Most Common Causes of Senior Vision Loss

Male optician examining senior patients eyes through slit lamp in clinic

 

It is a common affliction brought on by aging for the five senses to gradually diminish in seniors. Eyesight is one of the most prevalent bodily functions to deteriorate in elder years, and it can be a very distressing and alarming issue. Just under 7 million senior Americans over the age of 65 have developed severe vision impairment.

 

Understanding the different vision disorders brought on by age may help seniors recognize problems and seek available treatments more quickly before serious vision damage is done.

 

The three primary vision disorders in seniors are

  • Age related macular degeneration (AMD)
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts

These terrible eye conditions often go undiagnosed and unnoticed for long periods of time because they progress very gradually. These conditions frequently go undetected until serious damage has been done and it become more difficult to treat effectively. Older adults may be wise to schedule moderately routine eye exams, understanding that they as seniors are more susceptible to these disorders.

 

Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) – this eye condition slowly damages the retina, leaving peripheral vision mostly intact, but alarmingly making anything you try to directly focus on blur and disappear. The safety risks of AMD are obvious, as reading, facial recognition, and navigating spaces are severely hampered with this type of vision loss.

 

AMD is not currently curable, however, medications are available to slow down its progression considerably. Fortunately, AMD is not physically painful to the body or eyes, nor does it damage or effect any other bodily functions. Seniors developing AMD often seek care in assisted living facilities for help with certain daily tasks.

 

Glaucoma – Symptoms of glaucoma include increased pressure in the eye cavity, causing nerve damage, vision impairment, and even pain in the eye. Glaucoma educes tunnel vision in seniors .

 

Treatments for glaucoma are surgical as well as pharmaceutical, able to slow the progression of the degeneration and reduce pain, however there is no cure for the disorder. Glaucoma is exceedingly prominent in seniors over the age of 70, so vision checks are recommended for seniors in their later years to detect and hinder the progression of this disorder which can also dramatically effect a senior’s ability to live independently and safely.

 

Cataracts – This disorder clouds the lens of the eye by clumping naturally occurring proteins in the eye. Cataracts are the most common cause of vision impairment and blindness in the world. Men and women of all ages can develop cataracts, however cataracts are most prevalent for senior vision loss.

 

Cataracts are relatively easily detected through basic eye inspections. This eye disorder is characterized by blurred vision and fading of color comprehension. Although cataracts do not cause pain, they are capable of deteriorating vision to the point of total blindness, hindering independent living for senior citizens. Cataracts may be treated with drops and these eye clumps may be removed with surgery.

 

 

The causes of these eye disorders are not fully known, however, they are generally able to be detected and slowed in their progression. It is important for seniors to be aware of their higher proneness for developing vision impairment and to schedule semi-regular eye inspections in their later years to ensure prolonged independent living and quality of life.

 

 

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Signs of Elder Abuse in Senior Care Facilities

AbuseIt’s nowhere in writing; however, we have a responsibility to protect our elders. They’ve made our lives comfortable as we know it today. Unfortunately, greed has taken over many that work directly with our elders. Each year, 2 million seniors become victims of abuse or neglect. It’s important for you to recognize the signs and symptoms of elder abuse in senior care facilities because you may be the only voice they ever have.

Why It’s Difficult Determining Elder Abuse

It is easier said than done to recognize the signs and symptoms of elder abuse. Even when a senior breaks down and tells about their situation, it’s often hard to believe. That could be because it sounds so outrageous, and the senior care facility seems so warm and loving looking from the outside in. Some of the abusive signs may mimic signs of dementia. Hopefully, this article will bring out the awareness you need to keep an open mind and heart.

The Types of Elder Abuse in Senior Care Facilities

The New York Times published an article in October 2000, Congressional Investigators Cite Safety Violations at Nursing Homes. This listed many tragic incidents reported throughout the United States of senior victims. Violations were found such as:

• Restraints found on residents
• No one responding to a resident’s plea for help
• Being bathed with soiled towels
• Ants crawling around the face of an elderly resident
• Residents are physically abused by other residents
• Molestation while bathing residents

There are many other terrible situations. The thought of these heinous actions is a cause for alarm. And, while some manners are nowhere near as serious as these, they are still minimizing our elderly’s dignity, freedom, and quality lifestyle. Below we discuss five common types of elder abuse in senior care facilities and how to recognize their signs.

Recognizing Financial Abuse

One of the most common forms of elder abuse is financial abuse. An elder’s money or property is misused or taken from them, including clothing, jewelry, and checks. You’ll notice this happening to your senior loved one if they have many unusual bank withdrawals, property no longer in their name, revisions to their will or trusts, or new credit lines opened.

Recognizing Physical Abuse

Sometimes physical abuse is easily recognized such as bruises on the arms and legs, bedsores, or broken bones. However, other things such as being slapped, pushed, shaken, forced fed, or not fed at all are not as easy to detect. Even when you do see these things, being in a senior care facility, a caregiver can fabricate “reasonable” explanations for it all. Things can be said such as “They fell off the bed, slipped in the tub, or had a bad night and dreamed it all” can be phrased in such a way, it’s believable. Other things to watch out for include sudden weight loss, dehydration, or always heavily sedated.

Recognizing Sexual Abuse

Unfortunately, sexual abuse is defined as any form of sexual activity in which one party involved does not give consent. However, being in a care facility, no employee or volunteer should be engaging in this conduct, even with a willing senior. Sexual abuse comes in many forms, including rape, fondling in the bathtub, sexual comments, exposure of genitals, and sexual harassment. A few signs you’ll notice are bleeding or bruises in genital areas, torn underwear, or having a sexually transmitted disease.

Recognizing Emotional Abuse

Emotional or psychological abuse inflicts fear and minimizes the feeling of self-worth and dignity in seniors every day. Emotional abuse includes:

• Ignoring a senior
• Calling them names
• Shouting at them
• Threatening
• Humiliating
• Placing them in isolation
• Stripping them of making decisions

Senior victims of elder abuse exhibit signs of depression, often mumbles, are fearful and blame themselves consistently for minor problems.

Recognizing Isolation and Neglect

In senior care facilities that are understaffed and underpaid, isolation and neglect are a common occurrence. Staff may not want to be “bothered” with residents and lock them away in a room, unable to access their crutches or wheelchair. They may strap them down to their beds to prevent them from “hurting” themselves. They have no social interactions with other residents or staff.

Neglect of a senior is when a caregiver does not meet the senior’s needs. They won’t provide them with the food and beverages they need to sustain themselves, won’t properly bathe them, nor provide accurate medicines for pain and stability. You’ll notice signs of isolation and regret in seniors:

• Dressed in soiled clothing
• Living in unsanitary and unsafe living environments
• Appear malnourished
• Given frequent sedatives
• Show marks on their wrists and ankles, indicating they’ve been restrained

It’s hard to believe that any of this could go on inside a senior care facility. After all, they are supposed to be cared for. In these times, no one should be underestimated. For more information on how you can detect and stop elder abuse, visit the National Center on Elder Abuse website at http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/

Ebola: What Every Senior Needs to Know

Ebola As a senior, you and young children are more susceptible to viruses than healthy young adults. This recent scare of Ebola in the United States, however, should be the least of your worries. Let’s review these few facts of what we do know about Ebola and how it can help ease your mind.

Ebola: Its Causes and Symptoms

Ebola originated from Central and Western Africa. This disease has not presented many cases in the United States. One will catch Ebola if they have close contact with a person or animal with the disease. A person would need to be in direct contact with the infected bodily fluids, blood, or its organs. For example, if your open skin were to touch an infected person’s urine, saliva, blood, semen, or feces, you would be at risk. A puncture with a needle is another example.

Ebola’s most common and known symptom includes a hemorrhagic fever, internal bleeding, and organ failure. A person’s initial symptoms are flu-like, consisting of fever, headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, and muscle aches. Later on a person would have dehydrating, bleeding, and other occurrences.

Understand, There Is Not an Outbreak in the United States

With so much of the commotion of those patients in Texas and Illinois with Ebola or the possibility of having Ebola, seniors should feel confident in knowing it is not an outbreak in the United States. With over 300 million people in America, these few cases do not constitute as an outbreak.

American scientists and medical practitioners are all well aware of what Ebola could bring to the table. They are well aware of the precautions that need to be taken to prevent its spread and how to combat this deadly disease if caught in enough time.

It’s a Difficult Disease to Catch

As mentioned above, catching Ebola means having direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person or animal. So it’s safe to say it’s difficult for a senior to contract. Your biggest danger as a senior is the flu. 90% of flu-related deaths are seniors aged 65 and older. While I don’t mean to scare you, the truth is, your risk of dying from the flu is greater than ever than even catching Ebola.

You Can Reduce Your Chances of Catching It with These Two Simple Steps

If you still don’t feel reserved in knowing you won’t catch Ebola, let’s discuss two important methods you can do to reduce your chances of catching it. They are very simple. Get a flu shot and wash your hands. If you have a caretaker, ask them to do the same.

Your doctor has possibly recommended you take the flu shot before this Ebola scare hit the airwaves. So why haven’t you by now? Seniors over the age of 65 are all recommended to get a flu shot because our immune systems weaken as they age. This simple shot can prevent so many other complications, you’ll be glad you did.

Washing your hands with warm to hot soapy water is always the best virus fighter. When you aren’t able to do so, using a hand sanitizer option is the next best thing. So keep a small bottle with you in your purse, car, or purchase one with a clip so you can thread through your belt loophole.

There is a Way to Fight Ebola

Are you still alarmed? Well, you can now rest assured knowing that there are ways to fight Ebola. There are protocols to be followed, of course. The main treatment involves the patient receiving plenty of fluids and electrolytes as Ebola can seriously dehydrate and shut down a patient’s organs. One should be admitted immediately to ICU.

So it’s true; Ebola should not be taken lightly. If it were, an outbreak could easily occur. However, as you can see in this White House address regarding Ebola, the United States has been right on top of it. As a senior, your well-being is being considered at all times.

7 YouTube Videos Every Caregiver Should Watch

As a caregiver, you have many responsibilities. You may have been positioned as a caregiver at the last minute, with no formal training on taking care of your senior loved one. Taking care of the elderly, you should have a visual demonstration of how to handle their needs, for their safety and yours. Here are seven YouTube videos that every caregiver should watch.

1. Understanding and Avoiding Caregiver Burnout

As a caregiver, you may have a limited support system. Family and friends may help out initially, but their support gradually fades away. They are busy supporting their family. Their finances are tied up in their household needs. They don’t understand that even one hour a day provides you with much-needed relief.

You’ll notice signs of caregiver burnout such as having anxiety, restless nights, or are easily frustrated. You may avoid social interactions as well. Second Opinion has a health care team addressing caregiver burnout and what can be done about it. It’s important to address your health and emotional needs before you can assist others.

2 . Feeding a Senior While in Bed

Feeding a senior is not as easy as you would think. There are a lot of concerns, such as if they can sit up properly to swallow food, if they can chew their food, and what foods they can eat. A senior can easily become malnourished due to special dietary concerns of dysphagia. So it’s important that you understand how and what foods to feed your senior loved one. Caregiver Minute presents this video that shows you step by step instructions on feeding a senior while they are in bed.

3. Simple Modifications for Senior Home Safety

85-90% of seniors want to stay at home, and it is recommended they stay home for their mental well-being. Were you aware that the majority of household accidents seniors are involved in occur in the bathroom? Certain accidents such as falling over objects, falling off ladders, or slipping in the bathroom occur often, but can be avoided. Home Instead reviews their Home Safety Checklist. In this video, you will learn simple and inexpensive tips to modify your senior loved ones home for safety.

4. How to Transfer Your Loved One

As your senior loved ones primary caregiver, you are going to need to transition them from a laying down position to a sitting up position. You may need to move them from the bed to a chair. Moving them around often helps prevents bed sores and their muscles from tightening. It also exposes them to other areas of the home so that isolation and loneliness does not set in.

Transferring your loved one around is not easy at all. It is far more difficult than moving a heavy object because you must be careful not to cause physical injuries to yourself or them. Watch this video by Family Caregiver Alliance to learn how to transfer seniors around safely.

5. Managing Medications

A very tough job for caregivers is managing medications. It’s a difficult enough task getting a senior to take just one prescription, but when you have a host of them, it’s confusing as well. Doctors do attempt to prescribe the least amount of medications for a patient. When they are on multiple pills, they then attempt to let the senior take as many as possible together. This is not always safe to do. So in those situations, you, as their caregiver take on the immense responsibility of ensuring they take their medications on time. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has an outstanding video reviewing various tips on proper medication management.

6. How to Monitor Blood Sugar

Your loved one’s blood sugar should be carefully monitored. If it’s too high or too low, the senior could become very sick. Knowing where their blood sugar levels are at is important to treat them immediately if something should occur. It’s also important to track it so your senior loved one’s doctor will know if their diet should be adjusted or prescriptions changed.

Monitoring your blood sugar is not as simple as poking one’s finger. There are precautions and proper procedures that should be followed. Watch this video from the Mayo Clinic that shows you step-by-step instructions on how to monitor your loved one’s blood sugar levels. They also have this important video demonstrating how to administer insulin using an insulin pen.

7. How To Measure Blood Pressure

High and low blood pressure levels can alert you to a serious problem in your loved one. Too high or low blood pressure could be an indication of neurological or heart disorders. The symptoms include dizziness, thirst, confusion, and a host of other symptoms. However, it’s not always apparent, especially in seniors with diabetes. As a caregiver, you should monitor your loved one’s blood pressure levels to ensure they are safe. Cal Poly’s PolyFit students give an excellent overview and demonstration of how to measure blood pressure.

These videos will help ease your transition into the role of caregiver for your senior loved one. Best of all, they are always there for you to refer to if you get nervous or forget.

Activities of Daily Living

As our parents age, we often try not the think about the worst case scenarios. However, the truth is, your parents will age and come to a state where they depend on us to handle their financial, legal, and emotional matters. It’s important for you to know their wishes and how to obtain important documentation. Here are seven questions to ask your aging parents before it’s too late, and things become complicated.

1. Do You Have Someone to Make Health Care Decisions for You?

In most cases, aging parents are expected to make health care decisions for their spouse. However, decisions can be prolonged or go in the opposite direction of what a person wanted. This is because family and close friends are too emotionally attached, thinking of their own wants and needs. Your aging parents can select a health care proxy who will handle all their health care decisions. Before they designate one, they need to be sure this person can carry out their wishes.

2. Do You Have an Idea of the Type of Medical Care You Want?

Having a health care decision maker only works well if they know your medical care wishes. That’s why it’s important to discuss with the decision maker exactly what they want, especially when faced with the end of life decisions. Comfort levels, pain management, life support decisions, these are all important as your parent does have their own views.

3. Do You Have a Will or Living Trust?

The fact that both of your parents are alive and well does not mean they shouldn’t have a will or living trust established. Typically, when a spouse passes away, the surviving spouse automatically receives the assets. However, what should happen if they become incapacitated or pass away soon thereafter? It’s important that both of your aging parents establish a will or living trust so their possessions can be passed on as they wish.

4. Do You Have Your Long-Term Care Plan in Place?

Some parents believe they will stay at home until they pass on. They don’t think about how they will be able to remain at home and be comfortable. There are costs involved, such as an actual caretaker, medications, and supportive equipment. They may, in fact, not be able to remain at home and need to go to a supportive facility such as an assisted living or nursing home.

The costs of these communities are rising so having a long-term care plan in place, especially insurance, is going to be helpful. If they do have long-term care insurance in place, set up an appointment for you, your parents, and the insurance agent to discuss the policy in full. You need to make sure you understand it and the coverage options.

5. Where Can I Find Your Important Documents and Are They Current?

If you are not familiar with where your parents keep their important documents, it’s time to find out. If something were to happen to them, you don’t want to waste time searching their home for insurance documents, medical paperwork, financial statements, or proxy designation forms. Any documents kept in a safe deposit box should have a designated family member assigned a key. Ensure these documents are up to date as well.

6. Do You Have All Your Doctor’s Listed in One Location?

Should an emergency happen, it could be critical for attending physicians to talk to your parent’s primary care physician (PCP). There could have been a recent appointment that uncovered important information about your parent’s medical condition. You should know who their physicians are and how to contact them.

7. What Are Your Current Medications?

As your parents age, you can expect that sooner or later there may be medication management problems. They may get confused regarding what prescriptions they take and why. They may mix up their dosage. Having a clear understanding of their prescriptions could save your parent’s life should they become confused.

If your parents are comfortable and open with you, go over these 35 questions that AARP has compiled together. Sometimes the best way to be there for your aging parents is to ask them the hard and uncomfortable questions.

Discover 10 things you should never say to your aging parents. http://bit.ly/1DsAmGV

Elderly Care Guide: Finding The Right Care For Your Parents

Eldery CareOur parents were the ones who taught us everything we needed to know growing up. What we are today, is because of them and no matter where we go and whatever we do, we shouldn’t forget their importance and value in our lives. As time progresses, our parents become dependent on us as they are not able to do everything they used to do earlier in life. Researching senior care and learning how to provide the best care is one the most important things we can do for our parents.

In order to find the best care for your aging parents you need to look at the following things and adopt them:

1) Find out what type of place your parent would  be satisfied in?

Some great places include

• Adult day care for socialization
• Some daily-living supervision

These are nursing homes with 24/7 independent living facility that provides help with:

• Dressing
• Bathing
• Eating

2) Can your family afford it?

Even if we want the best, we need to find facilities that are pocket-friendly. You cannot over-stretch your pocket because you have to take care of the rest of your family also.

Following are the averages monthly fees on an average:

• Independent living $2,500
• Assisted living $3,400
• Nursing home $6,000

3) Involve your parents in the decision:

You should always ask your parents before choosing something for them as their consent is essential for something so important for them.

4) Make sure the facility is socially good for your parents:

For example, if your father is a master sergeant you wouldn’t want to place him in a place that had retired officers residing there since they’ll probably look down on him.

5) Inspect the place yourself before finalizing it:

Visit the place several times at different times and observe everything thoroughly. Keep a check on the staff, their behavior and the environment for some days so you have a clear idea about everything.

6) Inspect for Medicare and make an evaluation of the facilities you are looking for:

Look for deficiencies like no doctor available or lack of medicines and decide accordingly

7) Read the facility’s contract carefully:

Review the contract thoroughly to keep the future financial-obligation surprises to a minimum. You may also need to show it to an accountant or financial partner.

8) Above all , Plan ahead:

You need to make sure about everything before putting yourself in crisis because once you get into the crisis you can’t go back and do the research.

Even though all these tips to finding the right care for your parents can be very useful, if we were to ask seniors what they prefer, they would choose to live at home.Since they have spent all their lives there and don’t want to be parted from their home. With this being said, it can be very difficult to convince your parents that it’s the right time for assistance as they are unable to help themselves. It can be very harsh for them at the beginning but with time and patience, they will understand your concern.

To better take care of your parents it is better that you take care of them yourselves but sometimes that isn’t an option. Don’t feel guilty when you need to find care for your parents. Explain the situation to your parents and help them understand.