Dr. Mauk’s Boomer Blog
Each week, Dr. Mauk shares thoughts relevant to Baby Boomers that are aimed to educate and amuse.
As you age, so do your eyes. It is a simple fact of life, however, age related vision problems don’t need to be a lifestyle changer. Knowing what’s to come and how you can maintain your vision for the long haul is an essential first step, according to the American Optometric Association.
As you approach 60 years young, it is vital to pay more attention to the warning signs of age-related vision issues. Vision problems as you get older can be acute or chronic, but knowing how to steer clear of them is probably at the top of your list.
Making significant lifestyle choices and getting regular eye exams will help keep you focused on your eye health. Let’s face it, visiting your optometrist is more fun than seeing your dentist or primary physician. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can keep your vision strong, no matter your age.
- Visit Your Eye Doctor Regularly for Optimal Eye Health
There are some pretty unfavorable eye diseases you may be at risk for, especially if you skip your eye exams. In order to keep your vision as keen as a 20 year olds, visiting your optometrist regularly is vital.
In fact, an article published in academic journal, American Family Physician (1999) found several common causes of vision loss in the elderly. The vision debilitating eye diseases you may be at risk for include Macular Degeneration, Glaucoma, Cataracts, and Diabetic Retinopathy, among others. Seeing your eye doctor will help you avoid these chronic vision loss conditions.
- Eat Right to See Right
What you eat directly affects your health. And the same applies for your eye health. Eating the healthy nutritious meals at least three times per day is one exceptional way to keep your focus on great vision.
Food loaded with nutrient rich vitamins and minerals, such as omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc, and vitamin C, and vitamin E may help keep your eyes in superb shape. Those greens, eggs, nuts, and salmon are a great place to begin. You may even see a few pounds shrink away from your waist.
- Focus on Eye Health and Quit Smoking
Saving your lungs from smoking is also saving your vision from acute and chronic vision issues in the future. In fact, smoking increases your risk for cataracts, optic nerve damage, and macular degeneration.
If quitting your attempt to quit smoking continues to happen, don’t give up. Your vision as you age may depend on it. And if you quit smoking, you will most likely live longer, making it even more imperative to have great vision to see your grandchildren blossom.
- Look Cool and Protect Your Eyes with UV Sunglasses
If keeping your eyes healthy aligns with your fashion, even better. Wearing UV sunglasses may help protect your eyes from the sun’s powerful rays. Research suggests that too much UV exposure will increase your risk for cataracts and macular degeneration.
Pick up some sunglasses with 99% to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays. Protecting your peripheral vision is also important, so wraparound shades may be even better. There are even contacts with UV protection these days. However, sunglasses with UV block are best.
- Limit Your Screen Time for Better Vision Later in Life
Limiting your screen time is nothing new. In fact, mothers have been saying television ruins eyes for decades. If you want to protect your eyes, taking a break from so much screen time is essential.
This also extends to tech devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops. The American Macular Degeneration Foundation suggests that the blue light emitted by these tech screens may trigger macular degeneration, among other health issues.
Protecting your eyes today may pay off big time as you begin reaching those golden years. And it is never too late to start living healthy to improve your vision. Most of the suggestions made by professionals can also make a big impact on your overall health. Stay focused when it comes to eye health, because seeing is an important sense to maintain forever.
Reaching the golden age does not always come only with a great life experience but also with reasons to make you feel lonelier than ever. Years have passed by and many of those people you encountered and loved so much may have passed away over time. This is something that remains in your heart forever.
Feeling lonely is not something to be ashamed of but also not something to control your life. Discover below the best ways in which to reduce loneliness for the elderly in your life. They deserve to live happy during this new stage in their existence. Help them rediscover the joy of living!
Develop a Strategy to Defeat Seclusion
If you have elder people you love, you must engage more in their life. It is unavoidable for them to feel lonely from time to time. This is why they need your love and support more than ever. Make them feel loved and an important part of your life. Offer them reasons to smile and continue every day. Do not forget about them or ever leave them feeling like no one has time for them anymore.
Allow Them to Feel Useful
Feeling like there is nothing left for you to do in life is the worst possible feeling. Older people should be treasured because they have a life experience to share. Learn to listen to them more often, spend more time with them and allow these amazing people to teach you what they know. Engage with them in activities that are suitable for their age and help them keep themselves active. Never leave them alone for too much time and always advise them on how to stay clear of sadness and depression.
New Bridge for the Generation Gap
The generation gap between young people and older ones is obvious. However, there should always be a bridge built with love, compassion, and respect or understanding to help keep these two generations together. Teach your children to appreciate the elderly. If they have grandparents, guide them towards building close relationships with them. Spending time together and sharing experiences will be a great way in which to reduce loneliness for the elderly in your life. It will also be a great life lesson for your children.
To ensure a better life experience for them at this stage you can also consider professional help in care homes in Maidstone. The main stages of life are the same for all of us. We may go through them differently and face varied challenges, but we all get to the same place sooner or later. Let’s treasure the amount of experience and life stories these amazing people have to share. We will learn more from them than from any other experience in our life.
When seniors develop diseases affecting cognition, like the various kinds of dementia, caregivers typically make an effort to make their living environment as safe and comfortable as possible. Sometimes caregivers make lots of changes to a senior’s living space, with the best intentions of helping them. However, this can have a two-sided effect, because seniors with mentally deteriorating illnesses can find change to be a confusing or frightening thing. Caregivers might change the entire layout of a house, remove everything that could be a hazard, or add numerous locks to provide security. Changes like these can actually prove to be disorienting for a senior, in addition to being helpful. So the question becomes, how much change can seniors with Alzheimer’s handle?
It’s typical to find instances where seniors have lived in the same home for decades, and have a curious ability to navigate the living space with a sort of muscle memory after memory-harming diseases like Alzheimer’s set in. Routine is very important to the delicate psyche of an elder with dementia, so finding the perfect balance of what to change for their own good can be tricky. Making abrupt overwhelming makeovers to their home’s layout can make them flustered and end up actually making it more difficult for them to get around, adding to their impaired cognition. So it is best to maintain an environment that is familiar as much as possible. And make any alterations subtly and slowly over time.
The necessity to make changes will depend of the severity of a senior’s individual case. If the Alzheimer’s is in the mid to late stages and a senior is wandering out of the home constantly, then immediate action to prevent hazard is surely appropriate. Installing door alarms or adding locks can be great helps. If a senior with dementia typically kept a messy household, then the mess may add to their unease or make it easier to trip and fall. De-cluttering their living space can be advantageous in these cases.
Thus, change will surely be necessary at times. Though it is advisable to make changes as gradually and calmly as possible, to avoid overwhelming or distressing what was comfortable, normal, and assuring to the mind of a loved one with dementia. Routine is key for security in these instances. It may also be helpful to make sure you let them see when you move something, or set their things some place, to help then more easily adapt to the change.
Guest Blog: Lindsay Munden, DNP, RN, FNP-BC
Psoriasis is a lifelong disease that causes scaling and inflammation of the skin. The condition starts beneath the skin’s surface and is triggered by an overactive immune system, which causes skin cells to be over-produced and accumulate on the skin’s surface faster than normal. This process is called cell turnover, and in psoriasis may take a few days instead of weeks. This causes the formation of thick, red, itchy, flaky patches with silvery scales known as plaques. While any part of your body can be affected, psoriasis most often occurs on the elbows, knees, scalp, back, face, palms, and feet.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (2015) about 7.5 million people in the United States have psoriasis. Anyone can get the disease, but it occurs more often in adults.
- Age: Adult men and women are affected equally. The two peak ages at onset are during the late teens to early 20s and in the late 50s to early 60s.
- Genetics: Psoriasis has a strong genetic influence, with one-third of patients with psoriasis reporting having a family member with the disease.
- Environmental Factors: Trauma to normal skin, repeated friction, infections, stress, fatigue, warm humid climates, changes in weather that dry the skin, and certain medications may trigger psoriasis flare-ups.
The primary cause of psoriasis remains unknown. Research has indicated that psoriasis is caused by genetic influences and a dysfunction of the immune system. Although, psoriasis plaques may look contagious, you cannot get the condition from someone that has the disease.
Symptoms can range from mild to severe and are often recurring. Itchy, red, inflamed and dry scaly plaques distributed symmetrically over areas of bony prominences such as the elbows and knees are characteristic of the disease. The joints, nails and scalp may also be affected. As with other chronic conditions, symptoms may flare or worsen for a few months and then subside for a period of time.
Psoriasis may be hard to diagnose because it can be confused with other skin diseases. Usually your healthcare provider will make a diagnosis based on a thorough skin examination. Biopsy is seldom necessary because the clinical features of psoriasis are so distinctive. Plaque psoriasis is the most common form, but patients typically have one or more types.
The goal of therapy is to control the symptoms and clear the plaque lesions.
For mild to moderate psoriasis, topical medications (those applied directly to the skin) and phototherapy (light therapy) are the mainstays of treatment. For severe psoriasis, systemic treatments are recommended. Sometimes, combining topical, light and systemic treatments leads to the best results.
Topical Medication Options:
- Topical steroids are widely used because they help reduce inflammation. Generally, a very potent topical corticosteroid preparation is applied two to three times daily for 2 weeks and then decreased to a lesser potency for maintenance therapy long term.
- Coal tar works by causing the skin to shed dead cells from its top layer and slow down the growth of new skin cells. This effect decreases scaling and dryness. Coal tar is applied once or twice daily and is not well favored due to the potential for staining of the clothes and skin.
- Anthralin works by slowing down the production of skin cells. This type of medication is applied to the skin for a prescribed period of time and then rinsed away, with increased increments until the skin is healed which may take a couple of weeks.
- Topical immunomodulators are medications which work by decreasing the body’s immune system to help slow down the growth of the psoriasis plaques.
- Vitamin D3 derivatives regulate cell growth and decrease lymphocyte (cells which play a role in the regulation of the immune system) activity. The medicine comes in a form of an ointment which is typically applied twice daily.
Phototherapy with ultraviolet-B (UVB) light is effective in the treatment of psoriasis lesions. This type of treatment reduces DNA synthesis of skin cells. Phototherapy can produce symptom-free periods of up to 2-4 months. UVB therapy units are often available at dermatologist offices and the use of commercial tanning beds (with both UVA and UVB lights) is not recommended. Dermatologists may recommend consistent light therapy 3-5 days a week for 2 to 3 months.
Systemic therapy is reserved for patients that have severe or incapacitating disease. These medications are prescribed by expert specialists such as dermatologists or rheumatologists because they have a risk for serious side effects.
National Psoriasis Foundation www.psoriasis.org
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases www.niams.nih.gov
American Academy of Dermatology https://www.aad.org/
It can be difficult to see your parent or relative age. At one time, he could do anything. Now, it seems as though age has gotten the best of him. If you’ve seen changes in your loved one due to age, he may need extra help at home. The following are some of the most common signs of someone who is in need of a nurse or senior caregiver.
#1: Unkempt Home
If there has been a drastic change in the way that your loved one keeps his home that may be a sign he lacks the energy or physical ability to pick up and clean. Extra support at home can ensure that your loved one lives in a healthy, safe environment.
#2: Missed Medications
Forgetfulness is common in older individuals. Missing medications can lead to withdrawal and the return of symptoms of medical problems. It can lead to more serious problems as well – stroke, heart attack, etc. Help at home can remind your loved one to take medications as prescribed.
#3: Missed or Canceled Medical Appointments
Forgetfulness and the inability to drive to appointments can lead to failing health. A senior care worker can provide transportation and encouragement to attend all medical appointments.
#4: Body Odor
Just as cleaning and picking up the home can be physically demanding, taking a shower or bath is too. With someone in the home, your loved one can get the assistance needed to get into the shower and out of it to keep him clean and feeling refreshed.
#5: Sudden Change in Weight
Medical problems can cause lost pounds, but not being able to cook healthy meals can be the reason as well. Since it can be difficult to cook when feeling tired or lacking energy, someone in the home can make sure that he has meals ready or set up a meal program that gets food delivered on a schedule.
#6: Problems with Mobility
Balance and walking can be hard as people age, and this can lead to falls causing serious injuries. Help with completing daily tasks can reduce the risk of falls.
#7: Confusion or Uncertainty
This can cause a lot of distress for your loved one. Have someone there to lend an ear or explain something that doesn’t make much sense can calm the anxiety of your loved one to improve his quality of life.
Losing interests in hobbies or activities he used to enjoy could be a sign of depression that can lead to many other problems. Having a caregiver provide support and encouragement can help your loved one feel better or get the mental health he needs.
#9: Mail Piling Up or Unpaid Bills
It can be easy to forget to pay a bill from time to time, but if it becomes a habit, it might be a good idea to have someone help with going through mail and managing bills. This is one of the services that senior care workers provide in addition to helping with other daily tasks.
#10: Diagnosis of an Age-Related Medical Problem
Alzheimer’s or dementia can cause a loved one to forget or engage in risky behaviors. Having someone by your loved one’s side most of the day can help minimize the risk of him hurting himself.
Your parent or relative may have taken care of you for many years. Now, it’s your turn to care for him. Home care can help you do that. Look into the many options available if your loved one exhibits any of these symptoms.
About the Author:
Kendall Van Blarcom is a licensed marriage and family therapist providing personal consulting to seniors who need someone to talk with to improve the quality of their lives. More information can be found about personal consulting at http://www.kvanb.com.
A Profile of Older Americans (2012) revealed that over 480,000 grandparents had primary parenting responsibility for their grandchildren who lived with them. AARP cited that over 2.5 million grandparents are helping with the responsibility of raising their grandchildren, and 7.8 million children live in homes owned by their grandparents. These statistics represent a growing trend in American culture.
I have several friends who have raised or are raising their grandchildren in their own home. Some have formally adopted their grandchildren. Others share parenting responsibilities with one or both parents. All of them share the common feeling that this is a blessing, not a burden, but that raising grandchildren in later life does have its challenges.
Whatever the circumstances that brought grandchildren into the home of their grandparents to be raised, it can come as a shock to the older adults who find themselves in this situation.
Here are some beginning considerations to raising your grandchildren in your own home.
Impact of aging
Older adults who are assuming primary responsibility for children should “cut themselves some slack”. Don’t feel that you have to do everything as if you were a first-time parent in your 20’s. Remember that you may be parenting, but your body knows that you are still a grandparent. You may have to limit the children’s activities because keeping up with the driving and multiple schedules is too difficult. The good news is that many grandparents in this situation are retired, so both Grandma and Grandpa can help with the kids. This teamwork might not have been possible with your own children because one or both of you were working, but now you can share the duties such as driving kids to school or sports practices, helping with homework, and taking them to doctor appointments. If the children are school age, allow yourself extra time to rest and relax during the day so that after school you have the energy required for these new-again activities with the grandkids. If needed, enlist the help of other family members or friends to help by giving you a break on occasion. Keep in mind that maintaining your own health is especially important if you have young ones depending on you.
Expenses and Education
Many older adults are on a fixed income and may not have planned to care for grandchildren. Your financial plan for retirement might need an overhaul with additional family members in the household. Several organizations have worked cooperatively to compile resources for grandparents in this situation. National and state fact sheets have been developed to link grandparents with key resources in their area. You can find out about resources available to help you at http://www.aarp.org/relationships/friends-family/grandfacts-sheets/ .These helpful fact sheets list local programs, public benefits, key state laws, and contact information for national resources. There may be funding or tax breaks to help with living or educational expenses.
Records and immunizations
It’s important to keep important documents together in one safe place. This includes birth certificates, legal papers, report cards, baptismal papers etc… Keeping a log or journal of important events is also a good strategy, especially when caring for multiple children. There are a number of immunizations for children today that were not available or required when you parented your own children. Immunizations are often free at your county health department, but can be very expensive at the doctor’s office. The health department can tell you what your child needs and when, and will help you by providing an immunization record that will need to be kept up for school. The CDC has a helpful chart of recommended immunizations for birth to 6 years that can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/downloads/parent-ver-sch-0-6yrs.pdf A summary of vaccinations for birth to age 18 can be found at http://www.immunize.org/catg.d/p2010.pdf
Enjoy your Grand Family
Despite the obvious challenges of raising grandchildren in your older years, most grandparents describe the many joys that come with this new adventure. Grandparents share a special bond with their grandchildren, and when sharing a home together, that bond can be strengthened. Grandparents can share the wisdom of their experience with this younger generation and have the opportunity to shape their lives for the better. If you are new to this second round of parenting, AARP offers a helpful guide with tips to GrandFamilies, as they call them. These can be found at Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: A Growing Trend