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Vision Loss among Seniors

Vision loss among seniors is a major health issue.  About one in three people over 65 will experience some form of vision-reducing eye problem. Since many eye problems develop slowly and painlessly, it is important to get regular eye exams. You may not notice the changes in your vision, but an eye exam could detect a potentially serious eye disease. Early treatment might save your eyesight. Since your 40s, you may have noticed that your vision is changing. Perhaps you need glasses to see up close. Maybe you have more trouble adjusting to glare or distinguishing some colors. These changes are a normal part of aging and don’t need to stop you from enjoying an active lifestyle or maintaining your independence. But as you age, you are at higher risk of developing age-related eye diseases and conditions. These include: age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic eye disease, glaucoma and dry eye. Early detection and treatment is critical to avoid vision loss. Eye exams may also uncover other health issues such as artery blockages, hypertension or diabetes. Common Age-related Eye Diseases and Conditions: Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) AMD is the leading cause of loss of vision in people over 65. AMD is a disease that gradually destroys sharp, central vision. Central vision is needed for seeing objects clearly and for common daily tasks such as reading and driving. Risk factors for AMD include age, family history, hypertension and smoking. Cataract Cataract is a common cause of senior vision impairment and a leading cause of blindness worldwide. In the US, cataract-related blindness is reduced due to surgery that is readily available, safe...

HOME BASED CARE FOR VETERANS

Home and Community Based Services.    The Veterans Administration provides a variety of home based care for Veterans to help chronically ill or disabled Veterans of any age remain in their own homes.  The Home and Community Based programs range from Adult Day Health Care and Respite to Home-based Primary and Palliative Care; from Homemaker/Home Health Aides and Skilled Home Health to Hospice services. A Homemaker or Home Health Aide is a trained person who can come to a Veteran’s home and help the Veteran take care of him/herself and his/her daily activities. Homemaker/Home Health Aides work for an organization that has a contract with the VA.  Advocates In-Home Care is contracted with the Veterans Administration to provide Respite as well as Homemaker and Home Health Aid care. A Homemaker or Home Health Aide can be used as part of an alternative to nursing home care, and to get Respite Care at home for Veterans and their family caregiver.   Respite Care allows a primary caregiver to attend to his/her own needs without having to worry about the person in need of care.  Primary caregivers need to take care of themselves if they are going to be able to continue to provide good care for their loved one.   The Respite Care program recognizes that need and provides care coverage for time away – or time for a nap! Homemaker Home Health Aide services are part of a service within the VHA Standard Medical Benefits Package.  Home based care for veterans is available to all enrolled Veterans if they meet the clinical need for the service.  It will be necessary to be evaluated by a...

Beating the Winter Blues – 10 Tips

10 Tips for Beating the Winter Blues For those of us who live in northern climates, winter can be long and dreary.   To avoid feeling depressed, try some of the following ideas for beating the winter blues. Exercise! Yes, it’s often listed as a cure for whatever ails you.  And with good reason.  Along with many physical benefits, exercise can improve mood and mental health.  A brisk walk or some simple stretches may bring a boost to your outlook. Get outside as much as possible. Sure, it’s cold, but with proper outdoor gear, greeting the fresh air will improve sleep and mood.  Just a few minutes a day outside can help to alleviate “cabin fever”. Get some Vitamin D. It’s especially good to get outside when (if!!) the sun is shining to soak up some Vitamin D.  Low levels of Vitamin D have been linked to depression.  Taking a Vitamin D supplement during winter may help to improve mood.  If you can swing it, head south for a few days to a place where the sun is shining Light up your life! Our short, gloomy days deprive us of light, causing some people to develop seasonal affective disorder (SAD).  Even those who don’t have SAD may still feel down after a stretch of cloudy, gray days.  So, open your shades, turn on your lights, and consider buying a full-spectrum light.  Be sure to get a light box specifically made to combat SAD. Start a project. Clean a closet, sort & shred old papers, refinish a coffee table, or write down memories for your kids and grandkids.  Having something purposeful...

Keys for Aging Slowly

Aging Slowly Key One: The best thing you can do to slow down aging is to move every day. Yes, every day! The old use it or lose it mantra is absolutely on target. Our bodies are made for activity. Exercise does not need to be strenuous to be beneficial. Moderate activity such as walking and swimming have low likelihood of injury. This means your body is getting an anti-aging boost doing something you are more likely to turn into a healthy habit. Aerobic exercise can change your blood chemistry to make it more anti-inflammatory. This is good news for those with pain from arthritis. Regular exercise can actually reduce that pain. Strength training helps to keep the muscles and bones strong. As we age, muscle and bone loss accelerate with every decade unless we intervene. You don’t need to join a gym or purchase fancy equipment. Free weights, elastic bands and even your own body can be used to improve strength, stability and balance. Aging Slowly Key Two: The next most important key for aging slowly is to eat well. That means focus on vegetables and fruit for half of your daily intake. Whole grains and meat/fish/poultry each get a quarter of the plate. Avoid highly processed pre-packaged foods and make as many home-cooked meals as you can. Replace sugary drinks with water and a slice of fruit. Avoid solid fats and fast food places. Trade out white rice & bread for brown rice and whole grains. Stop eating before you feel “full”. Limit alcohol to 1-2 drinks per day. Lose the excess weight. Not only does carrying around...

ELDER ABUSE PROTECTION

Sadly, too many of our elders find themselves victims of some form of elder abuse. Whether the abuse is physical, emotional or financial, some elder abuse protection is possible with a few simple steps. Stay connected! Keep in touch regularly with others; isolation can make you vulnerable to abuse. Build a network of family, friends, neighbors, and groups to interact with. Creating a buddy system with other elders who call or visit each other daily will provide additional eyes and ears to keep you safe. Keep active, stay busy. Get involved with your senior center or other groups. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging office to identify programs and support, such as Meals on Wheels. These programs help elders to maintain health, well-being, and independence — a good defense against abuse. Be cautious! Some scams target seniors and will take advantage of them. To protect yourself, learn about the types of elder abuse and neglect and their warning signs (see our previous blog or go to the National Center on Elder Abuse website to learn more. Get on the National Do Not Call Registry to reduce telemarketing calls. Visit www.donotcall.gov or call 888-382-1222 to register your phone number. A prize, loan or investment that sounds too good to be true, probably is too good to be true. Ask someone you trust before making a large purchase or investment. Don’t be pressured into making immediate decisions. Don’t sign anything you don’t completely understand without first consulting an attorney or trusted family member. Do not provide personal information such as a social security or credit card number over the phone...

ELDER ABUSE

ELDER ABUSE – A SERIOUS PROBLEM Each year as many as one in ten older persons are abused, neglected, and/or exploited. Many victims are people who are frail, vulnerable and depend on others to meet their basic needs. Abusers of older adults may be family members, staff at nursing homes or assisted living facilities, and even strangers.  The National Center on Elder Abuse estimates that 90% of elder abuse cases involve family members. Elder abuse can occur anywhere. It affects seniors across all income levels, cultures, and races. Women and “older” elders are more likely to be victimized. Dementia is a significant risk factor, as is isolation. In general, elder abuse refers to intentional or neglectful acts by a caregiver or other trusted individual that lead to harm of a vulnerable elder. This can include physical abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, sexual abuse, financial exploitation, neglect, and abandonment. • Physical abuse means inflicting physical pain or injury upon an older adult. • Sexual abuse means touching, fondling, intercourse, or any other sexual activity with an older adult, when the older adult is unable to understand, unwilling to consent, threatened, or physically forced. • Emotional abuse means verbal assaults, threats of abuse, harassment, humiliation or intimidation. • Neglect is a failure by those responsible to provide an older adult with life’s necessities, such as food, clothing, shelter, medical care or basic protection. • Financial exploitation means the misuse, concealment or withholding of an older adult’s assets for someone else’s benefit. • Abandonment is desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of...