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Accessible national parks
Does your family enjoy vacations in the great outdoors? Even if a family member is challenged by a disabling condition, options exist. Many parks across the country offer special accommodations.
The National Park Service has made it easy to find accessible options nationwide. Discover national parks with:
- Accessible trails. These trails have a firm and stable surface. In fact, some are wood boardwalks. All are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair, but not all of them are flat. Look for information on slope to determine difficulty. For instance, most of the South Rim Trail of the Grand Canyon is paved. There are accessible shuttles for steep sections of the trail that have grades exceeding accessibility standards.
- Accessible opportunities. Some parks offer touchable exhibits for the visually impaired. Others have hearing systems that help amplify the sound of the ranger’s voice on a tour. Some parks have cabins that were built to accommodate wheelchairs. And some have unique excursions, such as a specialized wheelchair for exploring the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado.
- Accessible vistas. These sites have special parking or other accommodations. Enjoy viewing a 45-foot waterfall at Alabama’s Little River Canyon.
- Accessible camping. A number of national parks offer accessible campsites. These may have surfaces that are more groomed and stable, and restrooms that accommodate wheelchairs. Does family camping in Hawai’i sound fun? You might want to stay at Kulanaokuaiki Campground in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.
If your loved one has a permanent disability, get an Access Pass. This lifetime pass provides free entry to national parks for your family member. It also covers up to three adults traveling in the same car.
The options identified at the National Park Service website represent a sampling of possibilities. Don’t give up if a park you have in mind isn’t listed. Type its name into the search bar at the National Park Service home page. At the park’s website, check for information about disabled access to park features.
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Avoiding crises with COPD
With periodic flare-ups and dashes to the ER, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when caring for a loved one with a lung condition, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The COPD Management Tool, developed by the American Lung Association, empowers you to help your loved one prevent crises through better management of the disease. Several simple forms guide you in communicating with the doctor so you are all on the same page. Best of all, the forms take the guesswork out of decision making on those days when symptoms start to flare.
The tool has two components:
- The COPD Management/Action Plan. Complete this one-page document with the doctor. The first section, in blue, summarizes your loved one’s current lung conditions and the doctor’s basic treatment plan. The “COPD Action Plan” section provides at-a-glance descriptions of what to do, depending on how your loved one is feeling. It groups symptoms into good days (green), bad days (yellow), and emergency situations (red). Review these descriptions with the doctor so you and your loved one will know what to do in each case.
- The COPD Report Card. This two-page form helps you give your care providers a quick snapshot of how things have been going since your last visit. Before a routine check-up, use it to summarize symptoms. During a flare-up, refer to it to describe recent symptoms for emergency personnel.
The forms take only minutes to complete. And once the management and action plans are in hand, you and your loved one will find it much easier to know what to do when symptoms get worse. Now that’s a plan for staying out of the ER!Return to top
Making your home safer
A dazzling array of products are available for making a home safer, but it’s often hard to get advice about options without a sales pitch.
This Caring Home provides information backed by research. It was developed by Weill Cornell Medical College to assist family caregivers. The website focuses on the safety issues that arise when caring for someone with memory loss and dementia. But it covers general concerns as well, such as preventing falls. Look for tips about:
- Home safety. Simply click on a “virtual room” for safety guidelines and product suggestions. For example, learn about different types of beds and their uses, or floorings that reduce the chance of falling. You’ll find information for every room in a home, and the outdoors.
- Special concerns. Here you’ll find strategies to address many safety concerns. Also available are guidelines for daily care if your loved one has dementia. Learn tips about mobility, such as how to help a person stand up or walk. Short video tutorials demonstrate good body mechanics. These essential skills will help you maintain your loved one’s safety and protect yourself from injury. Many family caregivers hurt their backs and are in pain for years because they tried to lift too much weight.
- Products. Learn about hard-to-find specialty products for safety. This section provides expert reviews on products such as no-rinse soap and timed faucets. Prices and manufacturer information are provided.
You can use the website’s “Share Ideas” section to send a question about a specific concern. The “Message Board” posts the expert’s answer. You can also read tips sent in by other caregivers.Return to top