Disability News Weekly Roundup – Monday, March 7 to Friday, March 11

Caregiving:
Living with the parents I’m losing to Alzheimer’s (The New York Times)
In 2010, after several disturbing phone calls from and about her aging parents, Elizabeth Wolf moved back from Vermont to her parents’ home in New Jersey. She expected to arrange caregiving help for her parents, then return to Vermont. Five years later, she is still taking care of her father and mother, who both have dementia. Two years ago, she attempted to move them into a facility, but after a few days, the parents begged her to take them back home.

As caregivers, women may suffer more than men (HealthDay News)
Women may face greater challenges than men when looking after a loved one with a serious illness, according to a new study from the University of Missouri’s Department of Family and Community Medicine. For the study, researchers questioned more than 280 family caregivers and found that women had much lower self-esteem, less family support, and more harmful consequences in terms of their health and schedules than men. The findings may reflect society’s gender biases, according to the study author, who added that gender expectations might also make men less likely to report the challenges they face as caregivers.

Independent Living:
Families work to create integrated housing model (Disability Scoop)
An alliance of 11 families from around the San Francisco Bay Area have purchased a 7-acre parcel in Santa Cruz that will serve as both a working farm and affordable housing. The real-estate project, called Costanoa Commons, is conceived to help the families’ loved ones with disabilities live autonomous lives. The housing will be made available to people with and without disabilities, as the families want to create an integrated neighborhood rather than a colony of people with disabilities. Most of the parcel will be dedicated to farmland, growing organic produce as well as providing educational and training opportunities for students. The tenants on the property can choose to participate in the farm.

Research:
Positive attitudes prevail within families of people with Down syndrome (Science Daily)
A study from a research team led by a MassGeneral Hospital for Children physician finds that, within most families, the experience of having a member with Down syndrome is generally a positive one. Investigators evaluated surveys of more than 2,000 parents or guardians and more than 880 siblings of individuals with Down syndrome, as well as 248 people with the disability. All three categories had similar positive findings, with parents/guardians and siblings overwhelmingly expressing love and pride for their family member, and almost all of those with Down syndrome being happy with many aspects of their lives.

Music reengineered for cochlear implant listeners (Hearing Review)
Researchers at Columbia University’s Cochlear Implant Music Engineering Group are trying to reengineer and simplify music so that it can be more enjoyable for listeners with cochlear implants. Currently, the group is testing different arrangements of musical compositions to learn which parts of the music are most important for listener enjoyment. The group believes that in the future, software may be able to take an original piece of music and reconfigure it for listeners or give them the ability to engineer their own music. The eventual goal is to compose original pieces of music for people with cochlear implants, music that will possibly have fewer rhythmic instruments, less reverb, and possibly more vocals.

Service Animals:
While his parents slept, this 7-year-old boy’s life was saved by Jedi, his diabetes-sniffing dog (The Washington Post)
While the rest of the family was sleeping, and the machinery that monitors the blood sugar levels of 7-year-old-Luke, who has Type 1 diabetes, was utterly quiet, Jedi was not. The black Labrador retriever, Luke’s diabetes sniffing dog, roused his parents by forcibly jumping up and down on their bed and bowing again and again, repeating the signal he had been trained to send if he sensed that Luke’s blood sugar had gotten too low. Jedi had sensed what the blood glucose monitor had failed to register, thus saving Luke’s life. This was a testament to a scientific fact that is something of a medical marvel: Dogs can literally smell how well a diabetes patient is doing. A dog’s sense of smell overpowers our own by a factor of 10,000 to 100,000.

Veterans:
Partnership with PGA Reach brings golf to disabled Veterans (VAntage Point, Official Blog of the U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs)
The Veterans Administration is partnering with the Professional Golfers Association of America’s PGA Reach program to bring additional golf program to Veterans nationwide. PGA HOPE, the PGA’s flagship military program, has helped thousands of Veterans assimilate back into their community through the social interaction that the game of golf provides. The eight-week program, which is offered at no cost to Veterans, is taught with PGA professionals who are experts at teaching golf and are certified to work with Veterans, especially those with posttraumatic stress. Once Veterans complete the eight-week program, they can work on their skills closer to home, with discounts on greens fees and range balls at courses in their communities. The article includes a video showing a Veteran practicing shots while seated in a wheelchair.

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