Think Mobile

by Kathy Wechsler on Tue, 2009-09-01 11:27
Online delivery services such as Peapod deliver groceries right to your home.

Why go to them when they can come to you?

This is the question more Americans are asking as mobile grocery and restaurant delivery services, mechanics, hair stylists, groomers, veterinarians, physicians and dentists become increasingly popular.

Mobile services are available across the country. Some businesses provide their services nationally; others offer them regionally or locally.

For people with ALS who are looking for ways to save time and energy in their daily lives, these mobile services are worth their weight in gold.

Saving time and energy

Every three to four months, Carol Elliott of Mechanicsville, Va., has her hair washed, cut, styled and blow-dried in the comfort of her home’s wheelchair-accessible bathroom. Elliott received a diagnosis of ALS in 2001 and uses a power wheelchair.

“She comes, works on my hair and goes in 20 minutes,” Elliott, 53, says of her hair stylist, Margaret Burford, who owns Two of A Kind Hair Design. “If I went there, getting in and out of the van would add at least 20 minutes to the whole ordeal and tire me out in the process.”

Two of A Kind is a regular hair salon, but Burford will travel to the homes of longtime clients who have developed special needs. Burford charges $6 to $8 extra for home visits, and has been coming to Elliott’s house for two years.

Mobile services also make it possible for ALS caregivers to get things accomplished without having to leave the house.

For two years, Glen and Linda Houston of St. Charles, Mo., have been using Aussie Pet Mobile to groom their 8-year-old Airedale, Lily, every six to eight weeks. Glen received a diagnosis of ALS in 2003 and uses a power wheelchair.

As Glen’s primary caregiver, Linda says that the convenience of the mobile pet grooming service coming to their St. Charles, Mo., home is worth the $90 bill.

“I can’t leave Glen, and this way I don’t have to,” says Linda. “When I used to take Lily into the groomer’s, it was an all-day deal.”

Aussie Pet Mobile travels to Glen and Linda Houston's house to groom their dog, Lily.

Empowerment

Mobile services offer more than just convenience — they allow individuals with ALS to take back some control.

Deborah Goessling, who received an ALS diagnosis in 2007 and uses a power wheelchair and scooter, has been using Peapod online grocery service for six months.

Every week, she marks her desired purchases on Peapod’s Web site, and the truck delivers them to her Wayland, Mass., home. The driver even carries the grocery bags inside and puts them on the kitchen counter. Goessling pays an additional $10 for a minimum order of $60. If the order is over $100, the delivery charge drops to $7.

Goessling, who always was in control in her kitchen, appreciates being able to maintain some of that control through grocery shopping.

“ALS makes you feel that everyone is doing everything for you, and you can do nothing — not even select the food you want to eat,” says Goessling, 56. “[Ordering groceries online] makes me feel somewhat independent because I am involved with the food choices in the home.”

It also means that her husband, Dan, who is her sole caregiver, doesn’t have to do the grocery shopping.

Taking care of the ordering and meal planning while Dan does the actual cooking allows the couple to share meal preparation responsibilities.

“I try to think of things I can do to reduce the workload on my husband,” she says. “Shopping for food is one thing I can do to help.”

Going mobile

To find mobile services in your community, try an Internet search; ask friends for referrals; check with the area agency on aging or Chamber of Commerce; or simply call up individual service providers (especially those where you’re a longtime customer) and ask if they’ll come to you.

As more and more services are hitting the road and making life easier for people with ALS, let’s not forget the old standby.

”Of course, ‘mobile food’ has always been our friend,” says Linda Houston. “I mean, pizza and Chinese food — who doesn’t order them, right?”

Kathy Wechsler
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