Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Guest Post: Aging in Place... Adapting Your Home for Wheelchair Users

By Andrew Atkinson

Houses aren’t automatically designed for people with disabilities, for the elderly or for those that struggle to be mobile. It’s up to us to adapt our own homes if we find that we need to make changes.

A typical house is designed for someone of average height, with full mobility and a good level of stamina. How can you make changes so that your home is better suited for a wheelchair user?

Ramped Access
Ramps are the most obvious adaptation, and are among the cheapest. Some people arrange for a full, professional ramp installation while others buy temporary ramps, telescopic ramps, threshold ramps and folding ramps that can be put up anywhere and taken down again as needed.

Wheelchair Lifts
A more expensive adaptation is the addition of a wheelchair lift. These don’t have to take up a great deal of space, but you do need somewhere suitable for placement. Wheelchair lifts can also be quite expensive, though perhaps not as costly as the modifications that might be required if upper floors are no longer accessible.

Ground-Floor Bedroom and Bathroom
Being in a wheelchair might mean that the upper floors of a house become out-of-bounds territory. If that’s the case then ground-floor bedrooms and bathrooms become the most essential adaptations. You’ll have plenty of options depending on your budget, from converting existing rooms to installing garden rooms if you’re short on space.

Remember that beds, baths and showers may also need to be adapted within their respective rooms. Wheel-in showers and beds that can be raised and lowered are vital for some individuals, while sinks and toilets may need to be set at an appropriate height and outfitted with grab rails and alarm cords.

Wide Doorways
Most doorways aren’t designed for someone that can’t simply walk through the door. Adapting your house to extend the width of doorways is a bigger and more expensive task, but one of the most essential if you’re looking to make changes to your existing property rather than moving elsewhere.

Lowered Cupboards and Appliances
Even able-bodied people of below average height often struggle to access cupboards. Lowering your cupboards so that they can be reached from a sitting position can be an invaluable adaptation for a wheelchair user, but it’s equally important not to drop them too low. Ground-level cupboards are just as hard to reach from a wheelchair as cupboards that are much too high!

Ideally, kitchen appliances, sinks and countertops should be set at an appropriate height. Wheelchair users should be able to not only get around their home, but utilize its various features.

Some of us are born needing to use a wheelchair, but in many cases people need wheelchairs for the first time at a later stage of their life. We can’t always be prepared for wheelchair adaptations, but the costs of making changes can be high.

Don’t forget to look for financial help from charities and government initiatives if you need to make changes to your home, and to prioritize your modifications in order to make the most of your money.

Andrew Atkinson serves as Managing Director of the UK-based e-commerce website Ecuva, with a vast product range covering health and well-being.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Guest Post: Living with Alzheimer's Infographic

By Helen O' Keefe

Enjoying our twilight years is something we all consider from an early stage of our lives. We put money in pensions. We plan our retirement. We look forward to spending time with our families.

Unfortunately, life can create stumbling blocks and force us to re-think our plans and the plans of those around us. Diseases such as Alzheimer’s force change on those that suffer from the disease and also those that are close to them. In instances like this, it is important that there is care and support available for all concerned. It is also of vital importance that we look after our bodies early in life in order to safeguard against debilitating illness.

Looking after our health is our own responsibility and is something that shouldn’t be taken for granted. While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, studies have shown that exercising and looking after your body can delay, or in many cases help to prevent dementia.

Ensuring that you exercise for 30 minutes a day has been proven to improve mental health while also improving the condition of your heart. Exercising regularly and improving diet can help to combat diseases such as diabetes and cancer. Studies also indicate that bone degeneration problems can be eradicated by moderate exercise on a regular basis.

Life can be fast paced at a young age and it can be difficult to fit exercise and healthy eating into a busy schedule, but how you treat your body now can have repercussions for how you live your life in the future. Finding 30 minutes in your day could mean an enjoyable retirement to do the things you love.

In this infographic, I have sought to convey the frightening statistics surrounding Alzheimer’s. I have also demonstrated the outlook for the future regarding the disease.

I hope that this IG informs sufferers and carers and helps to improve the quality of life for those affected by the disease.

Helen O' Keefe serves as the Marketing Manager for Homecare Plus, based in Dublin, Ireland.