Saturday, July 30, 2022

Is Your Pet Scared of the Vet?

Cat in an appropriate carrier

Although most pets don’t mind, or may actually enjoy, their trips to the veterinarian’s office, some are frightened and may become aggressive or hide from their owners. Here are some strategies to reduce your pet’s fear.

If your pet will ride in a carrier, let him or her get used to it inside the house first. Set it on the floor and leave it there for the pet to explore for a week before its first use in the car. Pad the bottom of the carrier with a fleece blanket. This is more comforting than a towel, and a lot more comfortable than bare wires. Some pets get so acclimated to their carriers that they will sleep inside them at home.

Be sure your pet is used to riding in the car with you. Ensure that your pet is comfortable. Preheat or precool the car so that it is a reasonable temperature. If your pet is riding in a carrier, cover the back and sides of the carrier so only the front is open to avoid excessive visual stimulation. 

If this is your pet’s first car trip, or if he or she is excessively nervous, practice small trips. Perhaps just back out of the driveway and return to the garage, with a treat at the end of the very short trip. Then extend the car ride gradually. A pet in a carrier can be taken through a drive-through. A pet on a leash might like to accompany you on an errand at the pet store. The idea here is to associate being in the car with a joyride, not just with a trip to the vet.

When you have arrived at the veterinarian’s office, the waiting room can be very traumatic for some pets. There are lots of strange people and other animals. The various smells and fear pheromones can upset some animals with nervous temperaments. So, limiting the time you spend waiting inside the office can help as your pet will be able to stay mainly in the familiar comfort of your car. Will the receptionist text or phone you when it is your pet’s turn to be seen?

Did you know that music can help calm pets down when you get back home from a vet visit? Try quiet calm classical or reggae, which many animals prefer. The reader’s voice from books on tape can also be relaxing. 

Don’t put off your pet’s necessary care just because they are afraid of the trip to the veterinarian’s office. It’s as important for our pets to have regular medical checkups and care as it is for ourselves.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Two Quick Tips on Choosing Healthy Foods

  • Include more fiber, protein, and healthy fat in your diet.

Fiber has many functions in your digestive system. Dietary fiber is important for preventing and relieving constipation. It can also help you lose weight and lower your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.

Fiber is often found in the skin of fruits and vegetables. This chewier layer helps you absorb sugar more slowly. It is not digested, but passes intact through the digestive system.

Protein has many uses. In the digestive system, proteins break down into amino acids that the body can then use to grow and repair itself. Proteins also act as enzymes, antibodies, and hormones. Some proteins are structural elements in the body.

Protein does not have to be from meat or fish. It is also found in nuts, seeds, and legumes. Eating plant-based proteins isn’t just for vegans and vegetarians.

Healthy fats are used by the body to provide energy, as insulation and padding, and to aid in nutrient absorption and hormone production.

Avocado, coconut oil and olive oil are all healthy fats. On the other hand, manufactured fats such as clear oils, and hard fats such as lard and butter, are not healthy, so avoid or restrict those in your diet.

  • Avoid foods that are sweet, white, or fluffy. These are typically over-processed and low in nutritional value.

Sugar is common in sweet foods, including candy, cookies, pastries, fruit juices, and even fruits. While fruits in moderation do provide healthy fiber, vitamins and minerals, don’t overdo them.

White packaged foods often are processed and packaged, and are full of sugar, salt, and preservatives. White vegetables such as cauliflower, turnips and parsnips, however, are healthy additions to your meals.

Fluffy foods to avoid include white bread, popcorn, and mashed peeled potatoes.

Eating healthier foods will lead to better overall health. Gradually implementing these two tips will improve your diet and increase your well-being.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Call 988 for Mental Health Emergencies in the U.S.

People with mental health conditions may experience mental health emergencies. These are often signaled by changes in thought, mood, or behavior. The person may be at risk of harming themself or others.

Family members, friends and coworkers who are close to the person experiencing the mental health emergency may notice some of these signs:

  • agitation
  • difficulty accomplishing activities of daily living
  • extreme grief
  • extreme mood swings
  • isolation (or lack of social support)
  • paranoia
  • self-harm
  • substance abuse
  • suicidal ideation (or thoughts of death)
  • traumatic experience
  • troubled relationships
  • violence

The US now has a National Mental Health Hotline to help with these situations.

Call 988 to contact a trained counselor who can either offer coping strategies or referral to additional resources. The call is free and will support persons in crisis or those who care about them. It is managed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

It is expected that 988 will be as easy to recall during a mental health emergency as 911 is for other emergencies.

For more information:

Sunday, July 17, 2022

July is Disability Pride Month

Picture of Disability Pride Flag
Disability Pride Flag

by Virtual Ability member Gentle Heron

Who are the disabled?

People with disabilities form the largest and most diverse minority group on the planet. We are a naturally occurring part of overall human diversity. We are not adequately defined by dominant society’s often negative attitudes and feelings about us, nor do we deserve to be stigmatized as bad, wrong, or in need of repair.

Being disabled is the only minority group that it is simple to temporarily or permanently join by stepping clumsily off a curb or being in a traffic accident. Most individuals develop one or more disabilities as they age. If you’re not part of our community already, you are likely to join us in the future.

You can be a proud member of a variety of minority groups. Perhaps you are a queer First Nations woman wearing a right arm prosthesis who prefers mango sorbet over both chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Or maybe you are a Latino transman who crochets and has Type 2 diabetes. Whoever we are, we can have pride in ourselves.

Tarik Williams is a member of several minority groups. He is a tall, fit, Trinidadian African American man who is a weightlifter and a creative writer. He is also blind. His pride, his self- esteem, encourages him to embody the phrase “Me equals We.” Read his story here:

What is Disability Pride?

We can be proud that we, as a whole inclusive of all types of disabilities, make up about 15% of the world’s total population. We can be proud of our contributions to our families and to our local and broader communities. We can be proud of our individual identities. This special month puts us all in the spotlight.

The mission of Chicago’s Disability Pride Parade clearly expresses the purpose of Disability Pride Month:

  • “To change the way people think about and define “disability”;
  • To break down and end the internalized shame among people with Disabilities; and
  • To promote the belief in society that Disability is a natural and beautiful part of human diversity in which people living with Disabilities can take pride.”

Why was July chosen as Disability Pride Month?

July 26 marks the anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by then-President George H. W. Bush in 1990. Tireless advocacy by Justin Dart, Ed Roberts and numerous others led to this historic achievement. The first Disability Pride Day occurred in Boston in 1990, and they are now held around the world.

Color photo of President George H.W. Bush signing the Americans with Disabilities Act
President George H.W. Bush signing the
Americans with Disabilities Act

Black and white photo of Ed Roberts, disability civil rights advocate, protesting for civil rights
Ed Roberts, civil rights advocate

But we still have a long way to go to create the most accessible possible world. People with disabilities have lots of abilities. We just need the proper tools and environment to be able to use our abilities to their fullest.

That’s the main purpose of this Pride Month: To encourage public awareness, the first step toward achieving full accessibility. Education of the remaining 85% of the world’s population about the needs and achievements of our 15% is a positive action. 

What are some good ways to celebrate this special month?

The Virtual Ability community encourages everyone, disabled or temporarily able-bodied/minded, to learn more about disability rights and accessibility tools during the month of July. A good place to start is to take the pledge to become disability friendly.

You will find numerous additional ideas of disability-supportive actions you might take this month and in the future in the following list.

Some great accessibility resources: