Elderly problems can involve a sudden need for elder caregivers or other help …Either from an outside source such as a senior home care service, or assisted living facilities. Or perhaps you. Are you ready?

But how do you really know if there’s a real problem. Or if it’s just normal aging? Our loved ones often exhibit unspoken signs of problems when they need help. Little clues.

And in helping with my Dad, I learned that those little clues can be very subtle. So I had to be very attentive. Yet not try to read too much into anything. It can be a real challenge.

Some of the most common clues that I’ve learned about that point to a need for elderly assistance are listed below. Some are more serious and will need to involve senior home care or elderly long-term care. Most seniors will eventually show some of these signs and elderly issues as they age.

If you notice any, talk openly with your elderly parent or loved one or consult a professional to work with you. And above all, do not try to do or figure out everything by yourself.

Being the list type of person that I am, that is my first reaction to any challenge or crisis. Make a list. Or many.

During my Dad’s time first in assisted living and then after he moved in with me, I have observed or experienced many elderly problems that need consideration. Maybe these lists will help you too.

Important Elderly Problems

Physical Clues

  • Noticeable change in weight (gain or loss).
  • Trouble getting out of a chair.
  • Tripping.
  • Complaints of dizziness.
  • Walking with unsteadiness.
  • Overly tired.
  • Incontinence odors (urine).
  • Overly thirsty.
  • Cannot see or read even with corrective lenses.
  • Constantly asking you to speak louder.
  • Asking the same questions too frequently.
  • Too many of the so-called senior moments.

Behavioral Clues

  • Odors from food spoilage.
  • Piles of dirty laundry.
  • Personal hygiene habits have changed.
  • Neatness or cleanliness of the home has changed.
  • The yard has become unkept.
  • Not enough food in the fridge.
  • Medications are not being taken correctly.
  • Getting lost in familiar places.
  • Stacks of unopened mail.
  • Bills are consistently not being paid.
  • Missing appointments.
  • Evidence of safety problems (ex. burns in clothing or cookware).

Elderly Depression Clues

  • Ceased socializing with other seniors or friends.
  • Very little contact with family members.
  • Not interested in conversation.
  • House is kept dark, including in the day.
  • Shade and curtains remain drawn.
  • Disinterest in senior activities previously enjoyed.
  • Sleeping more.
  • Weeping for no apparent reason.
  • Talk of wanting to end it all.

Some of these signs may actually be symptoms of the onset of dementia or Alzheimers. Or depression. It is vital that elderly people receive support as soon as possible. Caring for the elderly can be challenging.

But you need not be alone. There are many local, state and national public benefits with elderly assistance that can help you. And there may come a time when you need to consider whether your loved one needs home healthcare — read about caregiver duties; vs. long term care.

Assessing signs of elderly problems is a serious matter. Make sure you get professional help to pinpoint the real underlying elderly issues, and to help you and your loved one makes decisions about senior home care or possible elderly long-term care needs.

Be sure to also read:

Care of Elderly – Don’t Be Overwhelmed — Care of elderly calls for careful planning. But what steps do you take? Learn to make your best personalized plan.
Care For Elderly In Home – Tips and Ideas — Care for elderly in home takes a lot of planning, whether a loved one is staying in their own home or moving in with someone else (perhaps you). Great tips and ideas – including having some fun!
Fundamentals of Caregiving — Information about typical caregiving, provided by either a senior home care service, assisted living, or nursing homes, even if temporarily. What to expect, what to ask caregivers, and possible sharing of caregiver duties.

to Elderly Health Care Issues

Elderly health care issues may be sudden & swift.

…To both senior citizens and their caregivers. This is what happened with our Dad when he suddenly called us from Arizona, his voice trembling on the phone. He said he could no longer live alone.

Dad had woken up that morning and what little vision he had was now so bad he couldn’t read a thing. It impacted most senior activities that he was involved in.

His eyes had had a bleeding episode overnight, from his macular degeneration.

Sometimes we are fortunate to age in place slowly. In either case, recent studies by AARP have estimated that family and friends, themselves, provide care of the elderly (unpaid) worth over $360 billion per year.

Elderly Health Care Issues

Caregiving Issues

I first learned about elderly issues and caregiving when I was a child. My grandparents lived next door (my mother was a nurse). Grandpa had had a stroke and Grandma had a heart condition. So I was assigned many caregiving duties to help out, which I enjoyed. That experienced peaked my interest in senior activities and caregiving later in life. Including becoming the primary caregiver for my father when he was 93 1/2.

Nowadays many caregivers, of course, are baby boomers who themselves have full- or part-time jobs. And often their own children at home. They’re part of the “sandwich generation.” Worrying about elderly health care and caregiver duties triggers a myriad of concerns.

Our seniors experience stress, and so do caregivers. As we know, our attitude and thinking are of utmost importance, as they can impact the very chemistry and physiology of our brains and moods, and thus our health.

It makes all the difference in the world. Keeping stress down midst the issues of aging is important. And we have some really good ideas in this web site, including a special page, Creative Elderly Stress Activities.

Dealing with Changes

It is true that sometimes a sudden crisis may occur that catapults you into a series of unexpected events. Or perhaps certain conditions have been gradual, but now have become real elderly problems. We need to somehow cope. There may be many new questions (and I had a gazillion of them). They may include —

We had to ask ourselves, what type of housing is now needed? What kind of elderly assistance will be best in this situation — should we care for Dad in my home? What are the fundamentals of caregiving, and where do we get quality home healthcare information? What about assisted living? We decided on that to begin with.

As our loved ones age, we must be observant about habits and lifestyles we used to take for granted. And to listen. Seniors often “ask” without asking. I really had to learn to “listen between the lines” with Dad. I could tell he was afraid of losing his dignity or independence, so there were only hints. But if we observe, we can find the cllues that hint at special elderly problems.

Elderly problems can mean a change in routine or care of elderly. If you’ve noticed specific changes, talk them over with your loved one. One of the most startling changes that happened with Dad was his changing memory — and he knew it. And also that his vision got even worse after he decided to stop getting his eye injections for macular degeneration. These issues were tough to talk about, but it had to be done.

Communication

Express your concern, but involve them in the solution as much as possible. This is what we had to do with Dad when we moved him back here from Arizona. I tend to want to jump in and take charge, be efficient, get things resolved quickly. But if the issue was not pressing, I needed to step back and encourage Dad to participate with me. This took some patience.

Discuss the changes you’ve noticed and offer to help an elderly parent or friend in small ways at first — perhaps with grocery shopping, laundry, or paying bills. Most do want to stay independent as long as possible.

Good elderly nutrition is vital for overall well-being. Issues with nutrition are a very big factor with elderly health care. In fact, studies have shown that actual malnutrition is one of the biggest reasons elderly become hospitalized. (We go into this further in our Nutrition area). That was shocking to me.

Establishing a new routine of care for the elderly may cause resistance. Even by family members or friends. Dad had his set schedule and was forever wanting to know what time it was, so he could stick to it. Sometimes I let certain things slide a little because changes were always so difficult to deal with. It may be easier to just go into denial for awhile. To deal with it later. That may be OK for some issues, but terrible for others…

Is the Clock Ticking

Because in some instances, your loved one’s clock is ticking and “awhile” could trigger a crisis with elderly health care. Examples may involve the causes of blindness or hearing loss. There are many types of blindness for which detection and treatment are timely, including from diabetes, glaucoma, or cataracts.  Cataract treatment is very common and easy, and cataract surgery recovery involves very few problems.

A senior’s vision issues, for instance, may be the result of macular degeneration, as was the case with Dad. There are treatments now that can halt its progress, but they are timely. Macular degeneration nutrition can help – but as a preventative measure. Waiting may cause some irreparable damage, which is what happened to Dad when he had his crisis. (If you want to learn about our experience with the avastin macular degeneration eyeball shot, just click the link). Yet, we learned many great tips for macular degeneration help.

Seeking Professional Help

If you have major concerns or are unsure about discussing these elderly issues with your loved one, involve a professional. In my case, my sister is a geriatric nurse, plus I was in regular contact with our church parish nurse.

It is also extremely important to receive regular dementia screening.  The most updated world-wide dementia report was issued in the fall of 2009 (we discuss this in our Dementia section) notating that this elderly health care problem had increased to almost epidemic proportions globally. And will continue to be on the rise.

The elderly often accept directives from a professional that they would resist if coming from a family member. Giving up driving, for instance. That can be one of the most traumatic elderly problems that must be faced. Some elderly get upset to the point of becoming combative when they get their keys taken away.

Attend the appointments with your loved one, and go prepared. I’m a lover of lists, so I always made a list of questions and concerns about Dad’s issues in advance. And wrote down everything the doctor said.

You Are Not Alone

In recommending solutions, a professional may also include intervention as needed. If an acute event has already occurred and your elderly loved one is in the hospital, an expert (a social worker or discharge planner) will usually be assigned to review options. This thankfully takes us as caregivers out of the picture of being the decision maker.

There are many resources to help you. Elderly health care is not something we need to deal with alone. And shouldn’t.

More About Elderly Health Care:

Falls in Elderly – The Game Changer — Falls in elderly are the main reason for accidents & injuries for age 65 and over. There are specific causes for falls. Do you know them? And the preventions?
Facing Elderly Stress Issues — I recently was stunned about a lack of perception regarding elderly stress issues by some people, and the many misconceptions of just what our elderly go through. Read what was said and how I responded. How will we cope when we go through these challenges?
Health, Music and Mood — Is there a correlation between health, music and mood? You may already know that music can make us healthier. Get the amazing scoop on why music and Mozart beat the blues and mend the mind and immunity.
How To Get Happy — Of course one of the important aspects to elderly health care is being positive. And we’ve learned some fun information.

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Special Resources Related To Elderly Health Care
See these other web sites:

Massage Education Guide helps you understand the great health benefits that massage therapy can provide to elderly men and women! Relaxation for our bodies and our minds!

For women — Check out this great resource for women: WomenOver40Health.com A Guide for women over 40, working together for empowerment and good health.

I recently was stunned about a lack of perception regarding elderly stress issues. (Not by everyone, of course). But I was really surprised to learn in an online Q&A forum about seniors, of the many misconceptions on just what our elderly may be going through, and how it affects them.

The lead question in this particular forum was, in fact, a bit snippy. The person who asked it simply wondered why old people are always so “mean and crabby.” Then there were a few caustic comments about, “yeah, really.”

After reading for a bit, my fingers flew over the keyboard a mile a minute, and I asked the writers to consider a few of the elderly stress issues these “old people” face every day – as will they, themselves, some day.

Like…
How would you feel if…

A variety of elderly stress issues are related to financial challenges…

  • You hardly have enough money to live on.
  • You may not realize that financial elderly assistance is available to you.
  • There’s hardly enough to pay the bills. Including medications.
  • You may be concerned about losing your home.
  • You live on a very limited, set budget. New clothing and entertainment are few. 
  • Your budget was so tight that it was difficult to get the kinds of healthy food you want, which affects elderly nutrition.

Elderly stress issues can cause isolation and loneliness…

  • You can’t get around very well and it’s hard to get to the store, for anything.
  • Your car keys were taken away and you can’t drive anymore
  • You hardly have anyone to come and visit you.
  • You had to move out of your home of many years into a strange facility where you hardly know anyone. The move was very unsettling. The change in routine is also very unsettling. (Moving is a major stressor for seniors and often leads to further illness).

A lot of elderly stress issues are health related…

  • You have some chronic health problems that cause you a lot of discomfort.
  • You’re sick and tired of going to the doctor.
  • Chronic pain is something you deal with daily.
  • Plus, it’s difficult to sleep and you have constant insomnia. You are always tired.
  • You can hardly see and/or hear, so socializing is very difficult and awkward.
  • And doing daily tasks or entertaining yourself has become difficult too.
  • You have problems with your feet and legs, so it’s hard to walk. If you even can anymore. Your mobility has become very limited.
  • You’re afraid of falling and breaking something, which would cause a whole myriad of further problems and pain – and maybe you already have, so you know.
  • And your hands don’t work as well either.
  • There have been problems with your teeth, but dental care is expensive. Chewing and eating have become more of a problem. So eating is not as enjoyable anymore.
  • Plus, you are on a restricted diet and can’t eat your favorite foods.
  • You’re afraid of having incontinence accidents, and maybe you already have. So you have to really consider what you can participate in, and where.
  • You know you’ve lost a lot of your memory and it unnerves you. As my dad once said: “I know I’ve had a really interesting life, but I can’t remember a lot of it.”

Many of these elderly stress issues do affect the mood…

  • Sometimes you just don’t understand what the point is anymore.
  • You don’t feel like doing much of anything anymore. Even TV is hard to see and hear; and music is hard to hear. It feels like there’s nothing interesting to do.
  • You’ve lost a lot of your independence, and so many activities have become so difficult now.
  • You feel lonely and isolated. Even with others around in a facility or campus.
  • You no longer feel needed or significant.
  • It seems life has been full of losses… of loved ones and friends, financial security, a pet, a home, familiarity, social interaction, mobility, health, independence, hobbies and things to do, food you loved, your memory. And your looks.
  • It seems the world has changed into an entirely different place, to the point where you hardly recognize it anymore. Sometimes it seems like you’re living on a different planet. (It may be best to keep watching the news to a minimum.)
  • Every day you fight to not feel depressed, but you often do anyway. (No wonder. Any one of these elderly stress issues could contribute to depression in seniors.
  • You feel like you’re losing your mind (and you may be).

Despite this list of very daunting elderly stress issues – and these are just some – so many of our seniors face their challenges with strength, grace, acceptance, and a positive attitude.

But let’s get real. It would be hard for anyone, especially the elderly, to be perpetually cheerful through it all, and so our elders may seem at times (or a lot) a bit “crabby and mean.”  Keep in mind, it is typical for a senior to be challenged by at least a dozen of these elderly stress issues at any time. At least a dozen. And these are supposed to be The Golden Years.

So what’s to be done?

There are many ways to help relieve elderly stress issues.
Be sure to see our page all about Creative Elderly Stress Activities, for starters.

And there are other things, like good nutrition, appropriate elderly health care with correct medication, and a good program of exercise for seniors. We have various ideas on our web site for you to explore.

Our population is aging, and it is vital we understand this time of life and all of its concerns (and joys too). Perhaps listen and learn. Maybe find ways to help out. There are lots of volunteer possibilities, not to mention careers in related fields (see our page on volunteer ideas). What goes around comes around, as they say.

And when our turn comes around, how will we cope?

Be sure to also read:

Signs of Elderly Problems — There are telling signs of elderly problems. Some of these problems are often hidden and can cause major stressors. It is crucial to learn to tell the signs for the health and safety of loved ones.
Health, Music and Mood — Read some interesting findings on music and how it can help with elderly stress issues.

to Elderly Health Care

syringe

Avastin macular degeneration treatment – a shot in the eyeball – has been available for a number of years now, and we have had a very positive personal experience with it. I thought it may be useful to share our experience with those facing a decision or facing possible treatment. Or those who may just be interested in general.

As we’ve discussed, age-related macular degeneration is one of the more serious and common elderly issues that we face. It affects the central macula area of the eye and can cause blindness.

This is an account of our personal experience.
It may be different for other patients, so this should not be taken as the standard for all. (And on a positive note — we did learn all kinds of tips about macular degeneration help, to still live a satisfying life).

When my father was in his late 80s, he was diagnosed with wet macular degeneration, or bleeding in the macula area of the eye — for which Avastin is used. He’s now almost 95, and the injections were not available to him until he was 93. He lived on his own in another state, and was not able to consistently go in for treatments. After he moved near us, we were able to help him with appointments. And it was at this time that we got more of a sense for Dad’s macular degeneration causes.

diagram drawing of eye ball

The purpose of the Avastin macular degeneration treatments is to stop the bleeding behind the retina in the center of the eye, which is what happens with the wet type.

If left unchecked, the eye is damaged, scarring can occur, and central vision is permanently lost. This is what happened with Dad’s left eye. Often periphery vision is maintained however. The Avastin macular degeneration treatments help stop the bleeding, which then may be re-absorbed into the body.

Although some permanent damage had occurred with Dad’s right eye by the time we got him in, the current issue is now under control. And in fact the vision in that eye has improved slightly. (He can, for instance, now read the numbers on the Vikings’ football jerseys on his giant screen TV).

He’s been having the shots for almost 2 years now, and has had several treatments in each eye. His retina specialist said if he had been able to get them right away, much of his vision may have been spared. He currently only has periphery vision in both eyes, but he can basically see, and is not totally blind. We want to preserve what he has.

Why Avastin macular degeneration treatment? It is more cost effective, at about $75 per injection as compared to Lucentis, which can be $2200 to $2700 per injection where Dad goes. Between his Medicare and supplementary insurance, thus far all costs have been covered. Avastin, the staff has explained to us, was originally used for colon cancer. It was also interestingly noted that many of the patients also exhibited improved vision.

After much research, it was used for treatment for macular degeneration. The nurse told us they use only about 1/400 of the amount for the eyes, as is used for cancer treatment. And it is injected in a small amount only locally in the eye; whereas, with the cancer treatment, it’s given intravenously.

I’ll describe here how a typical treatment goes.

Dad’s Procedure

Dad was referred to a retina specialist by his eye doctor, explaining that it’s important to get treatment from someone with advanced specialization.

It’s like a heart condition. You could certainly see a physician who is a general practitioner, and he/she could help you with many issues. But if you want serious treatment, you’d see a heart specialist. Same thing here. An eye doctor has to take special training for this type of Avastin macular degeneration procedure.

eye exam chart

This is a typical visit for Dad.
First, the technician takes him into an exam room and has him read the standard vision chart with alphabet letters. Any health and medication updates are also taken.

Numbing drops are then put in the eyes, which work immediately. Then his eyes are tapped with an instrument to measure pressure.

Dilating drops are also given. Afterwards, Dad sits in a waiting room for about 15 to 20 minutes while his eyes dilate.

If an eye scan needs to be done during this visit, that’s the next procedure. The scan is called an OCT (optical coherence tomography) and scans and measures the eye such as the thickness of the retina, notices any swelling, and any other pathology.

The technician said it’s like an ultra sound, but uses light instead of sound.

This is a totally painless procedure. You simply sit and put the chin on the chin rest of an optical machine, which looks much like the typical machine you see in any eye doctor’s office.

He looks through the little hole, and the tech takes a series of pictures. The tech then prints out the scans for the doctor. This helps determine if an Avastin macular degeneration treatment does need to be given.

Next we go into the exam room to see the retina specialist. Another tech asks more questions and makes notations on the chart. He/she verifies which eye will be receiving the Avastin macular degeneration treatment, then puts a large piece of tape above that eye to mark it. A tray is then brought in with the injection equipment.

Dad’s blood pressure is also taken. Abnormal blood pressure could relate to vascular problems in the eye. Blood clots occasionally do occur in the eye for some patients with these issues. If blood flow is cut off from the eye and the retina, the retina can die within a couple of hours. Then that’s it. Vision loss is irreversible.

When the retina doctor comes in, he looks at the scans and then has Dad put his chin in the eye exam machine and takes a look into both eyes. He confirms the eye that needs treatment. Before the Avastin macular degeneration procedure, he puts in more numbing drops and also sterilizing drops to prevent infection.

Next, Dad’s eye is propped open with a lid holder. He’s told to lean all the way back in the chair to the head rest, and not to move. The doctor takes the syringe and says he will count to three, then do the shot.

When he does do the shot he says “one thousand, two thousand” – and that’s how fast it’s over. It’s very quick. The needle goes into the white part of the eye, only a little ways beneath the surface. (And needles these days are very small and fine.) The Avastin then flows to the retinal area on its own.

Before going home, the technician again checks the eye pressure. If the pressure should be up, as in the case of glaucoma, and does not go down, then the doctor must remove the fluid from the front of the eye. This, she assured us, is rare.

Dad has always said it is a very easy procedure and doesn’t bother him at all. At least it didn’t after the first time. Most of the discomfort, he said, was psychological – not knowing what would happen and knowing you’re going to get a shot in your eye. But he basically does not feel any actual pain because his eye is numb, and it’s over very quickly.

Afterwards, he sees spots for a few hours to a day, which the doctor says are only sterile air bubbles. Dad’s eye may water a little and is sensitive to light. He feels mostly like sitting with his eyes closed off and on for the rest of the day. But he would be able to resume normal activity if he wanted to. By the next morning everything is pretty much back to normal. There may be a few more spots.

Only once has he had a scratchy, achy discomfort for about a week. But that was because he rubbed his eye. I took him to the local eye doctor, who checked to make sure nothing was wrong, such as an infection.

In the beginning, Dad’s Avastin macular degeneration treatments were done about every two or three weeks to get on top of the bleeding. Then they were done at intervals of a month to six weeks, then about three months apart.

The doctor did not recommend doing both eyes at the same time, so we have a separate series of appointments for each eye.

New Solutions?

Macular degeneration is becoming more common as the population ages, and as life spans lengthen. At this time the Avastin macular degeneration procedures (or other medication in the injection) are what is recommended, as no other treatments have as of yet been fully developed. But there is some interesting research being done with delivering medication to the eye via eye drops (and no shots!).

Our retina specialist has also mentioned that stem cell research is under way, but is taking place in Europe.

I also asked Dad’s specialist about the well-known macular degeneration nutrition recommendations (including special supplements), and if it really helped. He did say it may indeed help prevent vision loss (of many types).  But once eye disease has set in, the nutrition program can somewhat help maintain eye health, but is not then preventative.

So if you or someone you know is experiencing this eye disorder, do see a specialist immediately. You may be a candidate for Avastin macular degeneration treatment. But time is of the essence. And the injections are not at all as scary as they sound.

to Elderly Health Care

There are solutions and macular degeneration help available for those who suffer from this eye disease. I am personally familiar with this concerning issue, since I am the caregiver of my aging father, who has had it for well over a decade. We don’t know how long for sure.

Dad was formally diagnosed in his mid-80s, but he may have had age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) in his late 70s. In those days, not much could be done. And so he had to get inventive. We eventually learned about special vision and macular degeneration nutrition, but at Dad’s stage, actual prevention with nutrition was too late.

Everyday tasks that were once simple slowly become almost overwhelming to deal with. It is sometimes difficult for those with normal vision to imagine just how an ARMD patient sees. How it impact the activities they can and cannot do. (I was always on the hunt for more senior activity ideas for him).

And why they need specific macular degeneration help. This is how it was explained to me…

TRY THIS. Take a very large print and holding it off the side of your vision. Keep looking straight ahead, but let your eyes only focus on the large print to the side using only your periphery vision, and try to identify it.

This is the only way an ARMD patient can see, and it takes a big adjustment. Patients may also complain of blurry vision, and needing extremely bright light and magnification.

Macular Degeneration Help

Dad’s solutions came in steps
as his vision declined. At first it was fairly easy; mom was still alive to be supportive too. In those days there was not much available for treatment. And hardly anyone knew about specific macular degeneration help.

But eventually mom passed away; he was living alone and independently down in Arizona, and he wanted to keep it that way.

When Dad was in his late 70s, he talked about blurry vision, but thought it was just due to old age. After all, his mother had had it. He could still do quite a few senior activities. But it was hard for him to read, so he started doing the usual types of things people used for macular degeneration help at that time — wearing glasses and switched to large print reading materials.

But soon that was not enough. He commented that more light helped a lot, so he rigged up two really bright spot lights on the walls by his easy chair. Sometimes he’d also use a magnifying glass. Then a lighted magnifying glass.

Then pretty soon, we noticed Dad was reading with one of those magnifying visorsthat you wear around your head. Soon he got one with a built-in light. In addition to his spot lights. And sometimes his other magnifying glass.

Then he began to shine a high-intensity LED flashlight onto his reading material too. (This especially helped with his watch (see photo to the right), which was now a large dial watch.) In addition to his spot lights. And lighted visor.

By the way, he eventually could not read the numbers on his watch, but if he cocked his head just right to use the periphery vision in his better eye, he could see how the dials were pointing. Although he sometimes got the large and small hands confused. Which caused major confusion in his schedule.

Dad found that Light and contrast were absolute necessities for optimum macular degeneration help. But when he came out of the light, he was always commenting on how dark it was. Even though to everyone else, it was sunny and bright in the room. It took his eyes a very long time to re-adjust to light vs. dimmer or dark. He was also having difficulty driving at night, or in rain, fog, or very cloudy weather. It was about this time, when he was still in Arizona, that he began getting the avastin macular degeneration injections.

Eventually he could no longer even read large-print books, even with all of his gadgets. It was about this same time when he woke up one morning and could no longer read the labels on items in his cupboards or at the grocery store. That is when he called us in a panic and no longer wanted to live alone. We moved him from Arizona back to our home state.

By this time Dad had to use a high-tech electronic reading machine. This was mainly good for reading mail, letters, pamphlets, directions, articles, small gift-sized books, etc. Regular sized books were too difficult.

He needed more and more magnification, until he got to the point where he could only get a half of a sentence on the screen at at time. It was way to klutzy, and he finally gave up. It was a very sad day when he had to give up reading totally, as he had been an avid reader his whole life. One of him main hobbies. It was a real adjustment.

More Special Products and Devices

There were many more types of macular degeneration help that we took advantage of…
Right away we got a huge clock with gigantic numbers and dials. This was one of the few things he could still actually see when he was in his late 90s. There were also the large-print books and playing cards, can be found at libraries and special libraries for the blind. Large-print Sudoku games and crossword puzzle books are found in most stores. These are all excellent for macular degeneration help — for awhile.

These are excellent forms of mind stimulation – exercising the brain is as important as exercising the body. It takes practice and patience, though, to learn to see and use these aids using only peripheral vision.

Free Help

Check with state and local agencies for the blind for availability of books on tape. This became a life saver for Dad (until he became too deaf even for that). Public libraries often have a selection such books well. Audio entertainment is an excellent alternate source of macular degeneration help. Specialized recorders may also be requested for those who also have hearing loss.

States, counties, and non-profit agencies can sometimes supply free technology (reading machines and books on tape recorders), lighted magnifying glasses, adhesive buttons to attach to numbers on phones and microwaves, to name a few.

Since macular degeneration is a disease of central vision, the peripheral vision remains. All states offer rehabilitation services for the blind, and important macular degeneration information. Independent living skills are taught, as well as using peripheral vision. Often a case worker will make a scheduled home visit.

Training in using peripheral vision is important. A conscious effort must be made to discover which area of the eye and which angle is best used. By holding up a bright, colored object and moving it to different places in the outer line of vision, a person can become accustomed as to which is the best area of the eye to look through. This may involve holding the head at different angles than usual, and may seem awkward at first.

Other types of macular degeneration help involve training other senses. Eventually a person adjusts to their new condition and can learn to become aware of sense of touch.

For instance, we attached adhesive buttons to Dad’s large-print phone and microwave (when he was still able to use one), on the numbers 1 and 3 (in the corners), 5 (in the middle), 7 and 9 (in the corners, as well as on the Start button when appropriate.

The placement of buttons on all devices is consistent, on the same number pattern. Now Dad could feel to dial the phone and use the microwave.

Using the stove top and oven, of course, are no longer possible. They were removed when he was in assisted living. With the phone, we did get one with adjustable volume and tone as his hearing declined.

Since it is difficult to see faces and individual features, it is helpful to train people who approach to announce who they are, such as, “Hi Fred, Joe here.” A person with macular degeneration can learn to use peripheral vision to identify general body shapes, perhaps gestures and body postures.

Seeing general shapes and color will give certain amount of visual cues to the environment. Because macular degeneration does not involve blindness from birth, people have associations for certain textures, colors, smells, shapes, etc.

These will help them get mental pictures of items and clothing they are familiar with. Talking about them aloud with your loved one will help trigger these memory associations.

Macular degeneration help also means being aware of environmental sounds as cues to what is going on and where you are. Patients do begin to rely on other senses and can become very sensitive to household noise and discerning different footsteps of other people, even the patter of pets.

Listening to music, lectures, radio, may become enjoyable pastimes. The smell of the outdoors, gardens, food, homes, stores and other buildings, becomes stronger.

People with macular degeneration learn to adjust by enjoying other activities and skills, and can lead impressively independent lives after receiving help. Be sure to also see our page just for Activities For Elderly with Vision Loss.

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When I started taking care of Dad (he was 93 1/2) I was aware that falls in elderly are the main reason for accidents for those age 65 and over. And it became my primary concern when he moved in with me. Especially since he was almost deaf and blind with macular generation.

Dad was proud too, as many seniors are. He exercised twice a day (only appropriate exercises for the elderly) was fully ambulatory, not even needing a cane. And wanted to keep it that way. So did I — yet we had to be careful. I did not want a literal outplaying of “pride goeth before the fall”!

Our Story

Then one day when Dad was almost 97, it happened. Out of the blue. He fell. By this time he was using a cane. He was in his bedroom, and I was in the next room. It was afternoon and he was going to lay down for his nap. I heard a big “boom” and went running in. He was sitting on the floor by the wall and said he was fine.

I checked him and he seemed OK, no apparent signs of concussion. When I asked, he said he didn’t know what happened — he “just fell.” But being rather limber, he got right up and had no hurts or injuries whatsoever. We thought. I take my caregiver duties very seriously and was alarmed out of my wits. I called the doctor and we went right in. I also wanted to talk about stroke symptoms.

The doctor did not think he had a concussion. She wanted to do a brain scan anyway, common with falls in elderly. She said if I heard a big boom, chances are he had banged his head. And may have bleeding in the brain. If so, I would have to make an immediate decision.

Either take him to the hospital that very afternoon to have a hole drilled into his skull and the blood drained out (which he may not survive); or if we did not choose that, to let her know right away. Because he would die. And we’d have to prepare ourselves fast.

I was in shock. Because of Dad’s deafness, he was not fully comprehending this. She told me not to feel responsible, that such falls in elderly can happen anywhere not just at home, even in a facility with full nursing staff all around. (The doctor later believed he may have had a mini-stroke that can cause elderly falls).

And if everything was OK, the doctor said Dad was still better off living with me at home. And I’d dealt with the important safety issues that could affect him. Thankfully, the scan showed everything was OK. But it was a very sobering few hours.

Especially since the next day I was going to the funeral of my very good friend’s mother. Who had just died. From bleeding in the brain. From tripping and falling off the step on her shuttle bus. She had seemed perfectly fine, they took her to ER, she went unconscious, and died within three days. There was nothing the doctors could do.

We know that falls in elderly can abruptly change one’s quality of life. Sometimes it can be a matter or life — or not.

Sobering Facts

We’re all familiar with a medical alert system for getting help, and basic prevention methods for falls. But falls in the elderly has still continued to be one of the most persistent problems. And expensive. It’s been estimated that one in three American seniors over age 65 falls. Of those, at least 30% require treatment.

Statistics to verify this are there, says the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and National Council on Aging, but not exactly accurate, since many falls in the elderly are not reported. Nor do our older loved ones always go to the doctor or hospital.

A common and serious result of falls is hip fracture. An estimated 25% percentage of hip fractures result in death. (My own doctor advised me that elderly usually don’t fall and break a hip; the frail hip breaks and then they fall. Especially in women.)

More than half are sent to nursing homes, sometimes permanently. Several professionals at local nursing homes that we interviewed did agree that one of the biggest reasons for admission is due to falls in elderly. Falling happens more frequently to women.

The CDC has estimated that deaths caused by falls in elderly in the U.S. have increased by 39% from 1999 to 2005. It also estimates about $19 billion are spent annually for treatment of these incidents and resulting elderly problems. Since most of this is paid by Medicare, it has become a major issue for the system. If falls in elderly continue at the same rate, it is projected that by 2020 costs will be over $43 billion.

These are sobering findings. There is good news, though. Much has been done to discover the cause of, and therefore prevent falls in elderly. Studies by the CDC and various medical researchers indicate the main causes of falling. And I had had many discussions with Dad’s doctor and my medical friends. Let’s take a look at some of these causes.

Causes of Falling

Physical Issues

As we know, normal aging causes many physical elderly issues that contribute to falling. Many of these, however, can be controlled. Dad’s doctor went over some of the most common physical issues causing falls in elderly with us:

  • Vision and hearing impairment, as with Dad
  • Dementia (which I think Dad was developing at the time)
  • Problems with feet
  • Arthritis
  • Imbalance, dizziness, irregular gait (Dad’s gait had changed)
  • Problems transferring (to and from bed, chair, toilet, etc.)
  • Not using a cane or walker when needed (Dad now does)
  • Epilepsy and other disorders of central nervous system
  • Osteoporosis; weak bone mass
  • Muscle weakness
  • Chronic health conditions (incontinence, heart problems, high blood pressure)
  • Medications, including over-the-counter

Environmental Issues

The environment is a huge factor in causing falls in elderly, yet most of them could have be eliminated ahead of time; or at least later. So it is very important to check your home or that of your loved one. We had thoroughly prepared our home for Dad, yet it did happen anyway. Here are some of the most common problems in one’s surroundings:

  • Poor lighting (both indoor and outdoor), especially if the person has vision issues like the common macular degeneration 
  • Pets getting in the way
  • Uneven floors, patios, sidewalks (had to repair our sidewalk and driveway)
  • Rugs and carpet (low nap is best); smooth slippery floors, such as some vinyl and wooden floors
  • Things out of place; clutter around
  • Extension cords in the way
  • Broken or unstable furniture
  • Lack of railings and/or grip bars (we installed several)
  • Weather conditions such as snow, ice, even rain – best to remain at home inside

Falls in elderly can be decreased and controlled a great deal just by dealing with the possible issues above. (See our page on Care For Elderly In Home – Tips and Ideas). But it won’t be totally perfect, as we certainly found out. When you read our page, I’m sure you’ll have your own ideas to add too.

The bottom line is, the more cleared out, simplified and clearly marked the environment is, the better. And couple that with plenty of sturdy and supportive areas to grab and hold on to — around furniture, stairs, and transfer areas particularly.

If basic measures are taken, plus awareness about changing physical health and needs, then a great deal of the risk factors for falls in elderly will be eliminated.

Most falls in elderly, although they may require treatment, do not necessarily result in death. Severity of injury varies. But those who have had a fall are frequently afraid of it happening again in the future.

And statistically, it does happen again.
But sometimes elderly become, then, overly cautious and dependent out of fear, with lessened quality of life. If we use common sense, awareness, and moderation, many of these elderly problems can be prevented. But perhaps never perfect.

Also make sure to read:

Care of Elderly – Don’t Be Overwhelmed — Care of elderly can seem overwhelming sometimes, as well as rewarding. Learn the specifics on what to do.

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Cataract surgery recovery is usually painless and easy.

Several of my own family members including my father, and also friends, have gone through cataract surgery. (And you probably know many folks as well).

A couple of the people we knew did have minor complications, but otherwise had excellent results. Mostly everyone, Dad’s specialist said, has an easy recovery.

The majority of patients experience no cataract surgery complications. In fact, they are rare. When Dad had his surgery in both eyes, he was in his 80s. I asked the eye doctor a lot of questions, and also his retina specialist later.

Cataract surgery involves removing the faulty eye lens, and replacing it with an artificial lens. The implant used for cataract surgery is made of a type of plastic, not human tissue, so cannot be rejected. It will also not wear out.

Most cataract surgery recovery is so successful, that patients go home the same day, although they do need someone to drive them home. They may wear a patch for awhile, and be given eye drops to use daily for possibly a couple of weeks, to control inflammation and infection.

Dad’s doctor decided the time frame based on his specifics. Many patients resume a good deal of normal activity the next day, as Dad did. He was really surprised at how cataracts had impacted his participation in many senior activities.  If you are still working, it may be recommended that you take some days off work, as with a couple of my friends and relatives. So scheduling this surgery before a weekend is ideal.

The doctor will, of course, give an instruction sheet about cataract surgery recovery to take home. It tells what to do and expect within the first 24 hours, the first week, and the first month, and then several months to a year afterwards. Most patients have return check-up visits the next day, and then again within a couple of weeks. Our family member who got an infection, went back sooner and more often.

Below is a general summary of what Dad’s specialist said we could typically expect during cataract surgery recovery.

Cataract Surgery Recovery – Basic Timeline

The first 24 hours — It is recommended that you have someone to drive you home. Eyes will be sensitive. And no matter what – don’t rub your eyes!That was hard for Dad to do! (Same with any of his macular degeneration procedures).  During the first 24 hours vision will be blurred. There’s also sensitivity to light, glare, and some eye discomfort. Several people I know saw halos or “auras” around objects. This varies with the patient.

Some patients experience a feeling of eye pressure, or a temporary ache or burning sensation, as with Dad. That was about the “worst” discomfort he had. Others I know who’ve had cataract surgery, also said the discomfort is minimal, and they did not even need to take a pain reliever. But your doctor may prescribe or give you a mild pain reliever anyway.

Most discomfort should disappear in a day or two. The patient needs to take it easy and rest for the first 24 hours of the cataract surgery recovery.

There may also be a scratchy feeling. This could also be due to dry eyes (which Dad did have), so his eye doctor gave him some artificial tears. Many people are able to resume driving after the first 24 hours. Dad was in his 80s at the time and still driving, and he waited several days. When you have your follow-up visit, you can discuss this with your doctor.

You will be given instructions for eye drops, which help the healing and also the eye pressure level. Some eye drops may slightly sting or burn a little bit, which is what happened to Dad. But he said it was more annoying than “painful.”

It was OK for him to gently clean around the eye area. But your doctor will tell you not to rub, touch, or put any pressure on the eye itself. You will also be given a patch to wear over your eye, even while you sleep, to protect it. Your doctor may schedule to see you again the next day.

The first week — For the first week after, the eyes and body are adjusting. You will continue to wear the eye patch during the night for awhile. Sensitivity to glare and light gradually lessened with Dad, as is typical.

It’s normal for the eyes to be sensitive and may still feel scratchy when blinking, until the surgery heals. (This is the case with most eye procedures anyway).  It’s important not to rub your eyes or get anything in them. Other general precautions given were no eye makeup during the first couple weeks (no problem for an elderly man!). Also, avoid getting water in the eye. Active people are told to not participate in water sports.

No extreme sports (so don’t plan that parachute jump quite yet), heavy activity and lifting during the first week of cataract surgery recovery. Really active people may tend to want to shrug this off. But the doctor warned that heavy activity can affect the pressure in the eye. We may feel just fine, but the doctor still advises not to participate in anything  heavy.

Normal walking, light chores, and going up and down steps are fine. Within the first week of cataract surgery recovery, most people can see the improvement in their vision. They may also be ready to return to work.

A month after — At this point after treatment for cataracts, the eye should be back to normal, although color perception may take a month or two more to stabilize. Since Dad’s macular degeneration altered his color perception anyway, this was difficult to determine with him.

By this time cataract surgery recovery is well under way, and you’re back to a full routine of activities. You may have dry eyes so could still be using eye drops. Since there is an artificial lens in the eye, our system and brain will still be adjusting to vision through the new lens. Healing will usually take at least six weeks.

Many people I know had their corrective prescription included in the new lens, as seems to be the trend, so their vision turned out really well! They only needed glasses (or contacts) for reading.

About a month after cataract surgery, there is a follow-up appointment with the eye doctor as well. At this point you may be checked for new glasses or contact lens, if needed.

The doctor may also schedule cataract eye surgery, if needed, on the second eye now (although some eye doctors do schedule the second eye sooner). Most of those that I know who the surgery, did need to have it in both eyes, as did my father. In no cases that I know of, were both eyes done at the same time.

Although cataract surgery complications are rare and often in conjunction with other elderly issues, it is worth taking a look at this matter.

Cataracts definitely impact the quality of senior activities and quality of life in general. And it’s so unnecessary to tolerate this easy-to-resolve condition.

Be sure to also read our overall discussion about causes of blindness in elderly and our eye specialist’s comments.

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Fun and effective elderly stress activities are an important part of overall senior care. And can help give relief and distraction from burdens that befall the aging. As caregiver, I did several of these with my own father, in his late 90s, and they certainly did help take his mind off his worries.

Dad was very patient, despite being almost blind and deaf, and having difficulty socializing.  I could always tell when he had concerns. Instead being his normal cheerful self, he would blurt out, “It’s hell getting old!” I had to come up with lots of different ways to help him.

NOTE:  Some seniors are introverts and need special and/or gentle urging to participate in some elderly stress activities. Others may have become lethargic and will need a bit of urging. Effective elderly stress activities involve several factors – physical, emotional, creative, mental, and spiritual needs.

It’s always important to consult the medical professional as needed, if there is a question about any stress relief activities.

And you may find some of these ideas are great for caregivers too, as care of elderly can sometimes be overwhelming.

Keeping these factors in mind, this page will summarize some effective ideas (and not just squeezing rubbery stress balls, which come in such shapes as cupcakes, golf balls, and cartoon faces). Or working on puzzles. We’ll also link you to other pages for more details.

TLC and Contact With Others

First, we’ll start with some typical stress busters. I found that any types of elderly stress activities that provide a little TLC (and especially physical contact) were very enjoyable for Dad.

First, here are the usual…

*  Holding and playing with great-grandkids.

*  Petting a pet that a friend or family member brought over.

*  Dad always smiled when I helped him shave (with an electric shaver). It made him feel pampered.

*  Foot and hand care – a local nurse in town makes home visits that includes a foot soak, trimming toenails and fingernails, and a foot and hand massage. Dad loved it!

*  An easy hand reflexology treatment – I’ve included a basic hand reflexology chart on that page. Just about anyone can do it.

*  His routine haircut. Just something as basic as that helped him de-stress.

*  We also did regular deep breathing together. When you count while doing this, it takes more focus, so you don’t think about something else.  Count for 4 seconds while breathing in, holding breath, breathing out, holding breath. Depending on a person’s health, you may need to consult a medical professional first.

Fun and Games

Games and laughter, of course, help with stress. We do have a thorough page about elderly games. But in addition to that, here are a few more fun elderly stress activities.

*  Desktop punching ball – you can turning punching into a small game!

*  Creating, maintaining or watching an aquarium. Retirement campuses sometimes have these, and so-called aquarium therapy is a known stress reliever. Just sitting and watching one is meditative and calming and can reduce blood pressure and pulse rate. Purdue University did a study with aquariums and Alzheimer patients, showing that patients became more alert and quiet.

*  Desk or table-top games –  golf putting game, bowling, magnetic dart board, mini pool table, or “flick” hockey. (These are games with small objects, so would work only for those with good eye and finger dexterity.)

*  Magnetic sculptures involve different magnetic metal shapes, sometimes in various colors, that can be stacked together in endless creative ways. Again, some of these may include small pieces, although they do come in various sizes.

*  Working with the earth, plants and flowers are excellent elderly stress activities –- raised or potted gardens are perfect. Especially if it’s something you can eat later, like tomatoes or strawberries. There’s something about feeling one’s hands in the earth that is so therapeutic. Or the grass under one’s feet. Placing feet in a water feature such as a pool or stream also feels great.

*  Growing a bonsai tree – you can get them in kits with instructions. This project takes some care (and perhaps a little help), so offers a fascintating ongoing activity.

Tactile Activities

These types of elderly stress activities can be done while listening to music, chatting, or even watching a good movie on TV. Many engage several senses and distract the mind.

*  Running sand through the fingers. Potted plants and flowers can be spaced apart in a box of sand. When people come to tend to the plants, weed them, snip off dead leaves and blooms, they also love to run their fingers in the sand. Sometimes flowers that have fallen off their stems are laid in the sand to decorate.

*  Slowly swishing hands in water or bubbles.

*  Feeling something soft like plush velvet or wrapping up in fluffy fleece or soft angora.

*  Working with clay, especially if it will be fired to complete a satisfactory project.

*  Sanding wood (with no slivers), feeling it get smoother and smoother is therapeutic. This is a great one for those who liked to work with their hands, build things, and use tools. I actually used to love doing this with Dad when I was a child. Because this activity can produce sawdust, a mask is advised.

*  Polishing or oiling wood until it gleams is a favorite “old-time” elderly stress activity for some.

*  Others like to polish silverware until it shines.

*  My grandma used to love to shell peas, feeling the little round peas slide through her fingers. She would do bowls of them. She also used to enjoy sitting at the table chopping vegetables and listening to music or chatting.

*  Knitting or crocheting may be someone’s favorite hobby, yet they just don’t feel like doing it. (Have you ever felt like that?) But doing a project for someone else, like joining a group that makes prayer shawls, might get them out of a slump.

 *  Likewise, joining a quilting group for a cause can be relaxing because of the goal and camaraderie too.

*  Rug hooking is another tactile activity that is easy, yet involves just enough concentration to distract from stress. There are loads of kits available in craft stores.

*  How about good ole washing dishes with plenty of bubbles in the sink. Many folks find this to be another pleasant and nostalgic activity. My grandmother used to love to wash dishes. It allowed her to do something with her hands and daydream at the same time. Now and then I also find it relaxing. (And in fact, I actually enjoy doing housework when I need to de-stress. It’s good physical activity and keeps me from thinking too much).

*  Folding laundry was one of Dad’s favorite tasks to help me with. He loved the fresh smell, the feel of the fabric, and took his time folding each piece very carefully.

*  Finger painting is not just for kids! (But it certainly be done along with them). It’s also one of the simple yet creative elderly stress activities – in fact, some quite sophisticated art work can be made. Feeling soft, flowing paint between the fingers and watching trails of color slide across a piece of paper makes a really fun project. Colors also can be blended together while painting to make new colors. This is especially fun for those with no “artistic ability” because there is no such thing as good or bad or making a mistake – just fun. 

Be sure to cover the table with newspaper and wear a cover-up!. Either finger paint or poster paint can be used, adding a little water to the painting as needed, so it moves well on the paper. Paint can be put into muffin tins. We used to paint on butcher paper or freezer paper as kids.

When dry, linear designs and details can be added with colored markers if desired. Try hanging the finished product(s) all together mural style. Or flatten under books, then laminate and used as place mats; perhaps laminate and cut into strips for bookmarks.

Of course, there are many other arts and craft ideas that are great elderly stress activities. Take a look at our section for Easy Craft Ideas.

More Miscellaneous

Here are a few more random stress soothers…

*  Aromatherapy. Various scents (using real essential oils when possible) do calm the nerves, such as lavender, rose, lemon, peppermint, jasmine, sage, and vanilla. Dad and I enjoyed having a tray with a variety of scents and would take turns inhaling the various fragrances, sometimes guessing what they were, talking about them, and about what memories came to mind from them.

Other elderly stress activities involving aroma would be scented candles (which do come flameless – I have a lovely one in vanilla); diffusers; hand, neck and/or shoulder massage with scented oils; taking a warm bath with scented oils or bubble bath; making a lavender pillow or potpourri.

*  Music and mood. I’m sure you’re aware that certain kinds of music are real stress releasers. But we’ve found some very interesting information about this topic, so do check out our page on Health, Music and Mood.

*  Good old times.  Looking through photo albums and talking about good old times and having a few laughs. (However, depending on the person and situation of course, this can sometimes backfire and cause sadness or distress instead).

*  A Japanese zen sand garden is a lovely and soothing tabletop pastime. You can purchase one in a kit or make one yourself. It usually includes a shallow wooden box filled with a thick layer of fine sand, some smooth pebbles of various sizes that can be rearranged over and over, and a small rake with which to created designs in the sand. Flowers to lay upon the sand design is another add-on option. This provides lots of hand-eye activity and is very calming.

*  Calming crystals. Sometimes a person just feels like sitting around and not doing anything in particular. There are some elderly stress activities that are really good for this. For instance, many years ago one of my sons started giving me crystal snowflake ornaments for Christmas. (But any kind of a faceted crystal-like or glass object will do). They are so beautiful I hang them in my window off-season and watch the sun glint and blaze through the facets, changing colors and also make rainbow patterns on the wall. It’s a nice distraction, is meditational and calms the spirit.

*  Inexpensive “Shopping Therapy” is a favorite pastime for many, and a reason to get out. For those on a budget, browsing at a thrift store, flea market or a few garage sales will do the trick. I like to find something to bring home and turn into a project – making  picture frame crafts, painting on glass (see our page on how to paint glass), doing something seasonal, or making a gift for someone. Finding ways to give to others is often a sure-fire way to dissolve one’s stress. 

*  Relaxation room.  Perhaps you can set up a little room or part of a room with a window and some sunshine, filled with a few uplifting things like a couple very comfy chairs, footstools, colorful coffee table books to browse through, plants, flowers, hanging crystals, a table-top zen garden, a puzzle, a small water element or fountain, even a bird cage if possible.

*  “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” is a great book by Richard Carlson, Ph.D.  Sometimes it is true that stress can be self-created. Ever heard of this book series? (And the author thinks just about everything is small stuff when we think big-picture). He truly teaches how to relax. I have a couple of the books on hand and pull them out from time to time as needed. They really help regain perspective. These are also nice books to read to someone – I read one to my Dad since he is unable to see, and he loved it. (Reading to someone is one of our most relaxing elderly stress activities).

Dr. Carlson believes that if we do things for others and take a little attention off of ourselves, we receive more kindness back too, which helps melt stress away. Even saying a few kind words to another, assisting someone with a simple task, giving a compliment, helps them (and us) feel better just about instantly.

Speaking of helping others, if you’re looking for volunteer ideas to enhance your life, be sure to click the link to visit our page.

Or perhaps you’re interested in finding a hobby that will add a little pizzazz to life.  A hobby (particularly one that can bring in a little extra money) is an excellent way to redirect the mind.

An important part of our elderly health care is to find ways to help relieve the ongoing burdens that cause stress. We have dozens of pages on our web site with helpful hints and more elderly stress activities. Here are a few…

How To Get Happy; Top Hints – When we feel overwhelmed and stressed out we might wonder if we’ll ever get back to being happy again. We’ve discovered lots of expert advice (and some of our own) to share.
Exercise for Seniors – And its links to other pages about t’ai chi for seniors, yoga, and Spring Forest Qigong (one of my favorites). Swimming and walking, as you probably know, are two top, easy ways to exercise. We all know that exercise is one of the best elderly stress activities there is.
Senior Activity Ideas – There are so many more ideas on our web site that can serve as elderly stress activities, so do check out this section too.


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The causes of blindness are many – and there is help.
When Dad started having severe vision loss, I needed to find out what to do. I learned that the causes of blindness can usually be pinpointed. And if it’s found on time, there are treatments and solutions. You may know the number of seniors with loss of vision and eye disease is huge and growing. And it doesn’t just affect the patient.

Blindness is one of the more serious elderly issues. Dad’s problem very much affected our entire family. Not just him.

When our father started losing his vision from macular degeneration, his life and ours suddenly changed. Along with the daily living adjustments came the wondering and worry whether it would be permanent, and just how blind he would become.

At the time Dad’s eye problem was first diagnosed (he think he was in his eighties), there was not much in the way of treatment, including the eye injections. When he came to live with me, the full impact of his serious vision loss hit home. We had to quickly make adjustments and learn about macular degeneration help.

About Macular Degeneration

This condition can do serious damage to the retina that causes loss of vision in the central visual field, the macula. Some eye doctors call this almost epidemic now and in the future. But headway is being made.

When I began taking care of Dad, I started studying in earnest about the causes of blindness and what could be done. He’d had the usual cataract surgery as well, but another family member did not attend to cataracts in a timely manner and had permanent trouble. After many lengthy conversations with his eye specialists, I came to understand about these various causes.

Primary Causes of Blindness

There are four major causes of blindness in the elderly, all of them potentially very serious:
   *  macular degeneration
   *  glaucoma
  *  cataracts
   *  diabetic retinopathy (see below)
This section and the accompanying links below deal with many facts about blindness and loss of vision in baby boomers and elderly people. Because what causes the causes of blindness in the first place?

Other Causes of Blindness

Causes can be hereditary, such as with macular degeneration  Others may stem from separate health problems such as diabetes.

Certain ethnic groups may have more of a tendency toward certain types of blindness. It is reported that blue-eyed Caucasians have higher rates of macular degeneration; whereas, African Americans have higher rates of glaucoma.

Extremely poor nutrition can also cause progressive loss of vision. This can be observed in third-world countries. Some medications may have occular side effects, such as prednisone, which can contribute to cataracts.

And of course, the older we get the higher the risk of any type of blindness, as the eyes weaken and wear out. One eye doctor commented to me that if a person gets old enough, it is very likely that he/she will inevitably develop cataracts.

I once took an informal poll just out of curiosity of about 20 elderly people in a nearby retirement center, aging from in their 70s to 90s. Every single one of them had had cataracts.

Startling Statistics

The statistics on blindness in seniors and loss of vision are astounding. It has been estimated that right now about one out of three Americans (and increasing) over the age of 65 will have some type of more-than-average vision loss. (Will that mean me too? Or you?)

By 2030, the elderly population over age 65 in the U.S. will be around 70 million. This vision loss, of course, is partly due to the aging of baby boomers. It is also expected that the over-85 populations will increase to about 7 million.

These one in every three Americans with some type of vision loss may be “legally blind” by 65; especially by age 85. So this will become even more of a health problem than it is now. Besides the obvious health- and cost-related issues, there is a lessened ability to cope with activities of daily living (known as ADL). Coping with blindness is serious business.  Depression in the elderly from vision loss is therefore also common.

Both the The National Eye Institute and the American Academy of Ophthalmology do recommend that all those over 60 get a full eye exam with dilation yearly. Especially if you have a history of eye disease in your family, as we do in ours — macular degeneration, which is one of the most common forms of blindness.

When Our Eyeballs “Melt”

There are eye changes are a normal part of aging, and not all lead to loss of vision. Nor are they necessarily causes of blindness. As one of our eye doctors explained, the eye is full of a jelly-like substance known as vitreous fluid. As we age, this substance begins to break down.

He compared it to a can of frozen orange juice. When the can of frozen juice begins to melt, it starts to liquefy and pull away from the sides of the can. Our vitreous fluid does much the same. It begins to somewhat liquefy. As this occurs, you may see “floaters” or notice little flashes of light, especially around the outside edges of your vision – your peripheral vision.

These conditions are a normal part of aging. They are not always causes of blindness. Do not panic or assume you are on your way to becoming legally blind. However, if you have any concerns about changes in your vision, do see an eye specialist right away. It can mean the difference in permanent vision loss.

Also check out:

Care of Elderly – Don’t Be Overwhelmed — Get lots of tips and insights about caregiving based on our experiences, as well as possible setbacks that may be faced.

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Is there a correlation between music and mood? You may already know that music can make us healthier. At any age – from babies to boomers to elderly. Get the amazing scoop on why music and Mozart beat the blues and mend the mind and immunity.

Music and Mood Studies

Did you know, for instance…

The Chair of Music Therapy at the University of Michigan, Frederick Tims, Ph.D. (who has also worked with Alzheimers projects at the U. of Miami) conducted a study on over 60 older retirees with varied marital status, gender and ethnicity.

It was called Music Making and Wellness project, and took place over two school semesters, each being 10-week sessions. The seniors specifically studied group keyboard lessons. Health measurements were taken before and after the study.

There was an effect on music and mood. And music and stress. The results demonstrated that those who took the music lessons had significantly improved scores in the areas of depression, anxiety and loneliness. And these, then, improved stress levels, the immune system, and overall health. (Music is always great to use in your elderly activities)!

There have also been recent studies at the Tel Aviv Medical Center in Israel by researcher Dror Mandel and colleague Ronit Lubetzky, and published in the January issue of the Pediatrics journal.

The studies were conducted on premature babies who significantly calmed down after listened to Mozart. The calming effect decreased their expenditure of energy, which decreased their need for calories, which caused better weight gain and ability to thrive.

Music and mood is not the only factor. Music is known to decrease stress and heart rate, and increase the amount of important oxygen levels in blood.

But why Mozart? Mandel explains that Mozart melodies are repetitive, including specific frequencies, and effect certain brain centers. Previous Mozart studies in the 1990s with college students resulted in improvement in performance for those who participated.

Activity Ideas

Whether Mozart, keyboard, or other types, music is a great way to bring a group together, and enhance gatherings and activities. And it cheers you up. Just about any ability level can participate in music, even those who may have other activity restrictions.

For instance, those who are severely hearing impaired can often still hear or sense beat. Drumming can be a satisfying alternative for them vs. traditional music. My father pointed out to me as his hearing decreased that although he could not hear many frequencies and sounds, he could “hear” beat.

Playing chimes the easy way — It’s a fantastic way of making music, plus having fun and socializing. It’s soothing and satisfying. We had a guest writer share tips and ideas about how to create music the simple way, without having to read music, or practice, or have talent. One of our activity consultant friends has played chimes herself and says it’s great either alone or with a group. Excellent for kids and families to do together too. See tips at Simple Elderly Music with Chimes.

Music also encourages one of the funnest ways to exercise – dance! – even if just moving or tapping feet, or swaying arms from a chair. Sit-down dancing, as it is sometimes called.

Music is an excellent activity to include within other activities, such as parties, and can become part of the overall theme. And if you bring in professional dancers or kids’ dance groups to perform (especially anything lively) you can almost bet you’ll get participants rocking and tapping. Great way to mix music and mood.

Parties – For fun senior activity ideas – Try a luau, a western theme, back to the ‘30s or ‘40s or ‘50s, a polka band, jazz fest, waltzing, anything that suits your group. And form a party or dinner around it, even if casual. Even have an all-out “prom” – very popular at any age. (See our great party theme ideas.) Get as many outside groups, bands, kids, performers to come as you can (in costume especially). Just the anticipation of a musical evening begins to lift the mood in advance.

So find ways to regularly get music going in your life and get grooving. Also perfect for those sluggish about exercise!

Be sure to also read:

Senior Activity Ideas — A nice variety of senior activity ideas for those with more mobility or a higher ability level. Some great to do alone, or in groups. And with music!
Elderly Activities — Have some fun! A wide range of activities, including for those who may need more help. Includes indoors, outdoors, games, food projects, crafts.
Creative Elderly Stress Activities — Activities especially for those who are stressed (and not just for the elderly!) I really needed help with this for my Dad, so these are some of our favorites.
Elderly Games For Fun and Function — Elderly games are excellent for exercising those “mental muscles” and stimulating memory, focus, cognitive skills, plus relieving stress and worry.

to Elderly Health Care