Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Emergency Response Systems

By now, most people know that there are systems and gadgets of every sort to help you and those you are caring for. Some units operate as simply as a phone that only dials 911. It works without the need of monitoring fees or set up fees. The small cell-like phone is easy to manage and can be used as a pendant. With the push of one button there is direct access to 911. The advantages of this approach is its simplicity and reasonable price. The user must feel comfortable with the fact that he or she is actually calling 911 for help. Some users are reluctant to ask for help if it means calling out the 911 rescue team. Discussing your needs as a caregiver and those of the person you are caring for is always essential before making any kind of decision about emergency response systems.

More elaborate approaches are growing more and more popular as caregivers juggle their own needs for work or long-distance caregiving. Monitored systems generally require an installation fee and a monthly charge. Services range from the basic ability to push a button (either on a console or a pendant; some offer a watch-like option that the user can wear everywhere around the house as s/he would a pendant) to medication reminder calls to companion calls on a frequency determined by the family. Some offer a monitoring system with a strong enough signal that allows the individual to be outside in the yard, for example. Others will only work while the person is in the house.

At Capabilities we have done research on the many options available on the market today and we certainly have our favorites. If you would like more information about the services that we recommend, please contact us. We would love to discuss your needs and help match you to the emergency response system that will work best for your needs right now.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Featured Event: Low Vision Seminar with Dr. Diana Reeves

Our quarterly low vision seminars have become a very popular event, drawing customers and others from the greater Denver metro area to Capabilities to learn from specialists in the field of eye disease, low vision and latest research. On Monday, April 13 at 2 p.m. we will once again be honored to host an estimed ophthalmologist, Dr. Diana Reeves. Dr. Reeves is a diplomat of the American Board of Ophthalmology, highly trained in diagnosing and treating the full spectrum of retinal diseases. The winner of many awards and honors, Dr. Reeves offers state-of-the-art treatment and care. She will discuss macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, and other conditions that affect vision. Her leading edge approaches equip her with stunning photographs of the eye that she will also share during her presentation. She will entertain questions and comments from attendees.

As usual, we will follow her presentation with a review of the latest technology available to cope with low vision presented by Linda Belyeu-Conklin, an expert in low vision technology. Linda helps Capabilities stay abreast of the latest technologies and is our supplier of these products. Linda will demonstrate how these tools can assist someone with macular degeneration or a host of other conditions bring some level of independence back into their lives.

Because of the popularity of this low vision series, we highly recommend that you RSVP. You can do that here right now or visit our Events page online. If you or someone you care about struggles with the effects of low vision, please plan on coming to this event.

If you have specific questions you would like Dr. Reeves to answer, you may send them to us ahead of time or just come prepared to ask them directly to her.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Capabilities Offers Free Gift Registry Service

Have you seen the joke going around? Two older folks, George, 92, and Margaret, 89, find each other, fall in love and decide to get married. While strolling, talking about wedding plans, they walk into (and here we will take some liberties with this joke) Capabilities and engage in the following conversation:
"Do you have compression stockings to help with circulation?"
"Yes, indeed, we do," responds one of Capabilities' trained staff people.
"What about medication reminders?"
"Yes, of course."

"And, pads to put on furniture for times when we can't make it to the bathroom fast enough?" George added. "oh, yes, and padded underwear or adult diapers?"
"I can show you all these things," replied our staff person.
"Magnifiers, phones that amplify, and reclining lift chairs?"
"Yes, yes and yes."
"Great," said George. "We are going to use your store for our bridal gift registry."

We sure got a chuckle from this joke that many folks have sent us over the past couple of weeks. It also gives us the chance to remind everyone that we offer gift registry services, and have since the day we opened. Having this ability was one of the features we looked for when we purchased our computerized point-of-sale system.
It is quite simple. Whether you are in the store or online, we can set you up in a jiffy. It is a great feature for that hard-to-buy-for someone in your life. Or, perhaps you are that hard-to-buy-for someone! Everyday, we see mothers and fathers, grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles roaming through our store, admiring something or other they might like to have, but feel they "just don't need." It is the perfect time for us to offer to capture some of those ideas on a wish list they can refer family or friends to later on when that special occasion comes around. Grandpa does not really need another pipe most likely, but might surely want that gas cap wrench or fishing pole holder that he can set up on his wheelchair now that spring is on its way.

There are all kinds of unique AND practical gift ideas at Capabilities. And, we are already way ahead of that story making its rounds. It is no joke, really. Mom and Dad might really want something from our collection!

Send us your contact information and we will set you or a loved one up today. Then you can browse our online store or stop by and point out what you would like to have.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Featured Product: PikStik

We love the PikStik. Have you seen it yet? This is quite the unique reacher. Wider rotating jaws, a locking mechanism, ergonomic trigger, and its durable, safe and lightweight design make this the ideal reacher for all purposes. We have customers who keep finding new uses for the Pikstik at home, at work, in the yard. What we especially like is that this comes in different lengths! The rotating head prevents you from having to twist your hand and arm in crazy ways. PikStiks are precise enough to pick up a dime, yet sturdy enough to lift 5 pounds. Typical reachers have been a godsend to folks for a long time. One of the usual complaints, however, is that you need strength to grab the object and holdthat grip while you move or carry that object. What happens if you don't have that hand strnegth? Oops! How frustrating is that to drop the very thing you are after, sometimes multiple times. Take a closer look at the Pikstik and compare to the one you might be currently using. Better still, buy one now.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More Pre-Owned Products

With this economic squeeze continuing, our customers are on the search for bargains they can trust. This year we have introduced a broader selection of pre-owned products in categories that are generally considered too expensive for many folks to consider. Power wheelchairs, for example, are a much desired item for aging relatives or for those whose conditions, such as MS, ALS and Parkinson's disease are advancing, making mobility more and more of a challenge. While power wheelchairs are a Medicare covered item, many people do not qualify based on their diagnosis or situation, or Medicare might have previously paid for equipment that they consider still operable. You might recall from earlier discussion in our blog about Medicare coverage, the eligibilty requirements for power vehicles is dependent on your physician's diagnosis, prognosis and detailed evaluation. Capabilities then performs an in-home evaluation to determine usability requirements. Medicare covers products for use based on needs inside the home, not outside.

Our selection of pre-owned, affordable power chairs has grown significantly over the past couple of months. See our previous discussion of some of these products, including details about the power chairs and pricing. We have also added reclining lift chairs, low vision equipment, and the occasional patient bed, a semi-electric bed similar to a hospital bed to help with home care.

Don't miss our wonderful special on a pre-owned reclining lift chair that was only in someone else's hands for two months. We sold the chair originally, so we know exactly its history. Not only is it a classic, but this chair comes with heat and massage, often a luxury that many people agree to live without. You can get this chair, complete with heat and massage, a manufacturer's warranty, AND our own labor warranty for $1000!! Contact us now if you would like more information about this incredibly affordable and comfortable solution for you or someone you care about.

Please contact us for more information about our pre-owned products or stop by our flagship store to see for yourself what value you can get from shopping with Capabilities.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

April Is Foot Health Awareness Month!

How long has it been since you soaked your feet after a hard day? Do you have corns or an aching metatarsal? Have you ever tried wearing arch cradles in your shoes? Yes, you can also have expensive orthotic devices molded especially for your feet, and those who have made the investment generally rave about the results. I have discovered, however, a much more economical version in these challenging economic times. For under $30 a pair, I have found a terrific solution to my aching feet. Being on my feet all day long, clocking a lot of miles around our flagship store, these arch cradles definitely make a difference in controlling and nearly eliminating pain in my toes and on the ball of my foot.

Taking care of our feet often falls to the bottom of most everyone's list, even though when feet hurt, everything hurts. Here are a few good tips from the foot experts:

  • Check your feet often for cuts, bruises, callouses, fungal infections and other potential signs of problems. Watch especially for swelling as it can be the signal of more serious circulatory issues.

  • When you are not standing, try to put your feet up to enhance blood circulation.

  • Select the right shoe size. Our feet change frequently over the years, and even over the course of the day. Always try shoes on (preferably at the end of a day when they might be the largest from normal swelling and overuse.) Buy shoes shaped like your foot, in spite of the interesting "fashion" options available.

  • Don't ignore wounds that don't heal, painful bunions or hammertoes that won't be helped by over the counter pads and supports, or shooting pain that travels up into your legs.

As we age, trimming toenails becomes especially challenging. It is harder to see clearly and bend properly to ensure a safe procedure. There are tools to help if you would like to stay as independent as long as you can. Many use this self-examining, mirror with its telescoping handle for easy use without having to bend and stretch too much. It is also very common to find a podiatrist to become part of your regular health care team. She or he generally has a regular plan for trimming toenails and performing regular foot inspections.

So, don't be stubborn! Stay on your toes, put your best foot forward, keep both feet on the ground and let yourself still be swept of your feet! Just don't be flatfooted and miss the opportunity to stay healthy...all the way down to your feet!

Make your comments on foot care or other foot metaphors at the bottom of this blog or email us your words of wisdom. We always love hearing from you.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Are You Making Plans for Springtime Visitors?

This is the time of year when we field many requests for rental equipment. With weddings, graduations and family get-togethers in the planning stage, don't forget that you do not have to buy many of the items you will need to make your home safe for aging relatives. Or, if you know that your grandmother can manage with a walker usually, but you want to get her out to see the many beautiful sights in Colorado, consider renting a transport wheelchair. This type of wheelchair is lightweight, so it is easy on the person getting it into and out of the car and doing the pushing. Yet, most typical transport chairs are sturdy enough to carry folks up to 275 lbs. We have a selection of larger transport chairs available for purchase if your loved one will be coming frequently and needs a bit larger chair to be safe and comfortable.

We also rent walkers, both the traditional two-wheeled type and the four-wheeled version for that special someone who generally does just fine around the house, but needs some extra safety and comfort while walking through our many beautiful parks, for example.

Scooters become a favorite rental item this time of year, too. We offer a nice selection of smaller, travel type scooters for individuals weighing under 250 lbs. These travel models come apart easily for transporting in the trunk of a car. With the additional of a rental ramp, you can easily push the scooter into a van or SUV without taking it apart. We also plan on adding a couple of larger models for those who may need extra room and additional safety features.

So, as you plan for spring and summer family gatherings, don't fret about the arrival of Aunt Sue or Great-Grandpa. Let Capabilities help you and them "be unlimited" with the help of our rental fleet. We can also help you find products you can purchase to make the bathroom and bedroom safer for their visits, too. Contact us for more ideas.

Monday, March 16, 2009

March is DVT Awareness Month

DVT - Deep Vein Thrombosis. It is often called a silent disease that can kill you. The clot that forms can break loose and move through the blood stream, risking getting stuck in the lung, heart or brain. Sudden death can occur. This is a condition not to be taken lightly. High risk situations for DVT are prolonged bedrest, recent surgery, sitting for long periods of time in cars or on planes, obesity, cigarette smoking, to mention a few. Some individuals are prone to clotting and if are one of those, you need to speak with your physician about the risk of DVT.

One of the ways to protect your legs and circulation is to wear compression socks or stockings. Graduated compression helps your body keep the blood circulating in your legs. If you travel quite a bit or for long durations, for example, wearing compression stockings will help you manage the trip. You can choose compression of various levels, although discussion with your physician is advised if you are looking at compression at levels over 20mmHG (millimeters of mercury). So-called "street levels" of compression (below 20mmHG) are available in many styles and colors, in socks, or in sheer or opaque stockings. You can also choose knee or thigh length or pantyhose styles.

So, celebrate March in yet another way! Get smart about DVT and your risk for this condition. Then do whatever it takes to ensure leg health. We can help you at Capabilities. We carry Juzo and Activa brands. We can also get other name brands for you if you prefer. Check out knee high casual or dress socks to incorporate easily into your every day.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Fix It Before It Breaks

It's Brain Fitness Week! Every March this week is set aside to celebrate the brain and the advances made by neuroscience. By now you have surely heard the news that keeping your brain fit is as important as physical fitness to ensure a good long life. We have written often in this blog about the science, techniques and products emerging nearly everyday about brain fitness. While the lion's share of the products at Capabilities are designed to help you cope with physical challenges, we are growing our options for brain fitness. We are even an authorized provider of the world recognized Posit Science Brain Fitness computer software.

We have the opportunity this month on March 26 at 12:30 p.m. through the wonderful folks at Centura Health Passport to offer a seminar here at Capabilities on general brain fitness that is open to the public, whether you are a Health Passport member or not. We will review just how many ways you can challenge your brain from the simple to the more sophisticated approaches. Please see details and RSVP in our Events section. We expect a full house so please be sure to let us know you are coming.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Understanding Tea Time

Andrea Doenges from The Teaspot in Boulder brought delicious teas to our tea tasting on March 12 at Capabilities. She also brought a wealth of information about the history of tea, its healthful benefits, and why some cultures are built on tea time. Did you know that all tea comes from the same plant? The plant grows differently in certain soils providing some natural differences. Most of the uniqueness of tea, however, comes from when it is picked, whether it is dried, for how long, and what it is mixed with. I also did not realize that it is unwise to pour boiling water onto green or white tea leaves. It is always best to wait a couple of minutes before pouring so as not to burn the more tender leaves.

The whole hour was filled with such tidbits, not to mention interesting flavors. Several of the guests were tea drinkers, but one or two were new to it and jumped in with enthusiasm to expand their horizons. "Wow," exclaimed Robin. "It certainly is not your basic Lipton tea bag, is it?" No, indeed.

We are introducing a new product from The Teaspot, the Tuffy Steeper, a personal fold up steeping device that you can take on the road with you. See it for yourself or buy one for a favorite tea drinker in your life. A great surprise gift for under $10.

What is your favorite tea? Tell us and we will put your name in a hat with others who take a moment to send us a note. You might just be a winner and get something wonderful from us!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

"I Need a Stronger Magnifier"

We hear this refrain many times a week at Capabilities. Frustrated with the handheld magnifier of 2x or 3x power purchased "a while ago" from a pharmacy or department store, someone's mother or father arrives on the hunt for something "bigger and stronger." First of all, there are some truths you must know about magnification.
  1. The stronger the lens, the smaller the lens.
  2. High quality glass lenses will offer distortion-free viewing surfaces.
  3. Stronger is not always "better."

You can imagine the disappointment many experience when we explain some of these realities about handheld magnifiers. That said, there are many ways to improve a situation if you bring some time and patience to try various options.

Consider the story of Ed who came in with his wife recently convinced he needed a stronger magnifier. So determined was he that he simply picked out a 5x power and went home. He pushed back on trying other alternatives. Needless to say, he was back in about a week saying that he just could not use the new magnifier. "It's too strong," he said. So, we settled in for a while to learn more about Ed, what he loves to read and what is not working about his old faithful 3x magnifier. We discovered what was important to Ed and began eliminating some of what he was "sure" would work.

  • First of all, he needed light. So, the choice of a separate Eschenbach lighted "stand" handle was a good one. This really worked for him because he loves to read the paper on the kitchen table for a couple of hours every morning. With the stand magnifier approach, he can simply pull the magnifier across the surface and not lose his place. His hands also tremble, so a typical handheld magnifier will not work for him.
  • He also needed more light. We tried lamps and lightbulbs, finally deciding on a full spectrum Indoor Sunshine bulb to give more general light to his surroundings.
  • Next, he needed more visual field, not strength of magnification. Choosing a rectangular 3.5x power head (with an optional yellow bar) turned out to give him enough visual field to see enough of the newspaper column so as not to frustrate.

Ed took the time on this trip to look at several different options and to compare. He kept testing the solutions noted above and finally concluded that this combination was the best for him. Ed's case is a perfect example of how easy it is to make a wrong decision when you get your mind set on "bigger and stronger." This can lead you to buy the wrong product, to experience more frustration, and to conclude, as some do, that there is just no help for your condition.

Contact us to discuss your options. If you are in the Denver metro area, please visit Capabilities to see the wide selection of handheld magnifiers and other tools for low vision. We are planning our next quarterly low vision seminar for April 13 at 2 p.m. Stay tuned for more details shortly. Send us your name and address to get on our mailing list to be sure you get an invitation to this and all our special low vision events.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Featured Product: Walk-In Tub Takes the Worry Out of Bath Time

The bathroom becomes the most dangerous place in the house very quickly as the aging process begins. Getting stuck in the bathtub is one of the biggest problems. Fire departments get dozens of calls to "rescue" someone stuck in the tub. The old trick of getting onto your knees and holding onto the side of the tub works for a while. Then one day, you discover you cannot actually get over onto your knees. It happened to my mom years ago. Talk about panic. Luckily, one of us was at home with her at the time, so was able to help. Even so, it was quite difficult.

More and more people are rethinking things and looking into remodels of bathrooms. One option is to pull out the tub and replace it with a walk-in tub. You will find a myriad of models available now to match your specific needs. One of the most affordable walk-in tubs on the market today is the Sanspa. We like it because of its looks and its guarantee. The tub is under warranty from end to end (including the seal!) for five years. It is pretty hard to beat that coverage. You can also choose between water jets and air jets, an option that might make the difference for an aging parent who worries about the "Jacuzzi" effect. The seat is already in ADA compliance giving that extra height for ease of sitting and getting up. Learn more about the Sanspa walk-in tub. Contact us for a free consultation and discussion of installation. If you are in the Denver metro area, we can install for a flat affordable fee nearly every time.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

EFT: It Might Be For You

I sat in on the class that John Garrett and Inga Tomasino offered at Capabilities on Thursday, March 5, PTSD and You. What struck me right away is that I needed to reevaluate my frame of reference about PTSD. Inga and John began the class by reminding everyone that we all have stress. You don't have to have fought in Iraq or suffered a traumatic accident to experience PTSD. Life events affect us all differently and in unique ways. Getting the brain to redirect the experience to the safe place of memory, taking it out of the "living it" place inside us. Finding a combination of techniques to help relieve stress and its damaging effects is often a life search for many.

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) involves slight physical tapping on several points along the body, points that loosely correlate to meridian points in acupuncture, points that release energy and bring the remembered event or stress to a different part of the brain. Unlike traditional "talk" therapies, EFT can be learned and practiced immediately. In fact, by the end of the hour and a half all of us were gently tapping our own bodies, following a relaxation exercise led by Inga.

I have since spoken to a therapist friend of mine who spoke about the growing appreciation of these types of physical stimulation techniques in therapeutic circles. While she herself has not employed these techniques with her clients, she has a number of respected colleagues who are and with great results.

Having one more tool in our bags to fight off both the big stress and the small, irritating events that weigh on us every day, seems like a good thing.

If you missed the event, you can learn more about EFT at emofree.com or you can call John at (303) 844-3566 or Inga at 303-423-7903.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Capabilities Expands Selection of Pre-Owned Products

As the economy bears down on all of us, people everywhere are making sacrifices, holding off on purchases that they might once had considered a necessity, but now have put on the "someday" list. We see folks everyday wishing they could get their mother that reclining lift chair that could make all the difference in her enjoying the day to day. Or, the woman who came in recently searching for a way to get her husband out of the house again. He gets around the house on a walker alright, so Medicare won't cover a power wheelchair. But she knows if he had one, he would be willing to visit the kids and maybe go to Target with her occasionally. There is Aunt Bess whose macular degeneration has gotten bad enough that her old trusty handheld magnifier just won't do the trick to read the morning paper anymore.

If you recognize one of these stories, or have your own wish list, visit or contact us for more information about some of our pre-owned products. We will tell you just what we know about these products, many of them sold originally by Capabilities, so we know for sure their history. Here is just a sampling:

Pride Z Chair: $3000
Pride Jazzy Power Chair with elevating leg rests and wide seat: $1500
Pride Reclining Lift Chair with Heat & Massage: $1000
Telesensory Olympia Video Reader: $1200

Monday, March 2, 2009

National MS Awareness Week Underway

This week (March 2 - 8) is National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week. Designed to engage citizens across the country, the National MS Society and local chapters, are hosting walks, bike rides, and educational programs in hundreds of communities. There are nearly 400,000 Americans diagnosed with MS, with 200 new cases diagnosed every week. Worldwide the number approaches 2.5 million. Read more about MS in our blog. We previously wrote a three-part series describing more about this condition, who gets the disease, and the array of treatments available today for MS. Please consider playing an active role in combatting this disease that affects so many of our friends and neighbors. For more information on what activities you can participate in this week, visit the National MS Society.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Featured Product: Wear Close Primera Ostomy Wear

Of the 150,000 people who will be diagnosed this year with colorectal cancer, many will undergo a colostomy. This process, which creates an opening in the lower abdomen for exiting fecal matter, is often reversed after a period of time is allotted for healing from CRC surgery. There are ostomies of all types, some requiring smaller or slightly larger openings. In all cases, individuals experiencing an ostomy of some sort, seek options to ensure a return to physical and sexual intimacy. We carry the Wear Close Primera garment, a supple, smooth covering, available in black or beige, that is the closest thing to skin you can find. The company's motto is: "The next best thing to being naked." Founded by a Coloradoan and his wife, this product surpasses all others in this category.

View more about this product. Buy this product.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Globally, colorectal cancer is:

  • the third leading cause of cancer in males
  • the fourth leading cause of cancer in females one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the U.S.
  • one of the most treatable cancers identied. There are approximately one million CRC survivors in the US today.

Read about one of those million, our guest blogger, Erika Brown, and her triumph over CRC.