting dressed. We looked at all kinds of practical tools. The thing he needs, she said, is something that will let him zip up his "cool" jackets. While there are all kinds of zipper pulls, the missing item is the thing that would let him join the ends of the zipper with one hand so he could effectively use a zipper pull. Is there such a thing? I have looked everywhere and found nothing.

Tell us if you know of something. If you are in the inventing spirit, here is an idea waiting for expression. We might be able to help you find the right people to help you get your idea to market. Stay tuned for our New Products Showcase, held usually once a year in summer here at Capabilities. If you have a product you are working on, or one you just love and wish we would consider carrrying it, contact us and we may just feature it and you next.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Where The Journey Takes You Next

Most likely you know someone, maybe it is even you, who has moved from a fairly spacious home to a room-sized home. There are many reasons for moves like this, and happily, there are a lot of good choices about where that room-sized home is located. Today, I’m thinking about the process itself of making that decision, about the many layers of decisions and the emotions that go with them.

I met a couple who live in Asia. His dad lives here and recently it became clear that the father’s needs for care are growing. The couple came to spend a month to assess the situation and be there as the father underwent some serious surgery. Being a long distance caregiver is no easy task. In that month they, with him, had to work through one of the hardest realities around. Dad could not stay by himself in the home he has had for most of his life. While he will still have plenty of independence when he recovers from the surgery, the extent of his illness is such that he is at some risk of falling, for example. Adding up what it would take to transform his home, hire caregivers, and build in enough safeguards, the son concluded it would make more sense, both financially and emotionally, for Dad to be part of an assisted living community. Dad initially had other ideas, but over the course of those weeks came to accept the plan. Needless to say, there were plenty of shouts and tears along the way.

One of the most perplexing and difficult parts of such a caregiving decision is the idea of moving from a two- or three-bedroom home to a 300 square foot room. How on earth does one envision such a thing? It is made all the more challenging when the individual needs an adjustable bed, a power wheelchair, a reclining lift chair. Those three things alone could already occupy nearly half that space. What kind of desk, bookcase, table? Would a lap desk help? And, what to do with all those treasures amassed over a lifetime? All of this packed into a month besides! It is a wonder anyone makes it successfully through such transitions.

Yet, these transitions are happening every day in millions of families. Some leave misery in their wake, of course. I am so curious about the large percentage of folks that do manage that journey to the next place, literally, with some grace. While every individual and his/her family approach these decisions differently, there seem to be a few consistent themes for the successful transitions.

Recognize the emotional part of the decision up front. Of course, you will need to bring reason to the table in vast amounts. But underestimating the emotional impact on you and your family can only make a difficult situation worse.

Do a lot of homework. The couple I mention above did lots of internet research before they came here for their month stay. By the time they arrived, they had an idea of options for assisted living facilities, equipment and the impact financially. That way, they were able to focus on the emotional stages with his father without being distracted by what they did not know. They already had some basic knowledge.

Manage the details. The devil is truly there in the details. I have seen the greatest of ideas fall apart because of the straw that finally broke the camel’s back. Great plans can fall apart in a heartbeat if the details are not considered. The couple of my story spent the last 10 days focusing on the details, knowing they still had a bit of time to pull it all together.

Create a team. Even under these difficult circumstances where geography alone made and will continue to make the move to Dad’s room-sized home challenging, the odds of success are high if the family lets others in. For example, having the right health care team can make all the difference. From physician to Physical Therapist, from Director of the assisted living facility to the people you finally decide to work with for needed equipment, all play a vital role in helping you stay focused and confident. Figuring out how big “your team” needs to be is another one of those decisions you don’t take lightly.

Most of us don’t really want to think about the time when our journey will take us places we don’t exactly want to go. I learned a lot from this young couple and their commitment to some basic principles. And, Dad’s new room is already starting to look like home.

If you need help evaluating whether your parents' home is safe, or are wondering what to do to make your home ready to have a parent or relative move in with you, contact us. We offer free home evaluations to help you find the right solutions for safety and caregiving.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Featured Product: Bed Cane

What a wonder the Bed Cane is! You get all the features of a half bed rail without the bulk of one. This works great for that stubborn relative of yours who insists on getting in and out of bed alone. You know full well how dangerous an act that now is, but you have been unable to convince of the wisdom of a rail or support of some type. The Bed Cane is your solution. Its small profile helps eliminate the idea that it is a "bed rail." And, it is so attractive with its pocket sleeve that can hold all kinds of stuff at the bedside. Additionally, the Bed Cane is great value, especially compared to expensive half or full bed rails and other commonly used supports. Come see one on display at our flagship store if you are in the Denver area, or read more on our website. Buy the Bed Cane for $98.95.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Do You Have a Woman-Owned Business?

As recipients of the Make Mine a Million $ Business Award, we write again about the honor and the support we have received as women growing our business. We are proud to be part of the vanguard group that will grow to millions as women business owners everywhere join the Make Mine a Million $ Business RACE™ launching January 27. If you are a woman who owns at least 50% share of a business, join the race now.

This is the year to grow your business, make money, secure your family and your future in the Make Mine a Million $ Business RACE™ - a year-long business growth “marathon” that will challenge and support one million women entrepreneurs like you in hitting your business revenue goals for 2009 while creating millions of new jobs and economic stability for your families, communities and the country. Join a million. Make a $million. Create millions of jobs. Are you in?

Learn more and join the race now. Contact us, too, if you would like an up close and personal view of Make Mine a Million $ Business.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What's New in This New Year?

Do you feel new? Is the month too old already? Our wish is that you at least feel somewhat renewed at the start of this new year and are ready to jump in to whatever this year holds. Here at Capabilities we are restocking our shelves after the holiday season and our annual process of counting our physical inventory. In spite of the sour economy, we are committed to bringing the types of products, services and information that helps you "be unlimited," as you, loved ones and clients maneuver through life's challenges, regardless of physical ability and condition. We are introducing new products, expanded information on everyday conditions, and additional services. Take a closer look at what's new at Capabilities.

On the product side, be sure to see our expanded collection of bed rails and supports. We have added another brand of easy to use floor to ceiling support poles, giving you a broader array of choice as you make your home safe for aging relatives, or yourself. Eschenbach, our supplier of high quality magnification tools, is combining its long traditon of excellence with Ash Technology, creating a selection of portable video readers to suit people of all ages and abilities with the right tool for the right occasion. And, since January is hot tea month, we are pleased to tell you about the new travel tea basket. No matter where you go, you can now have the simple tools you need to steep your favorite tea. What a perfect companion to our large selection of gourmet and herbal teas!

We have spent additional time training our staff on some of the everyday conditions that challenge so many folks. We have learned more about diabetes and the products we can offer to help manage many symptoms of both Type I and Type II diabetes. Be sure to see our blog with a few new entries on diabetes. Recent training with the experts at the University of Colorado Burn Center prompted us to expand our selection of wound care products, many of which you previously could only find online or with specialty stores.

Our repair division continues to grow as people everywhere are looking to extend the life of their scooter, wheelchair or walker. Have you noticed how few repair services there are? We have a resourceful and expert technician who performs a sound diagnosis and offers affordable repair options. We are available to do service and repair clinics at senior residential communities or facilities, local recreation centers, or other retail locations. We will also introduce a quarterly "clinic" at Capabilities, a time to bring in your old stuff and have it tuned and tweaked to get more mileage from it. As many of you already know, we offer yummy refreshments when you come to our events.

We focus this year on offering our home evaluation services at no charge. If you are planning to move an aging loved one into your home, or if your caregiving responsibilities include caring for someone with a disability in your home, please call us for a no cost evaluation of your home, where our experts highlight potential danger zones, suggest options and alternatives for creating a safe environment, and introduce you to a wide range of potential solutions.

All in all we have quite the year planned. Of course, we cannot do any of it without you, our loyal and supportive customers. We are so grateful for your trust and will continue to do all that we can to ensure high levels of service and integrity.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Hot Tea Month

Did you see the latest research that suggests that simply holding a warm cup can change your mood, not to mention the healthful effects of drinking the delicious liquids inside that cup. The sensation of warmth makes us feel cozy and comfortable, the study says, causing our brains to produce the special brain chemicals that help create a pleasant mood. In fact, the research suggests generosity as an outcome. The holder of the warm cup not only feels more generous, but perceives others as warmer, more generous. In their article, "Experiencing Physical Warmth Promotes Interpersonal Warmth," Dr. Lawrence E. Williams from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Dr. John A. Bargh from Yale University say that "warmth" is the most powerful aspect of personality essential for social judgment. This links to other studies exploring the effect of warm physical contact with parents and other caregivers. They published their findings in Science 24 October 2008.

Winter is a great time to conduct this experiment yourself. Apparently, it does not matter what type of warm liquid you have in your cup, although we especially enjoy tea. Try some of ours in your own Steepware mug where you can make the perfect cup of tea every time. You'll feel big-hearted!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Diabetes: Products You Can Use

People often associate diabetic products as monitors and test strips. While these are essential to a person with diabetes, the array of products that help manage the disease and some of its symptoms is vast.

I recently met Marta, a woman in her 50s who has lived a rich and interesting life as an athlete. She played tennis and golf throughout most of her life, and competively at certain points. Imagine her surprise when she was diagnosed with Type II diabetes a few years ago. This is the type usually associated with lifestyle choices and often controlled easily (if caught early enough) by changes in eating and exercising. Given her background, she had cultivated many healthy habits, so is struggling to figure out how to manage the disease without drugs. Because of her condition, however, she does not exercise as regularly and has gained some weight. One of the symptoms she struggles with is edema, serious swelling of her ankles and feet. We discussed the situation and came up with a few product ideas: compression stockings, a pedaler, a foot flexer and a bed wedge.

The compression stockings help control swelling during the day. Because her doctor had not prescribed a medical grade, she chose from a wide selection of "street" level compression, available in sheer stockings, socks, knee highs, thigh highs or pantyhose. She wears slacks every day, so the color choices of Juzo socks worked well for her. Sizing for this level of compression most generally goes by shoe size, unless the swelling is too pronounced in the ankle or calf. We are trained at Capabilities to measure for accurate fit.

Next, she told me that she works at a desk all day long. It is hard to get much exercise doing that and by the time she gets lunch, she just wants to put her feet up somewhere (also a good idea to help manage edema). The Foot Flex tool is simple to use and can tuck under her desk. She can work the back and forth motion easily, ensuring that for some minutes of every hour her feet are in motion, circulating blood AND stretching tight hamstrings and Achilles' tendons. She bought the pedal exerciser for use at night while she is watching TV or working on her scrapbooks. Its sturdy frame ensures that it will not slip while she pedals in a seated position. She can also use it on a table top, pedaling with her arms to get even more exercise.

Adding a bed wedge helps Marta keep her feet elevated while she sleeps. Relieving this painful set of symptoms can only help Marta return to an active life, which in turn will control her weight. While testing and monitoring diabetes are significant parts of the daily routine of someone with diabetes, adding a few additional tools to your overall management of this disease can have great results.