24th Anniversary

By Lauren Klein

A new study finds that troubled people can reap enormous benefits from keeping a journal that focuses their attention on the good things in life.

Waiting times for psychological counseling can be long. That makes it doubly hard on those who are seeking therapy: not only is treatment delayed, they’re also more likely to drop out prior to their initial appointment—and less likely to go on to seek help elsewhere.

So it’s urgent that those who are on a wait-list know if there’s something they can do to help themselves in the meantime. But is there?

Well, according to a paper published just earlier this year in the Journal of Happiness Studies, there might be a way to turn this unhappy waiting time into a healthy self-guided treatment all its own.

The researchers rounded up 48 people who were on a waiting list to receive psychotherapy, who reported problems ranging from depression and anxiety to substance abuse and eating disorders. Participants were assigned to one of three groups:

  • In the first, they were asked to keep a gratitude journal. “There are many things in our lives, both large and small, that we might be grateful about,” read the instructions. “Think back over the past day and write down up to five things in your life that you are grateful or thankful for.”
  • The second group kept a journal about kindness: “Kind acts are behaviors that benefit other people, or make others happy. They usually involve some effort on our part. Be sure to include at least one kind act that you did intentionally.” Like the first group, they were also asked to talk about their moods that day.
  • The third group—which acted as a control—was asked to write about their daily mood, noting their expectations for the following day, their sense of connectedness with others, and their overall satisfaction with life.

So, did this 14-day intervention help people waiting for therapy? Did it make them more grateful, kinder, and happier?

The researchers were looking for yes to all these questions—but that’s not the story their data gave them. Those in the gratitude group did report feeling more grateful at the end of these two weeks, but those in the kindness group didn’t get the same kind of benefit. That is, those who counted their kindnesses didn’t come out kinder because of it, suggesting that gratitude, but not kindness, can be cultivated in this short amount of time.

Despite this asymmetry, at least both the kindness and gratitude groups showed measurable improvements over those who simply monitored their mood. Both the kindness and gratitude groups enjoyed a higher percent of happy days, where they felt optimistic and expected the best. They were also more satisfied with their lives, which they perceived to be more meaningful, and they felt more connected with others each day.

In effect, all of these positive outcomes—this increased sense of connectedness, enhanced satisfaction with daily life, optimism, and reduced anxiety—address in some way the problems which qualified participants for the study in the first place. (Remember, they were all clinically distressed and seeking therapy that was at least more than a month out.)

So these results suggest that this brief intervention—which was self-guided, and lasted only two weeks—didn’t just increase feelings of gratitude. Keeping lists of gratitude and kindness made people feel happier, more connected, and more meaningful—doing the work that therapy is partly designed to do, all before a single professional session.

This isn’t the first study to suggest that gratitude and kindness interventions are beneficial. But it is perhaps the first to suggest that these brief, self-administered positive psychological strategies aren’t just for happy people who are looking to be happier. They can work for a group that needs help—“not [just] as end states,” write the authors, “but as emotional experiences that themselves have the capacity to stimulate positive change.”

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/cant_get_therapy_try_gratitude_and_kindness

Wheelchair users make a statement…this is what people without disabilities say when they use accessible parking spaces.

Making Employment Work for You! Event

When?                       

Tuesday, July 29th

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm                  

Where?

Family Service Center of Clay County

715 11th St. N.

Moorhead, MN 56560                     

What?

Do you receive Social Security benefits?  Would you like to work?  Come get information that will help you work towards your employment goals!

The Minnesota Disability Law Center will be discussing these employment and Social Security topics:

  • Social Security Work Incentives
  • State Vocational Rehabilitation Services
  • School District Special Education Transition Services
  • County-Based Programs

National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) Reports Breaking News: President to Sign Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) at White House Signing Ceremony!

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) will be signed by the President at a White House signing Ceremony on Tuesday, July 22, 2014!

As previously reported, the House and Senate have passed the bipartisan and bicameral Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. The Senate passed WIOA by a vote of 95-3 and the House Passed it by a vote of 415-6. Now, with the President’s signature WIOA becomes the law of the land!

It is time to celebrate, and to come together as advocates from across the nation to learn exactly what these changes will mean for IL at the Federal level.

The best place to accomplish both is at NCIL’s 2014 Annual Conference on Independent Living next week. We will be hosting some amazing speakers and presenters, including Assistant Secretary Kathy Greenlee, Senate HELP Committee staff, RSA Commissioner Janet LaBreck, and Senior Advisor to the Secretary on Disability Policy and ACL Principal Deputy Administrator of ACL Sharon Lewis.

The Rehabilitation Act is contained in WIOA. Specifically, improvements to Independent Living in this bill include:
The establishment of the Independent Living Administration in the Administration for Community Living (ACL) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
• Transition will be added as a fifth core service
• SILC activities will be improved and include resource development
• SPIL sign-off will now include CIL Directors
• States will choose their ‘designated state entity’ (formerly known as the DSU). The DSUs will remain the same for the “723 states” of Massachusetts and Minnesota.

NCIL will be present at the White House during the Signing Ceremony on Tuesday morning.

Most people have self-doubt and fear when we take the first steps in changing our lives, careers, and families.  Belief is an essential step to building our lives, careers, and families.  The difference between success and failure is often belief.   When you believe, the impossible becomes possible. Belief doesn’t happen by osmosis. It is something you develop through trials, challenges and experiences. The more you do something, the more you believe you can do it.  You also cultivate belief with your thoughts, words, perspective and expectations.

Wishing you peace and wellbeing as you cultivate your beliefs.

Bar chart iconAuthor: U.S. Census Bureau
Contact: www.census.gov
Date: Jul 18, 14 (Rev. Jul 18, 14)
Abstract: The U.S. Census Bureau provides American disability facts for features for the anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26 .


“People with disabilities represented 19 percent of the civilian noninstitutionalized population.”

Detail: According to the latest Census Bureau disability report, 56.7 million people in the United States had a disability in 2010. People with a disability are defined as a person having a physical or mental impairment that affects one or more major life activities, such as walking, bathing, dressing, eating etc.

Population Distribution

56.7 million
Number of people in the United States in 2010 with a disability. People with disabilities represented 19 percent of the civilian noninstitutionalized population. Persons with a disability have a physical or mental impairment that affects one or more major life activities, such as walking, bathing, dressing, eating, preparing meals, going outside the home, or doing housework. A disability can occur at birth or at any point in a person’s life.

Disability Statistics Chart

By age:

  • 8 percent of children under 15 had a disability.
  • 21 percent of people 15 and older had a disability.
  • 17 percent of people 21 to 64 had a disability.
  • 50 percent of adults 65 and older had a disability.

Source: Americans with Disabilities: 2010 www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p70-131.pdf

20%
Percentage of females with a disability, compared with 17 percent of males.
Source: Americans with Disabilities: 2010 www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p70-131.pdf

Where They Live

19%
Percent of the civilian noninstitutionalized population in West Virginia with a disability ─ the highest rate of any state in the nation. Utah, at 9 percent, had the lowest rate.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey, Table R1810

http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_12_1YR_R1810.US01PRF&prodType=table

30%
Percent of the civilian noninstitutionalized population in Pike County, Ky., with a disability ─ the highest rate in the nation among counties with populations of 65,000 or more. Arlington County, Va., at 5 percent, had among the lowest rates.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey, Table GCT1810 http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_12_1YR_GCT1810.US05PR&prodType=table

23%
Percent of the civilian noninstitutionalized population in Lorain, Ohio, with a disability ─ among the highest rates in the nation among places with populations of 65,000 or more. Weston, Fla., at 3 percent, had among the lowest rates.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey, Table GCT1810 http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_12_1YR_GCT1810.US13PR&prodType=table

Specific Disabilities

7.6 million
Number of people 15 and older who had a hearing impairment. Among people 65 and older, 4 million had hearing impairments.
Source: Americans with Disabilities: 2010 www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p70-131.pdf

8.1 million
Number of people 15 and older with a vision impairment.
Source: Americans with Disabilities: 2010 www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p70-131.pdf

30.6 million
Number of people 15 and older who had movement impairment, such as walking or climbing stairs.
Source: Americans with Disabilities: 2010 www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p70-131.pdf

3.6 million
Number of people 15 and older who used a wheelchair. This compares with 11.6 million people who used canes, crutches or walkers.
Source: Americans with Disabilities: 2010 www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p70-131.pdf

2.4 million
Number of people 15 and older who had Alzheimer’s disease, senility or any form of neurocognitive disorders.
Source: Americans with Disabilities: 2010 www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p70-131.pdf

12.0 million
Number of people 15 and older who required the assistance of others in order to perform one or more basic or instrumental activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, doing housework and preparing meals.
Source: Americans with Disabilities: 2010 www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p70-131.pdf

Earnings and Poverty

$20,184
Median earnings in the past 12 months for people with a disability. This is 66 percent of the median earnings, $30,660, for those without a disability.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey, Table B18140

http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_12_1YR_B18140&prodType=table

323,000
Number of employed people with disabilities earning $100,000 or more annually. This amounts to 4 percent of all people with disabilities who were employed. In comparison, 8 percent of all people without a disability who were employed earned $100,000 or more annually.
Source: Disability Employment Tabulation, from 2008-2010 American Community Survey, Table Set 7A http://www.census.gov/people/disabilityemptab/data/

23%
Percentage of people with a disability who were in poverty. By comparison, those without a disability had a poverty rate of 15 percent.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey, Table B18130

http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_12_1YR_B18130&prodType=table

Government Assistance

30%
Percentage of people who received income-based government assistance and have a disability; 18 percent of assistance recipients had difficulty walking or climbing stairs.
Source: Disability Characteristics of Income-Based Government Assistance Recipients in the United States: 2011 (from American Community Survey)

http://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/acsbr11-12.pdf

42%
The percentage of income-based assistance recipients in West Virginia with a disability, which led all states. Arizona ranked the lowest, at 25 percent.
Source: Disability Characteristics of Income-Based Government Assistance Recipients in the United States: 2011 (from American Community Survey) http://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/acsbr11-12.pdf

Health Insurance

10%
Percentage of people with a disability who lacked health insurance. Those without a disability were more likely to be without coverage (15 percent).
Source: 2012 American Community Survey, Table B18135

http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_12_1YR_B18135&prodType=table

Medicare (the portion that provides hospital coverage for seniors and people with disabilities) is expected to remain financially solvent through 2030; five years longer than previously expected, according to the Congressional Budget Office (OMB).  However, OMB predicts that Medicare’s spending shortfalls will be delayed, not eliminated without some changes.  Republicans have proposed an overhaul of Medicare that would let older Americans purchase government vouchers instead of being covered by Medicare.  Democrats want to preserve Medicare’s basic structure with small changes.

Medicare is one of the governments largest programs, expected to spend more than $500 billion on benefits for 54 million Americans this year.  Close to 70 million people are expected to quality for benefits in 2030, with the program’s costs continuing to rise as America’s elderly population grows.  The Medicare trust fund is financed through payroll taxes and premiums paid by beneficiaries.

“Love yourself, respect yourself. Never sell yourself short. Believe in yourself regardless of what other people think. You can accomplish anything, absolutely anything, if you set your mind to it.” – Marcus Allen

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a first-of-a-kind robotic exoskeleton that can help some paralyzed people walk again, known as the ReWalk system. And paralyzed patients who’ve tested it out say they are thrilled by the latest development.

“I’m just so excited; I wish I had it on. I could just jump up and down,” Robert Woo told CBS News today. “It’s a great leap forward for a lot of us who are confined to wheelchairs.”

Woo, who lost his ability to walk when seven tons of steel fell about thirty stories onto his construction trailer, was part of a clinical trial last year to test out the ReWalk and another exoskeleton device known as the Ekso (Ekso Bionics).

The ReWalk was developed for people paralyzed from the waist down due to certain spinal cord injuries. It allows them to stand upright and walk with assistance from a caretaker.

The device consists of leg braces with motion sensors and motorized joints that respond to subtle changes in upper-body movement and shifts in balance. A harness around the patient’s waist and shoulders keeps the suit in place, and a backpack holds the computer and rechargeable battery. Crutches are used for stability.

Though Woo only had the opportunity to use the device for a few short months, he said the ReWalk vastly improved his quality of life and allowed him to be less sedentary, a problem people with paralysis face.

“I can’t want to take my family out for a walk in the park and do things that I couldn’t do being in a wheelchair,” he said.

Errol Samuels, a former athlete, also took part in the same clinical trial, conducted at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York and the James J. Peters VA Medical Center in the Bronx. At the time, the Rewalk was only approved by the FDA for use in rehabilitation facilities, and not yet for personal use at home.

He trained on both the ReWalk and the Ekso.

Errol Samuels walks with the Ekso with therapist Shantel Firpi supporting him. CBS

Samuels said the news of the FDA’s decision has taken him by surprise. “It’s like a breath of fresh air. I wasn’t expecting it to happen this soon,” he told CBS News today. “I was expecting it later on, in December.”

While trying out the device in January at Mount Sinai, Samuels told CBS News that he hoped one day to run again.

He said today he believes the ReWalk model that’s just been approved is simply the first generation of the technology, which will only improve over time. “I’m sure they will have something more advanced for quadriplegics and triplegics,” he said.

But even in the flurry of excitement both men know it will be challenging to have the opportunity to bring one home, since the ReWalk currently sells for close to $70,000 and may be much more expensive now that its manufacturer, the Israel-based Argo Medical Technologies, has the green light to market it to patients and doctors.

Woo is already making elaborate plans to finance the device, which includes selling some stock and investments, asking family members for help and contacting his health insurance provider and the medical team that ran the clinical trial. He also plans to talk with executives at Argo.

“I’d like to propose to the company that maybe if they give me a better price for it they can track the progress of me using it at home,” he said.

The founder of Argo Medical Technologies developed the ReWalk after he was paralyzed in a 1997 car crash.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/rewalk-exoskeleton-earns-fda-approval/