Tips/Advice

  • Holiday Gift Ideas & Tips for People with Disabilities

    Whether you have a physical disability or not, the following are some great tips to keep in mind as you prepare for holiday shopping this season.

    image by asenat29 on flickr cc

    3 Holiday Shopping Tips for People with Disabilities

    #1 - Do Your Research Beforehand.

    Smart consumers don’t wait until the last minute to purchase gifts for loved ones. Rather, they do their research well in advance. This includes things such as price comparisons as well as figuring out what you’re actually going to buy for others during the holiday season.

    #2 - Do Your Shopping Online.

    While some people prefer to get out there and visit a brick and mortar location to shop, you can just as easily perform most shopping tasks from the comfort of your own home. Besides this, shopping online provides a great alternative to facing the hoards of holiday shoppers that are out there this time of year. In some cases, you may even be able to find better online deals.

    #3 - Do Your Shopping During Off-Peak Hours.

    The closer you get to the holidays (especially Christmas), the more the stores will be crowded. This is especially true as many stores post extended holiday hours.

    If you do plan to do holiday shopping, plan to do it during off-peak hours. This means shopping during the middle of the week, during the day while most people are at work. Also, be sure that you speak to employees about any return policies, store promotions, and warranty questions that you may have. This will help you avoid delays or miscommunication in the even that you have to make an exchange.

    image by amslerPIX on flickr cc

    Holiday Gift Ideas for Disabled Adults

    Disabled World | http://products.disabled-world.com/

    • More than 5,000 products for adults, seniors, and children with disabilities.

    Van Products | http://www.vanproducts.com/mobility-products/

    • Shop a variety of mobility products for adults and seniors who are faced with mobility challenges.

    image by Nick-K (Nikos Koutoulas) on flickr cc

    Holiday Gift Ideas for Disabled Children

    SpecialNeedsGifts.com | http://specialneedsgifts.com/

    • Hand-picked, reasonably priced gifts for children with special needs, segmented by age, special need, and/or skill development.

    Ability Station | http://www.abilitystation.com/

    • Special toys for children with various needs and skillsets. All toys are therapist-approved.

    Amazon.com | http://amzn.to/1NG9oVf

    • Multi-sensory toys and products for children with unique developmental needs. Choose from kitchen playlets to tricycles and more.

    Parenting.comhttp://bit.ly/IKacYQ

    • A summary list of 10 toys and other items to help children who have: Down syndrome, autism, juvenile arthritis, cerebral palsy, and sensory integration impairment.

    Toys to Grow On | http://www.toystogrowon.com/

    • Has everything from baby & toddler toys to activity toys, educational toys, and more.

    Lakeshore Learning | http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/

    • Though not targeted specifically for children with special needs, this site provides a variety of toys and products that may be useful to parents of children with special needs.

    Toys ‘R’ Ushttp://bit.ly/1HEdivd

    • Has an entire section devoted to “Differently-Abled” children. Some of the categories include (but are not limited to): Tactile, Gross Motor Skills, Thinking and Visual, Fine Motor Skills, Auditory, Social Skills, and more.

    Special Needs Toys | http://www.specialneedstoys.com/usa/

    • Multi-sensory toys/products to help children with disabilities learn while also having fun. Products range and are grouped according to: auditory, motor, proprioception, tactile, visual, and more.

    FunAndFunction.com | http://specialneedsgifts.com/curebit

    • Created by a husband/wife duo - focuses on sensory disorder products that help build skills and self-esteem in children, particularly those with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).

    Playability Toys | http://playabilitytoys.com/

    • Focuses on toys that specifically cater to a wide variety of challenges including Autism Spectrum Disorders, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Blind or Visually Impaired as well as Cognitive, Speech and Physical Challenges.

     

    What are some other gift ideas that you can think of for the disabled person in your life? Let us know in the comments section!

  • November is National Family Caregivers Month

    "There are four kinds of people:
    those who will become caregivers,
    those who are caregivers,
    those who were caregivers,
    and those who will need caregiving themselves."
    - Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter

    National Family Caregiver Month takes place each year in November. It is a time where the focus is shifted to those who do so much to care for family members in need. It is also a chance to share information about caregiving as well as shine a light on the impact that caregiving has on families, recipients of care, and those who are the caregivers.

    Following, we’ve compiled some statistics, taken from the 2015 Report on Caregiving in the U.S. This report was compiled by The National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and the AARP Public Policy Institute, and information contained within the report is based on data collected in 2014.

    At the end of the article is a list of other helpful resources and information for caregivers.

    by havens.michael34 on flickr cc

    What is Caregiving? What Does a Caregiver Do?

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), caregiving can take on many forms:

    Caregiving can range from providing short- or long-term financial assistance or running errands to providing comprehensive round-the-clock care. Although some people receive care from paid caregivers, most rely on unpaid assistance from families, friends and neighbors.

    Caregiving may also include activities, such as: helping with personal needs, household chores to managing a person’s finances, arranging for outside services, or visiting regularly to see how the person is doing. It does not require that the caregiver live with the person1.

    Statistics on Caregivers in the United States

    • An estimated 43.5 million adults in the United States have provided unpaid care to an adult or a child.2
    • The estimated prevalence of caring for an adult is 16.6%, or 39.8 million Americans.3
    • Nearly 1 in 10 caregivers is 75 years of age or older (7%).
    • Older caregivers are more likely to be caregiving without other unpaid help, due to the likelihood of being retired and/or on a fixed income.
    • On average, caregivers of adults have been in their role for 4 years, with a quarter having provided care for 5 years or more (24%).
    • Higher-hour caregivers are twice as likely to have been in their caregiving role for 10 or more years.
    • The typical care recipient is female (65%) and averages 69 years old.
    • Nearly half of caregivers provide care to someone 75 years old or older (47%).
    • Among the top reasons that caregivers are needed, the top issues reported include “old age” (14%), Alzheimer’s or dementia (7%), mobility (7%), and mental/emotional health issues (5%).
    • A majority of caregivers help their loved one with at least one Activity of Daily Living (ADL; 59%), most commonly helping their care recipient get in and out of beds and chairs (43%).
    • 6 in 10 caregivers are female.
    • The average caregivers’  age is 49.2.
    • Among caregivers ages 75 or older, 84% live within 20 minutes of their care recipient (vs. 76% of caregivers ages 65–74, 72% ages 50–64, and 74% ages 18–49).
    • 8 in 10 primary caregivers (81%) live within 20 minutes of their care recipient, compared with less than two-thirds (63%) of nonprimary caregivers.
    • On average, caregivers ages 18 to 49 provide 21.7 hours of care weekly. This number rises to 34.0 hours of care among caregivers ages 75 or older.
    • Nearly 9 in 10 Asian American caregivers provide transportation to their care recipient (85%), more than either white (78%) or African American caregivers (72%). Asian American caregivers (38%) are also more likely to arrange outside services than African American or Hispanic caregivers (28% and 28% respectively).

    by forayinto35mm on flickr cc

    Resources for Caregivers

    Administration on Aging (AOA)

    • Is the principal agency of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services designated to carry out the provisions of the Older Americans Act of 1965 (OAA)
    • Promotes the well-being of older individuals by providing services and programs designed to help them live independently in their homes and communities
    • Empowers the federal government to distribute funds to the states for supportive services for individuals over the age of 60

    Administration for Community Living (ACL)

    • Serves as the Federal agency responsible for increasing access to community supports, while focusing attention and resources on the unique needs of older Americans and people with disabilities across the lifespan, and their families and caregivers

     

    Ask Medicare

    • Offers information, tools and materials to assist caregivers and their loved ones in making informed healthcare decisions
    • Designed to help caregivers address challenging issues and work effectively with Medicare to ensure their family members and friends receive the best possible care.

    Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA)

    • Founded in the late 1970s
    • Acts as a public voice for caregivers
    • Features information on programs at national, state and local levels that support and sustain caregivers

    National Alliance for Caregiving

    • Established in 1996
    • Nonprofit coalition of national organizations focused on improving the lives of family caregivers
    • Members include grassroots organizations, professional associations, service organizations, disease-specific organizations, government agencies, and corporations
    • Dedicated to improving quality of life for families and their care recipients through research, innovation, and advocacy

    National Family Caregiver Support Program  (NFCSP)

    • Established in 2000
    • Provides grants to States and Territories, based on their share of the population aged 70 and over, to fund a range of supports that assist family and informal caregivers to care for their loved ones at home for as long as possible.

    Eldercare Locator

    • a public service of the Administration on Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
    • Is a nationwide service that connects older Americans and their caregivers with information on senior services

    Next Step in Care

    • Created by the United Hospital Fund
    • Provides easy-to-use guides to help family caregivers and health care providers work closely together to plan and implement safe and smooth transitions for chronically or seriously ill patients

    Lotsa Helping Hands

    • brings together caregivers and volunteers through online communities that organize daily life during times of medical crisis or caregiver exhaustion in neighborhoods and communities worldwide

    Caring.com

    • Is a leading online resource for family caregivers seeking information and support as they care for aging parents, spouses, and other loved ones
    • Offers helpful content, advice from leading experts, a supportive community of caregivers, and a comprehensive directory of eldercare services
    • Expert-reviewed content includes advice from a team of more than 50 trusted leaders in geriatric medicine, law, finance, housing, and other key areas of healthcare and eldercare

    National Transitions of Care Coalition (NTOCC)

    • Founded in 2006 by the Case Management Society of America (CMSA)
    • Empowers/facilitates communication between caregivers and the recipient's care team by bringing together industry leaders who have created resources to help caregivers better understand transitional challenges and empower them as part of a collective caregiving team.
    • Raises awareness about the core challenges faced by caregivers

    National Center on Caregiving (NCC)

    • Established in 2001 as a program of Family Caregiver Alliance
    • Works to advance the development of high-quality, cost-effective policies and programs for caregivers in every state in the country
    • Serves as a central source of information on caregiving and long-term care issues for policy makers, service providers, media, funders and family caregivers throughout the country

    Caregiver Action Network (CAN)

    • Includes several helpful resources for caregivers, including: tips, a "Resource Toolkit", shared stories (with opportunities to share), information on agencies and organizations in your area, and more
    • CAN also provides support for rare disease caregivers at www.rarecaregivers.org.

    References

    1. [Caregiving in the U.S. 2015. National Alliance for Caregiving Public Policy Institute. Washington, D.C.

    2. Using a late 2014 estimate of 239,340,657 Americans ages 18 or older, the Caregiving in the U.S. 2015 study estimates 43.5 million adults have been caregivers to an adult or child in the 12 months prior to the study.

    3. Adding the estimated 13.9 percent caring for an adult only to the 2.7 percent caring for both a child and adult yields an estimated prevalence of caring for an adult of 16.6 percent. [source: Caregiving in the U.S. 2015].

  • September is National Preparedness Month

    by comedy_nose on flickr ccNational Preparedness Month was started in 2004 by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) along with the Department of Homeland Security with the goal of empowering Americans to prepare for and respond to all types of emergencies, including natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks.

    This year, it is estimated that more than 3000 organizations—national, regional, and local governments, as well as private and public organizations—will support emergency preparedness efforts and encourage Americans to take action [source].

    National Preparedness Month & People with Disabilities

    Living with a physical disability or mobility challenge makes it even more important to ensure that you have an emergency plan in place. Knowing what to do, who to contact, and where to go in the event of an emergency can make a difference in helping to keep you and your family safe. It can also reduce the amount of time it takes to receive proper medical attention, if necessary. That said, the following is a brief list of items to keep in mind as you plan.

    3 Tips to Help People with Disabilities Prepare for an Emergency Situation

    # 1 - Keep a list of important information.

    Keep a printed copy of information for important emergency contacts. Be sure to include the person’s name, email address, phone number and social media.

    Include names and several points of contact for: caregivers, doctors/medical team, co-workers, and other service providers.

    #2 - Create & Share an Emergency Plan of Action.

    Having a physical disability may mean that you have to allow extra time for evacuation during an emergency situation, such as a hurricane, flooding, or other situation where help may be required.

    Create an Emergency Plan of Action, and be sure to share it with your close friends, family, and/or caregivers.

    Your emergency plan should contain the following information:

    • Name and information for your emergency contact person
    • What mobility products or accessories your physical disability may require (and where they are kept)
    • Your plans to remain independent, should you require oxygen or mechanical ventilation
    • Location and names of any medication(s) you may need

    #3 - Review Your Emergency Plan of Action.

    Review your Emergency Plan of Action the same way you would practice a fire drill. Involve members of your support group and/or community. By including others in your Emergency Plan of Action, you are also helping to raise awareness about the functional needs of physically disabled persons in your community.

    Speak with your employer about your Emergency Plan, and figure out ways to incorporate a similar plan for disabled persons at your workplace (if there isn’t already a plan in place).

    Reach out to local community organizations and emergency personnel in the area that you live in to see if a current plan exists.

    by zeevveez on flickr cc

    Quick Emergency Preparedness Checklist for Disabled Persons

    Emergency Preparedness in Your FAMILY

    • Speak with your family and put together a plan of action to help you stay organized during an emergency situation.
    • Prepare an emergency evacuation kit (Things to include in the kit: printed list of names/phone numbers, and/or other medical information, medication(s), cash, flashlight, batteries, etc.).

    Emergency Preparedness in Your NEIGHBORHOOD

    • Know what the emergency evacuation routes are.
    • Have access to a wheelchair van or other handicap-accessible vehicle.
    • Have the handicap accessible accessories in your home to aid you in evacuating (ex: stair lifts, wheelchair ramps, etc.).
    • Have the phone number of a neighbor or friend who lives nearby (someone you can contact in the event that you have difficulty exiting your home during an emergency).

    Emergency Preparedness in Your WORKPLACE/SCHOOL

    • Know what sorts of emergency plan your child’s school has in place - particularly as it relates to his/her physical disability.
    • Speak to your employer about a having an emergency plan of action at your place of work (ex: knowing which handicap-accessible exits to take in the event of an emergency, etc.).

    Emergency Preparedness on a GLOBAL Scale

    Check out to see what sorts of things you should know when traveling with a disabled person.

    Things to be aware of:

    • Transportation - making sure you have access to a handicap-accessible van when traveling
    • Lodging  - Making sure that hotels are handicap accessible
    • Restaurants/Venues - Researching handicap or wheelchair accessible restaurants and venues
    • Medical Info - Being sure you have all of your medical information with you, including (but not limited to: prescription information, emergency contact information, etc.). Know/Research nearby medical facilities that are close to where you are staying - just in case of an emergency.
    • Talk to Your Doctor(s) - Speak with your medical team before taking any long distance/lengthy trip

    Have another tip you'd like to share? Let us know on our Facebook page.

    Other Helpful Resources:

    • CDC | http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/preparedness_month.htm
    • American Red Cross | http://www.redcross.org/prepare/nationalpreparednessmonth
    • Ready.gov | http://www.ready.gov/september
    • Ready.gov | http://www.ready.gov/individuals-access-functional-needs

    Learn which used handicap van is right for you. Contact Van Products today by calling: (800) 209-6133.

  • Parents of Children with Physical Disabilities

    Being a parent comes with its set of unique challenges. However, being a parent of a child with a physical disability often comes with a different set of challenges. With an increased focus on disability and mobility accessibility in the United States, there is a growing push to help offer support for parents of children with physical disabilities. This article explores some tips and advice to help parents of disabled children.

    by DaveBleasdale on flickr cc

    Prevalence of Physical Disabilities in the U.S.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), more than 50 million Americans live with a disability:

    The most common disabilities are mobility limitations, such as having serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs -- affecting one in eight adults --followed by disabilities in thinking and/or memory, independent living, seeing and self care. [source]

    Disabilities affect many people within the United States as well as in the world. In fact, the National Center for Education reports that in 2012-2013, there were roughly 6.4 million (13%) of children, ages 3 - 21 who received special education services in public schools.

    Finally, according to the United States Census Bureau, American Community Survey:

    Of the 53.9 million school-aged children (aged 5 to 17) in the U.S. civilian non institutionalized population, about 2.8 million (5.2 percent) were reported to have a disability in 2010. 

    by stephanski on flickr cc

    11 Tips for Parents of Children with Disabilities

    We've put together a brief list of 11 tips to help parents of children with disabilities. Can you think of any other tips or advice that parents should be made aware of? Take a look, and share your thoughts in the comments section!

    #1 - Be resilient.

    Things won’t always go as you’d planned. Work on developing resilience via: communication skills, problem-solving skills, humor, or by engaging in mutually supportive relationships.

    #2 - Develop healthy habits for stress relief.

    Having someone you can call, who understands what you may be going through, is crucial. You may also try things such as: deep breathing exercises, physical activity, or simply taking a brief ‘time out’.

    #3 - Know when to ask for help.

    There is no shame in knowing that you are feeling overwhelmed. Communicate with a close friend or family member, or possibly seek outside help in a healthcare professional.

    #4 - Learn how to discipline your child.

    Discipline doesn’t necessarily mean “punishment”. Rather, it is a means of educating or teaching your child to help them lead healthier more disciplined lives. Do this by: setting good examples, praising your child for his/her accomplishments, ignoring unwanted behavior while responding quickly to inappropriate behavior, and more.

    #5 - Know how/where to find help.

    Depending on your child’s disability, you’ll want to know what resources are at your disposal as well as contact information for people, friends, and family who will help to make up your ‘support’ network.

    #6 - Help your child process his/her feelings.

    Having a child with or without a disability is a 24/7 job. It is also an incredibly emotional experience. Support your child’s emotional development by helping your child learn how to do things such as: follow directions, manage/process their emotions, learning your child’s communicative style, helping your child to learn new skills to replace less-than-desirable behavior, and more.

    #7 - Get educated.

    Knowledge is power. Learn as much about your child’s disability as you can.

    #8 - Seek support.

    There is strength in numbers and in knowing that you are not alone. Find a support group or network of other parents who may be dealing with the same types of challenges.

    #9 - Speak.

    Talk to parents of children with disabilities. Talk to your child’s doctor and/or medical team.

    #10 - Organize.

    Stay organized. It helps to have a daily routine for both your child and yourself.

    #11 - Prioritize.

    Take care of yourself first. If you don’t make your own mental and physical health a priority, then you won’t be able to care for your child in the way that he/she needs.

    RESOURCES/LINKS:

  • 3 Tips for Planning a Handicap Accessible Memorial Day Party

    Memorial Day is right around the corner, and what better way to kick off the start of summer than by hosting a Memorial Day party at your home?

    by Ian Sane on flickr cc

    Tips to Make Your Memorial Day More Handicap Accessible

    Whether you plan to have a cookout in your yard or host the party elsewhere, the following are some tips and general things to keep in mind to make your gathering more handicap accessible.

    #1 - Decide on your location.

    Sure, it's a great thing that you're willing and excited to host a Memorial Day party at your home. However, if you are inviting physically disabled guests, you need to take their needs into consideration and determine whether your home is the best location for a diverse gathering.

    Questions to ponder include:

    • Do I live in a multi-level space? Can I host the gathering on a lower level or main level?
    • Is there easy, handicap accessible parking in front of my home?
    • Are the door spaces wide enough for a wheelchair to fit through easily?
    • Am I able to rearrange furniture to provide easier access to wheelchairs?

    This isn't to say that you can't host a party at your home at all. In fact, there are many ways to rent mobility equipment and accessories, such as wheelchair ramps, etc., to help your physically disabled guests feel at ease.

    #2 - Choose your food wisely.

    You'd be surprised at how many people suffer from various food allergies. When sending out Memorial Day party invites, simply ask guests to indicate whether they have an allergy to something and when in doubt, stick labels on all of the food the day of the party so that guests will know exactly what is being served.

    Part of your food preparation includes how you present your food! For wheelchair-bound guests, this simply means putting food, beverages, condiments, and flatware at a level that is within easy reach. This makes it easier for guests to serve themselves,

    #3 - Plan a few, fun activities that everyone can enjoy.

    You don't just have to plan activities around someone who is wheelchair bound. However, you should plan to include at least a few activities that will include someone who may have a disability so that they can participate and not feel left out. Some quick ideas include the following games and activities. Can you think of others?

    • Bingo
    • Board Games
    • Trivia
    • Charades
    • Karaoke

    Memorial Day is a day for honoring and remembering all of the brave men and women who served (and continue to serve) in our country's Armed Forces. As such, if you have a disabled veteran attending your party, think of ways that you can honor him/her in some special way.

    Below are some ideas for honoring veterans this Memorial Day, and beyond:

  • Wheelchair Accessible Vans, Disability and Travel

    by Pink Sherbet Photography on flickr ccAt Van Products, our dedication to our customers goes beyond simply providing buyers with high quality, used wheelchair accessible vans. Rather, we understand what it is like to live with a physical disability and/or limited mobility, and we make sure that each of the used handicapped vans we sell  is properly equipped to safely transport you wherever your travels may take you.

    Our mobility specialists work 1:1 to ensure that each used wheelchair van is customized according to the unique mobility needs of the driver/passenger.

    Below, we've offered some travel tips for those with disabilities. For additional information about our used wheelchair vans or other mobility products, contact us today.

    3 Tips for Disabled Travel

    Just as with any sort of travel plans, traveling when you have a disability also requires a little bit of planning to help ensure a safe, pleasant trip. Check out some of our tips for disabled travelers below.

    #1 - CALL AHEAD.

    Before you leave for your travels, call ahead to the venue, or hotel that you are heading to, and verify that there are accommodations for travelers with special needs. Make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to call ahead - at least 48 hours or more, depending on the length of your trip and distance that you are traveling.

    #2 - PLAN YOUR ROUTE.

    If you are renting a wheelchair van and driving to your destination, today, there are numerous ways to plan your road trip. Most states provide easy access to mile markers and rest stop information. For example, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) offers a list of rest areas along the 1-95 corridor, including mile marker and handicap accessible information.

    #3 - TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE YOU GO.

    Before you leave for any trip, always check with your doctor or healthcare provider first. Let him/her know the details of your trip, including geographic area, length of stay, and mode of transportation to get there. For example, there may be limited medications available in a certain area; or if you are planning on taking a long flight to a destination, your doctor may be able to advice you as to specific steps you need to take to ensure a safer trip.

    by fontplaydotcom on flickr cc

    Other Great Sites for Disabled Travelers

    The following is a brief list of other great sites for disabled travelers. Have a suggestion for another resource? Let us know in the comments!

    Mobility International USA (MIUSA)

    • Founded in 1981, Mobility International USA (MIUSA) is a disability-led non-profit organization headquartered in Eugene, Oregon, USA working to advance the rights of people with disabilities globally.

    Disabled Travelers

    • This is a great resource, dedicated to providing helpful information related to accessible travel. From finding travel agents, to travel companions, access guides and more, check out their comprehensive listing of accessible travel information.

     

    Cruise Planners - Easy Access Travel

    • Cruise Planners is dedicated to meeting the special needs of disabled and mature travelers by providing honest, necessary information to help make disabled travel more enjoyable.

     

    Flying Wheels Travel

    • Flying Wheels Travel provides individual travel arrangements, customized escorted tours and group travel experiences all over the globe — serving people with physical disabilities and chronic illness worldwide.

     

    Disabled World (Disability Travel)

    • Disabled World offers a U.S. travel section for disabled persons, which covers reviews of destinations, accommodation guides, and travel tips for persons with disabilities traveling in the USA.
  • How to Safely Store Your Medications

    According to a 2013 report from SafeKids.org, medications are the leading cause of child poisoning. In fact, an alarming 67,000 children land in emergency rooms each year because of medication poisoning. Put into perspective, and that's roughly one child every eight minutes.

    Where Children Find Medicine:

    According to SafeKids.org, the following are some statistics related to where children commonly found medicine:

    • 27% ground or misplaced
    • 20% purse/bag/wallet
    • 20% counter/dresser/table/nightstand
    • 15% pillbox or bag of pills
    • 12% other (unknown)
    • 6% cabinet/drawer

    Sound familiar?

    The report goes on to state that a staggering 86% of emergency room visits for medicine poisoning were due to children getting into adult medicine. The biggest offenders? Moms (31%) and grandparents (38%).

    by frankieleon on flickr cc

    Safely Storing Your Medications Out of Reach

    Regardless of whether you are taking medication due to having a physical disability or limited mobility, or whether you simply keep some ibuprofen on hand for the occasional headache - adults have a responsibility to keep medicines safely stored and out of reach from curious, unsuspecting children.

    CNN reported on the subject, giving the example that something as small as a caregiver letting a child use a bathroom unsupervised can result in an emergency situation.

    UpandAway.org gives some great tips for safely storing medications. Some tips include:

    1. Pick a place that kids cannot reach.
    2. Put medicines away every time.
    3. Make sure the safety cap is locked.
    4. Teach your kids about medicine safety.
    5. Tell guests about medicine safety.
    6. Be prepared in case of an emergency.

    Disposing of Medications

    If you thought it was safe to simply throw away medications, think again. The FDA has the following recommendations for safely disposing of medicine:

    • Mix medicines (do NOT crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds
    • Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag; and
    • Throw the container in your household trash.
    • Before throwing out your empty pill bottle or other empty medicine packaging, remember to scratch out all information on the prescription label to make it unreadable.
  • Winter Safety Tips for People with Disabilities

    As the many parts of the country deal with harsh winter weather and winter storms, people with disabilities will want to take extra precautions as some disabilities may increase limitations, such as being able to regulate/maintain body heat.

    The following are some helpful winter safety tips for those with disabilities to keep you safer and warmer this winter!

    by kelly.sikkema on flickr cc

    Tips to Help Disabled Persons Stay Safer This Winter

    If you (or someone you know) suffer from a disability, be sure to:

    #1 - Wear multiple layers of clothing.

    It is important to wear layered clothing during the winter because it keeps the body warm. Besides this, it is far easier to take layers off than to face the alternative: not having enough layers on to keep you warm. Additionally, you should be careful to wear a scarf, insulated gloves, doubled up socks, and a pair of lined, winter boots if going outdoors.

    #2 - Carry a cell phone.

    Even though it seems like a no-brainer, you should always carry your cell phone with you - even if it's to go to your mailbox. Too often, you hear about folks who manage to lock themselves out of their homes or out of their vehicles. Depending on where you live, you could be waiting a while before help arrives if you don't have a cell phone to call for help immediately.

    #3 - Sign up with the Special Needs Registry in your area.

    Each county within each state of the United States has what is called a "Special Needs Registry." This allows those residents who have special needs or who require special assistance to register with their county. In the event that there is a natural disaster or an evacuation, or something else that would require other assistance, your information will be on file in the area that you live in, making it more accessible to get the help that you need, when you need it most.

    Refer to your local community to find out more information. Here is an example of the Special Needs Registry in Fairfax County, VA.

    #4 - Always stock up on non-perishable food items.

    Whether you rely on home-delivered meals or have a used wheelchair accessible van for your own transportation, winter weather can affect EVERYONE.  In the event that you are advised to stay off of the roads until the weather has cleared, always be sure to keep plenty of nonperishable food in your pantry to last at least several days.

    #5 - Put together a prescription plan of action with your medical staff.

    In the even that you are shut in for an extended period of time due to weather, have a plan of action ahead of time to figure out how to handle prescription pill refill needs and other medical treatments/equipment, etc. This also includes having a back up plan in place in case your medical needs require the use of a power source, such as a battery pack or electrical source.

    For additional information about used handicap vans, contact us today by filling out our simple, online form here, or by calling us toll-free: 1.800.209.6133.

  • Make Your Home More Accessible in 6 Steps

    At Van Products Used Handicap Vans, our goal is to give you freedom of mobility by providing you with the used handicap vans and mobility accessories you need. With the winter in full swing, the following are some simple steps you can follow to help make your home safer and more accessible for those with physical limitations.

    by Jen Rossey on flickr cc

    6 Steps to a Safer, More Accessible Home

    1. Control the Clutter. Keeping clutter to a minimum not only keeps your home cleaner and less germ-filled; it also gives disabled persons easier access to move around. Consider rearranging furniture to give more room for wheelchairs to maneuver, for example.
    2. Consider Stairlifts. Stairlifts are a great option for physically disabled persons who live in homes that have stairs. Often, it is easy to feel discouraged or trapped in your home simply because of reduced or limited mobility. Stairlifts allow you to easily access all parts of your multi-level home while keeping you safe.
    3. Improve Your Lighting. Lighting solutions can make it easier to move around in the evening, particularly if you need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, etc. Something as simple as a nightlight can help to illuminate your path to help you see where you're going. Consider repositioning light switches to make them easier to reach. There are even automated lighting systems and remote controls to help you access lighting options within your home. Also be sure to keep fully charged flashlights in each room within easy reach, in the even that there is power failure.
    4. Use the Bathroom Easier. If you or someone you know is wheelchair bound, you may consider purchasing safety rails for both the shower as well as the toilet. In some cases, purchasing a higher toilet seat as well as having a walk-in-shower may make it easier to use the bathroom.
    5. Make Doorways Wheelchair-Friendly. Most wheelchairs and walkers require a door opening at least 36 inches wide. Make simple fixes by swapping conventional door hinges with double-jointed “swing-away” hinges. Other alternatives include widening doorways, installing pocket doors, or removing doors entirely.
    6. Offer Easy Access In and Out of Your Home. If your home has exterior stairs leading in, you may consider installing a wheelchair ramp instead, or consider installing an exterior wheelchair platform lift.

    At Van Products Used Handicap Vans, our mobility specialists are happy to discuss any of the above options with you in further detail. We also carry a large inventory of mobility equipment and accessories to help make your life more mobile.

    Call us today at (800) 209-6133 to find out more!

  • Selling Your Handicap Van to an Authorized Used Handicap Van Dealer

    by skippyjon on flickr ccWhether you own a handicap van already or currently own an unmodified minivan, there are numerous benefits to selling your vehicle to an authorized used handicap van dealer, like Van Products.

    We Accept Unmodified Vans!

    At Van Products, we will gladly accept unmodified vans. Check with our mobility specialists to see if your vehicle qualifies. Other benefits of selling your handicap van to authorized used handicap van dealers include:

    • We know the used handicap van industry inside and out & can price your van appropriately.
    • We streamline the buying/selling process, making it significantly easier for you to sell your van to us versus trying to sell it on your own.
    • We will gladly help you sell your van on your own, by giving you tips and suggestions.
    • Sell your van to us, and buy a used handicap van from our online inventory!

    Sell Your Van to a Trusted Used Handicap Van Dealer

    There are plenty of handicap van dealerships out there that will buy your van from you. However, not all used handicap van dealers are founded on honesty, reliability, and integrity. At Van Products Used Handicap Vans, we have an outstanding reputation for quality mobility products, accessories, and used handicap vans. More importantly, however, we are known for our excellent customer service.

    Unlike other handicap van dealers out there, we care about you, the customer. Our mobility experts make every effort to ensure that each customer leaves more educated and confident in their decision to sell their handicap van to us, purchase an upgraded used handicap van, or purchase some other mobility accessory or product.

    Safety is important to us, which is why we only buy and sell used handicap vans that meet all of the strict requirements for road safety as well as personal safety. Read more about selling your handicap van to Van Products, or contact us today by calling toll-free (800) 209.6133.

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