Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Just as the rest of our body starts to change as we age, so do our eyes. By the age of 65, approximately one person in three has some form of vision-reducing eye disease. As we get older, our pupils get smaller, making them less responsive to variations in light, and our eyes become less flexible, making it harder to focus on near objects. The lens of the eye gradually yellows with age, affecting our color perception.
Scientists are discovering other effects of aging eyes. Recent research shows that the gradual yellowing of the lens and the narrowing of the pupil disturb the body’s circadian rhythm, contributing to a range of health problems (“Aging of Eyes Is Blamed for Range of Health Woes,” (New York Times). As the eyes age, less sunlight gets through the lens to reach key cells in the retina that regulate the body’s circadian rhythm. This internal clock relies on light to function properly, and studies have found that people whose circadian rhythms are out of sync are at greater risk for health issues, including insomnia, heart disease, cancer, memory loss, slower reaction time and even depression.
We can easily remedy some aging eye issues, such as low vision, with solutions as simple as eyeglasses or contacts. Other ailments can be more serious, leading to blindness if not treated. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of severe visual impairment. Other vision-threatening diseases are glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy.
The good news is that there are various ways to treat eye problems, from eating certain foods to getting surgery. One of the best preventive measures is to get regular eye exams, as many eye diseases don’t have early warning signs or symptoms that you may notice, but an eye doctor can detect.
Eye Diseases to Take Seriously
Certain eye disease can cause severe vision loss and, if not treated, blindness.
Age-related macular degeneration: AMD causes damage to the macula, a small spot near the center of the retina and the part of the eye needed for sharp, central vision. The macula lets us see objects that are straight ahead. As AMD progresses, a common symptom is a blurred area near the center of our vision. Although AMD does not lead to complete blindness, the loss of central vision can interfere with simple everyday activities such as the ability to see faces, drive, read, write, cook or fix things around the house.
Currently, no treatment exists for the early stages of AMD, which often produce no symptoms. In later stages, when blurring becomes noticeable, researchers have found that a daily intake of certain high-dose vitamins and minerals can slow progression of the disease. In advanced cases, with severe vision loss, several therapies can slow the disease: drug injections, laser treatment and, less common, laser surgery.
Preventive measures include regular exercise, normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and a diet rich in green, leafy vegetables and fish. Antioxidants, including beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, protect the macula from sun damage.
Glaucoma: A result of too much fluid pressure inside the eye, glaucoma can lead to vision loss and blindness if not treated. Because glaucoma doesn’t exhibit early symptoms or pain, the best way to protect yourself is by having regular eye exams. If vision loss has already occurred, prescription eye drops, laser treatments or surgery can slow or prevent further vision loss. Although treatment, which focuses on lowering pressure in your eye, often starts with medicated eyedrops, research has shown that approximately 40 percent of patients do not take their glaucoma medications as prescribed, or do not continue to refill them. For treating glaucoma, experts recommend a healthy diet; regular exercise, which can reduce eye pressure in some forms of glaucoma; limiting caffeine, which can increase your eye pressure; and moderately drinking fluids.
Cataracts: Clouding of the lens that helps to focus light, or an image, on the retina is common in older people. By age 80, more than half of Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery. Age-related cataracts can dull or blur vision because the clear lens becomes yellowish or brownish. In addition, cataract patients may experience fading colors, glares around lights, double vision and trouble seeing at night.
Beyond aging, risk factors for cataracts include diabetes, smoking, alcohol use and prolonged exposure to sunlight. To delay the onset of cataracts, experts recommend wearing sunglasses and a hat with a brim to block ultraviolet sunlight. Good nutrition is also important: green leafy vegetables, fruit and other foods with antioxidants, especially vitamin C. In cataracts’ early stages, new eyeglasses, brighter lighting, anti-glare sunglasses or magnifying lenses can help your vision; otherwise, surgery is the only effective treatment and involves replacing the cloudy lens with an artificial lens.
Diabetic eye disease: The most common form of eye disease that results from diabetes complications is diabetic retinopathy, which occurs when diabetes damages the tiny blood vessels inside the retina. Because diabetic eye disease has no warning signs, finding and treating the disease early, before it causes vision loss or blindness, is the best way to control it. The preventive measures are the same you would use to control diabetes: medications, healthy weight, physical activity and controlling your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol.
Easily Treatable Eye Problems
While less serious vision ailments will not cause blindness, they can interfere with your daily life.
Low vision: People who have a hard time seeing—even with regular glasses, contact lenses, medicine or surgery—have low vision. Ordinary activities like reading the mail, shopping, cooking and seeing the TV can be challenging. Low vision is usually caused by eye injuries, birth defects or eye diseases such as AMD or glaucoma. Although it cannot be restored, low vision can be managed with proper treatment and “vision rehabilitation,” which includes adaptive devices and home modifications. Special tools can assist people with low vision read, write and manage daily tasks. Aids may include large-print reading materials, magnifiers, closed-circuit televisions and computers with large print and talking functions.
Dry eye: Poorly functioning tear glands especially affect aging women. Itching, burning or discomfort can make it more difficult to perform activities such as using a computer or reading for an extended period. For relief from dry eyes, experts recommend a home humidifier, special eye drops (artificial tears) or ointments.
Floaters: Most eye “cobwebs” are caused by small flecks of a protein called collagen, whose fibers shrink and shred over time. Most of the time people learn to live with these benign floaters, which often disappear over months or years. Although they are a normal part of aging, floaters are sometimes a sign of a more serious eye problem such as retinal detachment. If you see numerous new floaters and/or flashes of light, see your eye care professional right away. This is a medical emergency.
Tearing: Having your eyes tear may be caused by sensitivity to light, wind or temperature changes, or having dry eyes. Wearing sunglasses may help, as may eye drops. Sometimes tearing is a sign of a more serious eye problem, like an infection or a blocked tear duct.
“Age-Related Eye Diseases,” National Eye Institute
“Aging And Your Eyes,” National Institute on Aging
“The Aging Eye: See into Your Future,” Sharecare.com
“Glaucoma Eye Drops Prevent Vision Loss — But Only if Patients Use Them,” Glaucoma Research Foundation
“Facts About Age-Related Macular Degeneration,” National Eye Institute
“Macular Degeneration,” Medline Plus
“Treatments and drugs,” Mayo Clinic
“What is low vision?” National Eye Institute
To read more from this article, visit http://www.csa.us/freeresources/healthcarelibrary/envisioning-better-sight-for-aging-eyes/.
Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
The CSA Journal is a quarterly publication that provides valuable and practical knowledge directly applicable to Certified Senior Advisors (CSAs). The Journal publishes original and challenging articles that make a contribution to theory, empirical research, and evidence-based practices aimed at improving the lives of seniors and the skills and knowledge of CSAs.
Specifically, SCSA wants Journal articles that help CSAs:
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
The same is true with your retirement plans. It’s not the big things that are going to cause you problems, but the little ones that are not addressed.
The problem as I see it is a lot of retirees only focus on their money and forget to deal with all the other things that can cause major problems down the road. Beneficiaries not right, Medical Power of Attorney not in place, wills or Revocable Living Trust not the way you want them, just to mention a few.
It is so important that when you are working with an advisor that they do a complete review, not just on your money, but a tax review, as well as an estate review. And last but not least, make sure you have a plan for Long Term Care. You notice I did not say an insurance policy. If you have long term insurance that is great but there are other ways that you can protect yourself. Just make sure you have a plan.
As a Certified Senior Advisor, I have gained a lot of knowledge on how to deal with these problems.
Now go take care of all of those mosquito bites!
Blackston Advisory Financial Group
P: 352-633-9046 | F: 352-633-9043 | A: 8564 CR466 Suite 306 | The Villages, Fl 32162 david.blackston@blackstonf
Friday, January 17, 2014
Identity theft can happen at any time to anyone. Thieves are very creative and are always looking for new methods to access personal information for their own gain. The information thieves are looking for is not always clear – some things are obvious like Social Security numbers, others are not, like family relationships and insight on your personal life.
Here are 10 important tips to follow for preventing ID theft
1. Only carry what you need - leave extra credit cards, checks and documentation with sensitive information (Social Security Cards) at home when shopping or leaving your home. When carrying Medicare information it is best to carry a copy and black out the first five numbers of the Social Security number which most hospitals will accept.
2. Consider carrying your wallet in your front pocket, in a neck pouch or in a fanny pack on the front of you.
3. Never leave your purse or wallet unattended, even at social or religious gatherings where you feel safe and comfortable - thieves can be lurking anywhere.
4. Keep an itemized list of the cards you do carry on a daily basis along with the check numbers you carry so that if your belongings are stolen you can quickly call and report the stolen cards to the card companies.
5. Before allowing company into your home, always lock up personal information and laptops and log off and shut down your computers.
6. Be especially cautious of using the ATM. Try to always go into the bank, but if you do use an ATM, only use ones that are lit and take your receipt with you and shred it.
7. Deter crime from your home with lighting, radios and televisions. Use timers or motion detectors on outdoor lighting if you can afford it, or leave lighting on at night when you are away.
8. Never give out personal information to someone reaching out to you via phone, email, instant message, text message, door-to-door or through social media. If you receive a call from a company requesting personal information, inform them you will hang up and call their primary company phone number to ensure the call is legitimate.
9. Use secure, non-personal passwords that contain both capital and lower case letters, numbers and unique symbols (!*@$).
10. Be cautious with your generosity - make a charitable giving plan and do not deviate from it. Check out the legitimacy of every charity before giving them your hard earned money.
If your identity has been stolen, the sooner you discover it, the sooner you can take the steps necessary to fix it. Do not let fear, ignorance or embarrasment keep you from doing what you need to do to protect your finances, your property and most importantly, yourself!
What victims should do next
1. Let all of your creditors know that your ID has been stolen. Be sure to keep track of who you talked to, when you talked to them and their job titles, and phone numbers. Remember, the sooner you notice and report any discrepencies on your accounts, the easier it is to dispute them.
2. Close your accounts. Send confirmation that you are closing your accounts in writing, by certified mail, return receipt requested. Keep copies of everything.
3. When you open new accounts, put passwords on them (do not use a password that relates back to personal information that someone can guess).
4. Contact the issuing agency of any IDs that were taken - driver's license, state ID, employment ID. Do not just cancel and replace, ask the agency to put a caution or flag on your file so nobody else can get replacements.
5. File a police report and make copies of that report to send to your creditors. Do this in person rather than using an automated report. If your police department deos not take identity theft reports, ask to file a "Miscellaneous Incident Report." If you are still unable to file a report, contact your state Attorney General to find out exactly what your state law is in regards to identity theft.
6. Find out from each creditor just what it is you need to do to clear up the mess, and then do it, keeping track of everyone you talk to and everything you do.
7. Once all the disputed charges have been taken off your accounts and everything is resolved, have those companies send you a letter that states in writing that the disputed accounts are closed and the fraudulent debts discharged. File and keep copies of these letters to use if this erroneaous information reappears on your credit report.
8. Follow up to make sure everything has been taken care of and keep checking your accounts regularly.
9. Report the theft or fraud to the three major credit bureaus. Have them place a fraud alert on your account so that new lines of credit cannot be opened without explicit confirmation by you.
10. Do not fall for so-called credit repair scams. The only information that can be removed from your credit report is inaccurate information, and that is something you can do for yourself. D
Download handouts from this post.
The Story You Won't See on Law & Order: Why Elders Are Targets for Scams and Financial Abuse, presented by Hazel Heckers, Victim Advocate for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors
Monday, January 13, 2014
DMMS assists elders in maintaining an independent lifestyle, along with the benefit of personal attention. Financial matters are handled in the most secure manner. Services are tailored from bill payment, statement reconciliation, financial reporting, tax ledger, payroll, medical claims processing, review of credit cards for unusual transactions, alerts for activity fluctuations, evaluation of insurance coverage’s, sale / purchase of homes and automobiles, vacation home payment / rent management, coordination of caregivers and a whole host of other assistance. My profession makes the impossible possible. I am passionate about what I do and feel good at the end of each day knowing that I have helped someone’s life to be a bit more enjoyable.
I have learned to celebrate the journey and live each day fully, as my spouse has recently been diagnosed with Lewy Body Disease, which affects the cognitive and motor skill functions of his body. I have discovered the role of compassion, patience and understanding. I can certainly empathize and can now share stories, experiences and resources. It is my desire for him, and many others, to make their quality of life meaningful and I am committed to making a difference in the lives of our seniors.
Since receiving the Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) designation in 2009, the knowledge I have gained of the health, social and financial issues of aging is immeasurable. Caregiving, Medicare, healthcare proxy and living wills can all be overwhelming, so it is nice to have the resources provided by CSA.
Brenda Hellums, CSA, PDMM®
Warren Averett, LLC
Saturday, December 28, 2013
Last month, a report by the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology recommended extending statin drugs to a wider pool of people to prevent heart attacks as well as strokes. Previously, a high cholesterol level was the main criterion, but the new guidelines encourage people with normal cholesterol levels but higher risk factors related to age, gender and race to consider the cholesterol-lowering drugs.
The guidelines also promote more traditional preventive measures: 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise four times a week and a diet focused on vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
Reinforcing the need for exercise to prevent heart attacks, new research from the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences suggests simple activities can reduce the risk of a heart attack (as reported in the online British Journal of Sports Medicine, October 28, 2013). Researchers found that those who were most physically active reduced their risk of heart attack and stroke by 27 percent and decreased their risk of all-cause mortality by 30 percent, when compared with the least active participants in the study.
Aging Factor for Heart Attack Risk
Taking preventive measures becomes more important as we get older, because aging increases our risk factors. In fact, the number one cause of death in adults over the age of 60 is heart disease, including heart attacks. Heart disease can strike anyone, but older adults are hit the hardest for several reasons. For one, people who smoke or have a history of smoking have a much higher risk. Smoking is the leading cause of heart disease. (For help quitting smoking, you can call 1-800-QuitNow.)
The medical term for a heart attack is myocardial infarction, in which the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly and severely reduced or cut off, causing the muscle to die from lack of oxygen. This often happens as plaque, a fatty material, builds up over the years on the inside walls of the coronary arteries, which supply blood and oxygen to your heart; this build-up is often due to smoking. Eventually, an area of plaque can rupture, causing a blood clot to form on the surface of the plaque. If the clot becomes large enough, it can mostly or completely block the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the part of the heart muscle fed by the artery. If the flow of blood isn't restored quickly, the section of heart muscle becomes damaged from lack of oxygen and begins to die.
As we age, changes normally occur in the heart and blood vessels, which can lead to heart disease, including heart attacks. The heart becomes more vulnerable to various injuries, and its “pump” capabilities begin to deteriorate.
The heart’s decrease in elasticity and ability to respond to changes in arterial-system pressure means escalating resistance to its pumping action. This increases the effort needed to drive blood to various organs. In addition, as the arterial wall thickens, the arteries stiffen. Rigid arteries lead to high blood pressure, which is especially dangerous for the elderly. (See the sidebar for other heart disease factors associated with aging.)
Heart Attack Symptoms Vary
People experience the symptoms of an oncoming heart attack differently. Women and those older than 75, especially, are less likely to feel any chest pain and more likely to suffer what is known as a silent heart attack. The problem is that silent heart attacks don’t exhibit the traditional warning signs but are equally deadly. In fact, they are even more common in older adults than heart attacks that immediately come to the attention of doctors and patients, according to a recent study in The Journal of the American Medical Association (as reported in “The Deadly Threat of Silent Heart Attacks,” New Old Age blog, New York Times). Silent heart attacks are hard to diagnose because the symptoms can be vague: prolonged fatigue, confusion, shortness of breath.
In general, common symptoms of a traditional heart attack include:
- Chest pain and pain that originates in the chest and spreads to the back, jaw or arms. People may also feel pain in all of these places and not the chest, or they may feel pain in the stomach area and mistake it for indigestion. The pain is like that of angina but usually more severe and longer lasting, and it does not get better by resting or taking a nitroglycerin pill.
- Sudden sweating
- Heavy pounding of the heart
- Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias), which occur in more than 90 percent of people who have had a heart attack
- Loss of consciousness, which sometimes is the first symptom of a heart attack
- Feelings of restlessness, sweatiness, anxiety and a sense of impending doom
- Bluishness of the lips, hands or feet
- Shortness of breath
- Progressive fatigue
- Heartbeats that are too fast, too slow or irregular
- Pain in the left chest, or more commonly, “chest tightness,” especially if brought about by physical or emotional stress
- Symptoms that resemble a stroke, such as feeling disoriented
Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors
Thursday, December 12, 2013
- anxiety and irritability
- lack of energy and increased fatigue
- hopelessness, discouragement and feelings of worthlessness
- changes in appetite/weight gain
- concentration/memory problems
- problems sleeping
- suicidal thoughts
- Bright light treatment — The individual sits in front of a special fluorescent lamp (a "light box" or "sunbox") for a specific length of time.
- Dawn or sunshine simulation — In the morning, a light box gradually brightens from dim to brilliant, like a sunrise, while the individual is still asleep.