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Home Safety & Modifications

Making the Garage Steps Accessible

solutions to make garage stairs accessible at home

One common way to make a home accessible for those with disabilities or limited mobility is by overcoming the steps at the garage entrance. Steps are an accessibility barrier that are typically made of concrete or wood, and railings are not always installed. The construction of the stairs may also be low-quality in some cases, which can pose injury risks from slips and falls. Here are the top 5 solutions to help make a home’s garage safe and accessible.

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by Eric Rubel  | 

Mobility & Accessibility Solutions for In-Home Cancer Patients

blog preview image for mobility solutions for in home cancer patients

People diagnosed with cancer often require additional safety precautions to ensure that any health-related problems do not occur. Day-to-day activities that can be taken for granted will become harder. Simple things like cooking, cleaning, and even walking up the stairs may become strenuous, and even dangerous.

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by Eric Rubel  | 

5 Fall Prevention & Home Safety Tips for Older Adults

fall prevention infographic preview

As we age, our home may not be as easy to navigate as it once was. Getting up and down a set of stairs may be a chore because of decline in mobility. The risk of slipping and falling in the bathroom is likely much higher, especially if there are no grab bars in the bathtub/shower, or near the toilet. An option for older adults who are having a difficult time getting around at home is a senior living facility. However, these types of facilities do not offer the familiarity and comfort that a home does. A home is full of memories from parties and gatherings with family and lifelong friends. It is the place where a majority of older prefer to stay as they age. 

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by Eric Rubel  | 

Pool Lift Guide 2024 & Alternative Solution

pool lift guide and alternative solution

To escape the summer heat, nothing can be more relaxing than a dip in the pool. Or when it’s cool, a dip in the hot tub can be just as rewarding. For people with a disability, or anyone bound to a wheelchair, and even older adults that have lost some coordination, balance and overall mobility, taking a dip can become challenging and sometimes dangerous. The risks are falling and drowning. Pool lifts exist to help people that are struggling with mobility to get in and out of the water safely, and sometimes, independently. Types of Pool Lifts There are 3 types of pool lifts that exist: Battery powered pool lifts Manual hydraulic pool lifts Water powered poll lifts. The type of pool, whether it be residential or commercial, can affect the type of pool lift required. There are also ADA regulations when it comes to public pools that certified lift technicians must abide by. Pool lifts can also be fixed or mobile. Fixed pool lifts are typically bolted into a deck made of concrete or metal. Mobile pool lifts can be on wheels, allowing a caregiver to roll it into place, or they can also be inserted into a dedicated hole or opening on the deck next to the pool’s edge. The intent of this design is for them to remain out of the way, until they are needed. Regardless of the type of pool lift, the job it performs remains the same. It lifts and transfers a person that most often sits on a chair, from the deck or even a wheelchair into and out of a pool or hot tub. Let’s take a look at a battery powered pool lift installation. Powered Pool Lift Installation by Lifeway Mobility Steve bought a new home and the pool was an added touch. He had Lifeway Mobility install a powered pool lift to benefit a disabled family member who has young children of her own. The pool lift allows the family to get together without anyone feeling left out of the fun. Everyone, especially the kiddos, can enjoy the hot tub and pool alike with mom as a result of the pool lift installation. Mom can transfer herself from her wheelchair into the pool or hot tub, which are at different heights, in one lift and transfer. Steve in CO sits in new pool lift installed by Lifeway Mobility for all to enjoy family time in the summer. Aqua Creek Scout Pool Lift The type of pool lift installed for Steve's family was an Aqua Creek scout pool lift, which is self motorize and is ideal for raised pools and hot tubs.  A person can slide in and out of the pool lift chair from a wheelchair, and with the push of a few buttons on a pendant cord remote, he/she can transfer in and out of the pool or spa completely on their own. The lift is easy to use, is whisper quiet, and it rotates a full 360 degrees in either direction. It can lift and transfer up to 26 inches high. The particular model that Steve chose has a 350 lbs weight carry limit. Other pool lift models exist that can handle lifting and transferring more weight. Alternative Solution to Traditional Pool Lifts With some creativity and craftsmanship, other types of body lifts can be adapted to perform the same work as traditional pool lifts. One such piece of equipment is a ceiling lift that is typically installed inside of a home or business. Let’s look at a ceiling lift that has been customized to work over an exercise/therapy pool that sits above ground. These types of pools are becoming very popular. Ceiling Pool Lift Installation by Lifeway Mobility Lifeway Mobility helped Dawn Adapt a Ceiling Lift for her Pool to remain active. Dawn is paralyzed from the waist down, but that doesn’t get her down. She is a very independent and active woman. She wanted to retain her independence in her cabin and regular home, and enjoy moving about more freely to spend quality time with her husband. Ceiling lifts have allowed her to transfer from her wheelchair and back. Dawn's husband transfers himself safely into their exercise pool Having already bought a ceiling lift track system for her cabin, Dawn wanted to add one over the exercise pool in the backyard of her home. Since she was already familiar with how to operate the equipment, it seemed a natural solution. She loves to swim for fun and exercise in her swim spa. She escapes the heat during the summer months. The temperature of the water can also be warmed up so that she can use it during cooler months. She didn’t want to feel trapped, and the ceiling lift allowed her to appease her outdoorsy nature. Adapted Pool Lift: Surehands Freedom Bridge The actual type of ceiling lift that has been adapted to perform as a pool lift for Dawn and her family is the SureHands Freedom Bridge. It was customized by certified technicians to be taller so it can lift higher. The bridge is a two post system along with a powered motor glides on a track. The lift is able to reach from one side to the other side of the spa pool. The motor itself is not waterproof, and that was okay in this case. It can be removed and hooked on as needed. It is stored away when not in use to avoid weather damage. Because it does need to be hooked on before use, this pool lift solution does require a helping hand from a caregiver to operate. Dawn’s husband definitely has her back there. This goes to show that with a little ingenuity, alternatives to a pool lift do exist. Dawn is certainly enjoying staying more active. Pool Lifts - Where to Start? Get started by understanding the needs: Can the pool lift be operated independently or will assistance be needed? Look at the pool and determine if there is room along the edges or on the deck for a fixed pool lift or do you have a storage shed in which a mobile floor pool lift can be stored? Take into account the weight requirement as well because going with an inadequate lift can have serious health consequences if it can’t lift and transfer the weight required. The cost of a pool lift varies, and it’s important to find a solution that will work for you, and at a price you can afford. Looking online can be overwhelming, so don’t get discouraged. You can contact us directly to set up a free consultation and one of our certified pool lift specialists will be happy to help and provide a free quote!

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by Eric Rubel  | 

The Home Safety Guide for Seniors

home safety for seniors mom daughter hug

  Most seniors want to age in place in their homes, well past retirement and into their golden years, and with a bit of help, they can. When circumstances change, specifically in the areas of mobility and ability, seniors may look for ways to make the rooms in their homes more easily accessible for themselves. Adult children of aging parents also worry that mom or dad may be more susceptible to potential risks at home, especially in the bathroom or shower. A fall while performing daily activities would surely raise concerns about their continued ability to stay safe and independent at home. Wheelchair users can grow frustrated by common barriers like narrow doorways, stairways, tight hallways and inaccessible bathing or shower facilities, just to name a few. Facing any of these challenges can be enough to make a person want to move. This Home Safety Guide for Seniors is intended to help the elderly, and their caregivers alike, commence a plan to stay in their own home as long as is possible, and on their own terms. This home safety for seniors guide contains useful information about ways to help them get around in their home an community. Lifeway Mobility can help seniors plan ahead and make informed decisions about assistive equipment and home modifications that can be the difference between living independently in their home and alternatives that are not nearly as desirable.   Falls: There are Ways to Lower the Risk of a Fall The elderly are hospitalized for fall-related injuries five times more often than they are for injuries from other causes. Too often, seniors seek help after a tragic event happens. Seeking a professional assessment of one’s home environment to learn how to make it safer is highly recommended. This will help seniors and their families understand the variety of assistive and safety devices that may help reduce the risk of falling. Or, here are some common-sense ways for seniors to prevent falls right away: Use a cane or walker to steady yourself when getting up. Stand up slowly after eating, lying down or resting. Getting up too quickly can cause your blood pressure to drop, which can make you feel faint. Use a cane or walker to feel steadier when you walk. If your doctor prescribes a cane or walker, we can help find one that fits your needs. Wear rubber-soled, low-heeled shoes that fully support your feet. Wearing only socks or smooth-soled shoes on stairs or waxed floors can be unsafe. Hold the handrails when you use the stairs. Use hand grips and install grab bars throughout the house. Use a reaching stick, or more commonly known as a reacher, to reach items on top shelves. Consider a step stool with a handle. Carefully consider the safety of your bathroom. Grab bars, raised toilet seats, safety bars for your tub, and transfer benches can make your bathroom a significantly safer place. Consider purchasing a personal medical alarm to wear around your neck. These electronic devices that can bring peace of mind to you and your loved ones. Taking care of your overall health and well-being can help lower fall risks. Ask your doctor about a bone density test, which will tell how strong your bones are. Medications are available that can make your bones stronger and harder to break. Regular exercise can help keep you strong, and your joints, tendons and ligaments flexible. Talk with your doctor before beginning any program. Have your vision and hearing tested often. Even small changes in sight and hearing can make you less stable and can throw off your depth perception. Discuss possible side effects from medication with your doctor and/or pharmacist. Some medicines affect coordination and balance. Related resource: Take this Free Fall Risk Assessment Test Making Every Room in a Home Safe and Accessible Have you thought about the current and future safety and accessibility needs of all those who are living in your home? What about accessibility needs of friends and relatives who visit? Do you have an aging parent who is coming to stay for awhile?   Practicing the concept of universal design, either during initial construction or with home modifications later, incorporates design elements, spaces and even equipment that make each room more user friendly for as many different people as possible. Modifications like extra-wide doorways and hallways can accommodate a walker, or make getting around easier for a person on crutches or in a wheelchair. Movable cabinets increase the usability of the kitchen wheelchair users, and anyone who has a hard time bending down or reaching up. Equipment like grab bars and support poles offer assistance when coming to a standing position, while stair lifts, wheelchair ramps, platform lifts and even residential elevators can keep every level of your home accessible to all. Home Safety Solutions to Home Accessibility Challenges Here are some solutions to common home mobility and accessibility challenges for seniors by room. Bathrooms Barrier-free showers Walk-in tubs Step-in tub cutouts Grab bars & handrails Elevated toilet seats Bath lifts Shower benches Swing & support bath basins Toilet support frames   Bedroom Adjustable beds Bed rails Floor or ceiling-mounted lifts Bedside commodes Handholds/poles to help with standing Over-bed trapeze Pull-out closet shelving Handrails   Kitchen Easy-access cabinetry Accessible counter tops Handrails Easy-grip utensils, ergonomic dishes Accessible appliances Reachers Pull-out shelving   Living Area Stairway lifts Lift chairs Canes & walkers Home monitoring devices Walkers Safety poles Handrails Lighting Home automation devices for seniors   Getting Around – inside, outside and in your community Scooters Portable ramps Power wheelchairs Rollators & canes Vehicle lifts Accessible vehicles Lightweight transport wheelchairs Porch railings Foldable canes, walkers, wheelchairs   Wheelchair Users Modular ramps Door widening Curbless or barrier-free showers Residential elevators Patient and vehicle lifts Pull-out shelving Inclined platform lifts Vertical platform lifts Automatic door openers   Modify Your Home Room by Room Modifying the home can be as simple as picking up throw rugs (tripping hazards) or more complex – widening doorways, installing a “curbless” shower, changing door handles to levers, installing “rocker” light switches, or opening up interior space to make it more accessible and practical for individuals who use mobility equipment. Some of the most common home modifications include: • Grab bars in bathrooms especially around the toilet and bathing area• Ramps, both interior and exterior• Stair lifts – both indoor and outdoor• Door widening• Walk-in tubs/curbless or barrier-free showers• Full bath remodels• Ceiling lifts• Porch lifts• Accessible room additions• Floor coverings to accommodate wheelchair use   Staying Safe in Your Home Home automation products are ‘smart’ home devices that can help seniors monitor the security and safety of their homes, engage automated lighting systems, allow the homeowner to see who is at the door, and program the thermostat so it learns family patterns, and knows when someone is home or not. Elders can also check on pets and the security of your home while away, and so much more. These gadget can help seniors stay in their homes –– comfortably and safely. Actual smart devices include security cameras, doorbells, thermostats, smoke detectors, lighting controls and more. Emergency alert devices and systems can help seniors remain independent at home and when out and about in the community. Most systems offer options for wearing the alert button around the neck or on the wrist, and are automatically triggered when a fall is detected and the user cannot push the button. Such automated fall detection can be a real life saver. Medicare & Insurance Guide Many home medical products are covered by Medicare. What Medicare doesn’t cover, secondary insurance often will. Home modifications and accessibility equipment like stair lifts, bathroom safety, ramps, vehicle lifts, and vertical platform lifts usually are not covered by Medicare or insurance, but may be through non-profits, waiver programs, reverse mortgages, special home improvement loans, foundations and churches. Remember to weigh the cost of alternative care versus the cost of making your home environment more accessible through modification. The average annual cost of skilled care at a nursing home is $82,500 for a semi-private room, or $92,500 for a private room. Assisted living costs an average of $48,000 annually. The average rate for an in-home health aide is $23 per hour. Adult day services average about $22,000 if care is provided five days a week. Learn about how much a stair lift, wheelchair ramp, or home elevator might cost (spoiler - each solution is more cost-effective than any alternative care option above!) Stair Lift Pricing Wheelchair Ramp Pricing Home Elevator Pricing We trust you’ll find value in all the information presented and that if circumstances change, that Lifeway Mobility will be top-of-mind when needing a professional evaluation for one’s home. Related Resource: Medicaid Home Modification Funding Guide

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Posted 2/25/2022

Accessibility Solutions Help Discharged Patients Remain Safe at Home

nurse meeting with family and their senior parent

Due to the pandemic, more patients with complex needs are being discharged directly home, which can cause challenges for healthcare facilities and patients. Home care and home access are part of the solution to help those with limited mobility remain in their homes safely and on parallel path to help minimize readmission.   

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by Amy Finke  | 

The Art of Toileting: 4 Steps for Seniors & Disabled

customer OTs and family visit Lifeway showroom in Denver to explore safe toileting options

Dale is wheelchair bound and will soon be discharged from the hospital. He doesn’t have a lot of support at home, and because of his disability, his immediate concern was not being able to get his pants up on his own after toileting. Accompanied by his OT, Whitney of Spalding Rebah PSL, and her OTA student, they toured the Lifeway Mobility showroom in Denver and explored various bathroom accessibility solutions. Below are 4 steps Dale & his OT followed that can help make toileting graceful and independent for older adults and those with disabilities. 1. Toileting Height Customizing your toilet height is step one of toileting for anyone with mobility challenges. If you are standing and sitting, the height of the toilet is very important.  The most common toilet height is 13 inches, but a taller toilet can make standing up and sitting down so much easier. Newer toilets are ADA height or 15-16 inches.   Also, you can add a porcelain insert called a toilevator underneath the toilet (red arrow in image above) to add 3.5 inches more or add a elevated toilet seat for 5 more inches. A bidet is another option that can added for easy cleaning, warm water, warm seat, and other luxuries. Bidets can replace the seat on any toilet. They do not need a second seat or a transfer and do not require a power outlet close to the toilet. 2. Shower Chair or ShowerBuddy A second step to make toileting an art, is consider a bath or shower chair that rolls over the toilet. These types of products are made at the correct seat height to roll over the toilet, and eliminate the transfer to the toilet. In the seat is a cutout so that you don't have to move from the rolling chair. These chairs can also roll in to the shower for bathing and cleaning. The ShowerBuddy has the advantage of connecting to a bathtub or shower and allow the seat of the chair to slide into the tub or shower. 3. Overhead Ceiling Lift During the visit, Dale was educated on the SureHands ceiling lift with the Body Support system. This overhead lift setup is great because it grips in just the right places when lifting: Under the thighs and under the arms. It mimics the arms placement and gentle lift provided by a caregiver. Best part is that it can be operated independently. The OT demonstrated the use of the ceiling lift from a bed while Dale looked on. It was then Dale’s turn to test the SureHands ceiling lift out, from his wheelchair. This required some extra hands during the initial trial run, which is common. A sling variation was then attached to the ceiling lift. The goal was to find the best solution that would help Dale toilet independently, while remaining comfortable and painless. 4. Bedside Commode Most health care professional will recommend a bedside commode, which is like having a plastic toilet in your bedroom. Bedside commodes are helpful but typically a last resort. A bedside commode is made of a steel or plastic frame with a bucket under the toilet seat. Art of Toileting Summary In all, the show home tour, the education about the various toileting solutions, ceiling lift systems, and the actual trial runs took the group just over one hour. The end result? Dale found his ideal body lift and transfer solution and left with a smile under his mask, and newfound reassurance that he’ll be okay on his own once he gets home from the hospital.

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by Armando Carrillo  | 

8 Tips to Make Your Home Wheelchair Accessible

At some point, due to age or disability, you or a loved one may be faced with the prospect of having to use a wheelchair to assist in your primary mobility at home. Whether it be a temporary fixture to your home or something that will be more permanent, there are a number of simple modifications that can help improve accessibility and make life easier. If you are like most people, you live in a home that was not designed to accommodate wheelchairs. Below are some simple ideas on how to make sure that you will be able to stay in your home despite the necessity of a wheelchair.

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by Chris Frombach  | 

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