Austin Groups for the Elderly (AGE) will be able to significantly expand its Durable Medical Equipment Program thanks to a $50,000 grant from Health’s Angels. The grant will help AGE recruit donations of gently used medical equipment needed by older adults, such as wheelchairs, walkers, shower benches and canes. AGE then gives the equipment to people who need them free of charge. These simple items can be life-enhancing and help older adults live more safely in their homes. Members of Health’s Angels selected AGE after hearing presentations from three grant finalists at their spring luncheon at Shoreline Grill on April 1. Health’s Angels is a volunteer group dedicated to serving the aging community and the agencies that serve them.
When the earthquake of a catastrophic magnitude hit Haiti in January, photographs and reports of injured Haitians inspired relief efforts across America. Shortly after the disaster, local senior service agency AGE teamed up with Medical Bridges, a Houston-based a nonprofit organization that distributes donated medical supplies to developing nations.
In the aftermath of January 2010’s earthquake, Haitian relief workers and doctors lacked the necessary durable medical equipment for hundreds of thousands of injured citizens. With the help of Becca Wadlinger, University of Houston PhD candidate and former AGE staff member, AGE has sent critical pieces of durable medical equipment—walkers, wheelchairs, etc—to assist in the relief effort. AGE collects these pieces of safety equipment as part of The Lending Closet program, which gives gently used wheelchairs, walkers and shower-chairs to low-income or underinsured seniors and people with disabilities.
In late February, Medical Bridges coordinated the international delivery of a 40-ft ocean-freight container destined for a Haitian port. “It was an ambitious, hands-on relief project,” Becca Wadlinger notes, “but I knew AGE would be willing to help, and I knew that Medical Bridges would be happy to receive equipment to fill a container. It was really a matter of connecting the dots and getting the equipment to those who need it.”
The donated equipment will be used in the first clinic that is rebuilt in Port-au-Prince. This is the fourth time that AGE has donated excess durable medical equipment to international aid—the Caregiver Resource Center has also teamed up with other nonprofit groups to send equipment to Mexico, Ukraine, and Zimbabwe.
It’s not too late for you to help too! Join AGE in supporting local seniors by donating your gently used wheelchairs, walkers, canes and more to The Lending Closet! Drop by our office at the Historic AGE Building at 3710 Cedar Street.
Michael Graves, a world famous architect, is now applying his design style to heating pads and simple shower seats for the mobility impaired. He anticipates that his Michael Graves Solutions line eventually will have its design stamp on everything from walking canes to complicated wheelchairs. Read the full story about how a serious health issue caused the architect and designer to become interested in applying style, multifunctional elegance, and beauty to a line of previously rather mundane products.
Mark, a family caregiver, visited the CRC to pick up a transfer bench for his elderly mother who was in physical therapy. We began to talk about the importance of transfer benches, and soon discovered that Mark and his mother were evacuees from Hurricane Gustav. Mark’s home in Galveston was completely destroyed—police wouldn’t let him return for three or four weeks after the storm, and when he returned he found his furniture covered with mold and most of his personal property ruined.
Mark brought his mother to Austin, and they stayed in a hotel while the city of Galveston was evacuated. In the hotel, his mother slipped in the shower and fractured her spine. Mark had to take off work for three months to help his mother, and told us that she is still afraid to take a shower because of what happened when she fell last year.
We hope that the transfer bench from AGE’s lending closet will make Mark’s mother feel safe and enable her to take a shower without risks or fear. Bathtub transfer benches are simple pieces of equipment, but they can really make a difference for those who need them.
The Caregiver Resource Center & Durable Medical Equipment Lending Closet serves seniors, adults with disabilities, their caregivers, families and health care providers with equipment, information, consultation, guidance and support. In 2008, the CRC provided over 700 pieces of equipment to low-income elderly or disabled Central Texans.