6 Tips for Hiring the Right Home Care Agency

6 Tips for Hiring the Right Home Care Agency

With all the traveling, shopping and baking, the holiday season can quickly become overwhelming. We certainly know the feeling. That is why we want to take some time out of this busy month and say thank you to all the hospice and home care workers.

Before Thanksgiving, we started our blog series discussing National Family Caregivers Month, this week we are exploring the history and importance behind National Home Care and Hospice Month.

National Home Care and Hospice month, founded by the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC), is a nationally celebrated month dedicated to raising awareness about the highest quality care for all people coping with life-limiting illness.

According to statistics reported by the NAHC, nearly 1.6 million people with a life limiting illness receive care from hospice and palliative care providers in the United States each year. In 2014, these services were provided by roughly 12,400 home health care agencies. That means each agency helped an average of roughly 400 patients each year.

That may not seem like a lot, but when you consider all the time it takes to provide quality care and training, it truly is amazing.

To help in raising awareness of these amazing services that Wiser Home Care and many other Home Care agencies provide, we have gathered 6 tips for finding and hiring the home care agency that best fits you and your loved one’s needs.

Know What Your Needs Are
Each home care agency is unique and offers unique services. Before you even begin your search, it will be helpful to know exactly what type of care you will need. This will help narrow down your search.

Here at Wiser Home Care, we offer:

  • Companion Care
  • Personal Care
  • Disease and Dementia Care
  • Respite Care
  • End of Life Care

Work with an Agency
We know it can be tempting to hire a home caregiver directly, instead of going through an agency, but it can be dangerous. While hiring them directly may save you money, you will be tasked with all the responsibilities of an employer, i.e. hiring, firing, background checks, certification checks, oversight and more. The last thing you need when you are faced with having to hire home care services is more work.

When you work with an agency, the agency will cover finding a qualified caregiver that is a good match for your needs and they will have backup care in case something happens. It protects you and your loved one.

Do Your Research
Even if you hire a caregiver through an agency, it is your right and duty to request that the agency provides background and certification check guarantees. This will provide you peace of mind that your loved one is getting the best care.

Another great question to ask a potential agency, is about what kind of continuing education and training they provide their caregivers. After all, you can’t provide the best care unless you stay sharp.

Meet and Greet
Before you come to a final caregiver decision, you should ask the agency to introduce you and your loved one to the caregiver. Sometimes they seem great on paper, but face-to-face it could prove to be a bad match. If it is a bad match, don’t worry, the agency will find another caregiver for you. Once you find a caregiver that is a good match, ask for their references.

Have the Money Talk
Before you agree to an agency or caregiver, make sure you discuss billing procedures and get it all squared away. Private medical insurance and Medicaid often only cover certain types of care so it is better to be aware of that before you have any billing surprises.

Develop a Care Plan
Every step in this process is critical, but quite possibly the most important step is developing a comprehensive care plan with the agency and caregiver you decide to hire. This plan will outline all the tasks the caregiver is expected to complete as well as how the agency will track the progress and completion of each care step and make sure that nothing is overlooked.

We know that hiring a caregiver/ home care agency is extremely stressful. Please do not hesitate to contact us. We will answer any questions you have and be more than happy to guide you through each step of the process.

7 Ways for Family Caregivers to Recharge

7 Ways for Family Caregivers to Recharge

Two weeks in and it has already been an unforgettable November with Donald Trump being named the President Elect. Host to Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving, November is often the kickoff of the holiday season. For caregivers, the busy-ness of November doesn’t stop there though. In fact, November is host to National Family Caregivers Month, National Home Care and Hospice Month and National Long Term Care Month.

As you may have guessed, caregivers and caregiving hold a special place in our heart, so in the next few weeks we will be blogging on the history and importance of each of these Nationwide celebrations and awareness campaigns starting with National Family Caregivers Month.

The History
To raise awareness of and thank Family Caregivers, on Oct. 31 of this year, President Obama made the official proclamation of November being National Family Caregivers month.

In a press release announcing his decision, President Obama praised caregivers for their unselfish work and reaffirmed our nationwide “support for those who give of themselves to be there for their family, friends, and neighbors in challenging times, and we pledge to carry forward the progress we have made in our health care system and workplaces to give caregivers the resources and flexibility they need.”

The Numbers
Per statistics, more than 65 million Americans provide care for a friend or loved one. On top of normal responsibilities and jobs, this care consumes on average an additional 20 hours per week. As you can imagine, this added responsibility puts a strain on finances. In fact, family caregivers are 2.5 times more likely to live in poverty and 5 times more likely to receive supplemental security income.

Furthermore, the Center for Disease Control reports that over 35% of caregivers find it difficult to find time for themselves and 29% of caregivers have trouble balancing physical and emotional stress. In addition, the prolonged stress of caregiving has caused nearly 23% of caregivers to report poor health for at least 5 years after taking care of a loved one.

The statistics don’t lie. There is nothing easy about caregiving. It is often a long, difficult journey but the reward of taking care of our loved ones is why we do it. That is why raising awareness and support for Family Caregivers is so important.

The theme for this year’s National Family Caregivers month is “Take Care to Give Care,” because, to be effective caregivers, we must first take care of ourselves.

To help you take care of yourself, we have compiled a list of 7 self-care tips you can do to prevent caregiver burnout and provide your loved one with the best care.

Stress Management
From doctor’s appointments to cooking, cleaning and physical care, caring for a loved one is undoubtedly extremely stressful. Making sure you are managing your stress in a healthy manner will help you take better care of your loved one. Exercise, sleep, quiet time, soothing music and breathing exercises are all great ways to reduce stress.

Make Yourself a Priority
When caring for a loved one it is natural to put all your effort in their care. In fact, many family caregivers get burned out because they operate under the false assumption that caring for themselves would be selfish. It couldn’t be further from the truth. Having some “you-time” is another way you can ensure that you are replenished enough to care for your loved one. Remember: you can’t pour from an empty cup.

Don’t Fall Behind in Your Own Work
Many family caregivers also have part- or full-time jobs to help pay the bills at home or for the loved one. It is important to stay up with your own work so that you don’t risk losing your job. If finances do become an issue, there are several assistance services available to help shoulder the load.

Go Out with Friends
Maintaining outside friendships is important to keeping your sanity as a caregiver. Maybe have a set friend date once a week or every other week. Having someone to vent to and share your stress with will go a long way in increasing the quality of your care.

Do Something Fun Everyday
Read a funny blog, go see a movie or go out to do something. Make sure you are taking time every day to do something fun to break up the monotony of being a family caregiver.

Know Your Limits and Ask for Help
We all have our limits, when we go beyond them is when we are asking for trouble. Don’t feel ashamed to ask for help whenever you need it. In the end of the day, if you ask for help, it will be better for both you and your loved one.

Wiser Home Care Can Help
Whether you need a couple hours out of the house or a full night of sleep, our Respite Care Service will be there for you so that you can recharge.

Our respite care services give you a chance to leave home knowing that your loved one is with a professional, well-trained caregiver. Setting up respite care is easy, it can be a few hours a week to run errands, or 24-hour care so you can take a vacation or go on a business trip.

Please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to help you set up a comprehensive care plan for your loved one and answer any questions you may have.

8 Elderly Election Day Tips

8 Elderly Election Day Tips

It only happens once every 4 years, and the moment that has been building in anticipation over the last year is almost here. That’s right, it is almost the United States Election Day. This election season, the official presidential election day is on Tuesday November 8.

Considering the increasing popularity of social media and the unique candidates, this election season has certainly been an interesting one. There have been hundreds of thousands of posts and blogs written on this subject.

We thought it would be appropriate to explore election day tips for our elderly loved ones. Even though they have partaken in a number of elections in the past, a refresher course on election day tips can help ensure the voting process goes smoothly.

Your Vote Counts
We live in an amazing country where we enjoy many freedoms, including that of voting. Sure, you may think that a single vote may not help, but it does.

According to a survey conducted by the United States Election Project, nearly 55% of all eligible US Citizens over the age of 65 will be voting in the 2016 Election Season. While this is the highest voter turnout for any age demographic, we can’t stress enough how important it is to cast your vote.

Make Sure You’re Registered
To ensure you have a chance to vote, make sure you are registered. This website provides a list of state election officials. If you are unsure you are registered to vote, simply contact the official and they will let you know.

Marco Polo Election Edition
Do you know where to vote? If you haven’t already mailed in your ballot, make sure you know where you can vote locally before election day. Click this link and Google can help you find the closest place, based on where you are registered to vote.

Leave Your Party Pin and Shirt at Home
Many voting stations do not allow you to wear campaign clothes to vote. So make sure you dress neutrally on election day. In addition, make sure your elderly loved one is dressed appropriately for the weather and possibly long waits.

Bring a Valid ID
In order to vote, many states require you to have a non-expired photo id with your name on it. If you are unsure of what is an accepted form of ID in your elderly loved one’s state, you can check here.

Give Yourself Plenty of Time
Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get to your local voting agency. Take into account traffic, agency hours and high voter turnout times. Many voting experts recommend voting in the mid-morning and early afternoon if you want to avoid a bunch of other voters.

Report Issues
If you are suspicious of voter fraud or potential tampering, make sure you report your suspicions to the Election Protection agency. Their number is 866.OUR.VOTE.

Be Courteous
Finally, be courteous to loved ones and others who may be voting for your opposing candidate. Democracy is one of the many things that makes America a great place to live.

If you have an elderly loved one who needs help getting to a voting agency, Wiser Home Care Services can help. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

The Ultimate Guide to Preventing Elderly Financial Abuse

The Ultimate Guide to Preventing Elderly Financial Abuse

As of 2014 the entire Baby Boomer generation is over the age of 50. Surpassing this milestone means that people over the age of 50 control 70% of the wealth in the United States.

The increasing age of wealth has also resulted in an increase in elderly financial abuse. A 2011 study conducted by MetLife found that elderly financial abuse costs our elderly loved ones nearly $2.9 billion annually. This calculates out to approximately $30,000 per elder fraud victim.

Since it is National Financial Planning Month, we thought it would be appropriate to discuss elderly financial planning and issues related to elderly finances. In our last blog, we discussed six ways adult children can start the financial planning conversation with their elderly loved ones. This week we want to address the growing trend of elderly financial abuse and exploitation.

Before we start exploring ways to stop elder financial abuse, we should first explain what it entails. Elderly financial abuse spans a broad range of conduct including:

  • Taking money or property
  • Scams that aim to take money
  • Forging senior signatures
  • Forcing an elderly person to sign over deeds, titles, etc.
  • Using elderly property/belongings without permission

While defining elderly financial abuse is easy, the tricky and difficult part is detecting it. Often when an elderly loved one falls victim to financial exploitation they may have no idea, or they may be too ashamed to tell you. Here are some things, as a loved one, you can keep an eye out for:

  • Sudden disappearance of valuable objects
  • Increased withdrawals or check usage
  • A new best friend
  • Signatures on checks that look different
  • A name added to a bank account
  • Fear of caregivers

Now that we know what elderly financial abuse is and what to look for, let’s explore how to prevent it. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take with your elderly loved one to protect them from experiencing financial exploitation.

Cut the Spam
While this might not completely prevent a fraudulent salesman, adding your loved one’s number to the national Do Not Call registry will certainly help lower the amount of sales calls they get.

2 Sets of Eyes is Better Than 1
It is important to have someone trust-worthy, who is close to the senior, appointed as a bank account overseer. They can make sure there isn’t any suspicious activity, and stop it before it gets too far. You can also do this with limited credit cards.

Track Their Credit
Your elderly loved one should order a copy of their credit report at least once a year to make sure there have been no fraudulent accounts opened.

Background Checks
Before hiring anyone to help with your elderly loved one, check their references and credentials.

Visit Frequently
Don’t be a stranger. Not only will your elderly loved one enjoy the company, it is good to check in and make sure everything is the way it should be.

Get a Second Opinion
Before your elderly loved one signs any documents it is important to have them looked over by a financial advisor or an attorney. This will ensure they aren’t getting themselves into something they shouldn’t. Finally, don’t ever rush them into a decision.

Sometimes, despite everything you do, your elderly loved one may fall victim to financial exploitation. If this happens, have your elderly loved one speak with an attorney and police officer. After they file a police report they should also contact Adult Protective Services for additional help and support.

Six Ways to Start the Elderly Financial Planning Conversation

A person’s true colors show when money is involved. Unfortunately, more times than not, those colors are not flattering. Money is quite possibly one of the main reasons people argue, get divorced and ruin relationships.

Due to these reasons, it is no surprise that speaking about personal finances with others is often seen as a taboo subject. When it comes to our elderly loved ones, it is important to have an open and healthy discussion about personal financial planning and saving.

Not only is it critical to have a financial plan for the future, elderly financial exploitation is becoming an increasingly common form of elder abuse, and it is important to protect your elderly loved one from it.

Since October is National Financial Planning month, we thought it would be a fitting time to explore the topics of elderly financial planning and safeguards against financial exploitation.

According to statistics compiled by the National Council on Aging, there are currently more than 25 million Americans over the age of 60 that live at or below the federal poverty level ($29,425 annually per person. On average, elderly receive approximately $433 each month in social security benefits. That’s not a lot.

Even worse, studies have found that “22% of married Social Security recipients and 47% of single recipients aged 65+ depend on Social Security for 90% or more of their income.”

Considering a majority of elderly live on a tight income, it is more important than ever for them to have a solid financial plan to help stretch their budget as far as possible.

We know that starting the conversation regarding financial planning can be tough, but the longer you wait, the tougher it will be. Here are a couple of good ways you can ease your elderly loved one into the conversation:

Tell An Anecdote
Telling an anecdote about another elderly person’s financial issues whether true or fabricated, is a good way to get the conversation going. You could also talk about your personal finances in an effort to break the ice, or bring up “what-if” scenarios.

Enlist the Help of Your Siblings
It is no secret that some siblings have a closer relationship to mom and dad than others. Before starting the conversation with your elderly loved one, build a plan with your siblings. It is usually smart to have the sibling with the closest parental relationship start the conversation then have the other siblings follow in with support.

Beat Around the Bush
Instead of coming out and asking directly about your elderly loved one’s financial plans, ask about what their plans are for the future. When they would like to retire, where would they like to live, do they plan on moving to a retirement community. This will get them thinking about the future and show them that you are interested in helping plan.

The Lending Tree
At first, we recommend you only asking your loved ones if you can lend them a hand with stuff around the house. Maybe there is a chore or errand you could run for them that would help them out. Eventually, you can ask if there’s any other ways you can help such as monetarily. For example, many families share cell phone plans. This not only lowers the cost but also ensures they have a phone for safety.

It’s Awkward but It’s Necessary
We know that it will likely be awkward to talk with your parents about their finances, but this is necessary. It is better to have a plan than be caught off guard in an emergency. The process of financial planning takes a lot of time, and well, planning. Often there are tons of documents that may be kept in secret places. The least amount of surprises, the better.

Don’t Know Where to Start?
If you are still feeling uncomfortable with having the talk, enlisting a professional to help can be the best route. Feel free to contact us, and we can help you find an elderly financial planning professional in your area.

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.

How-To Manage and Prevent Diabetic Retinopathy

It seems like June was just yesterday, but now we are at the end of August. It’s simply amazing how fast the Summer months go by. The end of August means the end of another successful National Eye Exam month. Although National Eye exam month is quickly coming to an end, it doesn’t mean we are done raising awareness of the prevalence of eye diseases and how to prevent our elderly loved ones from suffering from them.

Throughout the month of August, the Wiser Home Care Services blog has covered two of the four leading eye diseases amongst the elderly. As we continue our series this week, we will scour through the causes, treatment and prevention of Diabetic Retinopathy.

Diabetic Retinopathy(DR), a diabetic complication that affects eyes, is caused by chronically high blood sugar levels that, with time, damages the blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. The disease can cause blood vessels in the eye to leak blood and blur vision.

According to a study conducted from 1990-2010, Diabetic Retinopathy was the leading cause of vision loss in adults aged 20-74 years old. Furthermore, the study found that diabetic retinopathy is the fifth most common cause of preventable blindness in the world. In 2010, by the end of the 20-year study, there was an estimated 285 million people worldwide with diabetes and over 1/3 of these people had signs of developing Diabetic Retinopathy.

The Risk
Diabetic Retinopathy only effects people who suffer from diabetes (Type 1, 2 and gestational), and the longer someone has diabetes the higher their risk of suffering from it are. In addition, high blood pressure, cholesterol and tobacco use will increase the risk of suffering from DR.

The Symptoms
Much like any other form of eye disease, the early stages of diabetic retinopathy go virtually unnoticed. In fact, many cases aren’t discovered until the retinal bleeding causes ‘floating spots’ and blurry vision. In addition to blurry vision, those who suffer from DR will also likely experience:

  • Spots or dark strings in their vision
  • Fluctuating vision
  • Impaired color vision
  • Empty areas in their vision

Doctor’s Orders
Once you have DR, treatment for the disease is focused on slowing and stopping the progression of the disease rather than reversing its effects. In the early stages of the disease, the doctor will simply ask the sufferer to maintain healthy blood sugar levels in an effort to slow the progression of the disease.

Once the disease has progressed into mild and severe stages, the doctor will order a surgery immediately to slow and stop any further progression of the disease. There are three different surgeries depending on the specific problems with your retina:

  1. Focal Laser Treatment- Slows or stops the leaking of blood and fluid in the eye.
  2. Scatter Laser Treatment- Shrinks the abnormal blood vessels in an effort to stop vision impairment.
  3. Vitrectomy- The surgeon will make a tiny incision in the eye to remove blood from the middle of the eye.

Although these methods are known to slow or stop the progression of the disease, the victim will likely still suffer from some form of vision loss. Unfortunately, since diabetes is a life-long disease, they will remain at risk of developing DR again.

If you care for an elderly loved one who suffers from Diabetic Retinopathy, 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.

6 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Cataracts

6 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Cataracts

It all started as an idea to raise awareness of eye disease and increase patient visits to the eye doctor. Twenty-seven years later National Eye Exam month is going strong with thousands of ophthalmologists across the United States promoting eye health and safety to their patients.

To do our part in raising awareness for eye health, we started a blog series exploring the four leading eye diseases. We began our series exploring how to lower you and your loved one’s risk of contracting Age-Related Macular Degeneration(AMD). This week our blog will explore the eye health topic of cataracts.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, more than 24.4 million Americans over the age of 40 suffer from cataracts. Furthermore, by the age of 75 nearly half of all Americans have cataracts. In addition, 42% of blindness worldwide is caused by cataracts.

When you consider that nearly 2.1 million Americans over the age of 50 suffer from AMD, you can start to see how prevalent of an issue cataracts are among our elderly loved ones.

Now that you have an idea of the prevalence of cataracts, what are they?

As defined by the National Eye Institute, a cataract is “a clouding of the lens that affects vision.” The ‘lens’ is the clear part of the eye that helps focus light on the retina. While cataracts can occur in either or both eyes, it cannot ‘spread’ from one eye to the other.

Show me your sign
Unfortunately, with cataracts there are very few symptoms. Since cataracts are not inherently painful, the only real symptom is gradual vision loss in the form of blurry vision, night blindness or glares. You or your elderly loved one will probably also notice that over time you will need stronger and stronger glasses.

The Prevention Plan
Even though cataracts are hard to detect, there are several steps you can take in your daily routines to help lower you and your loved one’s risk of developing cataracts. These steps include:

  • Wear sunglasses that block UV penetration
  • Be careful to manage illnesses like diabetes, since complications from these can result in cataracts
  • Eat a diet rich in Vitamin C and beta carotene
  • Always wear protective goggles when the situation calls for it, since cataracts can develop due to an injury to the eye
  • Have regular eye exams
  • Limit your smoking and alcohol use

I have cataracts, now what do I do?
If the cataract is caught early on, your ophthalmologist will likely recommend a stronger pair of eyeglasses. These glasses generally help by reducing glare and magnifying the focus of your eyes.

If glasses do not work, your vision loss starts to interfere with your daily activities or the cataract is preventing the examination or treatment of another eye problem then you will need surgery. During the surgery, the surgeon will remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial one.

If you care for an elderly loved one who suffers from cataracts 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.

The Caregiver's Guide to Age-related Macular Degeneration

The Caregiver’s Guide to Age-related Macular Degeneration

Being close to the end of the Summer, August is typically known for its consistently hot and dry days but for the last 27 years, it has also become synonymously known as National Eye Exam Month.

Considering the danger to eyes of the sun’s UV rays, in 1989 Sears Optical founded National Eye Exam month in an effort to raise awareness of the importance of eye health and safety. The idea quickly took off and today ophthalmologists all across the nation promote eye health throughout the month of August.

Like many illnesses and diseases, the risk of vision problems significantly increases the older we get and catching it early on greatly increases your chance of solving them. A recent study found that 6.5 million Americans over the age of 65 suffer from severe visual impairment. Furthermore, it is predicted that by 2030 these rates will more than double.

Even if you feel like you have strong vision, experts recommend that once you are over the age of 40 you should have your vision checked every 2-4 years. In addition, once you are over the age of 65, they recommend every 1-2 years.

A study conducted by Prevent Blindness America, a national volunteer eye health and safety organization, found that the four leading eye diseases affecting older Americans are: age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.

Over the next few weeks, we will explore in depth each of the eye diseases and how you can help lower you and your loved one’s risk of contracting them. This week we will discuss macular degeneration.

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of impaired vision among people over the age of 50.  According to the National Eye Institute, the condition damages “the macula, a small spot near the center of the retina and the part of the eye needed for sharp, central vision, which lets us see objects that are straight ahead.” While AMD does not cause complete blindness, many AMD sufferers must rely on peripheral vision. This can greatly interfere with everyday activities.

As the name suggests, AMD generally happens in people over the age of 60. However, it is possible for AMD to occur earlier if your loved one has any of these qualifying risk factors:

  • Smoking can double their risk of AMD
  • Race- Caucasians are more likely to suffer from AMD than other races
  • Genetics

Although it may be unavoidable for some, there are several lifestyle changes you and your elderly loved one can make to lower the risk of contracting AMD. To lower you or your elderly loved one’s risk, you should consider quitting smoking, exercising regularly, maintain normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels and eat a healthy diet rich in green veggies and fish.

What to Keep an Eye Out For

There are three stages to Age-related Macular Degeneration: early, intermediate and late. According to health professionals, Age-related Macular Degeneration usually starts without symptoms and the only way to detect it, is with a comprehensive dilated eye exam.

If you have Age-related Macular Degeneration, the doctor will be able to determine what stage you are in based on the size and number of drusen under the retina.

How to Treat AMD

Unfortunately, there are currently no treatments for early stage AMD. However, researchers at the National Eye Institute have found that nutritional supplements can help protect against intermediate AMD.

If you care for an elderly loved one who suffers from AMD 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.