Family Caregiver – Part 3 – Patient Aids – What You’ll Need and Where to Get It

Dealing with the patient’s stiffness, speech problems, instability and inability to stand or walk, difficulty feeding himself, incontinence, etc. is hard enough even when you have help. The items listed here are things I have used for my husband who has Parkinson’s Disease. Being elderly is a consideration. If your patient has other conditions – diabetes, heart problems, your list may be considerably longer or different.

You may purchase items you need from medical supply stores found on the internet or through the Yellow Pages of your phone book. Most people appreciate saving money where they can. Shopping yard sales, flea markets, or estate sales can lead you to used wheelchairs and other reusable supplies. I have purchased 3 used wheelchairs over time, in various condition – some paint chipped, missing a small part, or hardly used. Prices ranged from $15.00 to $40.00. One wheelchair stays in the car, one on the porch to get him to and from the car, and one in his basement workshop.

Other items you might find helpful:

*Fold down table, the kind you can pull up to a sofa for snacking, works well with the wheelchair. I especially like it because it is easily moved where needed, it tilts so he is able to read the paper at a better angle, and it’s washable. Occasionally he’ll eat a meal on this table.

*Bedside table on wheels, like used in the hospital. I bought several of these tables when our County Nursing Home did remodeling a few years ago. At the time my husband was not sick, but these tables are handy to have around the house for other uses. And I sure use them now – alongside the bed, at the dinner table, and one in the living room to hold his magazines, tissues and water bottle.

*Toilet/potty chair, tub chair, walkers, exercise equipment. It was tough finding a potty chair with a split toilet seat for a male patient, but I finally found one at an estate auction, for $10.00.

*Hand rails and grab bars. I’ve purchased some at yard sales and at a home building center. Some I made myself from 1 1/2″ dowels (actually an old tent pole)and brackets bought at a flea market.

*Eating utensils, bibs, bed pads, urinals, etc. I found a urinal at a sportsman/camping supply store called a Little John. It is shaped differently than the ones found at medical supply. It is red so it is found easily in a hurry, and it has a long neck that makes it easier to get between the legs while sitting. I have several kept at various spots around the house.

*Mobility aids like a gait belt for transferring, a Skid Seat to help once the transfer is made, and mechanical patient lift, manual or hydraulic, for when patient is beyond a gait belt. We have a hydraulic patient lift supplied by Medicare, used to help get Husband into and out of bed when needed. We’re not using it much right now, but it’s good to know it’s there if needed. We’ve also used it for getting him up off the floor after a fall. I also purchased a used one, a little rickety, at an estate auction that I actually use for moving heavy things around the workshop.

*Motorized scooter. The patient must be physically able to handle the controls. Medicare may pay for the scooter, but not always. Sometimes you can find a used scooter at an estate sale. Be careful when purchasing a scooter or any item at auction. Everything is sold “as is”. Unless you can check it out to see if the batteries are good and it runs properly, I would avoid buying unless you can get it for next to nothing. Batteries can run $40-50 each and more, some scooters have two batteries. If the gearing is worn out it may cost too much to have it repaired. My husband’s scooter just had that happen, the gears wore out. A quote for repair was more than $1900. Almost the price of a new scooter. We were able to find assistance to obtain a new scooter.

*Used Hospital beds are to be treated the same as the scooter mentioned above. Buy used with caution. Buying used equipment is always a calculated risk. If you have a problem with the equipment, who do you take it to for repair? Sometimes it’s better to pay full price and buy new from a reputable dealer.

When obtaining these items, that is, the smaller household items, don’t hesitate to get more than one, maybe several of each item,…you’ll need them. Plan to have multiples – for the car; the house, in different rooms in the house; the basement, etc. If you are unable to get out to shop these “bargain hunter” sales, put the word out to friends or relatives to be on the watch for items. It may seem heartless to take advantage of another’s hard ship when they are selling items their loved one used while they were being cared for at home. Most sellers are glad to see the items go to someone else that can use them.

Your county Department of Public Welfare may be able to assist to obtain new equipment such as a wheelchair if the patient qualifies. They will only provide one wheelchair, so if you need additional chairs you may have to purchase used ones as I mention above. They may be able to help with other mobility assisting equipment – hand grab bars in the bathrooms, stair glide to get up and down stairs, even house remodeling to accommodate the handicapped patient, the idea being to keep the patient in his home as long as possible. They may also be able to provide caregiver assistance to help care for the patient. Having assistance when you need it can help prevent caregiver burnout and depression.

Medicare may help pay for equipment if their requirements are met. Combining both Medicare and County Assistance can go a long way to making a difficult situation livable.

Lastly, remember to take care of the caregiver. If that’s you, allow yourself time to breathe. I should talk. I feel guilty any time I feel the need to get away, so usually I don’t. “My time” is while he sleeps late or goes to bed early. I can’t go out and leave him alone. I try to have time on the computer or to read. Whatever I can do, and still be within hearing distance of his call.

Customizing Your Nissan 350Z

The Nissan 350Z is arguably the most popular car to customize in the auto tuning world. The car has mass appeal due to it’s superior handling, performance, and sporty look. The customization route will differ based on your end goal. You can customize for speed, drifting, handling, looks, or all of the above.

Engine Modifications – If you want to take your engine’s performance to the next level, then you definitely want to consider custom headers, intake, downpipe and exhaust. If you are really hardcore you can add a custom oil pan.

Drivetrain Modifications – Most drivers will leave the drive train alone. That is just fine. But if you are racing your car on the track, then drivetrain modifications may be something you should consider. The modifications you would want to look into are a custom clutch and flywheel followed by a 2 way LSD.

Suspension – Most drivers who modify for performance will make changes to the suspension. Suspension modification can add significant gains to your controlability and overall performance. The changes you want to make are: coilovers and rear control arms,strut bar, antiroll bars and tie rods.

Wheels, Tires And Brakes – This is a must for looks and can add some performance enhancement. Your obvious customizations are rims, tires, and brake lines.

Exterior Modifications – No 350Z customization is complete until you add some exterior flair. How else will anyone know you’re not a regular Joe? This area is relies more on personal preference than anything. If you really want a different look, you can add a full body kit (front bumper, side skirts, and rear bumper). If you want to stay true to the 350Z’s stock look, you can probably get all of the customization you want from a lip kit (front lip spoiler, side skirts, and rear lip.)

Interior Modifications – Some thing that interior modifications are purely for look; the truth is that the right interior gear can increase safety and performance. The interior modifications I recommend are custom racing seats, a harness, and a custom steering wheel. A bolt in rollcage is also great to have.

Perhaps the greatest thing about customizing a 350Z is the wide range of options that you have. Since this car has become so popular, many companies have thrown their hat in the ring and made products for customization. The above information should be more than enough to get you headed down the right path with your customization.

The Essentials in Jeff Gordon Merchandise

He has been the winner of the NASCAR Sprint Cup series four times, and the Daytona 500 three times. He holds third place on the all times wins list, and is the wins leader in races since 1972. He was the first NASCAR driver to receive the Heisman Humanitarian Award, and he was the very first NASCAR driver to exceed $100 million dollars in career race winnings. He’s the driver of #24 – Jeff Gordon.

As a true blue Gordy fan, you probably have more of his merchandise than you can shake a stick at. You’ve got all the model cars, the signed posters and jerseys you can find. You’ve purchased all the race DVDs and the coffee table books. You might have even bought a racing video game or two just for the reason that the tutorials feature Jeff Gordon. Merchandise is merchandise, though, but what you certainly might need is something slightly more genuine, slightly more personal. What you may want is a Wallhauler from therealartofracing.com.

What is a Wallhauler? A Wallhauler is a piece of Jeff Gordon merchandise that’s so far above all the other Jeff Gordon merchandise that it is more similar to a work of art than merchandise.

Wallhaulers are limited edition, NASCAR licensed, race car doors. They are created from the same .040″ gauge aluminum just like the real deal, measuring the same 54″ by 28″ as the real deal, and are finished with the same 3M Controltac vinyl just like the real thing. The finish is laminated to avoid UV fading, and they’re light weight and include their own easy mount system for wall mounting. In fact, the only real difference between a Wallhauler and Jeff Gordon’s actual door is that the Wallhauler is easier to have on your wall. This is the ultimate piece of Jeff Gordon merchandise on the market and the pinnacle of any Jeff Gordon merchandise collection.

NASCAR is centered around speed, and skill, and the wonderful noise of the machines and their drivers. NASCAR is about attaining the highest performance that’s possible out of normal engineering. NASCAR is about the big names and the famous faces, and it is about the underdog and the last minute victory stories. NASCAR is about a lot of things, and one of the most honored of those things is charity. The Wallhaulers team honors that institution by donating a portion from the sale of each Wallhauler to the driver’s official charity. When you buy a Wallhauler you aren’t simply picking up a valuable piece of Jeff Gordon merchandise, you’re also supporting the Jeff Gordon Foundation which supports children afflicted by chronic and life-threatening illnesses.

On the subject of Jeff Gordon merchandise, it doesn’t get much greater than a #24 Wallhauler. When you put this physical symbol of speed and strength and skill on your wall you’re telling the world where you stand. Each time you view your Wallhauler you hear the throaty roar of the motor, feel the heat of the track on your face, and remember why it is you love NASCAR. At the end of the day, a model car is nothing more than but a toy, and a shirt is just a shirt, but NASCAR is a thing of beauty and Wallhaulers are works of art.

Changing the Serpentine Belt on Your Saab 9-3 (1998-2003)

Disclaimer:  Changing your belt can be tricky and should only be attempted by those with a mechanical background and ability that have the proper tools.  

The first time I attempted changing a serpentine belt in a Saab, I spent around forty minutes give or take, so give yourself adequate time to do the job. Mind you, much of that time was spent swearing at the Scandinavian Engineers who decided that a half inch of clearance in the engine compartment for your hands was sufficient for belt replacement. 

Things you will need: 

  • A new belt 
  • long half inch extension
  • a sturdy floor jack (not the one that’s in your trunk!)
  • a set of jack stands, a socket set 
  • a flat level space to work

To start lets get your Saab ready. Pop your hood (to the left of the driver seat towards the petals).  You will need to jack your car’s passenger front end up and remove your passenger side wheel. Locate your jacking point and raise the car until the wheel is in the air.  Remember to be safe and set your jack stand before removing your wheel.  Always work safe.

You will notice that your serpentine belt is on the left side when you are standing in front of your car looking at your engine.  You will have to remove your air cleaner box and the hose attached to it needs to be moved out of the way so that you can better access the belt below.  Separate the air cleaner and pull the box directly up, it will slide out without any hassle then set it aside.  Next, take the hose side and bend it towards your transmission dipstick and secure it with string or a bungee. 

At this point I strongly recommend that you look and diagram your belt routing.  It should somewhat look like a “W.” Take your long half-inch extension and insert it into the hole in the top of your belt pensioner.  Pull it slightly towards you and you will notice the old belt become slack. At this point you can slide the belt off the small plastic idler and release the pensioner. Now start removing the belt.  Now you know why we removed the wheel, those bottom pulleys would be impossible otherwise. 

Replacing the belt is the reverse of the procedure I just outlined. I would recommend that you start above and with the side closest to the bumper, as they are the hardest to get.  Once you have those, go to your wheel well and pull the belt from and A/C compressor and put the belt over the engine drive pulley. From there you need to loop the belt over the large metal idler pulley and back down to get the alternator. At this point you are ready to reinsert the extension and while removing the belt tension slide your new belt over the plastic pulley.

As long as you are careful, pay close attention to details and find the exact belt for your make and model Saab, you will save a lot of money in mechanic labor fee’s and give only about an hour of your own day. In these hard economic times, its best to know what we are capable of and do whatever we can do ourselves on our vehicles. Vehicles are normally pushed down the list of priorities, but the serpentine belt is a crucial part of the engine assembly, an important component of your Saab’s running smoothly and should be changed when thinning or when you can see cracks in the sides (at least check every 6-12 months)

**Remember! Always check your work!! Make sure that the new belt is in ALL the pulleys correctly and fully seated in the grooves before starting your car**