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Vision Changes & Fall Risk: Scottsdale Respite Care Experts Share Tips

Vision Changes

Most seniors experience vision change, making them twice as likely to experience multiple falls as those with normal vision.

People with vision loss are almost twice as likely to experience multiple falls as those with normal vision. For those with vision loss, everyday tasks such as grocery shopping or navigating crowded spaces can be a source of anxiety. Limited vision also may mean risking a fall away from home, leading many to become homebound and isolated.

Changes in Vision as We Age

Most seniors experience the following normal vision changes that are associated with the aging process. In addition, there are age-related eye conditions that will result in vision impairment.

  • Increased need for light:
    • This is a result of a smaller pupil and aging lens. A senior requires four to ten times more light than a younger person.
  • Reduced visual acuity:
    • After age 60, our ability to see clearly declines. This makes it hard to see steps, or you may not be able discern a curb at the end of a sidewalk. If you have reduced visual acuity, you may be more sensitive to glare.
  • Increased sensitivity to glare:
    • Even though you may need a brighter light source than a younger person, your vision can be reduced by glare. Examples include sunlight shining through a window then reflecting off shiny surfaces, glass tables, waxed floors, or bright light from unshielded bulbs.
  • Difficulty adapting to light and dark:
    • You may not be able to adjust to different light levels, especially in low light. This makes walking to the bathroom at night a significant fall risk.
  • Reduced contrast sensitivity:
    • A loss of sensitivity to detect contrast effects your ability to recognize objects or faces, textures and patterns.
  • Decreased depth perception:
    • You may find it difficult to determine how close or how far away an object is. This makes the detection of how high or low a step is very difficult. You may have trouble estimating the height of a step and misplace your foot, leading to a trip or fall. You may think that carpet is uneven and alter your balance and walking to accommodate the misperception. It also makes it difficult to perceive objects in areas of shadows, low light or bright lights.
  • Seeing spots that block central vision due to age-related macular degeneration:
    • This makes it hard to detect obstacles in your path, and difficult to walk across streets or a parking lot.
  • Decreased visual field due to glaucoma:
    • Your peripheral vision is very important to driving or walking. If you have peripheral field loss and are looking straight ahead, your lack of peripheral vision will not alert you to dangers coming at you. People with peripheral vision loss also experience night blindness, meaning vision might okay during day but impaired at night.
  • Visual changes due to medications:
    • Evaluate all medications with your health care team when you notice changes in vision. Even medications you have been on long-term may be affecting your vision.

Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Falls Due to Vision Changes

You want to be able to move about confidently and safely and to detect dangerous obstacles such as tripping hazards, stairs, curbs, moving vehicles, or people in enough time to react safely.

View Falls as Controllable

For those with vision loss, falling may be inevitable. Knowing this keeps many feeling like it’s too risky to leave the house. Learning how to recover from a fall unassisted can help alleviate fear and regain the confidence to leave the house again.

The Scottsdale respite care experts at Nightingale Homecare suggest the following:

Correct Visual Problems

  • Get an annual eye exam.
  • Correct problems with new glasses and keep them clean at all times.

Optimize Lighting

  • Optimal lighting conditions include more than one light source in a room and higher wattage light bulbs.
  • Use even lighting throughout home.
  • Install night lights to navigate in dark rooms and hallways.
  • Use natural light from windows.
  • Give yourself extra time to adjust when going from a well-lit to a dimly-lit room. 

Reduce Glare

  • Pause to adjust to the change between dark to bright environments.
  • Do not wax your floors.
  • Wear sunglasses outdoors.
  • Avoid directly facing the sun.
  • Cover bulbs with a shade.

Improve Contrast

  • Stairs: Use bright, non-skid paint or tape to contrast the edge of each step.
  • Floors: Use colored tape across thresholds when floors are of different heights.
  • Furniture and Carpeting: Remove clutter and keep pathways clear. Selecting contrasting colors or patterns in furniture and flooring can help. 

Improve Bathroom Safety

  • Install grab bars.
  • Use brightly colored rugs that are secure on the floor with rubber non-skid backings. 

Low Vision Rehabilitation Evaluation

Studies show that people start losing independence when their corrected visual acuity drops to 20/60 or worse. Most health insurances cover low vision rehabilitation examinations. A low vision specialist can evaluate the degree and type of vision loss you have, prescribe appropriate low vision aids, recommend non-optical adaptive devices, and help you learn how to use them.

Finding a Low Vision Specialist

To find a low vision specialist near you, go to www.whatislowvision.org and click on “find a low vision specialist.”

If You Do Not Have Insurance Coverage

EyeCare America, a public service foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), has several programs designed to meet the needs of those who don’t have vision insurance. To find out more about EyeCare America’s programs, call (877) 887-6327. If you are eligible, you will receive the name of a volunteer eye doctor in your community, along with instructions for making an appointment.

Contact Nightingale Homecare for additional resources related to vision changes and aging, or to schedule a free in-home consultation to discover more ways we can help!

The Completely Normal Side of Aging

senior home care phoenix two senior men playing soccer

The Phoenix senior care team at Nightingale Homecare shares details on normal aging.

Change: it’s a part of life, regardless of age, but it seems to accelerate as we grow older, leading us to wonder which changes are cause for concern, and which are just a normal part of aging. While it’s always important to consult with the doctor regarding any physical or emotional changes to rule out health problems, our Phoenix senior care team at Nightingale Homecare has broken down some of the most common types of aging-related changes that are generally considered normal:

Skin Changes:

As we grow older, our skin produces less oil, and we begin to lose some of the fatty tissue beneath the skin’s surface, leading to a drier, thinner feeling. You can protect your skin by always wearing sunscreen when going outdoors, and by getting checked for any growths or other abnormal skin changes by the doctor on a regular basis.

Heart Changes:

With increased stiffness in the arteries and blood vessels, our hearts have to work harder as we grow older. It’s important to ensure the heart remains healthy by staying physically active (getting doctor’s approval before beginning any new exercise routines), eating plenty of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and sleeping at least 7 – 8 hours each night.

Bone Changes:

Older adults often experience stiffness in the joints, the normal effect of the wearing away of cartilage, tissue and fluids. This can, however, lead to arthritis and other conditions for which treatment can be sought. Bones also become more brittle and less dense throughout aging, making seniors more susceptible to breaks. And we may actually lose an inch or two from our stature as the disks in the spine shrink, beginning as early as in our 40s. It’s crucial for older adults to maintain a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D to maximize bone strength.

Vision and Hearing Changes:

Enhanced sensitivity to glare and bright light, as well as difficulty with reading or seeing objects clearly when close up, are common in aging, and can usually be overcome with annual eye exams, reading glasses, and the use of sunglasses when in bright light. Likewise, hearing often deteriorates slightly, particularly impacting sounds at high frequencies. Annual hearing exams and the use of earplugs when in especially loud environments are important.

Oral Changes:

Dry mouth and the appearance of gums pulling away from the teeth are two common occurrences in our later years. The dentist can help with determining what interventions may be needed, so regular cleanings and checkups are vital. And at any age, brushing and flossing regularly (twice daily for brushing, once daily for flossing) is the best way to prevent decay and infection to teeth and gums.

At Nightingale Homecare, our Phoenix senior care experts help keep older adults healthy and thriving throughout aging in a variety of ways! We provide a full range of in-home care services, from companionship and help around the house to highly skilled nursing care, and everything in between. We can ensure seniors are following a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise and rest, offer accompanied transportation to medical and dental checkups and exams, pick up prescriptions, and keep a professional eye out for any changes in a senior’s health that may be cause for concern, so that they can be addressed immediately.

To learn more about how we can help your senior loved one remain safe, healthy and happy at home, contact us any time at (602) 504-1555.

Nightingale Homecare Helps Seniors See the World Differently After Vision Loss

vision lossOne of the greatest concerns for older adults is the potential loss of independence as they age. And when vision loss becomes a factor, through such conditions as glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, or others, these worries are magnified. Loved ones are also impacted by the senior’s additional need for assistance when sight is compromised, and in determining the least restrictive lifestyle.

Nightingale Homecare wants to reassure families that vision loss does not have to equal a loss of freedom and quality of life! In fact, our Arizona home health care services actually enhance wellbeing and open up a whole new world of possibilities for seniors! These tips can help seniors and their families adapt to the changes brought about by vision loss:

  • Be informed. There are a number of resources available to educate on independent living skill enhancement, adaptive devices, mobility and orientation in different types of environments, and more. The senior’s eye doctor, your local state agency for the visually impaired, or national organizations such as the American Foundation for the Blind are great places to start.
  • Get involved. Participating in life skills training alongside your senior loved one provides benefits to both of you. Learn about ways to adapt the senior’s home to make it safer and more accessible, and then work together to implement those changes. Let the senior know that you’re in this together.
  • Seek out experts. Those experiencing vision loss may find some relief by consulting with a specialist in low vision, who can offer suggestions on how to utilize any remaining vision. A professional home health care agency, such as Nightingale Homecare, offering specialized care for those with vision loss can also serve as a lifeline by providing resources and hands-on assistance in the home.

With Nightingale’s nurse-guided care, seniors with vision loss and the families who provide care for them can rest assured that they’re in the most capable hands at all times. Just a few of the many ways we can improve quality of life for seniors at home include:

  • Transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and procedures, to pick up prescriptions, and on fun outings
  • Preparing healthy and delicious meals
  • Maintaining home cleanliness and organization
  • Performing a safety assessment of the home to minimize fall risk
  • Engaging the senior in favorite activities, hobbies and pastimes, and introducing new ideas to spark the senior’s interest
  • Providing friendly, caring companionship
  • And much more

Give us a call at 602-504-1555 to let us know more about your senior loved one and to discuss how, together, we can make his or her life safer and more fulfilling.

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Posted in Aging Issues, Blog, Senior Vision on January 20th, 2017 · Comments Off on Nightingale Homecare Helps Seniors See the World Differently After Vision Loss

Nightingale Homecare’s Tips on Eating Well for Better Vision

foods for better senior visionWhile we all know that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” and the importance to our overall health to maintain a healthy diet, it’s interesting to note that there are actually particular foods that specifically benefit the eyes, to the extent that they may even protect against developing such conditions as age-related macular degeneration.

To provide the most benefit for your vision and that of your senior loved ones, keep an eye out for these eye-healthy foods and try to incorporate them into each day’s meal plan:

  • Fruits and Veggies: Among the many other nutritional boosts gained from consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables, the eyes gain strength through the antioxidants, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, that provide protection to and fight oxidation in the retina and lens, reducing the risk of degeneration. Seek out those fruits and veggies that are dark or brightly colored, such as:
    • Melons
    • Carrots
    • Spinach
    • Kale
    • Mangoes
    • Collard greens
  • B Vitamins: In particular, foods high in vitamins B6 or B12 have shown promise in protecting the eyes against the development of AMD. Conversely, including too much red meat, which is high in B12 but higher in iron, can increase oxidative stress in the retina. Instead, stick to these foods that are high in B6 or B12:
    • Beans
    • Chicken and other poultry
    • Dairy products
    • Fish and shellfish
    • Bananas
    • Potatoes
    • Eggs
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Not only does the beneficial DHA in omega-3 fatty acids lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration, it also benefits those with dry eye syndrome and may improve overall visual function. Research has shown, however, that the benefits to eye health are only realized through foods naturally containing omega-3, and not from supplements. Look for foods such as:
    • Nuts
    • Seeds
    • Dark, leafy greens
    • Fish

Nightingale Homecare provides a variety of professional Phoenix home care services to enhance the health and wellbeing of the seniors in our care, including the planning and preparation of meals to improve eye health as well as overall health and wellbeing. We’ll even pick up the groceries and clean up afterwards! We’re just a phone call away at 602-504-1555, and are here for you and your senior loved ones 24/7, according to what best suits your schedule. We look forward to partnering with you in helping your senior loved ones to thrive, right in the comfort of home!

Posted in Blog, Phoenix, Senior Vision on March 16th, 2016 · Comments Off on Nightingale Homecare’s Tips on Eating Well for Better Vision

Helping Seniors Improve Eye Health

senior eye sightChanges in vision are common with age. Although most of us find ourselves reaching for the reading glasses more frequently as we grow older, some senior vision problems are not simply a normal result of aging. According to the American Foundation for the Blind, the prevalence of severe eye issues, such as glaucoma, increases dramatically with age.

Since January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, the professional home health care team at Nightingale Homecare wants to help you maintain proper health with these senior eye health tips:

  • Prevent Falls: Changes in vision and balance result in an increased risk of falling for seniors, and with as many as one in three seniors experiencing a fall each year, it’s crucial to take steps to make modifications in and around the home to enhance safety. Our Paces Fall Prevention program is a great place to start!
  • Share Health Facts: Vision can be affected by other health issues, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. In fact, changes in vision can be one of the first warning signs of either of these conditions. It’s important for seniors to keep their eye doctor updated on all health conditions, including any medications being taken in order for the eye doctor to have a full understanding of what might be causing vision issues.
  • Improve Lifestyle Choices: Along with the rest of the body, the eyes benefit from regular exercise, which stimulates blood circulation and oxygen intake levels. And nothing beats a good night’s sleep for providing the opportunity for the eyes to clear out any allergens and irritants.
  • See the Light: While of course it’s important to protect the eyes from the sun and other sources of UV light, it’s also important to ensure that we expose our eyes to some natural light each day, especially as we age, to curb insomnia and help maintain a normal sleep-wake pattern.

Nightingale Homecare of Phoenix can help seniors with vision problems in so many ways, including:

  • Providing transportation and accompaniment to doctors’ appointments, procedures, and to pick up prescriptions
  • Performing a safety evaluation of the home and helping implement recommendations to make it safer and more accessible
  • Helping with meal preparation, light housework, and other tasks around the home that may be more difficult to seniors with low vision
  • Reading books aloud, or picking up/returning books on tape from the library
  • A full range of medical and physician-ordered care
  • And much more, based on each individual’s specific needs and wishes

To take the first step in improving life for your senior loved one with the highest quality Phoenix assisted living care, call us at 602-504-1555, or complete our simple online contact form.