Nadia says, “participating in Lori’s Hands has made me a better person. I am thankful for what I have and it has made me realize that I can really make a difference in others’ lives.”
Looking back, Marge says that when she heard about Lori's Hands, she couldn't believe the help that was being offered. Shortly after Marge and John joined Lori's Hands, they began receiving weekly visits from Tim and Judy, who now regularly help with light housework and errands and provide companionship. Today, Marge & John say the students' visit is by far the best part of their week.
My name is Emily Benoit and I am the Lori’s Hands Graduate Assistant for the 2018-2019 academic year. Over the next several months, I will be sharing with you stories from Lori’s Hands clients and volunteers. I will be blogging about everything from what it’s like for community members and volunteers to be involved with Lori’s Hands to their favorite holiday traditions and recipes. I love hearing people’s life stories and experiences, and I am looking forward to sharing them with you.
Each semester, Lori's Hands serves as a field placement site for a group of UD students enrolled in a Community Nutrition course. This week on the blog, student Alexa interviews student Kim regarding her Lori’s Hands experience.
Alexa: Tell us about the client you're visiting this semester, and the support you provide.
Kim: We help Dave, who has ataxia. We prepare and cook his dinner for him and provide companionship 1 night per week.
Alexa: What do you enjoy about the experience?
Kim: When we are on our visits, I enjoy learning about Dave’s ataxia. He has provided several resources for us about his disease, and we've even been reading a book he wrote himself about his experiences!
Alexa: What is the biggest thing you have learned from your Lori’s Hands experience?
Kim: I have learned that despite having a disability you can live a very happy and productive life. Dave proves that positivity and persistence is key to pushing through your limits. He swims a mile almost every day of the week and is always happy and productive when we visit him. He writes his own stories and keeps a positive attitude.
Alexa: Why did you volunteer through Lori’s Hands?
Kim: I am in a community nutrition class that requires volunteer hours related to nutrition. Working with Dave through Lori’s Hands was a way for us to learn more about cooking with a disability, while helping Dave to prepare his meals. Although I was required to volunteer through a class, I wish I had learned about Lori’s Hands sooner during my undergraduate career at UD so that I could have experienced more volunteer hours for their nonprofit.
Alexa: What do you wish you could change about the experience?
Kim: I wish I could volunteer more often and that I learned of Lori’s Hands earlier. We only visit with Dave once a week. I wish I could also volunteer with several clients to learn more about other chronic illnesses and broaden my education beyond nutrition.
This semester, UD Senior Chelsea Adebiyi has been completing a 360-hour field placement with Lori's Hands. We sat down to talk with her about her experiences working with our clients.
LH: Tell me about yourself
CA: My name is Chelsea Adebiyi, and I am a senior Health Behavior Science major; I also have a minor in Public Health. After graduation, I want to become a Pediatrician because I love working with kids and with people in general.
LH: Why did you get involved with Lori’s Hands?
CA: I heard about Lori's Hands my freshman year. It intrigued me but I got involved with other activities and so didn't become a volunteer right away. As I was planning for my senior year internship, I thought of Lori’s Hands as a great opportunity because I love what Lori's Hands does. I love that what we do puts a smile on clients’ faces. It’s awesome how clients talk about Lori's Hands. I don’t think we always realize the impact that we have on clients until we have the chance to talk with clients one on one. I look forward to my regular client visits.
LH: Speaking of your visits, what do you do with Lori’s Hands?
CA: I have several different clients whom I visit on a regular basis. One client is blind; she has aides who help her, but she lacks social support. She is 91 years old, and we visit with her and she talks with us about her life. We have conversations about when she was a child. I love it because she tells us about Presidents from throughout her lifetime – things that I have only read about in history books. She also tells us about the reality of aging and how difficult it can be. I love that we get to be there for her and try to make things more comfortable for her. She lives by herself and doesn’t have family close by, so I know that visits from Lori's Hands volunteers mean a lot to her and provide her with social support she's otherwise lacking.
I also have a client who has MS. She has some difficulties with mobility, but she’s very mentally sharp. Sometimes she asks us to help organize things for her, and other times we play games and sit and talk with her. Another client I visit likes everything to be neat and organized, so this is how I help her when I visit.
My last client I visit every Friday, and I always look forward to seeing her. She’s so vibrant and happy about life – she largely attributes this to Lori’s Hands because we were here for her when her husband passed away and she became sick. When she didn't have many people to turn to, she could rely on Lori's Hands for support.
LH: It sounds like you help Lori's Hands clients in a lot of different ways and have done some very meaningful work. So tell me more about why you care about Lori’s Hands mission.
CA: Now that I’ve visited clients, I see so much more of the impact Lori's Hands has, and the work has become much more important to me. I see how what we do makes a real difference in clients’ lives.
LH: You have worked with clients facing a variety of health challenges. What has this taught you about living with a chronic illness?
CA: I’ve learned that it’s hard but it is more manageable when you have people around who care about you; it helps you not to focus on what’s wrong. You can still have a vibrancy in your life. I have also learned about new ways of adapting to and interacting with people. For example, if someone has limited hearing, I’ve learned how to speak with them so that they can understand me. I have learned that little things can be significant for a client; for example, I always make sure that there are no tripping hazards for my client who is blind, and if I put something in the refrigerator, I need to tell her where it is in the refrigerator. I have learned how to be more personable and relatable; I have learned a lot about empathy.
LH: I imagine those are skills that will be really important as you step into the medical profession. What do you think in particular you’ll carry with you from your Lori's Hands volunteer experience?
CA: I wish I could still volunteer with Lori’s Hands after I graduate. You can’t outgrow Lori’s Hands. If I was going to still live in Delaware, I would still volunteer. Something I will take with me is all of the experiences I have had with clients. The volunteer work I have done has been important; I originally thought I would just be helping people with activities they had difficulty completing themselves, but my experience has been much more significant than that. I have made lasting relationships with the clients, far beyond the volunteer work that I do.
Many of our Lori's Hands clients use a motorized wheelchair for most or all of the day. The inaccessible layout of many houses and apartments can create challenges for people wanting to cook from their wheelchairs. High counters, deep ovens and cabinets, and other issues can make cooking more frustrating than fun.
Below is a collection of delicious and nutrient-packed recipes that can all be prepared using a toaster oven or another small kitchen appliance. Prepare the ingredients as shown in each recipe using a table or countertop at wheelchair level. Many of the ingredients are healthy and most are familiar items you can easily find at any grocery store. Of course, if you have dietary restrictions or follow a special diet, be sure to consult with a dietitian or another healthcare provider prior to launching a new cooking routine.
We've also made an effort to include recipes for smaller portions. Many of our clients (and our college students) are unable to use typical recipes that produce serving sizes of 8-10. If you live alone or with one other person, these recipes may help you cut down on food waste or the need to eat leftovers all week long!
Do you have a go-to wheelchair-friendly recipe? We'd love to hear it! Send us an email (email@example.com) and share your mouth-watering favorites! Happy cooking!
Recipe: Toaster Oven Greek Frittata
Source: Cooking Light
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 10 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 5-ounce bag baby spinach
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
- 4 scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced
- 8 ounces Feta, crumbled
- Heat toaster oven to 350° F.
- Add the oil to a 2-quart casserole and transfer to oven for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt, and pepper. Add the spinach, tomatoes, and scallions and combine. Gently stir in the Feta.
- Remove casserole from oven. Pour the egg mixture into casserole. Bake until the frittata is browned around the edges and slightly puffed and a knife comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
Recipe: Toaster Oven Blueberry Cornbread Muffins
Source: Finding Radiance
Serves: 6 medium-sized muffins
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of unsweetened applesauce
- 1/3 cup cornmeal
- 2/3 cup of whole wheat flour
- 2 tsp of baking powder
- 1/4 tsp of salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup of fresh blueberries
- Spray a 6-cup muffin tin with nonstick spray (or use cupcake liners). Preheat toaster oven to 350 F.
- In a medium size bowl, mix together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, applesauce, and sugar.
- Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients.
- Mix until just barely combined and then fold in the blueberries. It is really important not to over mix this.
- Divide up into 6 muffin cups.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Let cool and enjoy!
Recipe: Toaster Oven Chicken Quesadillas
Source: Good Housekeeping
Time: 35 minutes
- 2 green onions
- 2 c. shredded skinless rotisserie chicken meat
- 1½ c. Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 pickled jalapeño chile
- ¼ c. fresh cilantro leaves
- 4 burrito-size flour tortillas
- ¾ c. salsa verde
- ½ c. reduced-fat sour cream
- Preheat toaster oven to 425°F. Thinly slice green onions; reserve 2 tablespoons dark green tops for garnish.
- Evenly divide chicken, cheese, jalapeño, cilantro, and remaining green onion on one side of each tortilla; fold other half over.
- In single layer on foil-lined toaster oven tray (working in batches if necessary), toast quesadillas 8 to 10 minutes, or until tortillas are golden brown and cheese is melted.
- Cut each quesadilla in half. Serve with salsa verde, plus sour cream if you like; sprinkle with reserved green onions.
Recipe: Toaster Oven Pizza
Source: Carrots ‘n Cake
Time: 25 min
- 1/2 cup almond flour/meal
- 1 tbsp liquid egg whites
- 1 tsp ground flaxseed meal
- 1/2 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- pinch of salt
- Preheat toaster oven to 375 F.
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl; blend well.
- Roll batter into a ball.
- Coat cooking surface with a non-stick spray and then spread the batter into a round disk. Be sure to keep better intact (no holes).
- Top crust with your favorite toppings (cheese, sauce, veggies, meat, etc.)
- Bake for approximately 15-17 minutes until crust is cooked all the way through. Use a spatula to remove pizza. Eat and enjoy!
Recipe: Baked Sweet Potatoes
Source: Nom Nom Paleo
Time: 45 min-1 hour
- Sweet Potatoes (as many as you want)
- Black pepper
- Any other spices
- 1 tsp (per sweet potato) oil of choice
- Preheat toaster oven to 400 F.
- Coat potato in 1 tsp of oil
- Sprinkle with salt/pepper/seasoning of choice.
- Pierce with a knife multiple times.
- Bake for 45 min-1 hour
- Let cool, open and enjoy!
Recipe: Single Peanut Butter Cookie
Source: Chocolate Covered Katie
Serves: 1-2 Cookies
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1.5 tbsp peanut butter
- 1/16 tsp baking soda
- very scant 1/16 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1.5 tbsp maple syrup (Or use 3/4 tbsp each sugar and brown sugar)
- 1 tsp applesauce
- optional: add some chocolate chips if you wish!
- Preheat toaster oven to 350 F
- Mix dry ingredients.
- Add pb and wet ingredients.
- Mix well and form into one or two cookies.
- Flatten into cookie shapes and bake for 8-10 minutes.
Recipe: Slow Cooker Pork Chops with Mushrooms and Carrots
Source: Cooking Light
Serves: 4 (1 pork chop; ½ cup noodle mixture)
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Cooking spray
- 3/4 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 2-in. pieces
- 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps quartered
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 thyme sprigs
- 2 oregano sprigs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 (6-oz.) bone-in center-cut pork chops
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 6 ounces uncooked whole-wheat egg noodles
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- Combine stock, vinegar, and flour in a 6-quart slow cooker coated with cooking spray. Stir in carrots, mushrooms, onion, garlic, thyme sprigs, and oregano sprigs.
- Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Sprinkle pork chops with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add pork chops to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side. Place pork chops in slow cooker.
- Add wine to skillet over medium-high; cook 30 seconds, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Spoon wine mixture over pork chops in slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 7 hours or until vegetables are tender.
- Cook egg noodles according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.
- Remove pork chops from slow cooker, and keep warm. Remove and discard herb sprigs. Add heavy cream, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper to vegetable mixture in slow cooker, stirring to combine. Stir in cooked egg noodles.
- Divide noodle mixture among 4 plates; top each with 1 pork chop, and drizzle with any remaining sauce in slow cooker. Sprinkle evenly with thyme leaves.
Recipe: The Best BBQ Chicken
Source: Family Fresh Meals
Time: 4 hours 5 min
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless, chicken breast
- 1 cup BBQ sauce
- ¼ cup Italian dressing
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- Salt to Taste
- Season chicken breast lightly (a small pinch per breast) with some sea salt and place in your crockpot
- In a mixing bowl combine BBQ sauce, Italian dressing, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Stir until well combined.
- Pour over chicken, cover and cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours
- Once time is up, you can serve the breast whole, or shred with 2 forks. If shredding, recover and let cook in sauce for about 10-15 more minutes to soak up all the flavor.
- Serve on buns, over rice, in wraps, on a salad or eat plateful as is! An example would be fresh rolls topped with coleslaw.
Recipe: Pesto Lasagna with Spinach and Mushrooms
Source: Cooking Light
Time: 5 hours 30 min
- 4 cups torn spinach
- 2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
- 1/2 cup commercial pesto
- 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded provolone cheese
- 1 (15-ounce) carton fat-free ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 (25.5-ounce) bottle fat-free tomato-basil pasta sauce
- 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
- Cooking spray
- 1 (8-ounce) package precooked lasagna noodles (12 noodles)
- Arrange the spinach in a vegetable steamer; steam, covered, 3 minutes or until spinach wilts. Drain, squeeze dry, and coarsely chop. Combine spinach, mushrooms, and pesto in a medium bowl, stirring to combine; set aside.
- Combine mozzarella, provolone, ricotta, and beaten egg in a medium bowl, stirring well to combine. Stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan, and set aside. Combine the pasta sauce and the tomato sauce in a medium bowl.
- Spread 1 cup pasta sauce mixture in the bottom of a 6-quart oval electric slow cooker coated with cooking spray. Arrange 3 noodles over pasta sauce mixture; top with 1 cup cheese mixture and 1 cup spinach mixture. Repeat the layers, ending with spinach mixture. Arrange 3 noodles over spinach mixture; top with remaining 1 cup cheese mixture and 1 cup pasta sauce mixture. Place remaining 3 noodles over sauce mixture; spread remaining sauce mixture over noodles. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan. Cover with lid; cook on LOW 5 hours or until done.
Compiled and edited by UD Nutrition/Dietetics students: Emma Newell, Kim Whitbeck & Alexa Nichols
We hear from many of our clients about the frustrations of trying to cook in a standard-layout kitchen when using a mobility device such as a wheelchair or a walker. Many of our clients also have reduced stamina due to symptoms or treatment side effects, and standing for hours at the counter or stove just isn't feasible. Our nutrition and dietetics students researched and compiled the following tips that may be helpful for clients or others who have mobility limitations.
When making a grocery list, plan out the meals that you want to have for the upcoming week.
Try to purchase some ingredients for easy, healthy meals that do not not require a lot of additional preparation – For example, tuna salad on whole wheat bread.
Get GOOD microwave food – A lot of microwave dishes contain a lot of extra sodium. Beware frozen, prepared meals. Even those marked "healthy" may just be low in fat or calories, but be packed with sodium or preservatives. However frozen vegetables are in many cases as or almost as nutritious as fresh vegetables, and are easy to prepare using a microwave. You can also cook sweet potatoes and oatmeal in the microwave.
Use sources of protein that do not need to be cooked – For example, beans and nuts.
Stick with easy, grab-n-go snacks – yogurts, nuts, fresh fruit and protein bars are all good healthy choices but require no preparation and can be on-hand all the time! Also, cutting up raw veggies and fruits make for a healthy, fiber-filled snack!
creative Use of Appliances:
Use a toaster oven – Good for toasting bread, vegetables, and even meats!
Crockpots come in handy! – You can make a delicious one pot meal without using an oven. Often, crockpot meals can serve you for the whole week or last well when frozen.
Different types of ovens – If you're able to make more significant modifications in your kitchen, wall-mounted ovens with side opening doors are ideal for persons whose mobility is limited. Purchasing an oven with controls on the front of the oven is also helpful.
Cook food in bulk:
Cooking food in bulk is a good way to make sure that you always have some food on hand.
If you can, ask someone (like your Lori's Hands students!) to come over and help you prepare large batches of food that you can enjoy over the course of the week, or freeze for easy microwaving in future weeks. Your own home cooking, frozen, will almost always be a healthier option than purchased, prepared microwaveable meals.
Compiled and edited by UD nutrition/dietetics students: Emma Newell, Kim Whitbeck & Alexa Nichols
Lori's Hands recently had the opportunity to support an innovative service learning experience and a LH client through one unique Sunny Day Fund project!
The Assistive Medical Technologies Club
The Assistive Medical Technologies Club at UD, or AMT, is a University of Delaware student organization dedicated to designing assistive medical technologies for members of the local community with mobility impairments. AMT modifies devices that enable movement such as toy cars, physical therapy support bars, step-and-go bicycles, tricycles, kayaks, and walkers. AMT primarily works with young children, but does not turn individuals down based on age or financial status. To learn more about AMT, check out their Facebook page.
Four of AMT's student engineers spent the last six months modifying a Lori's Hands client's current walker to enable him to cook dinner at the stove for his family -- one of his favorite activities that has been made difficult by his disease.
The recipient of the project, Dom, has multiple sclerosis, a degenerative neuromuscular disease. Dom's old collapsible walker had a seat that allowed him to sit while he cooked, however it was set too low and he was unable to comfortably reach his counters while seated in the walker. Additionally, the walker had 360° swivel wheels in the front, but the back wheels were rigidly attached, making it impossible for Dom to move the walker from side to side while cooking. In other words, using his walker, Dom was "stuck" in one spot and couldn't shift between the counter and the stove while making a meal. There are currently no walkers on the market that have four 360° wheels. In his request to the students to consider his project, Dom exclaimed, “I don’t care how you do it. Please, I just need to be able to function in my own home.”
After months of planning, designing, and collaborating with Dom, AMT addressed the issue of the low seat by adding 80-20 aluminum bars under the pre-existing seat bottom to raise it up over three inches. To maintain the structural stability of the seat, an additional 80-20 bar was added orthogonally in the middle that can be removed when the walker needs to be collapsed. The bar is important because it provides a counterforce to resist the torque generated by the increase in height. Additional length was added to the strap, which one can pull up on to release the lock mechanism on the “X” shaped structure and allow the walker to collapse.
In order to add 360° swivel wheels to the back of the walker, AMT removed the current wheels and braking mechanism. The students cut several inches off the walker’s aluminum frame using a bandsaw, so that the new wheels would be level and positioned directly under the back legs for better loading. They then attached the new wheels using an “L-shaped” piece of aluminum that they machined to link the red aluminum frame of the walker to the wheel plate on the castors.
Dom's project represents all that makes us excited about the Sunny Day Fund! The project allowed students a real-world, hands-on chance to use their skills and education, and provided a client with support that isn't otherwise available. One of the things we love most about this project is that the students and Dom worked collaboratively on the project. Dom is a builder, designer, and fixer himself so he lent not only personal experience, but also content expertise to the project. Says student Caroline, "Working with Dom and the team on his walker the past couple of months has been a great experience. He brought so much experience to the table and really brightened up the meetings he attended." Dom is thrilled with the outcome of the project. He says the best part is the ability to "crab" or move side to side while using the walker.
As president of AMT, Erica, a senior biomedical engineer, encourages the club to innovate with the idea in mind that simple solutions often make the biggest difference. She believes innovation arises from needs, dissatisfaction, and curiosities and that the engineering solutions we need are right in front of us. Says Erica:
"Working side-by-side on the walker with Dom was so much fun and I loved how he has become a part of the Assistive Medical Technologies Club. I would like to personally thank Lori's Hands for making this project possible. Working on the walker from start to finish has been a phenomenal journey that I am so lucky to have been a part of."
Caroline is also a senior biomedical engineer who hopes to someday work with prosthetics or other assistive technologies to enable people to perform daily tasks that otherwise would be outside of the realm of possibilities.
Sarah, also a senior biomedical engineer, was inspired to engineering because of her experience watching a friend undergo a heart transplant. Hearing about her friend’s physical and mental hardships, she realized the need for novel, life-saving technologies and improvements in surgical procedures. Says Sarah:
"Working on Dom’s walker has been an amazing, eye opening, and educational experience. I learned how to benchmark and brainstorm at the beginning ... I learned how to use so many different tools and machines to create our design. Handing the walker off to Dom at the end was a moment I will never forget."
Alec is a junior mechanical engineer, with a passion for hands-on building. His construction experience in Tanzania has taught him to never stop considering what materials would work best for a project. He always thinks about how to make a design cheaper without cutting corners.
The Sunny Day Fund
The Lori's Hands Sunny Day Fund provides direct support to our clients. Thanks to our incredible network of student volunteers, we're able to provide lots of client support for no money at all. Every now and then, though, we find ourselves wanting to give back a little more. Examples of Sunny Day Fund projects include a day of professional yard work, a trip to a baseball game, or an upgraded assistive device like the one we funded for Dom, but could include anything that makes life a little better for the clients who teach our students so much. Students apply to the Sunny Day Fund on behalf of their clients only after researching other resources that could be used by their clients. In this case, the AMT students applied to the Sunny Day Fund for supplies and materials for Dom's walker modification.
Select the "Sunny Day Fund" when making a donation to Lori's Hands to have your donation earmarked for supporting a future Sunny Day Fund project.
Happy autumn! I wanted to send a note to let you know what I am up to these days.
This June, I volunteered with the Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement (DANA) to support their annual conference. I acted as an on-the-ground reporter, interviewing attendees, taking session notes, and crafting a post-conference news release, which was picked up by the Delaware Business Times and the Cape Gazette.
The conference led to another exciting opportunity. I met Tim Gibbs, Executive Director of the Delaware Academy of Medicine/Delaware Public Health Association, and began a summer internship writing articles for the Delaware Journal of Public Health. For my first project, I wrote a glossary of terms related to violence as a public health issue and created a directory of Delaware organizations that work to prevent or address the effects of violence. I recently completed the first comprehensive guide of health-related data collection projects taking place across the state.
These experiences inspired me to pursue a master’s degree in public health, a passion of mine since I volunteered with Lori’s Hands. I’m thrilled to let you know that I was accepted to Thomas Jefferson University, and had my first day of class yesterday. I’m living in Philadelphia and plan to complete my degree over the next two years.
I’m so grateful for the way that Lori’s Hands helped me to serve others and learn about all facets of health, especially the social and emotional components. I wrote about my experience for my grad school application, and I still keep in touch my LH client, Nancy.
I hope you’re doing well, and I look forward to keeping in touch!
Millions of people over the age of 65 fall in their homes. Many older adults, our Lori's Hands clients included, want to age in their homes. Accidents happen and falls are, unfortunately, a part of aging for many people. However, there are many ways to prevent falls. As part of my summer internship with Lori's Hands, I attended an Easter Seals Disability Services workshop on Fall Prevention for Older Adults at their New Castle location. Guest speaker Adam Samuel from Avenue Medical spoke on “Accessibility in the Home: Simple Solutions to Complex Issues”. Avenue Medical provides assistive technology and accessible home modifications for older adults with disabilities. These modifications provide a safe and functional home environment so people can remain in their homes.
At Lori’s Hands, we want to provide a safe and accessible environment for our clients. I learned some tips at the Easter Seals workshop that we can all use when working with our clients. To reduce the chance of falls in our clients' homes, we can:
-Improve lighting. Brighter lighting helps a person see better and can prevent falls. Place lamps near clients' beds and open curtains to let in sunlight.
-Keep floors and stairs free from clutter.
-Make sure rugs and mats are skid proof or secured with carpet tape.
-Pick up or move items that may cause an accidental fall.
-Roll up hoses and pick up tools in the yard.
-Make sure all handrails are firmly attached.
-Make sure entrances/exits are accessible to walk through.
-Move hard-to-reach items to lower levels in cabinets and closets.
Next time you're out helping a client organize, clean or put away groceries, think about how you can do more than help with a chore -- think about how you can help prevent a fall.
Written by: Alyssa Benjamin
According to the University of Nebraska, service-learning experiences are important for undergraduate health care students. In particular, when students work with older adults, they gain skills and experiences as they engage in intrinsically rewarding service activities. After working with older adults, undergraduates' empathy levels increase and, often, a strong intergenerational companionship develops.
I have definitely developed strong relationships with my older adults clients this summer. During my service learning internship experience with Lori’s Hands, I have made it my goal to make our clients happy and do what ever I can to make their days amazing. I also want to help our clients be aware of their home environments and make their homes safer for them to live in as they age in place. I love working with different clients every day and building great relationships with them.
One of my clients, Ellen*, is married but recently her husband has been admitted into a nursing home. Ellen can no longer provide care for him because he is very ill. On our visits, we help her with grocery shopping, putting away her groceries, and cleaning her kitchen. We also pick up loose papers and items around her living area and put them in safe places that won't put her at risk for a fall. She is always so appreciative of everything we do for her!
Each week, I also visit Edith* to get her groceries. Edith, my volunteer partner Christina, and I discovered that our birthdays are two days apart from each other - we’re all May babies!
I also visit a World War II veteran who looks forward to talking each week, a client living with MS who loves swimming and barbecue sandwiches, and so many other interesting people.
I have loved getting to know our clients this summer and have experienced what the researchers suggested comes from service learning - truly rewarding intergenerational relationships.
Written by: Alyssa Benjamin
Source: Gelfand, Donald E., and James P. Firman. "Developing and Implementing Service-Learning in Aging." University of Nebraska Omaha. Web. 31 May 2016.
*Names changed for privacy
When I first began volunteering for Lori’s Hands I did not foresee the wonderful impact it would have on my life. I didn’t realize that helping my clients with simple household chores would be appreciated so much. Every week I go to a 90-year old couple’s home to help with anything they need; from mopping, vacuuming and dusting, to weeding and raking leaves or even miscellaneous tasks like changing light bulbs. Tasks that seem simple to many, but to them they are very difficult. Both the husband and wife suffer from chronic illness and have limited capabilities. Almost every time I visit them, they had a doctor’s visit earlier that day and they always give me updates on their health status. Whenever they tell me that they don’t feel well and their pain is worse that day it’s heartbreaking to me because I hate seeing anyone in any type of pain. My main motivation for becoming a physician is that I want to alleviate people’s pain, not just physically but mentally as well. I wish I could cure all of my clients' health problems, but since I can’t, the least I can do is help them with whatever they need in their household. I hope that by taking away some of the chores they have, it reduces a considerable portion of their stress so they can focus on other things.
My favorite memory with this couple was this past December when I helped set up and decorate their Christmas tree. It was truly saddening to hear that they hadn’t been able to put their tree up the past few years because they didn’t have any help. I gladly helped decorate as much as they wanted even though it went past the usual hour time frame. The couple is very religious and I knew that Christmas was an important holiday for them. I’m so grateful that I was able to help decorate their home and make it feel more merry.
Helping my clients has showed me just how difficult people’s lives can be when dealing with chronic illness. Before this, I had never spent as much time with people who had so many daily limitations. I have shadowed many doctors in many settings including the I.C.U, but I had never gotten to know the patients as well as I know my clients. Now I can better understand just how difficult life outside of a hospital setting can be for patients. Going forward and pursuing a career in medicine, I will use my experiences and new perspective to acknowledge all the difficulties that patients face. I am so grateful to have had these experiences with my clients and I look forward caring for their yard and simply cleaning their home on a weekly basis. I care for them and their health very much and I only wish that I could help them every day. My experience with this wonderful couple has been only positive and gratifying as I am always greeted with a smile and sent off with a hug.
Written by: Victoria Longo
When I first signed up for my HLTH320 class, the class that goes along with the Lori’s Hands club, I knew that I would be working with people who had been diagnosed with a chronic illness, but I was unsure and apprehensive about how I would be able to handle this situation. As a nursing student, I was hoping to gain skills about working with patients and how to talk to them about their illness.
Before my first visit with Dave, I really did not know what to expect and was very nervous to meet him. I was not sure if I should treat him like a patient or like a friend. I did not know if we would have things to talk about or if we would just be sitting there in silence. I did not know if Dave would be an approachable person or someone who just kept to himself.
When Dave opened the door upon our first visit, I had never seen someone smile so big before in my life. I immediately felt very comfortable and welcomed in his home, like he was someone who I had known for a very long time. Dave was so friendly and instantly began talking to my partner and I like we were old friends of his. We prepared dinner and all ate together at Dave’s kitchen table, talking, laughing, sharing stories, and learning about each other’s lives. I really enjoyed the first visit with Dave and was surprised at how casual our conversations were.
Every week after that I looked forward to seeing Dave and I was excited to hang out with him and just talk. At the end of each visit, we would talk about what meal we would have at our next visit. We even prepared a Thanksgiving dinner in November, complete with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin bread. These visits quickly changed from a requirement that I had to fulfill in order to pass my class, to an event that I looked forward to week after week.
Written by: Leslie Hirshberg
I originally joined Lori's Hands for my HLTH320 class, but after just one visit with my client, I realized how much I enjoyed being a part of the organization. My client is a woman with multiple sclerosis and I visit her every week. My partner and I mostly help her with paperwork, but the most fulfilling part of our visits is the conversations we share. My client lives by herself, so each week when I visited her she expressed how great it was to have our company. As I got to know her better, I truly got to see what a funny and sweet woman she is. With each passing week, I found that I was getting just as much out of my visits as she was. I learned how much she LOVES getting cards from people, so we brought her a card one visit after we found out that she had recently celebrated her birthday. She was so touched by such a small gift and it felt great to be able to make her smile. Sometimes we talk on the phone throughout the week. As my semester in class came to an end, I was saddened to see my visits end. Then I received an email from Sarah, the founder of Lori's Hands, asking me to be a scheduler for the club! I'm so excited to be a part of Lori's Hands and so glad that I'll be able to continue my visits with my client and others!
Written by: Amanda Painton
Sometimes people ask me why I decided to found By Your Side--a startup focused on building a unique, personal safety beacon for those who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. In my case, the reason was simple necessity. My father, Milo, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the summer of 2013, and he was a man who loved to go walking and he loved being free. But, because he loved to go for long walks, he was known as a wandering risk. When someone is a wandering risk, they are likely to go for a walk, or a drive in their car, and just keep going without coming back. And that was a risk for Milo. So, I looked around for solutions that might be on the market, in the wearable tech space, but didn’t find what was needed. What I needed was a device that went with him, like on a keychain, and would signal me if he got into harm’s way. It needed a long battery life, a signal if he was out in weather that was too hot or too cold, a way to signal if he fell and got hurt, and a way to find him on a map if any of that happened. Because the search for that solution failed, I talked with some of my team members from a previous start up, explained what I was thinking of doing, and asked if they wanted to take a swing at it. And, to my great happiness, they agreed. We’re building By Your Side, an Alzheimer's-friendly personal safety beacon that gives you continuous awareness of where your loved one with Alzheimer's is, at all times, and alerts you if they wander, or fall, or get into extreme weather even right outside their own front door. By Your Side uses meticulously configured, state-of-the-art and non-intrusive GPS location technology, temperature sensors, accelerometers, and low frequency CDMA modems with assisted GPS and trilateration, and a month-long battery life in the size of a domino--based on our field research with institutions such as Brookdale, the Banner's Alzheimer's institute, Caregivers, and Health Care Professionals.
Written by: Dr. Greg Elofson, CEO, By Your Side
“Hi my name is Tricia and I'm going to be your nurse today...” In March of 2014, the introduction I’d spoken many times over my past 20 years as a Registered Nurse changed my life forever. I met Tricia Somers, a 45-year-old single mother, who was recovering from a minor surgical procedure. Tricia Somers (yes, same name as mine, same spelling, same initials T.S.) was diagnosed in October 2013 with a rare form of liver cancer. Initially, doctors thought the cancer would progress slowly and simply have to be monitored. By the time I met Tricia, she was experiencing severe abdominal pain and knew that her disease was quickly changing. Throughout my evening of caring for Tricia, we talked about her 8-year-old son Wesley. It was very obvious to me that Tricia loved her son very much and being away from him was difficult. Tricia was hospitalized for 3 weeks during that stay. I was never assigned to her again, however, I visited her every time I worked, just to check in on her and say hello. On the day of her discharge, I walked in to say goodbye. The mood of the room was very solemn. A social worker sat quietly beside Trish. I apologized for interrupting what seemed to be a very serious discussion. Trish assured me that it was ok and she was glad I had stopped. "The results came back from the biopsy and the cancer has spread... it's terminal.” My heart sank for her. I hugged her, told her how truly sorry I was and that I’d keep her in my prayers, and turned towards the door. Trish stopped me, "I'm really glad you stopped in, I was afraid I would not see you again and I have something I need to ask you. If I die, will you and your husband take my son, and raise him?" I think my heart literally stopped at that moment. I was speechless. Still in shock, I encouraged Trish to take some time to think through her options, and maybe consult with an attorney. We hugged again, parted ways, and never exchanged a phone number, email or anything. But I knew I'd see her again. t’s been 8 months since I met Tricia Somers for the first time. On May 17, 2014 she and Wesley came to live with our family. I feel as though we lived a lifetime in the 5 months she lived with us. We have so many wonderful memories to treasure. It was certainly not easy adjusting to new family members. For Trish and Wesley, it had always just been the 2 of them, and now they were in a family of 8 people! Thankfully, Trish thrived on the chaos and constant activity! In October, Trish's health really started declining and we both knew our time together was getting short. On October 17th, with the help of our wonderful Hospice care team, the decision was made to transfer Trish so that she would be able to receive round-the-clock nursing and comfort care. We visit her often, but it is not the same. Each time I pass her room here in our home I think she should be in there. Our journey now continues with little Wesley in a whole new way. We are trying to provide comfort and support to a little boy who is losing the most important person in his life. But I believe with my whole heart that God has this whole journey in His plan. think the most important thing I have learned from Trish Somers is to live life to the fullest, each day. She has taught me not to worry and fret over the little stuff. With Trish, the sunshine is a little brighter, the breeze feels extra good on your face, and the sound of the crickets on a warm summer night have never sounded so beautiful. I'm not sure I will ever do my job the same again. Or perhaps, I will show more compassion, more patience, more grace than I ever did before. As we head towards the holiday season this year, I encourage each one of you to take the time to cherish those you love. None of us are promised tomorrow.