Aging Gracefully

So as we age, we’ve got to cope with a different reality.


Our bodies and minds may start to deteriorate. 


We can’t do all the same things we used to do (even as we can maybe do others). 


There can be a deep sense of loss as abilities, things, places, and people that were critical to us for many, many years may no longer be present with us. 


When I used to speak with my aging father about he and my mom getting older, he would joke and say:

Yes, we’re getting older–what’s the alternative?


Then the other day, I ran into a nurse from the Jewish Social Services Agency (JSSA). 


We chatted briefly about the good work they do in helping so many elderly and handicapped people.


And then she says to me about how she herself is starting to feel what it’s like to get older, and that she often tells her mom that everything hurts to which her mother responds:

You’re not supposed to leave this world alive!


Putting these together: 


I suppose we all need to do the best we can to age graciously ourselves as well as help others in the process–because there is no alternative to aging and no one leaves this world alive. 😉

Respect The Disabled

Respect For The Disabled.jpeg

So coming home tonight on the Metro train… 


People were switching trains in downtown D.C. 


Getting off from one train and going up the escalator to catch another. 


Every night people literally race up the escalator to catch their next ride. 


Some pushing their way on past the laggards. 


Others yelling for the people in front to “move it!”


Tonight, there was someone riding up the escalator on a wheelchair and holding unto to both sides to keep the chair from tipping over or literally rolling down backwards. 


(Usually the people in wheelchairs take the elevator and this was the first time I saw someone on the escalator riding it like this.)


So while I was expecting the people to start acting up on the escalator, running for the train on the platform.  


Instead, when they got to the wheelchair, they stopped and silently rode up with deep respect for the person holding himself steady.


There wasn’t a peep or a shove. 


I could see people missing their train, but they were thankful for their health and respectful of the man in the wheelchair. 


Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised and proud that there is still some human decency out there and that is cause for hope. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Robotics Help The Paralyzed Stand And Regain Mobility

Some of the best work being done in robots to help disabled people is from Dr. Amit Goffer of the Technion University in Israel. 


ReWalk is a robotic battery-powered exoskeleton with motorized legs and hips that enable paraplegics to walk, turn, and even climb and descend stairs again–and is FDA cleared as of 2014. 


And UPnRIDE is a wheeled auto-balancing robotic device that enables quadriplegics to stand and be mobile. 


The inventor, Dr. Goffer, is himself paralyzed from the waist down due to an accident 20-years ago.


This has inspired him to create these absolutely amazing robotic devices to assist all disabled people who are wheelchair bound. 


Approximately 1% of the people are wheelchair bound that’s 70 million


And surely, many more especially in the developing world need wheelchairs and don’t have them.


So these amazing robotic devices have the incredible capacity to help so many people stand and regain their mobility and dignity again. 


These are nothing short of miraculous and a new beginning for so many people suffering from spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, palsy, strokes and more


Being able to stand again is not only psychology healthy and helpful for mobility, but it may aid in preventing secondary conditions that wheelchair-bound people can suffer, such as osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, loss of lean mass and difficulty with bowel and urinary functions.


ReWalk has also received approval for coverage from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for those qualifying and with spinal cord injuries. 


Hopefully, this is just the beginning for helping people around the world. Mobility is life! 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to The Times of Israel)

It’s Not Easy

Haircut

So I went for a haircut yesterday evening.


And when I walked into the Hair Cuttery, there were a number of mentally disabled people waiting there. 


3 had already gotten their haircuts, and 1 was still in the barber’s chair. 


One of the 3 said hello to me and started conversing with me even though he  had obvious difficulty getting the words out. 


There was an open chair between them, and he even offered me to sit down with them, which I did. 


I asked about him and he told me the others we’re his roommates.


I asked how he liked his roommates and he gave a big smile, nodded, said how nice they were, and while pointing to them started to introduce them and encouraged them to speak with me as well. 


I could see as they interacted and later got up how they shared some challenges, but also how each clearly had their own unique difficulties to deal with–for example, one was stooped and went along with a limp, while another was more reticent and seemed openly annoyed by the others trying to get his attention. 


When it was my turn for the haircut, they were heading out and a couple of them waved goodbye to me. 


I said goodbye back and was sad seeing how difficult people’s lives are. 


It strikes me that even for those in the healthiest states, life can be very difficult at times.


So I imagine how much more so for those with physical and developmental disabilities–the things we take for granted can be extremely difficult for others to navigate around, reach, manipulate, read, hear, understand, speak, and do.


Life seems unforgiving at times. 


My daughter said to me that while it’s natural for people to look out for their own self-interests, really we all need each other to survive and make it. 


Our self confidence in our stand-alone capacities is really just an illusion. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Social Inequality To Make You Sick

Rolls Royce.jpeg

Here’s a copy of the sticker price on the car in the lobby of the local mall in Florida here. 


Oh, it’s just a 2016 Rolls Royce for a mere $362,225.00


The car was unbelievably gorgeous.


But the extravagance of it compared with the regular poor, hungry and homeless people on the streets as well as the vast majority of all the other everyday middle class people is enough to make you want to puke. 


Immediately after this, when we got back to the hotel, the maid was still in the room cleaning up.


I had the opportunity to see–really see–this lady–this person. 


She was overly respectful, calling me sir numerous times, unnecessarily. 


She was kind in finishing the room quickly and asking if their was anything else we needed.


But I also noticed that despite her labor-intensive job cleaning up other people’s shit in the hotel rooms, she had a bum leg and had trouble walking and just getting around. 


I thought to myself why was it that this poor lady was destined to have to clean my and other people’s hotel rooms for a grueling living.


The next day, I saw some mini shampoo and conditioner containers that had fallen to the side of the tiny garbage can in the bathroom (didn’t make the shot).  


I looked down–I thought for a split second, that’s what the hotel get’s paid for to clean up and service the guests–but only for a SPLIT second.


Then I bent my own stupid ass over, and picked up the bottles and put them in the garbage where they belong. 


The lady coming to clean the room doesn’t drive a Rolls Royce and definitely, neither do I. 


We are one under G-d, and may he bless us all in prosperity, health, and peace. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Evil Cannot Be In Charge

Skeleton Street Art

So I am having to reconcile some interesting things in my mind. 


Hating and liking. 


For example Iran, led by dictators and extremists, is perhaps the epitome of the “Axis of Evil” and the arch enemy of America and Israel


Iran suppresses the freedom and human rights of its people, is the leading sponsor of world terrorism, denies the Holocaust, and threatens brutal attacks on America and to annihilate Israel. 


Yet, on a personal level I have had the opportunity to meet a number of Iranians that I really like and respect.


These include amazing colleagues at work, and wonderful members of my synagogue as well as neighbors. 


One Iranian family I met just this morning was simply amazing.


The father had a horrible stroke earlier in the year. 


Today, I saw the father wheeled to the swimming pool by his son. 


The son took his father lovingly into the water and worked with him therapeutically to help him on regaining as much mobility as possible. 


I stopped to speak with them, and the man’s wife told me that the son, who was a PhD in mechanical engineering from Texas came every week to Washington, D.C. to work with his stricken father. 


The son told me that although he was not a therapist worked hard with his father on physical and occupational therapy, and I even saw his father laugh a little with his son in the water. 


The son held the father by a safety belt and his father put his hand on his son’s shoulder as they walked forward and backwards in the water, and even did a little swim while his son held the belt tight. 


I was really impressed by this family and especially the love, caring, and devotion the son showed his father. 


Despite their troubles, the wife asked me how I was recuperating and smiled when I told her I was doing better. 


It’s amazing to me how hate truly is blind. 


On one hand, what Iran stands for today led by extremists who seek religious domination, suppression and destruction of others, and a return of the Caliphate is a danger to its people and the world.


On the other hand, many of the people from the streets of Iran are surely some very good people.


We need to see the bad apples and separate them from the good ones. 


As a country, we need to support the freedom of the Iranian people and help those that believe in peace and fellowship. 


When evil is in a leadership position, then good does not follow, but rather is smothered until it is set free. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Mindful Treatment Of The Disabled

Brain

What great brain at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) came up with the idea to curb access to prosthetics for the disabled?

What is supposedly driving CMS?

It’s a half-wit effort to put a dent in fraud for lower-limb prosthetics –estimated at just $43 million relative to CMS’s annual budget of close to $1 trillion!

Uh, doesn’t CMS have anything better to do then pick on disabled people missing one or more legs?

The profound dumbness of the proposed CMS new rules would limit amputees from possible reimbursement for artificial limbs for example, “if they use assistive devices such as canes or crutches.”

But isn’t that precisely what someone who can’t walk and is missing a limb would use???

Here’s the next doozy…CMS would limit advanced prosthetics “if the device doesn’t enable them to walk with the appearance of a natural gait.”

OMG, this is too much!

People with disabilities who require help need it precisely because they are not “natural” in their mobility functions–that is what we are seeking to help them with. 

You’re going to penalize someone from getting artificial limbs because they still can’t walk completely normal with fake limbs like with real ones?

Moreover, if the Veteran’s Administration adopts these rules, this will also affect our wounded warfighters. 

G-d (and the Secretary of HHS) needs to put some sense back in the minds of the people who, in this case, instead of helping the disabled are misguidedly working against them. 😉

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

Disability Stories And Resources

Disability

Just wanted to share this great site called Disability Blog where people tell about their experiences of being disabled and how they have overcome the odds. 


It is hosted by Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.


And it is the official blog of Disability.gov where there is lots of information on “disability programs and services.” 


The blog site promotes the “full inclusion of people with disabilities in the workforce and communities nationwide.”


Disability Blog posts guest bloggers on various topics and I read some of the recent posts and they were very good, including:


– Disability rights activism

– Small business loans and mentoring support with SCORE for a veteran with disability

– Resources and support from the Amputtee Coalition for a child that was hurt in a lawn mowing accident

– A courageous description of how someone lives with syndactyly (fused fingers).

– Options for workplace accommodations at the Job Accommodation Network


As someone myself who has had two total hip replacements, I encourage people to get their personal stories out there to increase disability awareness, rights, and resources and support to help them.


I used to dream about retiring one day and running along the boardwalk and ocean every morning in Florida, but I know that will not happen for me anymore (so thank G-d for swimming). 


Disabilities can happen to anyone. 


We all need to be sensitive to what it’s like to be different and have unique challenges, and to try and help anyone who does.  😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Abhijit Bhaduri)

Amazing Advancements In Prosthetics


Watch this video…



Where a man who lost both arms over 40 years ago is fitted with these amazing dual prosthetics that he is able to control with his mind and muscle movements. 



Made with financing from the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA).



John Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab shows the possibilities for the future for helping everyone from Wounded Warriors to those disabled from accidents and disease. 



G-d creates and we imitate and together we make an incredible flourishing world. 😉



(Note: My gratitude to Rebecca Blumenthal for sharing this video with me.)

Homeless At Foggy Bottom

Homeless
The homeless situation in Washington D.C. (as in other big cities in the U.S.) is horrible and tragic. 

 
The homeless person here is wrapped in a blanket trying to stay warm on her wheelchair. 
 
Further, her bucket, at her feet, for people to give is empty. 
 
The Thanksgiving holiday is this week, but where is the thanks and where is the giving?
 
Interesting…halfway down the block is GW Hospital and across the street behind this lady is a gorgeous, modern, brand new GW University engineering and science building (almost completed now). 
 
The haves, the have mores, and the have nots. 
 
Where are all the trillions of dollars of spending going..,that we can’t feed, clothe, shelter, and educate our people. 
 
We need to do better as a society for providing care for the truly needy.
 
G-d is watching what we do and what we don’t do.
 
Our test, and the test of our elected officials/leadership–will we/they stand up for those that can’t? 
 
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)