If you were to ask a random person on the street if he or she knows someone with a disability, and the type of disability, there’s a good chance that he or she would only mention the people who have a physical disability. In reality, a disability doesn’t reflect just one group of individuals, but rather an expansive group with a variety of needs. It’s also important to remember that although two people can have the same type of disability, it may affect one much differently than the other.

 

As a result, many people make assumptions about individuals with disabilities and while their thoughts may be well-intentioned, they are often inaccurate and can make an individual with a disability feel isolated, harassed, or treated unfairly.

Disability Awareness

 

Why is disability awareness important? Despite the amount of people who think they know a lot about individuals with disabilities, there’s a good possibility that they know nothing other than assumptions and stereotypes. According to Disabled World, “Disability Awareness means educating people regarding disabilities…the biggest barriers people with disabilities encounter are other people.” Although you may be well-intentioned, when interacting with a person with a disability, you may be more offensive than respectful.

 

Here are some tips to consider and how to teach others about disability awareness and being tolerant:

 

Choose Your Words Carefully: Everyone knows that words, good or bad, are powerful. When talking about or addressing someone with a disability, avoid labeling them as victims or as names of conditions. For example, rather than saying “He’s epileptic and wheelchair bound.” say “He has epilepsy and uses a wheelchair.” To some, it may seem like little difference, but by putting people first, your language is more appropriate.

 

Face-to-Face Interactions: Once again, remember to avoid making assumptions about a person’s disability. For example, if an individual uses a wheelchair and appears to have a caretaker accompanying him or her, don’t direct all of your eye contact and conversation to the assistant. If the individual with the disability is unable to verbally communicate, the caretaker will let you know how to communicate.

Teaching Tolerance

 

Even if you are familiar with Disablity Awareness and practice it on a daily basis, there may be others in your family, in the workplace, or even in your circle of friends, who don’t know how to appropriately interact with an individual with a disability or has said things that indicate intolerance. While you can teach others how to interact, you can also encourage everyone (of all backgrounds and abilities) to get involved with the disabled community, which can further teach tolerance and remove stigmas.

 

While the holiday season is a time when many people are inspired to “do good”, consider volunteering or getting involved all year round. Whether you offer to give someone a ride to a doctor’s appointment or take him or her holiday shopping and then follow-up with lunch, extending your open mind and friendship can help raise awareness and acceptance for individuals with disabilities.

There comes a time in every senior’s life when they may not be capable of caring for themselves the way they once could. If dealing with disability or disease, a senior needs special care from someone who is patient and able to assist them with their needs. For some seniors not being able to use the restroom or bathe on their own can be frustrating. It can be equally difficult on the senior’s family. You want to take care of your parent, but have other responsibilities like work and children. If your parent is in need of special care, reach out for assistance.

Doing the research to find a person who will be patient and sensitive to the senior’s needs is of the utmost importance. Luckily, some insurances cover senior care and offer great plans. In some cases you may not have an insurance that covers senior assisted living. It may be a good idea to search for a caregiver on a reputable website that offers multiple options that fit your senior’s specific needs.

The following are some good resources to look into:

Care.com This site offers a number of resources, including childcare, housekeeping, and even dog sitting. The site allows you to create a membership profile to search for the right caregiver that will fit your specific needs. You can run a background check on possible caregivers and ask for their references. The site also offers practical advice and resources to help you find the perfect caregiver for the senior in your life.

Caregivers.com You can find a caregiver and pay easily and conveniently. The application process is thorough, but offers the best service to find the most appropriate helper for your senior. The caregiver goes through a screening process that includes state nurse’s aide registry and driving history check.

Agingparentsandeldercare.com This site not only offers resources for finding the best caregiver for seniors, but it also offers insurance advice, practical daily living solutions, and support groups for caregivers and families.

Determine the senior’s specific needs

Research is the first step. The second step is to determine what your specific needs are. How many days a week will you need a caregiver? What specific needs does the senior have that might require special help? Does the senior have a medical or special needs? You want to find someone who is certified and trained to handle the senior’s needs. Professionalism is the number one thing to look for. You want a caregiver who will be present and patient. You want to avoid drama.

Once you find the right caregiver, you can plan a good schedule that will make life easier for the senior in your life. Sit down with the caregiver and let them know your expectations. Create a clear schedule that will inform the caregiver what his or her duties are. Elderly life should be a peaceful and restful time. As a daughter or son, or family member, you want to make the senior that you love feel safe and secure. Provide them with a positive and peaceful environment where they will know they are well cared for, loved and appreciated.

People with developmental disabilities are too often left at the mercy of other people. Doctors, support staff, social workers, family members, and others frequently make important decisions about people with disabilities without taking those people’s wishes into account. For the last few decades, though, people with disabilities have taken back control of their lives in major ways. The self-determination movement has been instrumental in this shift.

Self-determination: What is it?  

Self-determination is the seemingly simple idea that with people with disabilities should have power to make their own decisions. Instead of allowing medical professional, social workers, and family members control the day to day decisions of a person’s life, self-determination advocates argue that people with disabilities can and should make their own choices.

 

According to the Center for Excellence in Disabilities, self-determination is not necessarily synonymous with independence, although the two concepts have plenty of crossover. Self-determination is “about taking action in your life to get the things you want and need.” A person who needs help from staff to accomplish a goal, for instance, displays self-determination as along as they were the person who established that goal. Self-determination, then, is accessible to everyone with a disability, no matter how much assistance they may need.

 

For adults with developmental disabilities, especially those living in group homes, this path to self-development can be fraught with obstacles.

Obstacles

Let people run their own lives. Sounds simple enough and hard to disagree with, but in reality, self-determination runs up against some stubborn barriers. Why? Sometimes, it’s because people’s personal decisions conflict with expert advice. Smoking, drinking, and unhealthy diets are frequent points of contention. Guardians and support staff often feel it’s their duty to prevent people in their care from making such decisions. But if the people in their care are adults, don’t those people have the right to make those choices?

 

Moreover, advocates argue, not all questions of self-determination are a matter of freedom of choice versus responsible behavior. Many people with disabilities make the point that their wills are stifled not by well-wishers, but by support staff members who are simply too lazy or too controlling to help their clients reach their goals. Sure, these advocates concede, stopping someone from choosing to drink excessively is reasonable enough, but what about someone who wants to take a walk around the lake and is thwarted by a support staff member who wants to sit on the couch watching college football, or who overestimates the dangers of the weather? Framing the issue as simply a question of “to what degree should adults with disabilities be allowed to make bad choices?” is reductive, condescending, and a cop-out.

Success

The movement toward self-determination, in which people with disabilities set their own goals, and achieve those goals on their own terms, has been successful. In the last few years, we’ve seen comedians, actors, and athletes with developmental disabilities take massive strides towards running their own lives. A Finnish punk rock band made up of people with disabilities even made it to the 2015 Eurovision semi-finals. Not bad. These sorts of accomplishments would have been unthinkable to the community only a few decades ago, before people with developmental disabilities began standing up and demanding the right to run their own lives.  

 

Having a disability is no laughing matter and can be life-altering. You’re unable to do the things you were once free to do and you may feel helpless and possibly depressed. It can add pressure to your family as they care for you and have to make sacrifices to assist you in your time of need. Disability can be emotionally draining, but it doesn’t mean the end of the world. Especially if you have a strong support system around you willing to provide you with assistance.

 

Seek Community Assistance

 

If you’re out of your work because of your disability, know that there are countless resources out there to help you cope on emotional and financial level. Don’t be afraid to seek out counseling to help you navigate your emotions. There are plenty who have or are in the same boat as you who can help you cope with the emotional effects of disability. You are not alone and should never feel so. There are also disability programs and grants available to help you cope with the financial and physical demands in front of you.

 

Practical Advice

 

You may want to look for reasonable sources of income to assist you while you wait to get back on your feet. Here are some practical ideas:

 

  • Set a Budget. Create a realistic budget for your wants and needs. It may mean sacrificing time on money you’re used to spending.

 

  • Donate blood. There are plenty of people in the world who need your blood. Blood donations pay in more than just financial ways. Studies show that donating blood is actually healthy too since you release excess iron.

 

  • Sell unneeded things. A garage sale is a great way to make extra money while you’re on disability. You never know what you might have stored away in your basement that might benefit someone else. It’s also a good way to clear out your home and possibly make money for practical needs and expenses in your home.

 

  • Seek online donation. If you find yourself in a temporary bind because of a disability, seek out online assistance to help you with your bills. There are kind strangers who are happy to assist you with any medical and financial needs. Don’t be afraid to reach out! You may even make some new friends.

 

  • Do some freelance work. Today there are endless opportunities for online work. Many companies employ freelance employers to work from home and anywhere. You can work at your nearest coffee shop or local library! The possibilities are endless. What are your skills and talents? Use your time to explore areas that you may have set aside in the past. As the saying goes, your setback could turn into a setup!

 

Disability does not mean the end of the world, but it does help to be prepared. Be sure to do the research and learn about your options. Find helpful ways to help you cope practically every day with your physical limitations. Don’t become discouraged! Make the most of your time and try to maintain a positive attitude.

 

You may have a family member, a friend, or a co-worker with a disability, but do you feel like you have a real connection to the disabled community? Many people assume that individuals with disabilities were born with a disability that affects them mentally or physically. However, disabilities are more common than not. According to the Council for Disability Awareness, over 1 in 4 of today’s 20 year-old’s will become disabled before they retire and over 37 million Americans are classified as disabled. Want to become better connected to individuals with disabilities? Here are a few reasons why it’s beneficial:

Removing the Stigma

 

For decades, even centuries, individuals with disabilities have not only faced the daily challenge of their disability, but have experienced the stigma and discrimination from society. Although many individuals are made to feel like that are a minority, the statistics prove that individuals of all abilities make up our communities. Although societal views and treatment towards individuals with disabilities has improved, society as a whole must realize that individuals of types of disabilities have the same rights as everyone else, including but not limited to: education, employment, housing, health care, spirituality, sexuality, and basic human rights.

 

What can you do? You can become an advocate or raise awareness by breaking down negative views and barriers that prevent individuals with disabilities from having the same rights as everyone else. You can join organizations that work one on one with disabled individuals and be part of the movement that works hard to ensure that health care reform legislation helps adults with disabilities or to expand the federal hate crimes law to protect individuals with disabilities.

Making New Friends & Helping Others

 

Simply getting involved by lending a helping hand in your community can teach you a lot about  people, interact with a diverse demographic, and you can even make new and lasting friendships. Here are some ways to get directly involved in your community:

 

 

  • Volunteer Your Skills & Services: The senior citizen community is thriving and includes individuals of all abilities, including men and women who became disabled with age or were born with developmental or intellectual disabilities. They all deserve the same type of services that are offered to other senior citizens in your community. Whether someone needs yardwork done, a ride to the pharmacy or doctor’s appointments, or just some friendly conversation over a cup of coffee, there’s a lot you can offer to the aging & disabled community.

 

 

 

  • Include Individuals with Disabilities in Your Activities: Many people with disabilities have a difficult time making friends in the community. For instance, individuals who live in a group home facility are taken on lots of outings like concerts, movies, and other fun activities, but it’s not always the ideal activity for really connecting with others. If you run an organization, a church group or even a leisurely sports team, why not make an effort to invite all members of your community?

 

 

Another way to get connected is by volunteering, coaching, tutoring, or teaching for adaptive sport or education programs.

 

However you decide to get involved, make sure that you are open minded, welcoming, and eager to learn about others; you may find you have a lot to learn and a lot in common.

Whether you have friends or family members with a disability or you’re just planning ahead for your future, when your mobility may be altered or limited, you can make your home more accessible for individuals with disabilities and without spending a lot of money. By making your home more accessible to everyone, you are showing your support and acceptance. While it may not be feasible to alter your home, here are some ideas to consider:

Providing an Accessible Entrance

 

In order to have an accessible entrance for any of your visitors with mobility limitations, such as wheelchairs, walkers, or crutches, you need to have at least one entrance with no steps or way to enter the home despite steps. A good option is a portable ramp, particularly if you won’t be using it everyday. Portable ramps, on average, cost a couple hundred dollars, but are durable and can be used in a variety of situations from visitors to assisting with safely moving heavy furniture.

 

For a more permanent accessible entrance, consider building a ramp, a “bridge” from the house to the yard, or install a weather-resistant lift or elevator. These options will be more expensive, but are suitable and a good idea for aging relatives with mobility issues and may lengthen the stay in your own home as you age or face some mobility limitations.

Widen Your Doorways

 

Widening your doorways may be more of an undertaking, but depending on how your home is designed, you may be able to provide adequate doorway space without too much money or construction. In order to accommodate visitors who use a wheelchair, doorways need to be at least 32” wide. Some simple solutions may include removing the door temporarily, installing swing-away hinges, reverse the swing of the door, remove woodwork around the door, or replacing the door with a wider one. If none of these modifications will work, you a pocket door may be a suitable option, but if you’re still struggling with widening doorways, contact someone with carpentry skills.

Suitable Bathrooms

 

An accessible bathroom can be particularly challenging since many bathrooms are designed to be small and narrow. If the doorway is an issue, consider some of the doorway modifications listed above or even consider installing a curtain (it depends on how much privacy you require). You may want to consider removing any cabinets below the sink to make the sink more accessible and the height of your toilet may propose a challenge. Install grab bars throughout your bathroom so your visitors can have safety and independence.

Other Accessible Options

 

Take a look at your existing layout of your home. Is it easy to get around or is it cluttered with sharp corners? Consider rearranging your furniture to make for a more fluid and accessible layout throughout your home. It’s also a good idea to take a look at the outside of the of your home. If you have a sidewalk, is it level? A broken sidewalk or an area covered with debris can be a tripping hazard for anyone, but can also make it difficult for anyone with a wheelchair, walker, or even crutches to navigate.

 

Some of the busiest times of the year to travel by car is upon us and it will be important to remember that although we’re all in a rush, we will evevntually get there. Speeding is one of the main causes of car wrecks. The driver of a car that is running at a speed that is much more than the regulated speed limit often loses control of the vehicle and can run into pedestrians or other cars resulting in serious injury leading to disability or even death. It has been estimated that one-third of all the road accident cases in America are because of speeding cars. There are many reasons why speeding causes accidents.  However, a more important question is how to avoid a heavy foot on the pedal.

Drawbacks of speeding

Speed beyond a certain limit reduces the time needed to stop the car to avoid a crash. Thus, if you are speeding, there is a high chance that you won’t be able to put the brakes at the right moment. A speeding car also travels greater distance even when the driver reacts urgently to an emergency situation. Thus, accidents become unavoidable even if the driver tries too hard. Often there are objects, potholes, and curves on the road. It will be extremely difficult to steer safely pass the potholes and bend through the curves on the road if a vehicle is speeding. Moreover, the severity of the crash is more when the car is at a high speed.

How to stop speeding?

There are so many drawbacks of speeding, yet many of us continue to do it. Below are some tips to keep the speed of your vehicle under control:

  • You should be attentive while driving. Keep your eyes on the road and do not talk on the cell phone while you are behind the wheel. You also should also avoid focusing on your passengers. Drivers should be alert about the driving conditions, traffic signs, and traffic patterns. Keep your eyes and mind on the road and your speedometer. This can help to avoid speeding, and subsequently accidents.
  • It is always better to set speed limits if possible. Find out whether your vehicle has a cruise control option. If there is, you should set it to the maximum speed limit of the road you are travelling on. This would automatically maintain the speed you set. Even when you try to pick up more speed, this feature of the car would prevent you from doing that.
  • Try getting into the habit of driving at a speed slightly less than the speed limit set by the traffic laws if possible. If you get into this habit, you are likely to never pick up too much speed on the road. You should also avoid rushing to your office. Keep enough time at hand while you set out for your office or for any scheduled appointments. Having a good amount of time to reach your destinations can prevent you from speeding.
  • You should also have an idea of the amount of money that you would need to pay as a fine in case you are caught speeding. If you have the amount in your head, you are more likely to try to be within limits. The amount of fine you need to pay as a consequence of speeding can serve to keep you from pressing the accelerator too hard.

We all know that the fast pace of life does not allow for tardiness, however is that worth risking your life over? Make safe driving a habit and it will be definitely beneficial for you and for those who share the road with you.

shutterstock_193496900

 

Before we became parents, many of us would have driven any type of vehicle without much thought as to whether it was equipped with properly functioning safety features. However, as soon as we secure our newborns in a car seat for the first time and drive away from the hospital, a safe ride is our number one priority.

 

Car accidents claim the lives of thousands of drivers and victims each year for a variety of reasons from a reckless driver to issues related to automobile failure. “An auto part or system fails because of faulty manufacturing or design,” says Riddle & Brantley, Raleigh Car Accident Lawyers, “fatal or serious accidents have been attributed to a sudden tire blow-out or airbags that failed to deploy or deployed without warning.” Unfortunately, recently, a massive airbag recall has left many parents second guessing getting behind the wheel in fear that their next car trip will be their last.

What a Major Airbag Recall Means for Your Family’s Safety

 

When any massive recall occurs, it’s natural to panic, but it’s also important to remember that recalls will force companies to be more accountable and hopefully create a safer product. In May of 2015, the Japanese company Takata, one of the biggest airbag suppliers for more than a decade, admitted that its airbags were defective. As a result, 34 million vehicles in the U.S. were recalled; that’s about 1 in 7 of the over 250 million vehicles on the roads. The airbags were deemed defective after exploded during deployment, sending shrapnel into the passenger compartment. The dangerous defect has been responsible for six deaths and over 100 injuries.

 

With a recall like Takata’s, there are numerous makes and models of vehicles that can be affected in the recall. If your vehicle is equipped with a defective airbag, you should receive a notice to have the airbag replaced. Failure to resolve the issue can put you and your child’s life at risk.

Overall Safety & Reliability

 

You shouldn’t wait for the next recall to ensure that your car is safe and reliable. If you are shopping for a new vehicle don’t forget to check out safety ratings before making your purchase. While a vehicle may malfunction at any time, it’s vital to make sure that your child has a safe and appropriately sized safety seat for his or her size; remember, safety seats and seat belts can prevent injuries leading to disabilities and even save lives.

 

In order to keep tabs on the safety and reliability of your vehicle, pay attention to the news and check out vehicle safety sites, such as National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTSA). Additionally, find a car technician you trust and set up scheduled maintenances to check things like the tires and brakes on your vehicle. Taking a few extra steps before you get behind the wheel of your car, such as checking brake lights or tire pressure, will ensure that you and your children are safer on any car trip.

shutterstock_227838679

The process of coping and overcoming  a disability can be a daunting task, and is often one of the most  challenging points in a person’s life. When I look at my father standing out in the porch, laughing while he swings my daughter around in his arms, it is difficult to imagine that just a few years ago we thought we were going to lose him while he battled diabetes. To add to all of our distress, he had a major wound eating away at his limbs. As I look at him now, happiness glowing on his face, it takes a lot not to cry.

Disabilities Are an Inherent Part of Life

Disabilities are an inherent part of life. As we get older, it is only normal that certain parts of our body would start to fail. When that happens, we start to lose the ability we have to do certain things. It is essential to readjust our lives around this and learn to cope. This is easier said than done. When my father was diagnosed with diabetes, it should not have come as a shock; it is a disease that is easily managed. However, the unfortunate part was that he was diagnosed after a large injury to his calf refused to heal. Over the space of a year, the injury crept upwards until we had to decide if we needed to amputate his entire leg. In all of that while, we watched grimly as my father lost his joy and passion for life. Visiting him at the hospital meant looking at his gaunt face and ravaged leg; this hurt so much more than anything my family had ever faced.

Preparing

The first stages are mostly for acceptance and preparation. The more accessible everything you need is, the more comfortable you will be. You should organize yourself properly, especially in the early days of the disability. Note which arrangements will need to be made. Some of these arrangements should include: Being sure that you are covered monetarily-this may include filing appropriate documents for worker’s compensation, handling legal issues, dealing with hospital bills, and preparing for future expenses, such as rehabilitation. Most immediately as you prepare to head home after the hospital, be sure to get all your necessities close to you, making provision for your toilet and bathroom needs, and arrange for transportation.

Family

It definitely helps to have family and friends around you at times like this. You should be patient with people when you are coping with a disability; no one can benefit if you are irritable and rude. My father was very irritable in the first few weeks after the amputation, but he eventually began to turn around and that was when the healing could really begin. However, if you notice you are irritable to people, do not beat yourself up for it. It is expected, you are not exactly at your happiest and your loved ones will understand. Keep in mind that having a more positive mindset will help a thousand-fold. One of the most important things to note when coping with a disability is the ability to smile. Once you can do that, the rest comes easy.

Exercise

Remember to exercise often, even if seems counterintuitive at the time. It is easy to give up on exercise when you are overcoming a disability. Exercise not only keeps your body fit, but your mind also. You also win over your body when you exercise. Do not give into the temptation to let your body waste away. Whatever exercise you are able to manage, it is a victory. My father began a process of rehabilitation that also involved plenty of exercise. In time he overcame the pains of his disability. Looking at him now, so much joy on his face as he swings his grand-daughter around even from his wheelchair, makes me realize how tough but how rewarding overcoming a life challenge like this can be.

What helped you overcome your disability? What was your biggest challenge?

 

There were 304,804 motor vehicle crashes in New York during 2013, according to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). While the majority of accidents resulted in only property damage, there were 124,505 non-fatal personal injury crashes and 1,109 fatal crashes. A total of 1,188 people lost their lives, and another 169,177 sustained some type of non-fatal injury.

What this report does not reveal is the number of individuals who were left permanently disabled after a car crash.

Injuries in a car accident vary greatly depending on the severity of the collision, as well as the type and number of vehicles involved. Bruises, lacerations, broken bones, whiplash, neck injuries, back injuries and head injuries are all common in serious car accidents.

In violent collisions, the possibility that accident victims will become disabled increases dramatically, but even seemingly minor crashes can have devastating consequences.

When an individual sustains a serious injury, he or she may be eligible to recover damages to pay for medical expenses, rehabilitation therapy, vehicle repairs, lost income and other accident-related costs. In cases in which a severe injury results in a disability, compensation should also cover lifetime losses.

Benefits of Working with a Life-Care Planner

Lifetime losses are sometimes overlooked when determining the value of a car accident insurance claim. Most people remember to factor in immediate and short-term medical costs and recovery expenses, but they neglect to calculate the full financial impact on the victim (and his or her family) over the course of a lifetime.

This is particularly important in cases in which an accident victim’s injuries have resulted in quadriplegia, paraplegia or other catastrophic injuries. In most cases, individuals who are no longer able to care for themselves can no longer earn a living to provide for themselves and their loved ones.

If an accident victim’s injuries have resulted in permanent disabilities, consulting with a life-care planner is a necessity. A skilled life-care planner will not only be able to assess current accident-related expenses, but also calculate future financial costs as well. These include costs such as:

  • Hospitalization.
  • Surgeries.
  • Rehabilitation.
  • Nursing care.
  • Medications.
  • Ventilators and other life-sustaining devices.
  • Medical equipment (beds, wheelchairs, etc.).
  • Home and vehicle modifications.
  • In-home assistance.
  • Reduced earning capacity.
  • Lost income.

Lifetime costs vary greatly depending on the type of spinal cord injury an individual sustains. The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation has put together a comprehensive chart detailing the average yearly expenses for individuals with incomplete motor function at any level, paraplegia, incomplete tetraplegia (quadriplegia) and complete tetraplegia.

Estimated lifetime costs for an individual who has suffered a debilitating spinal cord injury at the age of 25 ranges between $1.5 million and $4.5 million. The costs are much higher in some cases.

If you or a loved one has become disabled after being involved in a collision, hiring a skilled attorney can significantly improve your chances of maximizing your recovery in a car accident case. A qualified lawyer will work with life-care planners and others to make sure the full cost of your injury is properly calculated – and then fight to get you the compensation you deserve.

Sources:
New York State Department of Motor Vehicles – Summary of Motor Vehicle Crashes: 2013 Statewide Statistical Summary
Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation – The Costs of Living with SCI