Friday, February 19, 2010

One More Amazing Effect of Fish Oil

The latest news is that fish oil may help reduce risk of psychosis or schizophrenia. The study involved people with a family history of psychosis or who had mild psychotic symptoms. The positive effects of the fish oil capsules with omega-3 fatty acids may result from changes in cell membranes and interactions with neurotransmitters in the brain.

Omega-3 fatty acids have been in the news for a few years for their beneficial impact on heart health and general brain health. Found in many types of fish, some doctors recommend supplements, especially for those with certain heart conditions. Caution is suggested in selecting the type of fish as some contain higher levels of toxins than others. Coldwater fish, such as salmon and trout, are recommended for their levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts and flaxseed also contain high levels. And don’t miss brussel sprouts, kale and algae.

Some foods endure in their goodness. And, science finds them over and over again.
Read more about omega-3.

Do you take your omega-3 in natural foods, supplements or both? Tell us about it.

Monday, February 15, 2010

New Tool for Caregivers

If you are one of the over 50 million Americans who provides care for a loved one, you will want to check out a new online tool. It is still in beta stage, so you can also be one of the early testers of this tool. The founders are inviting participation and feedback.

You can find the tools at, a hub designed to provide caregivers a centralized place for information and communication. As elders and others who need care become the center of a family dynamic, someone generally emerges as the lead caregiver. However, it is not uncommon that other family members and friends around the country (and perhaps the globe) want and need to be part of the communication process and decision-making. Calls, emails and potentially confusing interactions can drain a family quickly of all resolve to provide care and be as focused on their loved one as possible.

Patients and Families has a secure network for communications among family members, physicians, therapists and others involved in the caregiving process. It is easy to post appointments, updates, details about medications and whatever else feels important at the time.

Watch a video tour that offers a day-in-the-life example.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

PEAK Parent Center Launches 24th Annual Conference on Inclusive Education

PEAK Parent Center opens its 24th annual conference on Thursday, February 11, 2010 at Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center. The conference runs through Saturday, February 13, 2010. Walk-in registrations take place Thursday morning starting at 8:00 a.m. and Friday at 7:00 a.m.

The conference agenda addresses best practices and research-based strategies for supporting fully inclusive classroomes. There are "topical institutes" that cover issues in depth ranging from autism to early intervention; and mastery sessions on youth leadership, the IEP (Individualized Education Program, assistive technology, among other topics. Keynote speakers include self-advocates with cognitive disabilities, educators and artists.

Contact PEAK or call 719-531-9400 x118.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Bowl 2010 Ads Please and Annoy

Over 106 million people watched Super Bowl on Sunday, February 7, 2010. More than the final episode of M.A.S.H. It was a record breaker! And today, millions more are voting for their favorite commercials. Betty White in the Snickers ad is topping the chart. What a bonus when Abe Vigoda also appeared at the end of that commercial!

There were other age-related ads, including one with Brett Favre, the oldest QB still playing in the NFL. Looking older with gray hair, he is accepting the MVP award at Super Bowl 2021. “Maybe I should retire,” he says with a touch of irony at the end of this Hyundai commercial. The Who performed at half-time. Pete Townsend has a blog. Oh, and did you see Kiss, the 36-year old band, shilling for Dr. Pepper? Read more about these “aging is funny” ads.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid released its latest figures on health care spending in the U.S. Health care costs represented 17.3% of GDP in the U.S. last year. Within a few years this percentage will grow to 20%. In other words $1 of every $5 spent in the U.S. will be on health care. Many countries have nationalized health care. The UK has a national system for health care which represents about 7% of the economy. Some argue that the U.S. has no system, no organized way of controlling costs. As a political commentator said tonight, “Having a health care system of some sort seems fiscally responsible, or at least fiscally insane not to.”

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Don't Get Too Stressed Watching the Super Bowl

Are you ready for this? Experts say that getting too riled up can wreak havoc. In fact, some say it can kill you. While on the face of it, this news seems a bit crazy, the research is rather convincing. We know high stress plays a role in elevated levels of all things bad for you. Add to this all the eating of wings, chips and other artery thickening products, not to mention the beer and other libations. If you are already at risk (especially if you don't know it), the formula can be disastrous as you scream, jump and otherwise feel large amounts of anger about the emerging results on Super Bowl Sunday.

"Spectator risk," Dr. Stephen Siegel, a cardiologist at New York University Langone Medical Center, calls it. The study took place at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

The big advice from those who published this study that looked not only at Super Bowl results in the 1980s, but at 2006 World Soccer cup results (and if you think we get excited about our sports here in the U.S., you don't know from excitement and emotion that the rest of the world experiences about soccer) is to relax and enjoy the game. "Don't spend your life savings on betting on it!" The incidences of heart attacks, and fatal ones at that, increased in the hours and days immediately following those events.

As for the science of it all, researchers say that the body releases large amounts of catecholamines (also called epinephrine and norepinephrine) into the bloodsteam at times of stress. "These chemicals can trigger atherosclerotic plaques to rupture, resulting in an acute heart attack or can trigger life-threatening arrhythmias resulting in sudden cardiac death," he said. "Individuals with preexisting heart conditions and those with risk factors for heart disease are at increased risk for such events," says Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

So, as you gather round the TV this Sunday, do some deep breathing first and remember that it is just a game, at least for most of us. Peyton Manning and Drew Brees have a bit more skin in the game, so they can be forgiven for having high levels of stress at kickoff time (4:25 MT).

Tell us about how invested you get in Super Bowl. Are you feeling palpitations? Or are you among the millions who don't care one bit.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thoughts About My Retail Experience...Now Past

Having spent the last five years as a retailer, I find myself still following trends and predictions, even though I closed my store. In my case, the economy won this round. Who knows what will come, but for the moment, I am looking for expanded ways to make a living. A Renaissance life, perhaps!

Nonetheless, I read with interest some of the analysis at the start of this new year about the retail outlook for 2010. The prognosticators say:

  1. Those who survived 2009 will find less competition. So many businesses closed (by choice or forced) that the landscape in most industries is, in fact, different. I know it’s true in the medical supply/equipment world. The trend started well before we opened Capabilities. We believed our concept, unique and focused on disposable income and not so much on insurance, is still the wave of the future, we believe. And, it was working for the first three years we were opened. It was the unexpected recession hitting so deeply and widely that pushed our model to the limit. With less income, customers wanted only what insurance covered. And that is just not a lot.
  2. Store expansion will continue at a snail’s pace, so there will be leverage to renegotiate with landlords on space. Retailers still “open for business” can work on repackaging rent and other fixed expenses.
  3. The jury is still out on whether or not there will be more access to business credit as the banks weigh carefully just how much credit they want to extend.
  4. Consumers are slowly, slowly spending again. They will still want to buy things on sale, so big profits are most likely not on the horizon for retailers.
  5. In any industries affiliated with health care and insurance it is certain consumers will want whatever they can reasonable get through insurance, if they have it. Tightening the belt will continue with consumers, the experts say, so retailers in any industry have to respond to this demand for rock bottom pricing.
  6. Dollar stores and high end luxury retailers will emerge as the stronger players.
  7. While Boomers led the last decade with a consumer spending spree, Gens X and Y will most likely lead the recovery. “The engine of the Boomer has run out of gas,” says Lois Huff, senior vice president of Retail Forward.
  8. Sustainability will also be a big issue for retailers across the board.
  9. E-commerce will grow in new ways, more personal, easier to access (think phone apps).
  10. Authenticity will become more important than ever. Deliver what you say you will. Watch that marketing efforts and actual experience are not out of sync. Consumers are on the lookout for something to believe in, in spite of the price sensitivity.

Retailers will have a harder time holding onto the “loyalty” message. Retail experts say new ways to promote loyalty must be created. The ubiquitous “key tag” just won’t cut it anymore. Competition will happen on the technological front. The more savvy the retailer regarding consumer buying habits, the more likely that retailer will be the winner.

And the list goes on…While I miss working as intimately as we did with customers to solve the big (and small) problems they faced as they looked for solutions to mobility and comfort challenges, I am relieved on some level to let others sort through the wiles of retailing right now. I look for more diverse ways to bring information to those who need it, and I am delighted to find some.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Looking for Inspiration

While there is generally no dearth of inspirational stories around us, there are occasional days that seem low on brilliance. Last night was such a night for me, so I flipped on the Turner Classic Movie channel, hoping to catch a great Oscar winning movie as the channel does its countdown to the Academy Awards a month away.

Sure enough, “The Best Years of Our Lives” had just begun. This 1946 film portrays three veterans returning from WW II and the challenges they face upon re-entry to their day-to-day lives. Clearly a precursor to the genre that emerged after the Vietnam War (e.g., "Coming Home," "Born on the Fourth of July," "The Deer Hunter"), this film threaded the needle carefully as each character confronts his emotional, and physical, realities. While the film has a happy ending, unlike its more contemporary counterparts, it does present some of the rawness of war’s consequences. Homer Parish, for example, returns home with no hands. Fitted with prosthetic hooks, he struggles to make peace with his newfound disability, sure that his sweetheart will no longer want him. The performance is inspiring. More inspiring still is the story of how Harold Russell came to play Homer Parish in this film.

Director William Wyler learned about Russell, a vet and non-actor, from a documentary that was made about Russell’s service during WW II where he lost his hands detonating a bomb. Wyler rewrote the Parish character for Russell, who went on to win two Oscars for that performance, the only actor ever to do so. Read more about this remarkable actor and the film.

I have written about prosthetics and robotics in other articles. Each time I research this topic, I not only admire the will and determination of so many otherwise ordinary people who face what life tosses them, but I also feel changed. Is this inspiration? See the video of a brave and rather blasé man showing how he uses his prosthetic hand.

And don’t miss all the recent news about the Mono Skier X competition in the Winter X Games 14. Talk about inspirational!

What inspires you? Post your comments below and send us your ideas for ways to “be unlimited.”

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

ADA Set to Celebrate 20 Years as Law

In the summer of 1990, the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law of the land. Changes on that large a scale do not happen without the efforts of many. One of the trailblazers, Justin Dart, is widely recognized as the "father of the ADA." Born in 1930, Dart contracted polio at the age of 18 and used a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He led the movement for "disabilities rights" for over three decades. As an entrepreneur and civil rights activist, he received presidential appointments and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Dart died in 2002 at age 71.

This summer, however, Dart will be remembered at the 20th anniversary celebration of the ADA at the U.S. Social Forum to be held in Detroit, June 22 - 26. The Detroit-based Matrix Theater Company is crafting a giant street puppet in Dart's likeness to be used in theater pieces, parades and demonstrations throughout the summer, debuting at the June event. The Matrix Theater involves the community, raising the $7500 needed to complete the project. Once the Dart puppet is built it will join the ranks of other Matrix masterpieces in the likeness of Martin Luther King, Mother Jones and Caesar Chavez. You can make a donation to Matrix at Facebook.

"If the giant Justin Dart puppet is used to communicate his cry for everyone to 'Lead the Revolution of Individual Empowerment' particularly to youth with disabilities, it would be awesome, and extremely meaningful and valuable," said Yoshiko Dart, his wife.
The ADA ensures accessibility to public places and work places for people with disabilities. Advocate groups for those with disabilities stay vigilant to businesses and community venues that do not abide by ADA guidelines, often challenging them in court and with lawsuits if necessary. The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition has current cases pending against Abercrombie & Fitch/Hollister Stores and the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing.
Ramps, sidewalk cutouts, and elevators are a way of life now. If you remember what things were like before ADA, share an experience.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Why not health insurance reform?

I'm with the side that asks "why not." President Obama asked the Congress to reconsider and take another look before abandoning the efforts. The list is long with the needs, gaps and costs of reform. Why do we need this, shout the opposition. But, isn't the real question, why not? As we look at the vast numbers of people who are uninsured and who cannot obtain insurance, the question begs to be answered. Why can't we insure them? Why are preconditions deemed uninsurable? How can we have created so many "have nots?" I do not believe there are no answers. Do you? Please do not abandon the debate either. Keep reading and thinking about why we as a country have not wrestled with this issue sufficiently to find solutions, why we continue to put it off, deferring to another time, another generation, another electorate. Or, imagine a time of "post-insurance," perhaps a time when the costs of medical care can be negotiated between the providers and those needing the services as we do with so many other types of commerce. Is it too quaint to remember when a family traded chickens for the birth of a baby? The point is, how did a third party, insurance companies, get in the middle? Why not change? Why not reform? Why not?