Thursday, February 19, 2015

Living with Disabilities: Ways and Means for Living More Independently

According to statistics from England’s National Health Service, around one in five adults in the UK are disabled and more significantly, one million of these individuals live by themselves. As particularly distressing as this latter statistic is, for many the situation is further compounded by having the “obese” label added to them. To qualify for this (if you’ll forgive this rather blunt term) your Body Mass Index (BMI) needs to be above 30 on the scale.

Unfortunately, society is very quick to judge and make assumptions about why people are obese and invariably such assumptions are made by those with little understanding of obesity. It makes you question if they’ve ever considered that a person’s weight might stem from factors such as a disability? Or that they may struggle with physical mobility or suffer from a mental health issue like acute anxiety or depression which has contributed to their weight gain?

If this is the situation you face, you’ll appreciate how it can be a self-perpetuating cycle which massively affects your day-to-day living. You may feel trapped, scared and indeed frustrated by being unable to do the basic things.

This need not be the case though, since there are ways and means for you to gain some of your independence and dignity back. Read on to find out more:

More Mobility at Home

Making your home as accommodating as possible is one of the best ways for you to feel and become more independent. After all, your home is somewhere you should feel safe and secure. In the UK there are many charity services available like the Disabled Living Foundation (DLF) that can offer you guidance and advice about improvements you can make, such as:

-    The installation of access ramps
-    Providing centralised controls for easier access to utilities like heating,
     lighting and water.
-    Improving space by widening doors and hallways
-    Moving bedrooms and bathrooms downstairs to a more accessible
     place, or installing lifts or stair lifts.

Going Places

Another big part of gaining more independence is to be able to go out and travel. Even if it’s only something small like going to the shops, or visiting with friends and family, these trips can have a real positive effect on your life.

Again, you can invest in a number of options, such as mobility scooters, powered wheelchairs, wheelchair accessible vehicles and walking frames and supports.

Emotional Support

Mental health issues can be an incredibly hard challenge to manage and there’s often no quick and easy fix. What you might find helpful is emotional support, from attending group therapy sessions to one-on-one counseling and even specialist home visits that provide a kind ear to talk to. Charities and NHS services can provide this and help you take those steps forward to dealing with distressing symptoms and coping with stressors.

It may be true that everybody’s needs are different, but be sure to try some of the above to help get some of the positive aspects of your life back. Don’t fall foul of adversity and narrow-minded stereotypes, help yourself to claim the independence you deserve.

This is a guest blog entry.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Drug Addiction: Understanding How Addiction is Effecting Your Loved One

Finding out that someone you care for deeply is suffering from drug addiction can be challenging. You watch as they slowly delve deeper into addiction and what appears to be no regard for how it affects their personal relationships. While it may seem as though your loved one has checked out and cares about nothing but getting high, the truth of the matter is that addiction is a complex disease of the brain.

It is not until you fully understand how addiction affects your loved one that you’re able to reach out to them and get them the help they need.

Addiction is Not What it Seems

From the outside looking in, it may seem as if your loved one lacks the willpower and moral principles to stop using drugs. You assume that they can stop using anytime they please. However, for some reason they choose not to. However, the truth is that someone who has become addicted to drugs is suffering from a complex disease. Quitting essentially will require more than a strong will or moral principles. Because of the affect that addiction has on the brain, your loved one believes they need the high to sustain a decent quality of life.

Drug Addiction Defined

According to MayoClinic, drug addiction is referred to as a chronic brain disease that causes the individual to become dependent upon the use of drugs. Despite what the consequences might be for their use of substances, the brain tricks the body into believing it is a necessity. Addiction is certainly not something that happens after the first use (in most cases). Drug use is voluntary in the beginning; however, as chemicals in the brain change it hinders the individual’s sense of self control.

The Brain and Drug Addiction

Drugs contain certain chemicals that interfere with the brain’s ability to communicate properly. Drugs have the ability to disrupt the nerve cells that are responsible for sending, receiving, and processing information. Clinical studies show that this happens in one of two ways: either by taking on the form of the brain’s natural chemical messengers or through overstimulation the “pleasure circuits” of the brain.

The more a person uses drugs, the more the brain begins to adapt to the various changes. The chemicals found in drugs send signals to the reward part of the brain. When the “high” wears off, it leaves the user feeling incapable of enjoying life as they once did. As a result, the brain begins to crave the chemicals from the drugs in order to reach a level of pleasure again.

Getting Help for Your Loved One

Now that you see that addiction is not something that your loved one can control, it is best to try and get help for your loved one. It must be understood however, that in most cases, they are not aware that they have a problem and may be resistant to your request that they get help. Below are a few factors to keep in mind as you reach out to your loved one:

•  Come from a place of love – no matter how their drug use may be affecting your life it is important that you don’t scold them or come from a place of anger. Compassion is your best tool when talking about addiction.

•  Offer Your Support – addiction requires more than just a talk, it will require the support of others. Be sure to offer your support to your loved one so that they don’t feel alone.

•  Give it Time – you can’t rush the process, as recovery efforts are best when your loved one is doing it willingly. If they’re not receptive to what you have to say, give it time.

Seek Treatment

Seeking treatment for drug addiction is the next step for your loved one. There are various options for treatment that include addiction therapy, rehab facilities, and in some cases, medication for underlying issues or mental disorders. If your loved one is ready to get help, go over the various options with them and help them make the decision that is best suited for them. Also, look into treatment options for yourself so that you can learn how to help your loved one as they begin their recovery process.

The road to recovery or your loved one is certainly going to be a challenging one, but with you by their side, the chances of full recovery are more likely. If you suspect that a friend or family member is suffering from drug addiction, don’t sit by and watch their lives spiral out of control. Educate yourself on addiction and reach out to them about your concerns for their well-being. When they’re ready, support them in getting the help they need from the right medical professionals.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Becoming a Doctor, From School to License

While not every child dreams of being a doctor, some do. It takes a lot to make that dream come true, from a dedicated college career to time spent in residency. Dedication and drive are important for a future doctor. The important thing is, the world will always need doctors.

The medical field is one of those fields that will always have career options and always be looking for talented, caring individuals.

While some will strive just for a family practice, another direction for the aspiring doctor to go towards is surgical, which requires even more dedication and schooling. If you want to be a doctor, you can help children, adults, and seniors. Use your first four years of college to decide where you want to go with your career as a doctor.


Education Portal points out that someone wishing to become a medical doctor must first earn a bachelor’s degree, in no specific major. This takes an average of four-years. It does help if you pick a major that relates to your career choice, however. That can include working towards a Bachelor of Science, maybe in something like biology.

Once you have your Bachelor degree it's time to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). This test will determine whether or not you are accepted into medical school.  Medical school is another four years of school.

There are different things to learn for different medical professions. You need to understand the human body and how it functions. You won't always have a textbook under your nose in order to help your patients, so it takes someone with a great ability to retain information.


After that minimum of eight years of school, it is time to do a residency in a hospital. You will need three- to seven-years of medical residency. Once you've completed residency it's time to take another test. For someone wanted to be a surgeon, there may be an added three more years of residency on top of the three to seven needed for a general medical doctor (MD).

It requires passing the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) in order to obtain a medical license.

Getting the Job

It may be wise to start looking for work while in residency. While some residencies may lead to a job at the same hospital where you train, it doesn't hurt to keep your options open. Look into staffing agencies that specialize in healthcare staffing.

There are numerous outlets available for job searching these days:

Check the newspaper classifieds often.
Use staffing agencies.
Search online for jobs.
Visit hospital websites.
Look at local college websites for job listings.

Make sure to have a resume written up that shows your specialty. Include your education, residency and any internships you've done. Long periods of unemployment do not look good on a resume, especially for a doctor.

If your dream job doesn't come right away, keep looking. Talk to the people at your healthcare staffing center. They may have some tips for your job search that could be the answer to your problems.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans