NYSACRA’s strategic plan calls for exploration of new service paradigms as part of its overall goal to shape the industry, by helping agencies to develop individualized services and supports. NYSACRA participates in a variety of activities to help make quality, customer-directed supports available to more people with developmental disabilities.
Millions of people all over the globe suffer from eye diseases. Some of these conditions, when caught early are easily treatable with the proper combination of drugs as well as other corrective measures. The leading cause of blindness is primarily age-related eye conditions such as cataract, macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.
Refractive errors, for example, myopia, astigmatism and hyperopia are the most often occurring eye diseases. They occur mostly in individuals aged between 40-50 years old, however, they can affect anyone 12 years or older. It can be corrected through the use of eyeglasses, contact lenses, and for severe cases, surgery.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a condition that results from aging and it damages central and sharp vision. AMD affects the central part of the retina called the macular which enables you to see very fine details. Surgery is usually prescribed especially for wet AMD if caught early.
Cataract is the number one cause of blindness in the entire world. It is the clouding of the eye lenses and it can occur at any age. Treatment for cataract is widely and easily available, however most people ignore it because of lack of insurance or due to lack of awareness. Those who aren’t thrilled to wear prescription eyeglasses or aren’t ready for cataract surgery, clear vision can also be achieved through the use of exceptionally comfortable disposable contact lenses.
Glaucoma is defined as a group of eye diseases that progressively damage the eye’s optic nerve leading to blindness. Treatment is quite possible if the disease is caught early, especially with the open angle glaucoma which develops tardily and over a long period of time.
Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) is a complication of diabetes that is quite common. It is classified as damage to the retina that progresses slowly in four stages leading to blindness. The risks of getting DR can be mitigated by ensuring that you control your blood sugar and blood pressure level. Early diagnosis and treatment can mitigate the risk of vision loss.
Below is an explainer video about refractive errors.
To avoid permanent loss of vision due to the above mentioned eye diseases, you should consider visiting an ophthalmologist or optometrist. An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor specialized in surgical as well as medical care of the eye while an optometrist is an eye care professional specialized in refractive and primary medical care of the eye.
Dogs can be trained to perform a multitude of tasks to assist their disabled owners. Many trainers rescue mixed-breed shelter dogs.
Once used only as guide dogs for the blind, service dogs now assist not only sight-impaired owners, but individuals with impaired hearing, mobility issues, autism, seizures, and a wide variety of other disabilities, including psychiatric disorders. These working dogs provide invaluable assistance to their owners.
Assist Dogs Come in Many Breeds
Working service dogs range in size from massive Saint Bernards to tiny Teacup Terriers. Although some types of assistance require a larger dog’s weight and strength, temperament and intelligence count more than size in many cases. Mixed-breed and pure breed dogs alike can be good candidates for service dog training.
Service Dog Training
Many organizations and business, as well as individuals, specialize in training assistance dogs. Owners, often referred to as handlers, may train a service dog for their own use, but the majority of service dogs are professionally trained, then matched to an owner.
A dog selected for assistance training is usually less than 3 years of age and is seldom already owned by the individual who will use the dog after its training period. Sometimes referred to as A-Dogs, candidates for such training must possess friendly, confident personalities; have high intelligence, a desire to perform the tasks for which it is trained, and sufficient energy to work all day, every day.
Trained to Assist Special Needs Individuals
According to Dogs For The Deaf, a dog trained to assist someone who is hearing impaired alerts it’s owner/handler to such noises as a doorbell or telephone ringing, a teakettle boiling, a microwave or kitchen timer beeping, an alarm buzzing, and many other noises that require the owners attention, or ensure their safety.
Individuals with balance or mobility issues benefit from having a dog specially trained to assist them in tasks they cannot perform alone. From helping a Parkinson’s patient stay upright by becoming a counterweight when that person starts to fall to fetching a dropped item for a severely arthritic owner, service dogs help their owners cope with disabilities.
Children suffering from autism often respond to service dogs, and social therapy dogs can provide emotional support for individuals with psychiatric disorders.
More Service Dog Tasks
In addition to the tasks mentioned above, service dogs are often trained to perform such tasks as:
Bringing a ringing phone or headset to their owner.
Signalling when stairs or other obstacles are in their owners’ path.
Turning lights on or off.
Opening or closing a door, even unlocking locked doors.
Making a 911 call via specially adapted equipment.
Getting human assistance and leading rescuers to a stranded or injured owner.
Pushing or pulling a wheelchair or wagon.
Carrying packages or parcels.
Alerting deaf parents when their babies are crying or their children are in danger.
Assisting owners with dressing or grooming tasks.
Alerting others when the owner has suffered a seizure.
Countless other specific tasks to assist owners with a variety of physical, mental, and emotional needs.
Service Dogs Are Not Pets
While the bond between a service dog and its owner may become deep, others should remember the dog is a working animal and must be treated as such. Their job is to remain focused on their owner’s needs and safety, and any distraction could endanger that person. Service dogs, however lovable, should never be fed, petted, or talked to without their owner’s permission. They are highly skilled, on-duty, working dogs.
Attending a meeting on behalf of a disabled individual is a daunting task. Annual meetings are held to determine services, reevaluate educational goals, discuss results of evaluations or to decide on a course of treatment. These meetings are often very hard on caregivers (parents) as they can directly impact the course of both the lives of the individual and caregiver.
Sadly, caregivers often express that they feel like helpless victims to the actions of everyone else in the room. However, with proper preparation, like using the tips listed in this article, caregivers can view these meetings as opportunities to engage professionals to obtain a better quality of life for the individual experiencing a disability.
Every disability meeting is important.
Treat each and every meeting like a business appointment with serious consequences because that is precisely what these meetings are. Thoroughly review any paperwork that was made available for review prior to the meeting. Dress for the meeting thoughtfully. If professional dress is required of the meeting’s participants it is for the caregiver as well.
Know the purpose of each meeting.
Many meetings involving caregivers are fairly pro-forma but this is not always the case. If the meeting has a title, know what it is. Special education and disability service agencies use many acronyms and abbreviations and they can be quite confusing. Ask for definitions of terms until their meaning is clear.
Know who is running the disability meeting.
Everyone in the room has an agenda that may or may not be obvious to the caregiver. Ask for an introduction of everyone in the room and a small explanation of the services they provide to the individual. Before the meeting, skim any paperwork provided and match people with their respective paperwork. Avoid writing down information that is readily available in material provided at the meeting.
Know the purpose documents before you sign!
It is never advisable to sign any paperwork that has not been reviewed and more importantly understood. Treat every paper that is signed as a legal document with far reaching consequences.
Stay on topic at the meeting.
Caregivers tend to become overwhelmed at meetings and sometimes feel that other professionals over simplify the needs of the individual. Do not waste time discussing matters that are not germane to the meeting. The goal is a productive meeting not a pity party.
The individual with a disability should be present at the meeting.
Whenever possible, bring the individual with the disability to these meetings. Nothing keeps the focus on the individual more than the actual person who precipitated the meeting. Many times, the participants in the meeting have had almost no contact with the individual so having the individual physically in the same room can be quite an enlightening experience.
Be gracious and polite to everyone at the meeting.
People work in the disability services industry because they want to help people. No matter how constrained budgets become or understaffed a facility is, no one wants to watch an individual with a disability suffer. These meetings may be contentious but no matter what was said in the room, a parent or caregiver should thank each person individually for his/her time.
Attendance of annual meetings is just one of the many unpaid jobs that parents and caregivers of disabled individuals are faced with. Although the meetings’ outcomes are not always what caregivers want, they can improve their opportunities for success with a little preparation. When caregivers view themselves as active participants in their individuals’ future, everyone on the treatment team benefits.
Meditation has been proven in hundreds of unrelated scientific studies across the globe to have significant benefits to health, happiness, learning, creativity, and elimination of stress, anger, and substance abuse.
Health Benefits of Meditation
Meditation offers many health benefits for all types of ailments and diseases, including both physical and psychological ailments. Some of the positive effects of meditation include stress reduction, increased feelings of inner peace and great joy, improved personal and professional relationships, original creative ideas, and reduction of the biological aging processes by about ten years.
Sources of more detailed material include many publications including books, magazines, websites with both text and video health data which are too numerous to list and are continually increasing. Meditation has been shown to be an important part of prevention and cure of diseases.
Meditation improves immunity and memory functions, increases air flow to the lungs, decreases high blood pressure, removes depression, anxiety, and anger, especially in older individuals and people with disabilities. It can also greatly increase other positive changes in personality and in the user’s spiritual life.
Silent meditation easily eliminates harmful stress which can cause not only problems with health but also in every other aspect of life. The meditation replaces stress and negative problems with joy and happiness, inner peace, and positive solutions. After getting accustomed to it, meditation can even be used with eyes open and within minutes, but is best used as instructed, especially when first learning to meditate.
Scientific Findings About How Meditation Works
Levels of the healthy hormones, including the anti-aging hormone DHEA, (dehydroepiandrosterone) produced by the adrenal glands greatly increases during meditation. Dehydroepiandrosterone is released while in the delta brainwave state of 4-8 cps (cycles per second), and thus is rarely significantly increased unless increased through meditation. Dehydroepiandrosterone is significantly decreased in the body by about age 30 and continues to diminish with advancing age.
If an individual suffers from serious disease, such as immune system problem, some forms of cancer, or illnesses such as osteoporosis, etc, DHEA levels will be extremely low regardless of age. Just as the systemic levels of oxygen and alkalinity are low in individuals with serious diseases, and high in healthy individuals, low or high DHEA levels also reveal and determine immune function and physiological age.
Other hormones that increase during meditation include the natural painkiller endorphins; the antioxidant sleep-aid melatonin; serotonin which influences happiness, headaches and anxiety; growth hormone HGH which also protects against muscle loss, obesity, and brittle bones.
In addition to increasing levels of healthy hormones, meditation also reduces levels of cortisol and adrenaline hormones that are associated with increased risks of heart attacks, strokes, and pulmonary embolisms.
Blood clotting problems also affects the ability of cancer to metastasize and can cause other cancer complications. These serious health risks need to be monitored by a physician. Regular check ups with a physician, and meditation, healthy dietary habits and exercise can ensure that the essentials of maintaining health are addressed.
Meditation is one of the most effective methods of reducing stress
Meditation improves health, happiness, concentration, perception, and causes the brain to have a more positive outlook. Meditation shows the user how to learn from negative situations to help others, and how to easily improve his or her own personal life also.
Other results of meditation include significant elimination of addictions to illegal drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Meditation has proven more effective than standard treatments at reducing addictions to substance abuse. When using meditation for treatment, the relapse rate with traditional methods of treatment is replaced by even more improvement over time.
Meditation can help anyone who is willing to give the small amount of time it takes to completely relax for about ten minutes twice a day. It does take some time to learn to set aside ten or 20 minutes to completely relax but it is definitely worth the minutes spent. Considering meditation is such a flexible activity and reduction of stress can be achieved in just twenty minutes per day, meditation becomes a very valuable aid for improving every aspect of life.
Here is a 20-minute guided mindfulness meditation to help you make meditation a daily habit.