Alzheimer's and Dementia Caregivers Blog

Unleash the Power of Age

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May is older Americans month throughout the nation and the Administration on Aging develops a theme every year for Older Americans Month. The President signs a proclamation regarding Older Americans Month in celebration of achievement and contributions of the nation’s older adults. 

The theme this year “Unleash the Power of Age” is so appropriate because we have older Americans living productive, active, and influential lives in our society more than any other time in history.  They are sharing their essential talents, wisdom, and life experiences, while making a contribution in their communities.  

Today we have over 100,000 people living in the United States who are now over 100 years old. These Centenarians have several things in common which they believe have contributed to their longevity. They have learned how to control the stress in their lives by not getting "stressed out.” They have also learned the value of sleep, and they believe that a good night’s sleep is at least seven or eight hours.  

Centenarians also believe that laughing is the key to staying healthy by making it a priority to live on the lighter side of life and keeping a sense of humor. 

Exercise is also an important part of their day to keep their bodies moving.  Companionship is another key to their longevity; everyone needs a friend to keep from feeling lonely and depressed.  Volunteering can be a great way to make new friends.

Older adults who play video games report higher levels of emotional well-being according to the North Carolina State University researchers. Stimulating the brain with new activities that are more challenging can actually grow new brain cells.  

Living in the moment and not wasting valuable time worrying about the future or mourning the past is a common theme among Centenarians.  They relish every moment and they count all of their blessings every day.  


Your Vision is Your Window

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As all of the boomers age, millions of people will struggle with some kind of eye disease.  Our eyesight is the window to the world we live in. The key is to detect these diseases early, with regular eye exams to detect vision problems before they become serious. This is a list of common age-related eye problems: 

Cataracts:  Over age 40 an estimated 25 million people have cataracts.  The lens in the eye is made of protein and it helps the eye focus. When protein molecules clump or become cloudy a cataract has formed. This is common problem for older adults.  The doctor may monitor a cataract because they grow slowly, until it interferes with your vision. Cataract surgery is a very common procedure to remove the cataract from your eye. 

Glaucoma: More than 2.5 million people have been diagnosed with glaucoma. Our eyes are filled with fluid, and too much pressure can develop in the eye, this condition is called glaucoma. The build-up of pressure over a period of time can damage the optic nerve and cause blindness.  Due to the fact that this pressure develops slowly and routine eye exams can detect glaucoma before it becomes more serious. 

Dry Eye:  The glands in your eyelids produce tears, and they drain into your tear ducts in your lower eyelids. If these glands stop working efficiently, your eyes will become dry and uncomfortable. Eye drops can help, but you should have your eyes checked. There may be a simple procedure to partially plug your tear ducts and keep tears from draining too fast. 

Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Over 2 million men and women over age 50 have age-related macular degeneration. This is a loss of central vision. The macula is a part of the retina that processes the central vision. Sometimes with aging, the macula deteriorates and causes problems with driving, reading and many other activities. Treatment can include laser surgery on the macula. 

Diabetic Retinopathy: Because of problems with diabetes, the tiny blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the retina become less effective, which leads to vision problems. Treatment includes laser surgery and a surgical process known as a vitrectomy. All diabetics should have annual eye exams. 

Retinal Detachment: The layers of the retina can detach from the underlying support tissue. If untreated, retinal detachment can cause loss of vision or blindness. Symptoms include an increase in the type and number of "floaters" in your eyes, seeing bright flashes, feeling as if a curtain has been pulled over the field of vision, or seeing straight lines that appear curvy. Surgery and laser treatment can often reattach the layers of the retina. 

Remember it is important to have regular eye exams to keep your eyes as healthy as possible. 



Visiting the Sick


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The natural human reaction is to feel awkward and upset when you are forced to visit a sick friend or family member. Many people are nervous around illness and mortality, but whatever pops into your head should not necessary come out of your mouth.  Friends often make hurtful remarks without even thinking how it may sound to the sick person. There are so many things that we should never say, like “everything happens for a reason!” Conversing with the sick can be awkward, but keeping a few simple commandments in mind can make a huge difference. 

“Ten Commandments for Visiting with Someone Who is Sick”  

1. Rejoice at their good news, and do not minimize their bad news. 

2. Treat the sick person as you always did, but never forget that their circumstances have changed. 

3. Avoid comments referring to yourself - The sick person does not want to hear about your pain or surgery. 

4. Don’t assume anything and verify all of the details.

5. Get all of the facts straight before you open your mouth.

6. Help the sick person feel useful; asking for them for their help when appropriate.    

7. Never speak to an adult as if they were a child and don’t make jokes because you are avoiding an awkward moment.   

8. Think twice before giving any advice. 

9. Let the person with the terminal illness set the conversational agenda. 

10. Don’t pressure the person to practice positive thinking, or seek different types of treatments that you think will be helpful. 

11. Finally, just spend time with them and let them know that you care.  You do not need to say anything because your presence says everything about your concern for them.  


Doctor’s Order Meditation Twice Daily

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At Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, doctors are now ordering the unlikely prescription of meditation five minutes, twice each day.  

Meditating daily on a doctor’s order and breathing techniques have an effect on numerous health conditions reports the Wall Street Journal last week. 

Integrative medicine programs including meditation are increasingly showing up at hospitals and clinics across the country.  Recent research has found that meditation can lower blood pressure and help patients with chronic illnesses cope with pain and depression.  The study published last year, reported meditation sharply reduced the risk of a heart attack or stroke. 

Health experts say meditation should not be used to replace traditional medical therapies, but rather complement them.  Using the slower breathing techniques in meditation will temporarily lower your blood pressure and will make you feel more relaxed. 

Some short term studies have found meditation can improve cognitive abilities such as attention span and memory, states Dr. Doraiswamy. Using imaging, scientists have shown that meditation can improve the functional performance of specific circuits in the brain and may reduce age-related shrinkage of several brain centers, particularly those that may be vulnerable in disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. 

It is recommended to start meditating for five minutes, two times each day and then begin to increase the time as you begin to allow yourself to enjoy the experience while you relieve the stress in your day. 



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