Keep Glaucoma Symptoms at Bay

I went skiing this past weekend with a friend of mine, Terry Giove, who volunteers her time to teach people with disabilities how to ski. For 29 years she has volunteered with New England Disabled Sports (www.nedisabledsports.org/) at Loon Mountain Resort in Lincoln, New Hampshire. This weekend she taught a blind man to ski down the mountain. I don’t know about you, but if I lost my sight, skiing would not be at the top of my list of things to do. Those of us that can see, be it natural or by glasses, often take that sense for granted. It’s how we get around in this world. Unfortunately, as we age, our eyesight can deteriorate.

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. According to the World Health Organization, Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world. A Prevent Blindness Survey found that blindness is the third ranked fear of people after cancer and heart disease.

According to the American Foundation for the blind, 6.5 million people over the age of 65 have a severe visual impairment today and experts expect that figure to double by 2030.

Glaucoma, though most common in older people, can cause sight damage at any age. It is a complicated disease that causes damage to the optic nerve. This damage leads to progressive, irreversible vision loss. Glaucoma develops slowly and typically without any early warning signs or without noticeable sight loss for many years.

Early detection is key to helping keep loss of sight and blindness at bay if you do have glaucoma. Existing treatments can slow the process so no meaningful vision loss occurs in one’s lifetime. If you are at risk of glaucoma you should get your eyes tested, with a full dilation test, every one or two years. The following are groups at higher risk for developing glaucoma:

African Americans – glaucoma is six to eight times more common in African Americans than Caucasians.

People over 60 – glaucoma is much more common in people age 60 and over. You are six times more likely to get glaucoma if you are 60 or over.

Hispanics in older age groups – recent studies show that Hispanic populations get glaucoma at a greater rate than those of European ancestry, and that risk increases if you are over 60.

Family members with glaucoma – the most common type of glaucoma, primary open angle glaucoma, is hereditary. If members of your immediate family have glaucoma, your risk is much greater. Family history increases risk four to six times.

Steroid users – some evidence links use of steroids to glaucoma. A study of the Journal of American Medical Association demonstrated a 40% increase in the number of ocular hypertension and open-angle glaucoma in adults who use 14-35 puffs of steroid inhaler to control asthma (this is a high dose and only required with severe asthma).

Eye injury – an injury to the eye can cause secondary open-angle glaucoma. This type of glaucoma can occur immediately after the injury or years later.

If you have the following symptoms, you may want to call your doctor:

  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Vision loss
  • Redness in the eyes
  • Eyes that look hazy
  • Eye pain
  • Narrowed vision (tunnel vision)

If you notice a change in your eyesight, give your doctor a call. Further vision loss due to glaucoma can be stalled, but there is no cure for glaucoma as of yet. It is difficult to deal with vision loss and it is not always preventable. Thankfully there are organizations like New England Disabled Sports that can help people live active lives despite loss of vision or other disabilities.

SeniorCare Offering Caregiver Respite

SeniorCare Inc. has received funding to provide respite services to low-moderate income, with a concentrated effort to reach the underserved such as the LGBTQ Community. In addition, specialist staff will support family caregivers in problem solving, decision making and finding options for short and long term care needs. This funding is available to residents of Beverly, Essex, Gloucester, Hamilton, Ipswich, Manchester by the Sea, Rockport, Topsfield, and Wenham. By definition, respite care is substitute care given so that the regular caregiver can take a break and get some relief from the burden of caregiving. Respite care can be for a weekend, a day, or even for an hour.

Caregivers are often at increased risk of depression and other health problems as a result of the stress of being a caregiver. Having respite care can enable the caregiver to keep providing rather than burning out or becoming ill themselves.

Caregivers looking for respite may qualify for this support. SeniorCare can cover the cost for in-home care, weekend stays at long-term care facilities, and adult day care services. To see if you qualify and for more information about SeniorCare’s Caregiver Support Services, contact Susan Doughty at 978-281-1750 x520.

Thank You!

Thank you to the organizations who made financial contributions to SeniorCare in 2016.

Whether a direct donation, an in-kind donation, a program-related grant, or event sponsorship, your support makes our work possible.

ABC Home & Healthcare Professionals

Aberdeen Home Care

Acme Apparel

Action, Inc.

Adult Foster Care of the NS

American Lazer Services, Inc.

AMRAMP

Andrew W. Preston Charity FD Trust

Ani Sol Designs

Ansaphone, Inc.

Associated Home Care, Inc.

Bank Gloucester

Beverly Bank

Blackburn Center, LLC

Blue River Diamonds

Blueberry Hill Healthcare

Bring Care Home

Building Center of Gloucester

C.B. Fisk, Inc.

Cape Ann Insurance Agency, Inc.

Cape Ann Savings Bank

Cape Ann Transportation Operating Co., Inc.

Cape Ann Whale Watch

Cape Ann YMCA

Captain Bill & Sons Whale Watch

Care Dimensions

Care Dimensions

Caregiver Homes, Inc.

Carroll K. Steele Insurance Agency

Charlie’s Cape Ann Liquor Chest

Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep, Inc.

City of Beverly

City of Gloucester MA

Commonwealth Care Alliance

Conley’s Drug Store

Cummings Properties, LLC

David L. Harrison, D.M.D

Day Spa C’est La Vie

Eastern Bank

EBSCO

Edward Jones Investments

Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley

Element Care

Essex County Community Foundation

Essex Service Company

First Ipswich Bank

Gloucester House Restaurant

Gloucester Lodge of Elks, 892

Glover’s Floor Coverings, Inc.

Glovsky & Glovsky, LLC

Golden Living Center

Hagstrom Co Inc.

Harborlight Community Partners

Institution for Savings

Ipswich Rotary Club

Jalapenos

James C. Greely Funeral Service

John J. Walsh Insurance Agency, Inc.

Katharine C Pierce Trust

Lahey Health Shared Services

Leslie S. Ray, Insurance Agency, Inc.

Liquor Locker

Lobsta Land Restaurant

Manchester Athletic Club

Manchester Police Superior Offices and Patrolmen Association

Marblehead Bank

Menage Gallery

Michael R Buxbaum Inc.

Mighty Mac Realty Trust

Natalie A. Simon, Attorney

Nichols Candy, Inc.

North Shore Community Action Programs, Inc.

North Shore Elder Services

Not Your Average Joe’s

Pomodori Roast Beef & Pizzeria

Precision Roofing Services of New England, Inc.

Prevare, LLC

Professional Business Services

PVMHS Class of 1981

RB Strong Excavating & Sewerage Ctr, Inc.

Right at Home

Savour Wine and Cheese

Seacoast Nursing & Rehab

Seaside Allure

Seasons of Danvers

Serenitee Management

Seven Seas Whale Watch

Sidekim Foods

Silver Lining Solutions, Inc.

Spaulding Outpatient Center Cape Ann

Stop and Shop

Sugar Magnolias

Sully’s Auto Body of Gloucester, Inc.

Sun ‘N Aire Golf Center

The Committee to Elect Brad Hill

The Lifebridge Campus

The Magic Scarf Company

The Open Door/Cape Ann Food Pantry

The Rotary Club of Gloucester

TLC @ Home

Tom Shea’s Restaurant

Toodeloos!

Town of Ipswich MA

Ultra Fine Papers, LLC

United Health Care

Virgilio’s Italian Bakery

Vista Motel

Windover Construction

YMCA of the North Shore

Zeno’s Roast Beef and Seafood

Keep Warm, Keep Safe

I’ve found myself running back in the house to grab gloves and a hat a few times this last week. Each year it take me a bit of time to adjust. Perhaps its denial. I really don’t like the cold – at first. It’s such a shock. Then I re-learn to dress for it. I bundle up and go for my regular walks throughout most of the winter. If you know how to protect yourself against the cold, it’s not so bad.

When the temperature drops, older adults have a higher risk of weather related health problems and injuries. According to the National Institute on Aging, older adults lose body heat faster than when they were young. Hypothermia and frostbite can turn into a serious problem before you realize what is happening. And then there is always the danger of falling on the ice or sustaining an injury while shoveling snow. Regardless of age this can be an issue. But older people and those who have mobility issues are certainly more prone to slipping on the ice or getting hurt while shoveling.

There are a few precautions everyone should take during the New England winter months, especially older adults.

Hypothermia occurs when your body temperature drops to a dangerous level. Being outdoors for extended periods of time when it is cold can cause your body temperature to drop.

Here are some warning signs of hypothermia:

  • Your skin becomes cold to the touch and pale or ashy
  • You feel tired, confused and sleepy
  • Feelings of muscle weakness
  • Problems walking
  • Your breathing and heart rate slows

You can also take precautions such as stay indoors (or don’t stay outside for too long), keep your heat at 65 degrees or higher, stay dry – wet clothing chills your body more quickly, and dress smart. Wear layers and loose-fitting clothing. Wear a hat, gloves, warm winter coat, warm boots, and a scarf to cover your mouth and nose.

Frostbite occurs when skin is exposed to the cold for too long. It is most likely to occur in body parts farthest away from the heart, such as the ears, nose, cheeks, chin fingers and toes. People with heart disease and circulation problems are more prone to frostbite. Because it can cause numbness, you may not realize you have it.

Signs and symptoms of frostbite include:

  • At first, cold skin and a prickling feeling
  • Numbness
  • Red, white, bluish-white or grayish-yellow skin
  • Hard or waxy looking skin
  • Joint and muscle stiffness
  • After re-warming, blistering

If you suspect frostbite you can run the affected area under warm water (not hot).

You should call for medical help if you suspect you or someone else may have hypothermia or frostbite.

Snow is almost a certain this time of year, and with snow comes shoveling. You may want to check with your healthcare provider to determine if shoveling or other work in the snow is safe for you. It is important to remember that when it is cold out, your heart works harder.

It is easy to fall in the winter, especially in icy and snowy conditions. Make sure steps and walkways are clear before you walk. Salting the walkways is key to helping to avoid winter falls. If you use a cane, you’ll want to make sure the rubber tip is up to the task. You may also consider an ice pick-like attachment for the end of your cane for additional traction.

As the cold winter months are upon us, take the time to consider how to stay safe and enjoy the season.

Don’t forget ‘you’ this season

It’s a busy time of year. The hustle and bustle of the holidays are in full swing. Have you made your list to make sure you remember everyone and everything? Who and what is on that list of yours? Take a few minutes – whether it is a mental list or you have it written down – how long is it and what is its content?

Look at the list again. Did you forget anyone? Chances are you forgot one very important person.

You.

The holidays are stressful, fast-paced, and encourage overindulgence. If you don’t put yourself at the top of the list, you could burn out quickly and be of little help and joy to anyone else. Self-care is an act of love that ripples out to everyone you touch.

Taking care of yourself can be the best gift you give others this holiday season.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Take a few deep breaths. Try to do this throughout the day. Don’t wait until you are feeling overwhelmed to slow down and pay attention to your breath. A regular check in with yourself may help keep you from becoming too stressed.
  2. What is important to you? Prioritizing all you have to do will help if you are unable to do everything on your list. Accomplishing that which is most important will create a sense of peace.
  3. You can’t give away what you don’t have. If you are sick, burned out, or cranky and overwhelmed you won’t have much to give. Do something nice for yourself – enjoy a cup of hot cocoa, take a short walk, or watch your favorite Christmas movie.
  4. Pay attention to your body. When you are rushing through your day, trying to get everything done, you might not notice hunger pangs, tight shoulders, or how tired you are. Check in with yourself throughout the day. If you’re hungry, eat; shoulder muscles sore, relax a few minutes; tired, take a nap.
  5. Laugh out loud. Laughter is a great stress relief. Take time out to watch a funny movie, read the Sunday comics, or call a friend you can laugh with.
  6. Music can be a great stress reliever as well. Turn your favorite tunes on as you wrap presents, clean the house, or as you sit still with a cup of tea.
  7. Make healthy food choices. This is a tough one around the holidays with all the parties and celebrations. One way to do it is to make time to eat healthy and exercise throughout the season. When you are at a party with lots of goodies and cocktails, please indulge, but don’t overindulge.
  8. Holiday spending can be the greatest stress of the season. Make a holiday budget that is right for you and stick to it.

The next few weeks will be a whirlwind of commitments, parties, and family celebrations. Put yourself on your holiday list and avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Prevent trouble, be conscientious of alcohol intake

alcoholI hope everyone had a safe and joyful Thanksgiving. Yesterday was the kick-off to the holiday season, though some may argue that Halloween has that distinction. Regardless, the holidays have begun. With the holidays comes celebration, and with celebration often comes alcohol. It is the time of year when those who drive need to be extra careful and those trying to maintain sobriety need to be extra vigilant.

There are more alcohol related fatalities during the holiday season than any other time during the year in the United States.

Many people who indulge in a cocktail or two at a holiday party don’t drink often, which means they have a low tolerance and therefore are more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. Even if you drink safely and moderately throughout the year, the celebratory season may cause you to overindulge and not be as conscientious as you are during the year. The bottom line is being careful and taking a few precautions when you know you will be drinking at a holiday party will save lives.

Here are a few tips, for people who drink, to make it through holiday parties safely:

  1. Designate a driver or be a designated driver. If you have chosen to be a designated driver and you are going to a party, bring your own nonalcoholic beverage; you’ll be assured to have something to drink. If you are going to a restaurant, order a fun nonalcoholic beverage (or simply stick with water).
  2. Make a plan ahead of time. If you know you will be drinking at a party, take a cab or call an Uber. It will cost a little extra but it could save your life.
  3. Limit yourself. Some people plan the number of drinks they will allow themselves before they go to a party. Limit yourself based on how long the party is going to be. Take a look at a blood alcohol content chart to give you perspective or use a blood alcohol calculator at www.bloodacoholcalculator.org.
  4. Play it down. Are you throwing a party? Don’t make alcohol the theme, and encourage water and soft drinks between cocktails. You can set the tone for most of your guests.
  5. Remember the real reason for gathering. Alcohol is a complement to the event, not the purpose. Drinking can be fun but it comes with great responsibility. If you go overboard, have a back-up plan. Who will you call for a ride — a loved one or a taxi service?

What about the great number of people out there who do not drink? If it is not something you ever struggled with, you probably won’t have many personal concerns (you may want to volunteer to be a designated driver). If you have struggled with alcohol in the past and are committed to remaining sober through the holiday season, there are things you can do to help you succeed. According to Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, here are some tips to help you stay sober:

  • Make a plan. If you are going to a party with alcohol, it might be helpful to bring a sober friend with you.
  • The holidays can be emotionally taxing. Recognize this, identify what may cause you difficulty, and confide in a friend or therapist. Talking about our emotions and expectations can help mitigate confusion and overwhelming feelings (this is true for people who drink, too).
  • Pay attention to other people in your life. Serve a meal at the Open Door or spend time with an elderly loved one. Whatever you do in service of others will most likely be as beneficial for you.
  • It is good to have a nonalcoholic drink in your hand at parties. When you have something in your hand, people won’t be constantly asking you if they can get you a drink.

The holidays can be a joyful time of love and connection. There are many opportunities to be in the company of others. Being thoughtful and conscientious about your alcohol intake will make any event a safer and enjoyable experience.

BILL AIMED AT ASSISTING FAMILY CAREGIVERS NEARS BAKER’S DESK

statehousenewsBy Katie Lannan

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

People looking after ill and aging family members would be given more information to aid in their care, under a bill now approved by both branches of the state Legislature.

The Senate on Thursday passed the CARE Act — for “caregiver advice and records enablement” — that requires hospitals to let patients designate a caregiver, who would be able to access their health information.

When the patient is discharged or transferred, hospital staff would provide the caregiver with a copy of the patient’s discharge plan and discuss after-care needs. During that discussion, the staff would demonstrate tasks the caregiver will need to perform, provide information on community resources, and answer questions from the patient and caregiver.

Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, who sponsored the original version of the legislation along with Rep. Chris Walsh, expressed a need to provide support for people who are caring for spouses or parents as they age.

“We know the importance of really trying to keep people in their homes and in the community,” Forry, a Dorchester Democrat, said on the Senate floor.

According to the AARP, more than 844,000 Massachusetts residents are caring for an aging relative and helping them live independently in their own homes, and 55 percent of family caregivers report being overwhelmed by the amount of care their relative needs.

At least 18 states have CARE acts in place, according to the AARP.

The Senate’s approval of the bill (H 3911) comes after the House passed it on Aug. 18. A final vote in each branch would send the bill to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk.

Sen. Bruce Tarr, a Gloucester Republican, said he hopes Baker will sign the bill, which he described as a “commonsensical action” that will make sure people are properly cared for and “do not get lost” when coming home from a hospital or otherwise moving among facilities.

“We all know how difficult it can be when we are caring for a loved one and there is about to be a transition from one modality of care to another or into the community,” Tarr said before the bill was passed.

Be aware of the common ministroke symptoms

strokeA transient ischemic attack (TIA), often referred to as a ministroke, occurs when there is a temporary lack of blood flow to the brain. The good thing is that TIAs don’t kill brain tissue or cause permanent disabilities. The not so good thing is that one in 20 people who have a TIA will have a major stroke within a few days, and one in 10 will have one within three months. This makes recognizing a TIA and talking with your doctor very important.

TIAs tend to be brief and the symptoms can often clear up by the time you get to the doctor. This could cause people to believe that a TIA is a minor event. But that is not true.

Here is a list of common symptoms associated with a TIA:

  • Vision changes
  • Trouble speaking
  • Confusion
  • Balance issues
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Tingling
  • Muscular weakness generally on one side of the body
  • Severe headache with no obvious cause

Although TIAs don’t lead to permanent brain damage, emergency medical care is necessary because TIA symptoms are the same as those of a stroke. It is not possible for you to tell whether your symptoms are related to a TIA or a stroke. This can only be done by a medical professional.

It is through an image of your brain that a medical professional can determine if you’ve had a TIA or stroke. Generally a stroke won’t show up on a CT scan until 24 to 48 hours later. An MRI usually shows a stroke sooner.

There is a tool your doctor may use to determine the likelihood of you having a stroke within 90 days of a TIA. This assessment tool is called the ABCD2. It is based on four risk factors: age, blood pressure, type of symptoms and the duration of symptoms. A higher score indicates the need for hospital observation.

Treating a TIA is focused on mitigating the chance of a future stroke. Medical professionals may start or adjust medication that improves blood flow to the brain. Treatment options may include:

Medicines such as anti-platelet drugs, like aspirin, which help to prevent blood clots.

Surgery, called carotid endarterectomy, where your doctor clears the carotid arteries of fatty deposits and plaques.

Lifestyle changes can also reduce your risk of future TIAs or strokes. Some of these changes include:

  • Exercising
  • Losing weight
  • Reducing sodium intake
  • Eating more vegetables
  • Reducing the amount of fried or sugary foods you eat
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Reducing stress

According to the American Heart Association, stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability in the U.S. and the third leading cause of death.

SeniorCare Needs Your Help to Allow Seniors to Remain in Their Homes

 

CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO #GivingTuesday

SeniorCare needs your help to continue helping our friends– like Mary. On Giving Tuesday-November 29, 2016, please consider pledging to donate $10 per month for one year. When 80 donors make this pledge, the cost of Mary’s services will be covered for one year-ensuring that Mary can safely remain in her home for as long as possible.Thank you.

Mary’s Story

Mary is a bright, energetic, warm 85 year old woman. She retired 20 years ago after teaching third grade for 40 years. Mary chuckles when she mentions that her oldest great-granddaughter just entered third grade. Mary lives alone in the house she and her husband James raised their three children. James died shortly after she retired. It’s been almost 20 years and Mary still tears up when she talks about James. All of her kids live out of state. Jenny, Mary’s youngest, lives a two hour drive away. The others live a five hour plane ride away. Jenny visits monthly. John, the oldest, and Megan, the youngest and their respective families visit every Christmas. They all call at least weekly.

Over the last few months they each noticed a decline in Mary’s natural jovial mood. They had begun to talk with each other about it. Around the same time, during a visit, Jenny noticed her mom’s laundry had piled up and Mary’s usually meticulously clean house, was not as clean. After much sibling conversing and worry, Jenny was assigned the task of asking her mom about these new circumstances. With great sadness, Mary was quite forthcoming. She no longer had the strength to clean or do her laundry regularly. Jenny asked if she wanted to move in with her and her family. Adamantly, Mary declined the offer, saying that she didn’t want to leave her home or her friends and neighbors.givingtuesday2016-a

Worried, but wanting to respect her mother’s wishes, Jenny had heard about SeniorCare and called. After a SeniorCare Information and Referral specialist spoke with Jenny and Mary on the phone, SeniorCare sent a Care Manager to assess Mary’s situation. After an hour long conversation with Jenny and Mary, SeniorCare set a plan in motion. For over a year now, Mary has received two hours of homemaking services and three hours of personal care each week. Mary has also enjoyed a daily visit from the Meals on Wheels driver who delivers her a hot nutritious meal Monday through Friday. Mary’s mood has markedly improved, and she is grateful her house is clean and her laundry is done regularly.

At the six month visit from her Care Manager, it was discovered that Mary was falling behind on opening mail and paying her bills. So SeniorCare connected Mary with a SeniorCare Money Management volunteer who now visits Mary monthly. Together they open the mail and pay all the bills. Mary is very much looking forward to the upcoming holidays when the house will be filled with family – she is especially looking forward to enjoying her youngest great-grandchild, who she has not yet met.

Thank you to BankGloucester, who is partnering with SeniorCare on #GivingTuesday with a challenge gift.

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