Monthly Archives: September 2016

Vestibular Disorder: Is Your Head Spinning? We Can Help.

Thanks to Starbucks, even though Fall doesn’t technically start until the end of September, as soon as the clock strikes midnight on September 1, it is Pumpkin spice everywhere. This year, Fall officially starts on Thursday September 22.

Not only is this week home to the first day of Fall, but it is also National Balance Awareness week. National Balance Awareness week was founded by the Vestibular Disorders Association with the goal of informing people about the symptoms of vestibular disorders in an effort to quicken diagnosis and treat people more efficiently.

You may be wondering, what is a Vestibular disorder? According to the Seattle Dizzy Group, the word “vestibular” refers to the inner ear balance system. These disorders typically start out with symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo and disequilibrium.

It is estimated that over 1/3 of all Americans over the age of 40 have experienced symptoms relating to a vestibular disorder at one time or another.

If experiencing vestibular disorder symptoms isn’t bad enough, sufferers are also at a higher risk of experiencing a fall as a result of dizziness. This is especially dangerous for our elderly loved ones.

Why is a simple fall so dangerous? Well, according to statistics released by the NCOA, “every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall, and every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.” Furthermore, falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of non-fatal trauma as well.

So what can you do to help reduce your elderly loved one’s risk of experiencing a vestibular disorder? The first step is to understand the causes of imbalance and dizziness as we age. Some of these causes are below:

  • Impaired inner ear function
  • Poor cardiovascular health
  • Neurological disease
  • Arthritis
  • Mental status
  • Poor nutrition
  • Bad vision

While all of these can cause imbalance and dizziness, the most common cause is inner ear problems. In the inner ear, there are special nerves that detect the position and movement of the head, as well as the direction of gravity. As we age, these nerve cells decrease in number and can eventually lead to dizziness, imbalance and a full-blown vestibular disorder.

Be vigilant, and once you or your elderly loved one starts experiencing dizziness or imbalance, head straight to the doctor for a proper checkup. If you catch it early enough many of the causes of dizziness, imbalance and vestibular disorders can be treated and/or diminished with simple lifestyle changes.

During the checkup, the doctor will determine what the root cause of the imbalance is by asking questions regarding medications, what symptoms are being experienced and checking for any balance muscle weaknesses. Once finished, the doctor will determine a long-term care plan and you and your loved one will be on the road to recovery.

Do you know someone who is already suffering from a Vestibular Disease? We can help. If you would like to sit down with us and develop an extensive care plan for your loved one, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Glaucoma Treatment and Prevention Tips

We have blogged a lot lately about senior eye health and the prevalence of eye diseases amongst the elderly. As caregivers we help a lot of patients who suffer from vision loss due to eye disease, and a majority of them regret not catching it sooner.

Our goal here at Wiser Home Care Services is to not only help seniors in need, but raise awareness of age-related illnesses so that we can help seniors prevent these diseases.

As we mentioned in the first blog of our series, there are four common eye diseases that affect older Americans. These eye diseases include: age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. This week, as we wrap up our mini-series, we will cover the topic of the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide: glaucoma.

What is Glaucoma?
As defined by the Bright Focus Foundation, Glaucoma is a “group of eye disorders that have few symptoms in their early stages but eventually lead to damage of the optic nerve, which can lead to vision loss or complete blindness.”

Glaucoma comes in two main forms: open angle and angle closure. The most common, affecting nearly 95% of individuals, is open-angle. This type of Glaucoma has no symptoms and over time will affect peripheral vision, ultimately leading to complete blindness.

The less common form, angle closure, also comes in two forms: acute and chronic. Acute angle closure takes place when “the normal flow of aqueous humor between the iris and the lens is suddenly blocked.” Chronic angle closure is similar to open angle glaucoma in the sense that it happens slowly without any symptoms and leads to vision loss.

Give Me the Numbers
Currently, there are approximately 3 million Americans who suffer from glaucoma with 90% of these people over the age of 40. Expanding globally, experts predict that due to the world’s aging population, by the year 2020 almost 80 million people will be suffering from glaucoma.

According to brightfocus.org, the disease costs the US economy over $2.86 Billion each year in direct costs and productivity losses.

Am I at Risk?
From infants to seniors, everyone is at risk of suffering from Glaucoma. However, our elderly loved ones are at a higher risk than everyone else. Furthermore, African Americans are 15 times more likely to suffer from blindness caused by Glaucoma than any other race.

What Can I Do to Prevent My Chances of Glaucoma?
The most important thing you and your elderly loved one should do is have regular eye exams. Like any disease, the earlier Glaucoma is detected, the better the outcome for the sufferer will be. In addition, a thorough understanding of potential risk factors will go a long way in helping stave off the effects of Glaucoma. Potential risk factors include:

  • High eye pressure
  • Family history
  • Age and Race
  • Thin corneas
  • Severe near-sightedness
  • High blood pressure
  • High use of corticosteroids

I have Glaucoma, what are my options?
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for Glaucoma. With that being said, there are several treatment options available to help lower the effects of the disease. For Glaucoma in the early stages, eye doctors generally recommend a treatment of eye drops and sometimes pills.

If the Glaucoma worsens, then your doctor will may suggest incisional or laser surgery. However, these surgeries are usually only for younger Glaucoma patients.

If you care for an elderly loved one who suffers from Glaucoma and would like help caring for or developing an extensive care plan, we can help. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.