Defy Age-Related Vision Loss by Helping Seniors Protect Their Eyesight

Our vision is a precious ability, something we want to remain perfect (or at least near enough) as long as possible.

None of us want to even consider a time when our vision will become impaired.

Seeing the sun in the sky, a bluebird in flight, or the blossom of a spring flower is a privilege we all cherish.

What will happen if we begin losing our eyesight even just a little?

Many of our senior loved ones face this fear every day, as many are slowly (or quickly) losing their sight as they age.

Family caregivers may not even realize the extent to which their senior’s vision is impaired.

How will we know unless they tell us?

Vision Loss as We Age

On a recent trip to the eye doctor, I had a moment of pause as he told me I had a problem with my eyes.

“Aging,” he says, has led to changes in my eyes.

Aging? Me??

The general loss of my vision for close-up tasks, such as reading and seeing the dashboard when I drive, is to be expected as I am getting older (and aren’t we all?).

Huh! Really?

Bifocals are the answer — yippee!

Aging often leads to cataracts and I need to be prepared for the eventuality of having cataract surgery and lens implants.

Oh no!

But I know I am not alone in hearing this particular information from the eye doctor.

Many of our senior loved ones have heard it and perhaps even family caregivers too.

Vision Loss Facts

Blindness affects over one million people older than 40 years and visual impairment affects 3.4 million more!

Family caregivers should be aware of the impact of changes in their senior loved one’s vision and be ready to get them the treatment they require.

There are some medical problems that are not a normal part of anyone’s aging process that the eye doctor can uncover during an exam, such as diabetes. The doctor can look into the recesses of your senior’s eyeball to see any changes in the blood vessels signaling retinopathy.

Another potential eye problem that is not specifically age-related is glaucoma. This can be detected when there has been damage to the optic nerve, possibly associated with changes in the eye’s normal pressure, and can lead to blindness.

Another problem with vision occurring as our seniors get older is age-related macular degeneration. A hallmark of this disease is the blurring or darkening of vision in the center of our visual field.

This loss of vision can lead to our seniors’ loss of function and the ability to complete activities of daily living, which often leads to the loss of independence.

As the population ages, the number of people with age-related eye diseases causing a wide range of vision impairments, including blindness, will increase by an estimated threefold.

Family Caregivers Can Help Protect Seniors’ Vision

If you suspect a problem with your senior’s eyes, the earlier you get them tested and treated the better the outcome.

  • Have a dilated eye exam every year, especially for those at risk for intraocular pressure changes.
  • Visit the eye doctor if your senior has trouble seeing things close up, such as reading, buttoning clothes, sewing or picking out matching clothes; if the lights seem to be getting dimmer even when they are on; or, if they are having trouble reading street signs.
  • Have your senior wear their eyeglasses as prescribed and have the prescription lenses updated at least every two to three years.
  • It often makes sense to have an extra pair of glasses in case of damage or loss so that they will be able to continue to function independently.

Poor vision, especially as a part of aging, can impact your senior’s ability to age in place and live independently.

Seniors may be more prone to falling and having accidents resulting in injury as their vision fails, not to mention the impact on their ability to drive and thus their independence.

It is very important that family caregivers do all they can to prevent and treat seniors’ vision as they age and help them get the treatment they need.

I got my new spectacles – how about you and your senior loved one?




Home Safe Home with Dementia – Family Caregiver Quick Tip

Family caregivers who care for loved ones with dementia have to consider how they will handle a progressive disease, one which will eventually rob them of the senior they love.

They face what seem like daily changes, which all too quickly become challenges.

For family members who are dealing with dementia, that’s just one piece of the puzzle.

Family caregivers also need to make the environment safe for their seniors.

Dementia holds unique safety concerns for those families living at home.

Dementia Proof Their Home

Here are some tips from Nurses Unlimited to help you update your senior’s home to keep them safe when failing cognition puts them at risk:

  1. Be sure all exterior doors have secure locks to prevent wandering. Also apply stickers to glass doors to prevent walking through glass.
  2. Ensure lighting is adequate in all living areas to reduce the likelihood of sundowning.
  3. Remove poisonous plants and secure all chemicals to prevent accidental ingestion. Secure all medications, including over the counter drugs.
  4. Secure guns or remove from the home. Also, safely store kitchen knives. Secure car keys.
  5. Cover electrical outlets and keep cords out of walkways. Safety-proof stove.
  6. Remove or secure valuables, irreplaceable items and mementos.
  7. Place an accessible fire extinguisher and be sure everyone knows how to use it.
  8. Secure any electric device that could be dangerous if operated, especially in garage.

It is a good idea to do the basic home seniorization essentials, such as creating a clutter-free environment, installing grab bars, removing throw rugs and other items that all aging seniors need for safety.

Additional Resources

Here are a few more articles that will help family caregivers keep their seniors with dementia safe and content.

 




Protecting Seniors’ Financial Well-Being – Family Caregiver Quick Tip

Caring for our senior loved ones is, in some ways, similar to a multifaceted jewel for family caregivers.

There are so many fine details that we must carefully consider and oversee for them to shine and keep them safe as they age.

One of the most fragile and treacherous points of care is our seniors’ finances.

Family caregivers often don’t ask questions about finances until disaster strikes. We just don’t talk about money, as it seems too personal for many family caregivers and is something many older loved ones won’t discuss.

Digging into the finances for a senior loved one for whom you care is not bad manners, rather it is looking out for their well-being.

The cost of aging in place and meeting their living and healthcare needs is staggering and can bankrupt our seniors and, if we are not careful, family caregivers too.

Taking a proactive approach as early as possible to put financial plans into place is an important step for family caregivers.

Financial Plans for Aging Seniors

There are things seniors and family caregivers can begin doing right now to improve finances that will help with present and future costs of caring.

Here are 5 Tips for Keeping the Cost of Care Low from SmartAsset by Liz Smith.

  1. Invest in Long Term Care Insurance — Worth investigating to see if your senior can afford the cost of this insurance, which will help pay the cost of home nursing care, home health care, and other specific daily needs, depending on the plan. It is important to understand the plan and compare it with others to get what will fit your senior’s needs. It is also more cost effective to purchase it before it is needed, such as after a debilitating disease strikes.
  2. Make Their House Home-Care Ready – Renovate and update your senior’s aging in place home to make it age-friendly, with wider doorways, curbless shower, and other modifications. There may be home improvement grants or loans available in your senior’s area so check around.
  3. Look Into Government Programs – Review all programs and benefits available for your senior through the state and federal government. Assistance options are out there if they qualify. Check out BenefitsCheckUp.org.
  4. Compare Care Options – Learn about the options near your senior including home care, assisted living, and other care facilities. Visit them to find one that will meet your senior’s needs and desires. Don’t forget in-home companionship so they aren’t lonely.
  5. Claim as Many Tax Breaks as Possible – Caregivers should be sure their own finances can handle your new responsibilities. There are some tax breaks for caregivers. Protect your own retirement plan.

Let’s not forget investing in technology as well to remain home as long as possible with the assistance of safety and independence devices that are currently available. Technology can help solve care issues and keep your seniors safe with a little time and money investment on the front end which will give great benefits.

Additional Resources

Here are more articles that will help family caregivers learn about even more steps they can take to improve the financial strength of their senior loved ones while protecting their own financial outlook.

CareBot™: One of a Kind Family Caregiver for Aging in Place Seniors

“I haven’t heard from Grandma today. I hope she hasn’t fallen again.”

“Why isn’t Dad answering his phone; is there something wrong or did he just forget to charge it, like last time”?

Those and similar sentiments are expressed every day by family caregivers of older adults across the US, especially if their loved ones are living on their own a long distance away.

Helping senior loved ones enjoy the independent life they desire is both a mission and nerve-wracking challenge for millions of family caregivers.

Caregiving While Honoring Desire for Independence

We know they want to live their own lives in the home of their choice, but we worry about what may happen when we’re not there to help, especially if our seniors have injuries or chronic health issues that are limiting.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could somehow be there with them to ensure they are safe and their needs are being met but NOT there all the time, so we can honor their desire for independence and privacy? Maybe even provide some companionship to ward of the loneliness that is often experienced by those living alone?

Not to mention having time for the rest of our lives, jobs and families.

Competing objectives that can’t all be achieved, right?

It may be that way now, but we think we’ve found an answer that meets our seniors’ needs and desires while providing family caregivers the peace of mind we crave.

Enter the CareBot™ – – and a view into the future of senior and family caregiver support for independent living!

CareBot from GeckoSystems

The CareBot is a personal robot capable of automatic self-navigation that, according to GeckoSystems International (publicly traded at GOSY) and backed by the results of in-home trials, can meet the needs of many aging in place seniors and their family caregivers.

We first encountered CareBot a few years ago through our social media activities and learned about it through our research. According to the Gecko Systems website, it provides a number of benefits for older adults in their homes, including

  • Cost-Effective Monitoring
  • Virtual Visits
  • Automatic Reminders
  • Companionship
  • Automatic Emergency Notification

Because CareBot is not commercially available yet, we were limited in what we could learn about them on our own, so were thrilled when we got a chance to sit down and talk with GeckoSystems Chairman and CEO Martin Spencer.

After spending three hours listening to Martin talk about the technical and human aspects of this home caregiver – somehow robot doesn’t say nearly enough – we knew it was a story we had to pass along. Martin agreed to sit down with us again in the future to record an interview, but we couldn’t wait to share with you.

One of a Kind “Family” Caregiver

CareBot is, as Martin explained to us, truly unmatched in its technology and what it can do for – and not do to – older adults in their homes.

CareBot following senior out of roomThis home companion will follow Grandma (or whomever is designated) around the home, always staying close by without getting in the way.

With multiple sensing systems, CareBot is always seeing, hearing, and using senses humans don’t even have to monitor what is going on with Dad and all around him in the home.

“What about Dad’s privacy?” you might say, knowing that privacy is important to our senior loved ones (and to us).

CareBot has that covered, as everything that is monitored through all its senses stays with the robot unless a triggering event occurs, in which case CareBot follows family-designated parameters to reach out and contact appropriate family members, neighbors, and/or first responders.

Some examples of events that might trigger notification to predetermined contacts:

  • Mom has fallen and does not respond when CareBot calls out (yes, calls out) to her or she responds by indicating she needs help;
  • Medication schedules have not been met or health tests (such as blood pressure) have not been done during designated time windows;
  • Grandpa, who has Alzheimer’s disease, wanders out of the home alone and unscheduled;
  • There is a fire in the home;
  • Dad has not eaten for a predetermined period of time; or,
  • CareBot did not see Grandma leave the home but has not been able to find her in the home for a specified period.

CareBot waiting while senior readsThese are, of course, just scratching the surface.

CareBot is much more than a monitor, with artificial intelligence that allows it to interact, even converse, with your senior loved one, taking companionship beyond what their pet provides.

Based on what we’ve heard and read, CareBot sounds much more like a family caregiver than a machine you’ve brought into Mom’s home.

Designed to Care for Seniors

One of the things that sets CareBot apart from other household robots we have encountered is that it was designed with the needs of aging in place seniors in mind.

It’s not a general application robot repurposed for senior care but was created from the ground up based on the needs of seniors – by the family caregiver of a senior loved one.

CareBot is about, foremost, “safety, safety, safety” according to Martin. It determines the best way to go around obstacles in its path and never, never hits people, furniture, walls or anything.

We are now fans of CareBot and can’t wait for a chance to learn more, see one in action, and share it all with you.

Stay tuned . . .