Thursday, April 30, 2009

Grandma Again!

As always, it is a delight when Pam blogs on our site. Here are some musings from her on the occasion of the birth of her sixth grandchild. And check out this cute photo of Grandma and Miles when he was just minutes old!

On Saturday, April 25, my youngest daughter, Heather, gave birth to a beautiful boy, Miles Guthrie. At 6 lbs, 11 oz., he has dark blond hair. I know it will all fall out and he will be another tow-head like his father and two older brothers. He looks at the world with eyes that still don’t focus and looks like he is still in another space trying to figure out where he is. He is beautiful, of course, in that newborn kind of beauty — bruised and wrinkled with skin that will never be as soft again. I’ve participated in the birth of all six of my grandkids; Miles will likely be the last. I know that’s why I have been finally reflecting on my own mortality and on the “end of life” issues that have come up in this past decade. As I meet and love the new babies, I also grieve the same number of losses – a brother, brother-in-law, sister, uncle, my mother and my mother-in-law. At 64, I should expect this, but somehow, I still feel shock that I am old enough to see this, that I am old enough to have daughters in their 30s, mothers who were in their 90s and brothers and sister too young to die in their 50s and 60s, losing the patriarch of the Pressel family in his 80s. Facing my own mortality is daunting. There is never enough time to say and do all the things you want, or to accomplish everything you feel is important. I read all the messages about living in the moment and achieving balance, but still struggle with the daily challenge of finding time for everything. I feel the tug between the daily persistence of building a business, working 10 hour days and trying to be Grandma, be at the games, school plays, and just enjoying family time. Family and friends matter most. They give me the most satisfaction. I love looking at one of my grandkids and seeing myself fleetingly, or noticing that one of them has my sister’s hands, my mom’s voice, knowing that I and my loved ones live on in the babies makes all the struggles worth the effort.

In the end, all I can do is try to live a life that will keep me healthy enough to see who these kids turn out to be. I plan on seeing them grow, mature and, hopefully, seeing their own children one day. I doubt that I get to be in the delivery room again, but you never know!

In the meantime, Miles happily pulls me into this moment. I love being Grandma…again!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Author of "Retirement Homes Are Murder" Reads At Capabilities

We are delighted to announce that Mike Befeler, author of the best-selling, "Retirement Homes Are Murder" is coming to Capabilities to give a reading, chat about the book and writing in general, and sign books. He is scheduled for June 4, 2009 at 6:30 p.m. We strongly recommend that you RSVP for what is bound to be a very popular event. Stay tuned to our blog as we write more about Mike, his book and the great reviews he is receiving for this, his debut novel.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swine Flu and Masks

In this business we are always curious about how a day can change the flow of things. With the news of growing cases of swine flu over the weekend, we met Monday with a flood of requests for masks, surgical masks, N95 particulate respirator masks, and kind of mask people could get their hands on. Typically, this is not a volume product for us, so we keep a few boxes on hand. By noon they were gone. By late afternoon I learned that my supplier, a national distributor of medical products, was also out. Today, we turned away dozens of people on the hunt. We have learned that 3M, the manufacturer of the most popular N95 respirator, has increased production, adding shifts and people to the cause. No wonder our distributor found itself on the empty end of things as of Monday night.

In the meantime have you seen reports of what to do to combat this flu? Every report I have seen or heard says that masks are of minimal value and yet people are still clamoring for them. "They are better than nothing," some reports declare. It is the human condition to want to control as much of reality as we can. While science tells us on the one hand that this flu is not as serious as other epidemics, indeed, pandemics, that have attacked over the years, we imagine the worst. Or, at least, we try to prepare for the worst.

Interestingly, however, travel to Mexico did not seem to be down as of earlier Monday. Should the number of cases grow, and especially, if the number of deaths associated with the disease grow, travel will most undoubtedly be affected. For now, the U.S. has reported no deaths related to swine flu.

The Los Angeles Times reported today on the subject of masks, that if given a choice, choose the N95 particulate respirator. This product fits snugly around the mouth and nose and actually filters out small particles. Regular surgical masks will protect from droplets, but are so loose fitting as to allow airborne particles to enter into your system. The article also reported that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) remind us that no mask offers 100% protection. Used in combination with other behaviors, you can reduce your risk of contracting this and other influenza-like diseases. Hand-washing, for example, continues to be at the top of the list. Cover your mouth when coughing, stay at home if you have symptoms, including fever, and avoid crowds. If you must be in a crowd, a respirator can serve you well.

We will always be amazed at the role that Capabilities can play in everyday life. Last week at this time we would have never imagined to have purchased hundreds of N95 respirators. If we had, though, we would have been the hottest place in town this week!

Capabilities is on the list for these masks when they are available. Contact us for more details if you are still in the market for them.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mothers' Day Wish Lists

We see a lot of mothers -and grandmothers, and aunts, and sisters - at Capabilities. Every day we watch individuals touch, try out and consider any number of products in our store. We overhear the conversations with friends or other family members about how great it would be to have "x" or "y." "When I get my check next month, I'll come back for that." Or, "if I win the lottery, I will treat myself to something like that." So, as we list some gift ideas for moms and other great women in your life, we know a thing or two about what we're saying. Trust us. Here are three that we think would delight even the most resistant of relatives:

  1. Janska Easy-to-Wear Clothing. How about a lapwrap for grandmother? She loves to cozy up in her easy chair to relax after a full day. She seems to always get a chill, though, and there is never anything handy to throw over her shoulders. Or the leopard vest, fashionable and practical all at once, especially great during windy spring days? Mocsocks are terrific, especially at this funny in-between time of year.

  2. Decorative Hand-Painted Canes. As you might know, we are always on the lookout for the unique and practical. We also love to feature local artists, and those with local ties. We have written before about our own Amy Vicioso from the metro Denver area who creates gorgeous gold-leafed designs on canes, walkers, crutches and wheelchairs. Give someone you love a gift that is truly one of a kind, and might help her keep her balance besides! We also have hand-crafted wooden canes designed by Gae Miller originally from the metro Denver area, now residing in Ann Arbor, MI.

  3. Reclining Lift Chair. We hear women every day sigh that great "ahhh" of comfort when they try out our collection of these comfortable chairs. Not intended just for those who have difficulty sitting or getting up from a sitting position, this multiposition chair also ensures that you get plenty of circulation by elevating your feet, for example. Or, if your loved one is one of the millions with sleep disruptions, this chair can provide a comfortable sleep option occasionally, especially those with "infinite" positioning ability. Considered by many an extravagance, the reclining lift chairs in our collection are affordable, stylish and come with some of the best warranties in the business. Now through the end of May, we are offering 10% off many of the chairs in our showroom. Stop by or contact us for details.

We have hundreds of items and lots of ideas, especially for those "hard to buy" women in your lives. If you have a unique or interesting Mothers' Day idea, post it here or at the end of our blog so others can add it to their lists, too.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Vein Surgery and Compression Stockings

This is the time of year when many who have considered vein surgery actually opt to have it. As warm weather approaches and the thought of "showing some leg" in shorts or bathing suits becomes more of a reality, a number of folks, especially women, say it's time to take of those varicose or spider veins. For some, surgery is a must, especially for certain conditions.

Varicose veins are enlarged superficial veins in the legs and thighs that generally are more of a cosmetic annoyance than a serious health problem. However, these veins can grow larger and become more engorged over the years, causing swelling, itching and pain. The cause of varicose veins is unknown, but specialists suspect that the valves that prevent the back flow of blood become damaged or ineffectual over the years from normal wear and tear, or trauma, and blood begins to flow backwards and pools. Pregnancy, obesity, standing for long periods, or other trauma can contribute to the development of varicose veins. They are more common in women and some specialists have linked varicose veins to levels of estrogen.

Treatment for varicose veins can range from invasive procedures, such as "stripping," where the vein is literally removed. If the valve is the culprit sometimes it can be "tied off" and the smaller veins cut away with small incisions. Laser therapies to remove the vein from the thigh or leg are growing increasingly popular. When any surgical solution is indicated, preparation for surgery requires several weeks of wearing a high level compression stocking, generally pantyhose or thigh high stockings. Once surgery is completed, compression stockings must continue to be worn for several weeks to ensure proper circulation. Compression assists the body's natural venous system to operate effectively, moving blood more efficiently and smoothly through the veins.

In fact, wearing compression as a precautionary therapy can be an effective deterent to varicose veins when combined with exercise and simple behaviors, such as not crossing the legs, or elevating legs as frequently as possible.

Always discuss your health issues with your physician or other trusted health care professionals. For more information about compression, read our blog or contact us. Our staff is highly trained in the fitting of compression garments and we are delighted to work with you to find the right fit for you and your situation.
Have you had vein surgery? Are you contemplating it? Post a comment to this blog and share your experiences.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Featured Product: Duet Combo Walker Transport Chair

You know you have wondered why no one had invented this yet? Drive Medical already did! And what a sweet machine this is! Maybe you have been in this position with your mother, Aunt Marge, or Grandpa. You start out fresh for a day on the town, walker in tow. It is even the walker with the seat. Sure enough, after a while, that seat comes in handy for a rest. But, then, after a bit longer, walking at all seems too difficult for your sweet relative or friend. What to do now? You cannot safely push a typical rolling walker with someone sitting on it. The risk of tipping over is too great. Well, put all that worry behind you now. The Duet makes it easy. Use it as a rolling walker for as long as is comfortable. Then, with a few simple moves, convert it to a transport chair, safe enough and easy to push along no matter where you are. There is even a convertible footrest to make it all the more comfy. See details or purchase one now.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

At What Price Independence at a Time Like This

As I think about weighing in on these economic times, I find myself resisting talking about it on the one hand, and obsessing on the other. As an entrepreneur and small business owner, I am faced nearly every moment with the impact of the economy as I watch people make very different decisions about their purchases. As an individual facing those same choices, I understand all too well why many are willing to "put off" buying some of the things that would make life easier and safer. It is remarkable the things that used to be "must haves" that are now "nice to haves." And, when we perceive something as nice to have, we feel better about delaying the purchase.

That said, I am satisified to be in a business that offers primarily "must have" products. While shoppers are making different choices, and more choices based solely on price, most of what Capabilities offers is part of a product mix that offers real solutions to life's challenges.

We write often in this blog about the vast array of choice you have as a consumer these days. And, our mission at Capabilities is to help you find the most relevant and appropriate solution. I honestly would rather not have you purchase a product if it is wrong than face a return of it a week or two later. Returns drive everyone crazy!

So, here is a small calculator of sorts to help you and your family factor in one of the biggest decisions that often face elders and those around them. Should we stay in our home or should we move? And if we decide to move, should we move to a smaller, single level home or apartment, or should we invest in an assisted living or residential retirement community setting? If you have faced or are facing this type of decision, you know that the angles you must consider are endless. But, without a doubt, the financial impact is often foremost in everyone's mind, whether each person admits to it or not.

At Capabilities, we have helped many families understand the financial impact of potential solutions to make the home safe and a very real option again as aging relatives approach a crossroads about their own independence and mobility. You can take the figures we share below as ballpark approaches to weighing the other options, at least from a financial perspective. Folks are often surprised about how manageable some of these options really are when positioned against the costs of moving and the expenses associated with some of the alternative living arrangements. In the end, you and your family will make the best decision. Please consider us a partner with you as you explore the options.

  • Stair lifts start at under $3000, installed.

  • Walk-in or soaker tubs start at $4200. We offer local installation st $1500 in most cases.

  • Adjustable mechanisms for kitchen cabinets, stove tops, sinks start at $1500. We have a network of installation experts in nearly every state that we value and trust to refer to you.

  • Automatic door openers start at just over $1000. We offer local installation from our own team of service experts or our national network of installers.

  • Portable ramps for inside or outside the home are available a wide price range from approximately $50 to $1500. Our local and national service experts can also help you determine more permanent ramp solutions from aluminum to treated wood solutions.

For under $20K, you can transform most homes into safer homes. Of course, you can spend a lot more, too, depending on your circumstances. Please do not eliminate an option too early on because you imagine the expense to be too high. Doing some research can bring surprising results, results that can help you or your elders stay independent AND financially secure for a long time.

Contact us for an in-home evaluation or advice on where to find someone who can do this if you are located outside the Denver metro area.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Dr. Reeves Energizes Capabilities Low Vision Seminar

Our Low Vision events are always popular. The latest one on Monday, April 13, was extraordinary! With standing room only crowds rapt with attention, Dr. Diana Reeves wove together stories of her experiences as a retinal specialist and surgeon, the great advances being made every day in the field of eye research, and responses to questions from anyone who had one. She opened the floor early in her discussion to customize the event for the attendees. The response was terrific with questions ranging from what to do about implants gone wrong, to dry eyes, to wet and dry macular degeneration. Dr. Reeves brings spark and sizzle to what can be either a very dry subject or one that is frightening. She blends hope and optimism with large doses or realism. Many in the crowd stayed around afterwards to ask Dr. Reeves even more questions about their situations. Her advice overall, especially to those with macular degeneration, is to work with a specialist. While increasingly opthalmologists with general practices are learning more about macular degeneration, specialists invest in particular areas affected and become experts. In fact, Dr. Reeves spoke about the state-of-the-art technology in her office that allows her to take 3-D digital photographs of the retina and surrounding areas. I have had the privilege of seeing some of them and they are spectacularly detailed. She says she can see changes minute to minute through the use of this technology, especially useful when someone is suffering from a persistent problem.

If you would like to be on our mailing list for the next low vision seminar and to receive some of our discount coupons, please sign up and include your name, address, phone number, and email address if you have one.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

It's April. Read a Poem. Write a Poem. Give a Poem.

April celebrates many causes. It also celebrates poetry. If you follow my blog, you know that I love poetry, reading it, writing it, and using it to make sense out of some of the crazy things that happen over the course of a lifetime. We even feature some poetry on our web site where you can see just what some of our favorites have been over time. We began featuring poetry on our site not only because I personally enjoy it. Poetry has a lot to do with wellness, and while Capabilities provides products, we also care about you and your health in so many other ways, too.

Here are just some of the ways poetry can be part of your wellness program:
  • Reading poetry can offer a calming effect akin to meditation which helps alleviate stress.Writing poetry provides a vehicle for self-expression, another important element in managing the craziness of every day, giving you a safe and beautiful outlet for your thoughts and imagination.
  • Introducing yourself to poetry can be good for your brain. Remember that brain fitness occurs every time you expand yourself beyond your comfortable range of activities. If you typically would not open a book of poetry to save your soul, try save your brain.
  • Getting more comfortable with poetry brings you a whole new world of culture, ideas and literary references for doing the NY Times Sunday crossword puzzle.

Here's a haiku by Teiko Inahata that caught my eye today. "With the look/of chasing a butterfly,/ I join in." Won't you join in? Share one of your favorites with us.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Featured Events: Creative Wellness and Grief + Loss Workshops

Susan Bruckner, MA, GC-C has a background in Mental Health, Grief and Loss, Chronic Illness, Aromatherapy, Horticultural Therapy and in the philosophies of The Eden Alternative. Her dedication to improving the quality of life of Elders has laid the foundation for Elder Wellness’s Enrichment Programs. Through these programs, Susan offers a compassionate, creative, and respectful approach to wellness that honors the strengths and wisdom within each Elder and that emphasizes love, laughter, and life. Elder Wellness’s programs offer a unique twist to the traditional group approach to wellness and are guided largely by participants’ interests. Programs are available to individuals and groups and are brought to a location of your choice. Susan and we at Capabilities are pleased to offer a Creative Wellness and a Grief and Loss Support Group here at Capabilities, starting April 21. Please check our Events schedule for details.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Featured Product: Arch Cradles

As you focus on foot health, especially this month, consider what kind of TLC you can offer your feet. When you walk, the foot absorbs one times the body's weight. Just imagine the strain and stress on your feet everyday, even if you have a desk job! I discovered arch cradles a few years ago when we first opened Capabilities. I previously had the kind of work that allowed me to sit down quite a bit during the day, so I was shocked at the end of my early days as the proud co-owner of a retail store that required me to be on my feet nearly all day long! It seemed as if every bone and muscle ached for relief. After consulting a number of folks, including a podiatrist, I tried over the counter arch cradles as a first approach. They worked! Adding the extra support under my arch and providing soothing pressure to the metarsal area of the foot (often called "the ball" of the foot, just under the toes) did the trick. I still feel some discomfort occasionally when we have an exceptionally busy day, but overall, I highly recommend arch cradles if you are experiencing pain in your toes, ball of the foot, arch or heel. Check out our arch cradles to learn more. I found a great website,, that does an interesting job explaining the foot and all conditions related to foot pain or discomfort.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

When Caregiving Gets Dangerous

Nearly everyday I meet someone who is a primary caregiver for a family member. Sometimes the caregiver is a strapping young son or daughter, teenage or adult grandkid, neice or nephew who lifts weights on the side, so lifting dad or grandma off the floor or a chair is not as much of a challenge as it might be for others. Often, the caregiver is a Boomer, still filled with plenty of strength and vitality, patience and curiosity, but the level of assistance now required to help a loved one out of the chair or onto the toilet is increasing and starting to take its toll. Quite frequently, the caregiver is a spouse, an aging man or woman taking care of his or her spouse. Caregiving gets most frightening when the physical abilities between caregiver and the person being cared are separated by a frail and thin line. Many individuals do not have the luxury of hiring folks to assist with caregiving in the home, and while some services are covered by insurance, there are more limitations than not.

Your risks as a caregiver increase the more you find yourself involved with lifting or as your loved one becomes more and more dependent on your physical strength to get through the daily activities of living. And if you are caring for an elder, falling is the number one reason for injury in the home among that demographic. Your risks include falling yourself as you attempt to lift someone or injuring your back or other critical parts of your body. I met someone recently who did not know her own heart was weakening and she suffered a heart attack while trying to lift her disabled sister from bed. This situation created all kinds of havoc in the family, as the primary caregiver became incapacitated.

While good judgment is always the guiding light, there are a few tools you should know about as a caregiver who must give signifcant levels of physical assistance to someone. From the simple to sophistocated, these tools help preserve you as the caregiver, a gift almost as important as your already generous act of caring for your loved one.

  1. Gait Belt: This is one of the simplest and yet most effective tools available to you. It is most appropriate for those who have some mobility and can provide some effort when standing and walking. You place the belt around the waist and use it (instead of pants or blouses) to hold onto from the back to give the individual a bit more assistance. You can buy one with handles or purchase the handles separately and attach to a regular gait belt. Gait belts are wider than dress belts, so provide more protection to the individual as you grab and grip them at the waist.

  2. Lift chairs, tub lifts, stair lifts and vertical platform lifts: There are a variety of products that help prevent falling in the first place. A reclining lift chair, for example, lifts the individual to a height that makes the transfer out of the chair infinitely simpler for both the individual and the caregiver. A tub lift makes the bath tub safe again. I know a family that came in horrified to have discovered their mom crawling backwards down the basement stairs to do the laundry. Installing a stair lift immediately restored confidence to the family that their mother would be safe, and gave the mother her independence to continue to do the daily chores she loved doing. Installing grab bars, safety poles and bed assists is also a great way to offer prevention without taking away freedom.

  3. Patient lifts: This category refers to hydraulic or electric lift mechanisms that provide safety for the individual and the caregiver when the individual is unable to do many of the activities of daily living, such as getting up, laying down, toileting and maneuvering around the home. The traditional patient lift, often called a "hoyer," named after the originator of the lift, involves putting a sling under the individual's buttocks to lift and guide the individual to a different position, from seating to lying to toileting. Considered one of the most effective lifting devices, the "hoyer" has more recent competition from lifting devices that allow the individual to be in slightly different positions while being lifted. As you might imagine, not everyone prefers the sensation of hanging from a sling while being moved around a room. Stand-assist lifts help you lift someone from sitting into standing positions. A sling is applied to the back of the individual while the legs and knees are supported with padded areas at the front of the lift. The "Easy Pivot," a product designed by a Colorado engineer who became paraplegic allows you to secure a sling under the buttocks and lift the individual while he or she leans over a padded area. The leaning position gives the individual the sense of stability while being moved, especially since it is designed for those who have some strength to hold onto the padded structure. Straps and other safety features on all lifting mechanisms give you and the person you care for security and confidence that the transferring operation will go smoothly and safely.

Are your caregiving responsibilities endangering you? Maybe it is time to pause and consider your safety, too. For more conversation about these products and others to make the home safe, contact or visit our flagship location.