Mealtime Partners, Inc.

Specializing in Assistive Dining and Drinking Equipment

June 2015 Independent Eating and Drinking Newsletter

Independent Eating...   is a Wonderful Thing

June Topics:

  • Hot Weather Caution - Hyperthermia

  • Lifting and Moving People

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Hot Weather Caution - Hyperthermia

It’s June and summer is almost upon us. Regardless of where you live in the Northern Hemisphere, warm weather has either already arrived or is on its way. As we approach this time of year, Mealtime Partners wants to remind you about the risk of hyperthermia. Everyone is vulnerable to the danger of hyperthermia but it is a more significant risk for the elderly, very young children and infants, and those who are ill or who have chronic medical conditions and/or disabilities.

Hyperthermia occurs when the body is not able to dissipate the heat that it is absorbing or producing. Typically, it occurs during very hot weather when the body becomes overheated and is not able to reduce its core temperature in the typical way that body temperature is regulated: perspiring, drinking cold fluids, getting into an air conditioned environment, etc. If the body is not allowed to cool down the result can be heat stroke. Sudden onset of dizziness can occur when someone has been out in the heat too long. Also, muscle cramps and significant fatigue can occur. It is very important that if any of these symptoms occur that the individual is quickly moved to a cooler environment. It is especially important to move them out of direct sunlight.

For those who do not have air conditioning in their homes it is wise to go to a building that is air conditioned, particularly in the heat of the day. People who have limited mobility may require assistance to be able to go to a cooler location. Public transportation is available in many communities and pick up and drop off can usually be arranged for those in wheelchairs or who have limited range when walking. Most communities have a place that is available to go to for them to cool off. Many senior centers offer recreational activities where individuals can pass the time in a cool environment. If no such facility is available, malls are always cooled and movie theatres are also a good place to spend an hour or two.

The risk of hyperthermia increases as people age. For many of us as we grow older our circulation and sweat glands become less efficient and this increases the risk of hyperthermia. Also, being significantly over or under weight, drinking alcohol, or taking certain medications can increase the risk. An additional contributing factor for people who have difficulty moving around is that they tend to limit their intake of fluids so that they don’t need to get up and go to the bathroom as often. This behavior contributes to the development of hyperthermia and also urinary tract and bladder infections. Therefore, despite it being a nuisance and possibly difficult, the consumption of liquids should never be restricted in day to day life just to lessen the number of visits to the bathroom.

Heat stroke is a dangerous form of hyperthermia and happens when the body is unable to bring down its own temperature. Once the body loses the ability to reduce core temperature the person’s temperature rises. The accompanying symptoms are a rapid, strong pulse, dry skin (no sweating), flushed skin, confusion and/or aggressive behavior, unstable footing or wobbliness, or even fainting. When heat stroke occurs, immediately get the person into a cool environment. Put cold, wet cloths on their wrists, neck, armpits and groin, to cool them down. Blood flow is close to the surface of the skin at these locations and thus the blood temperature can be reduced with the application of cool cloths. If they can drink without choking or vomiting, provide cool liquid. Have the person lie down. It is advisable to seek urgent medical assistance if heat stroke occurs.

Throughout the world hyperthermia happens during the heat of the summer. For low income families it is difficult to afford to pay for the electricity to run air conditioners or fans. In the U.S., the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHAP) that is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services helps eligible households pay for home cooling and heating costs. More information about this program can be found at: http:/

Maintaining good hydration during hot weather is wise for everyone. However, for those who are unable to help themselves to a drink whenever they feel the need, maintaining a well hydrated body becomes more difficult. Asking for a drink all of the time becomes a burden for both the consumer and care provider. To help alleviate this situation, Mealtime Partners offers a selection of drinking systems that can be accessed without the use of hands. One of these systems may provide an easy solution to avoiding dehydration during hot weather. For more information about these drinking systems and considerations for selecting the appropriate system, click here.


Independent Drinking

For most individuals, dehydration is 100% preventable. However, many people with disabilities suffer from some level of dehydration almost constantly. Mealtime Partners various drinking systems allow many individuals who are unable to use their hands to take a drink, to drink independently. For example, the Hydration Backpack with Drinking Tube Positioning provides hands free drinking throughout the day for those who sit in a wheelchair and are unable to lift or hold a cup or glass. The drinking system is quick and easy to set up, the liquid container fits on the back of a wheelchair and the drinking tube can be positioned to meet the unique positioning needs of each individual.

The Front Mounted Drinking System can position a variety of cups and drink containers very close to the users mouth for hands free drinking and allows a variety of other drinks to be made available throughout the day. For example, coffee in the morning, ice tea with lunch, a can of soda in the afternoon and a glass of milk before bed. The user drinks from their own container using a disposable straw. Because the straws and most of the containers can be disposed of or washed in a dishwasher, it is the easiest drinking system to clean.
Hydration Backpack with Drink-Tube Positioning  The Front Mounted Drinking System 
The Hydration Backpack with Drink-Tube Positioning The Front Mounted Drinking System
Making liquid constantly available allows the user to drink whenever they want. This lowers the risk of dehydration and improves the quality of life for those who have one of these systems. For more information about all Mealtime Partners drinking systems and information about choosing the most appropriate system, click here. Click the following links for pricing and/or for ordering the Hydration Backpack with Drinking Tube Positioning or the Front Mounted Drinking System.


Lifting and Moving People

Mealtime Partners serves a community of individuals of whom the majority is unable to move around independently. The causes of the restriction in independent movement are numerous, however, by the very nature of the products that we make, our clientele have limited function in their arms and hands and in many cases the rest of their bodies. Because so many of our clients must depend upon other people for assistance when moving from bed to chair, or chair to toilet, etc., this article is intended to draw attention to the risks associated with lifting and moving another person.

For many years care providers have been instructed in techniques to allow them to move another person without injuring themselves. The old school of thought was that if a care provider was injured while lifting someone, they had performed the lift without following the correct protocols. However, current research shows that regardless of how carefully lifting is performed, small over-exertions due to repeated manual lifting associated with lifting and transferring people, accumulate. Small stresses to muscles, tendons, joints and nerves cause damage that accumulate and can result in a debilitating musculoskeletal injury.

Lifting someone in the majority of situations does not allow a “clean” lift where the person lifting and the person being lifted are perfectly aligned. If someone is being helped out of a bed, the angle at which the care provider must stand requires them to twist their body to be able to support the person in the bed. The same thing occurs when moving someone on or off of a toilet because bathrooms are relatively small and the space limits where a care provider can stand to provide assistance. In 2010 the musculoskeletal injury rate for healthcare workers was 249 per 10,000 workers. This related to manual patient lifting, repositioning and transferring. Direct cost associated with just back injuries in healthcare workers is estimated to be $20 billion annually. Knowing the risk of injury and its associated cost, it has become obvious that manual lifting cannot continue. The healthcare industry and care providers, in general, are moving towards the use of technology to facilitate patient lifting and moving.

Lifts that allow moving and repositioning people come in a variety of profiles. Hospitals are now installing patient lifts that are an integral part of the building. Tracks are being installed in private homes as well as nursing homes that allow people to be moved from place to place without requiring manual lifting. Free standing lifts come in both manual and powered configurations and can be used in a wide variety of locations. Nevertheless, if the care providers are not trained in proper use of the equipment they are still at risk of injury. Thus it is extremely important that both professional caregivers, and families that support a family member, learn how to use lifting equipment properly and execute its use as it is designed to be used. Incorrect use can put both the care provider and recipient at risk of injury.

Parents who lift and carry their small children who have disabilities that limit their ability to move independently should transition to using a lift to assist with moving their child as soon as the child is heavy enough for the parent to feel any back strain when lifting them.

Parents and caregivers should remember that they are extremely important to the people they provide support for and if they are injured they will not be able to provide the level of care that in needed. Therefore, always use a lift to move the person you care for!

Did You Know? Did you know that the Veterans Administration (VA) grew out of the National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers that was formed at the end of the Civil War? Abraham Lincoln signed a law establishing the organization in 1865. When the U.S. entered World War II, new benefits were established for Veterans that included life insurance, disability compensation, prosthetics, vocational rehabilitation, and hospitalization. Additionally, a federal agency was established to administer them. The program evolved from life-long residential care to treatment in hospitals, re-training and disability pensions. In 1946, Public Law 293 established the VA’s Department of Medicine and Surgery. This allowed the VA to employ top medical professionals, undertake research programs and affiliate VA hospitals with medical schools. The program gradually evolved due to changes made by various Presidents to the largest healthcare system in the U.S. More information about the history of the Veterans Administration can be found at the following VA Website.

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