Thursday, June 25, 2009

Incontinence Overstock Sale

We have more adult briefs and pads than we know what to do with! Help us out by taking some off our hands. It happens! People ask us to stock a certain brand, and their needs change. Or, their loved one moves to a nursing home or passes on. We are offering Tena and Dignity brands at 40% off regular price to reduce this inventory. Come by or contact us. We ship!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Tubs Galore

Our Home Safety Day and Tub Fest on June 20 offered education and plenty of ideas for transforming an ordinary home into one safe for elders and others with physical and mental challenges. Many thanks to our partners, JRDSteam, Total Long-Term Care, and Medline for providing product, refreshments, good company and great information to our customers. Our tub distributor, JRDSteam, brought a number of easy-to-access tubs for customers to step into and see for themselves how easy these tubs are to use. Capabilities now has access to 20 different models of tubs. When looking for the right tub for you or a loved one, consider some of these basic features.
  • The door. You can find doors that swing in and those that swing out. This feature is more than just a question of taste. Consider whether the individual might feel trapped while soaking in a tub. If so, you will want a door that swings out, even though s/he should be encouraged to leave the door closed until all the water has drained before opening. Or, perhaps the individual experiences forgetfulness and might mistakenly open the door while soaking. In this case, you would want to get a door that swings in and cannot be opened while filled with water. Doors that swing out generally offer more comfort entering and exiting the tub.
  • Jets. Many models have jets as a standard feature. Whether water or air, jets keep the water moving and, in many cases, offer a therapeutic massaging effect. There are instances, however, where the individual may prefer a tub without jets, especially if s/he has fragile skin and cannot tolerate the pressure of water jets, in particular.
  • Seat. Most easy-to-access tubs offer a seat as a standard feature. Be aware of whether the seat complies with ADA standards, raised at least 17 inches from the ground. The design of some tubs allows for easy transfer from a scooter or wheelchair. Others require a step into the tub, so look for lower heights for those who will be stepping into the tub.
  • Handheld shower. Most models come equipped with a handheld shower. In some cases the design of the tub allows for mounting a shower head so users can stand or sit. Other models do not offer this feature.

Capabilities provides a free in-home evaluation to discuss easy-to-access tubs with you and your family. We also provide installation at a fixed price in most cases. Contact us today to discuss your need for an easy-to-access tub or shower.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Home Safety and Peace of Mind

Most falls happen at home, a place which quickly becomes an enemy as we age or when we experience physical illness or injury. We hear stories everyday from children and grandchildren living in fear and worry about their aging parents who still live in their homes. We hear from individuals themselves who know they should not be climbing stairs or getting into the old bathtub anymore, but want so much to stay independent and in their own homes.

On Saturday, June 20, we are hosting a home safety day with product demonstrations and lots of information. We have teamed with JRD STeam, a Denver-based distributor of walk-in tubs and showers, Medline, a family-owned distributor and manufacturer of medical and home care products, and Total Long-Term Care, Colorado's first PACE provider (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) to ensure a day-full of rich experiences for participants. Our event is open to the public and starts when our doors open at 9 a.m. A number of walk-in tubs will be on display and experts on in-home care assistance on site until 3:00 p.m. Capabilities is open until 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Register for prizes and enjoy refreshments provided by Capabilities and Total Long-Term Care.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

On Being the Denver Examiner for Mobility Products

As we mentioned last month, selected me to be the Denver Examiner for Mobility Products. After nearly a month, I have a few reflections. On the one hand, I love writing so I appreciate any opportunity to do so. Writing about mobility has become one of the topics I enjoy, of course, because it relates so directly to what I do every day at Capabilities. My knowledge of products and relevant solutions grows every day as I work with the most amazing people as our customers and suppliers.

I like taking a slightly different take on things as I write for the Examiner, a view that steps outside of my role as founder and President of Capabilities. Relating the story of the evolution of a product, perhaps focusing on its inventor, or taking one aspect of a piece of mobility equipment to highlight, such as the joystick and tiller, for example, not only pleases me, but focuses the reader's attention differently and heightens awareness. At least, I hope all this happens for readers.

On the other hand, is a business and like all businesses the motivation for the folks who run that business is to generate readership, measured in website "hits." The Examiner team stay in touch with us examiners, providing tips and ideas to improve not only our writing, but our ability to draw readers. When you go to my home page, for example, you have many options besides reading my articles. You can choose to subscribe to mine and others' articles on a variety of topics, receiving them immediately when we publish. You can also choose me as one of your "favorite" examiners (which I hope you will do!). And, you can advertise on my pages. As you know, internet advertising is nearly outpacing traditional advertising now as a preferred advertising approach. You will see that some big internet companies already appear on my mobility pages through their Google ad buys.

So, as with most things in life, our choices are generally more complex than we think at first blush. I have a great new forum for my writings that I enjoy and use to bring awareness of Capabilities and our expertise, and I have another responsibility to the organizers of that forum to help bring awareness and traffic to their business endeavor. I hope you will take a closer look at, especially my pages.

Let me know what you think and be sure to send me any suggestions or questions you might have that would be informative subjects for my blog or my Examiner articles. Thank you, as always, for your support of Capabilities and for me and Pam.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Guest Blogger: Laura Hansen, Owner of Always Best Care Senior Services

This week we are pleased to introduce you to Laura Hansen, owner of Always Best Care Senior Services. Laura's Denver metro based organization provides assistance with housing placement AND non-medical home care. For those of you giving care to aging relatives, or those of you facing decisions about your own care, you know how hard it can be to find services that are right for you and your family. Laura writes about some important considerations to keep in mind as you think about the next steps for you or your loved one. To schedule a free consultation to ask your questions and get what you need, call Laura at 303-952-3060, or visit her website at

There comes a time when most seniors need to look at housing alternatives but making a decision can be overwhelming. In addition to researching the many types of housing – from Independent Living to Skilled Nursing and everything in between – you will need to understand the many housing communities in your area so you can make an informed decision.

Here are just some of the questions you need to answer:
  • Which type of housing will best meet my needs?
  • What should I look for in a new community?
  • What questions do I need to ask?
  • Where do I turn for help figuring all of this out?

Sound overwhelming? Unless you work in the senior housing industry, it can be nearly impossible to sort through all of this information by yourself. Thankfully, you don’t have to. By contacting a Senior Housing Specialist (also known as referral or placement agencies), you can work with someone who not only understands the types of housing, but also has visited, and knows the details about, many of the local communities.

And the best part? It’s free!

Working with a Senior Housing Specialist is similar to working with a Realtor. Just as a real estate agent receives a commission from the home seller, she receives a referral fee from the communities.

Finding a new place to live
When you meet with your Senior Housing Specialist, you will begin by discussing your needs and desires as well as your budget and location preferences. Once you have narrowed your list of possible places to live, she will take you out to tour those properties. He or she will be at your side as you talk with the community’s admissions coordinator to help with questions and ensure you understand the process.

In addition to helping you find a place to live, Senior Housing Specialists can refer you to other businesses that provide specialized senior services. These services may include elder law attorneys to draw up wills and set up estates and trusts, real estate agents to help you sell your home, Veteran’s benefits specialists, moving/downsizing services and more.

Staying at home
What if you would rather stay at home? Some Senior Housing Specialists can help you find a new home or give you the care and support you will need to stay where you are. By using a business like this, the same person who helped you evaluate your housing options can also provide the non-medical home care you will need. Non-medical home care includes things like stopping by on a regular basis to see how you are doing, fixing a meal, doing light housekeeping and laundry, running errands, providing transportation to medical – or other – appointments and helping you with Activities of Daily Living such as meals, dressing, bathing and medication monitoring.

Deciding on the best living situation for your needs can be a daunting task. By working with a Senior Housing Specialist, you will be able to make an informed decision as well as have access to the additional help you may need. With their understanding of senior housing, plus their connection to other senior service providers, Senior Housing Specialists are the people to turn to for the assistance you need to stay as independent as possible.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Balancing Act

Among the many remarkable feats of the human brain, the ability to balance is one to marvel at. But balance is not a feature of the brain alone. When you think about just how many parts of our bodies are at play when we stay in balance, the awe increases. Proprioception refers to the vast network of inner regulators that allow us stand upright and stay balanced while doing so. These signals cue muscles, ligaments, nerves to do their job at just the precise moment, generally in response to external factors. Couple this ability with the organs and nerves of the inner ear and receptors that are located inside our muscles of our joints with the brain and the outcome is this incredible ability to move and balance ourselves. This vast communication system involves both large organs and the tiniest of nerve endings throughout the human body.

Maintaining balance through the aging process requires attention. While some changes are subtle and others occur perhaps through genetic fate or natural aging, there are steps you can take to ensure that your body's network stays as healthy as possible. Tending to the ongoing maintenance of core muscles, for example, is one way to help joint muscles work productively and continuously. Practicing various exercises with regularity help strengthen and stretch core muscles. For example, standing on one foot, using a balance board, standing on an air disc, stretching the foot, ankle, and leg muscles all contribute to developing core muscle strength. The recent introduction of Wii virtual sports and fitness games have added a whole new dimension to strength training and exercise for people of all ages. Many assisted living residents now engage in Wii bowling and golf and compete against each other.

Playing sports and games that help develop hand-eye coordination are also part of the approach one can take to help ward off ill effects of aging. Humans often follow the path of least resistance, especially during the aging process. Staying focused and attentive help not only preserve many of the body's amazing abilities, but contribute, too, to overall brain fitness.

If you suffer from chronic imbalance, see your physician. This could be the sign of serious conditions. If you are feeling unsteady, perhaps a little practice will help.

Share your favorite exercises and tips for balance.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Page Magnifiers: Debunking the Myth

At least once a week, I encounter someone who is looking for "a large magnifier to lay over the newspaper" for ease of reading. Generally, this person is a Boomer son or daughter trying to help out mom or dad, or a loving adult grandchild who is on the hunt for products to get grandparents involved again. Occasionally, it is the individual him- or herself, struggling with the changes brought about by macular degeneration or some other condition that affects vision. They all want the page magnifier to do the trick.

The page magnifier is a useful tool, but only under certain circumstances. If you have generally good eyesight and are just at the early stages of "presbyopia," the natural aging of the eye muscles that causes many in their 40s and 50s to require reading glasses, a page magnifier may help deliver just enough magnification to ease the strain. However, because large-size page magnifiers are developed using the "fresnel" process, named for the French physicist and engineer, Augustin-Jean Fresnel, their ability to provide distortion-free viewing is compromised. Fresnel processing allows for the production of inexpensive lens or magnifying surfaces, stamped from sheets of transparent plastic. It offers an alternative to the complex and detailed work typically involved with grinding lenses for correction or magnification of eyesight.

The fresnel process does not use the mathematics of lens production either, which dictate that the greater the level of magnification, the smaller the lens. This phenomenon confounds and disappoints many who enjoy using handheld magnifiers, but just want one that has a bigger field. So, the request for something large that also magnifies to a greater degree is ubiquitous among older folks especially, but difficult to deliver in the world of good quality glass magnifiers. With Fresnel quality lenses, one can get the size and some level of magnification. That's the good news. The bad news is that there is often lots of distortion, causing for a blurred image. One has to be prepared to fiddle quite a bit with the magnifier, too, to alter the lighting and the distance to see clearly.

This solution is simply not the right one for those with macular degeneration or other conditions affecting vision. If eyesight is already compromised by one of these conditions, the eye's ability to adjust to distortions of any kind is extremely difficult.

So, while page magnifiers seem to hold the promise of a larger field of vision and greater levels of magnification, it is best to invest in a high quality magnifier or a video magnifier for better results. For example, this around the neck magnifier offers magnification at 2x, but a fairly large field of vision. With the correct lighting, it can be a terrific solution for reading the paper or a book. It is especially great for needlework, tying flies, examining coins, or any close work.
If you are in the greater Denver metro area, stop by our showroom and try out a selection of magnifiers to make the best choice for you. Our trained staff will work with you individually to be sure you are satisfied before you purchase.

What works for you? If you have low vision or know someone who does, sign up for our invitations to low vision seminars held regularly at Capabilities flagship location in the Denver metro area.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Osteoporosis: Tackle It Before It Tackles You

Osteoporosis is accelerated bone loss. Most of us Boomers know by now that the natural aging process causes many changes, among them some bone mass loss. More prevalent in women after menopause, the process of aging in general diminshes the efficiency of how bones "remodel" in the body. The typical process for remodeling bone, including mineralization, takes about eight months. As our bones become less effective at maintaining themselves, we experience greater risk of osteoporosis.

Because it is a "silent" disease without symptoms for a long period of time, many do not even realize they are losing bone density. There are easy tests available today to measure bone density through physicians and other health care professionals. Diet and exercise play significant roles in the prevention of osteoporosis, as does the restriction of certain prescription and over-the-counter medications, especially those for arthritis symptoms. As the body produces fewer hormones (e.g., estrogen in women and androgen in men), the body's ability to create new bone and to absorb properly "old" bone during the process of remodeling has a profound impact on susceptibility to osteoporosis. Scientists have not conclusively eliminated hereditary factors from playing a role with this disease.

With sustained bone loss over time, the risk of falling increases. And with falling, comes the serious potential outcome of broken bones. Fifty-five percent of elders who fall do so at home. We have written in this blog previously about fall prevention and treatment. Enhancing balance and strengthening core muscles are important for overall health and essential for strengthening bones. Use an exercise ball, sitting disc or balance board as a regular part of your fitness routine.

Losing some bone as we age might be a normal part of the process, however if you focus on these few simple ideas and have a routine check of bone density, you are likely to tackle this disease before it tackles you and brings you down.

Do you have osteoporosis? If so, what are you doing to stay on top of it? If not, have you have a bone density test? Tell us about it. Post a comment to this blog now.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Elder: A New Old Word

We have written before of the dilemma we sometimes find ourselves in here at Capabilities. We are a store for mobility and comfort and serve people along the whole age and abilities spectrum. Needless to say, we serve a large number of older folks as they and their families address the physical needs that emerge during the aging process. We have fought against the word, senior, and its many (sometimes perjorative) connotations. We use "older" quite a bit and refer, too, to the generational monikers of WWII Generation, the Silent Generation, and Boomers as means of conveying certain age groups. Occasionally, we use "elder," full with its original meaning of someone with experience who has a place of respect in a community. Its early usage often denotes someone who was connected with a church or religion, a tribe or community.

The word elder is making a comeback, we notice. For a while, it was rare to find the service or book, article or organization that used the word in its title. You might have found it in a subtitle or description of services. Lately, we see it emerging again. Dr. Marion Somers, for whom we have great respect, has a great book, Elder Care Made Easier, with tips and simple steps for caring for aging relatives and other loved ones. Her work centers on ensuring that we care for our elders in a most respectful and thoughtful way, while not burning out during the process.
We see new organizations sprouting and old ones getting makeovers, transplanting "senior" with "elder." As Boomers step now into the next decade of life, getting closer to those we used to think "old," resisting labels and notions that have perhaps summed up others, but not ourselves, our culture seems ready to find new words, or refurbish old ones, to speak about certain realities. For a culture that usually wants nothing to do with aging, the inevitable is upon us. The largest generation for decades will become society's oldest members within fewer years than most of us like to think. Will we be its elders, too?

What's your reaction to words like "senior" and "elder?" Is there another one you prefer? Does it really matter in the end? Weigh in. Post your comment below or email us.