Quality Home Health Care

Surgical Correction for Cataracts

Nearly everyone experiences an eye problem at some point in life.

When the eyes are healthy, they focus the light that passes through the pupil to the retina at the back of the eye, allowing us to focus. cataractCataracts cloud the lens. The hazy lens prevents light from passing to the retina, impairing or dimming the vision. Once the cataract starts, it gradually increases the amount of light it blocks.

While most cataracts are age-related, some form due to other reasons. Such cataracts are much less common than age related ones.
For example:

Babies or children may develop congenital cataracts due to birth defects or heredity. Occasionally, a child forms cataracts for no obvious reason.

Eye surgery or chronic diseases are other causes of cataracts.

Medications, particularly steroids and diseases such as diabetes increase the risk of cataract formation.

Trauma that results in an eye wound can start the formation of a cataract. These cataracts may advance slowly.

Smoking, obesity, hypertension, prolonged exposure to sunlight and heredity also increase one’s chances of developing cataracts.

Cataracts are diagnosed by an ophthalmologist who examines the eyes by dilating the pupils using medication in the form of eye drops. He uses a slit-lamp to examine the cornea, lens and iris, as well as the space between the lens and iris. The doctor uses an ophthalmoscope, a special microscope, that allows the doctor to look for details and check for abnormalities. While the pupil is dilated, the doctor examines the retina and looks for diseases including glaucoma and cataracts. He also examines the retina and optic nerve. Additionally, the patient undergoes a standard vision acuity test, that involves evaluating the eyes using various sizes of letters.

If your doctor discovers cataracts, but you want to avoid surgery, you may have a few options. Depending on the severity of the condition, a simple change in prescription lenses may help you to see better.

Once you reach age 65, have an annual eye exam.

Protect your eyes from the sun by wearing a hat and choosing sunglasses designed to block 99 % of ultraviolet rays.

Avoid smoking.

Lose some weight. Your primary care physician can offer some tips to help.

If the cataracts cause halos or blur your vision after dark, limit your night driving.

If you find reading difficult, try using a magnifying glass.

Avoid any eye drops that claim to cure cataracts, as drops cannot cure the condition.

When the vision changes become too bothersome, see your ophthalmologist. Cataracts are easily treated with surgical removal. If the condition changes your lifestyle, you have the option of a simple surgery. Prior to the operation your doctor will perform tests. He will measure the curve of the cornea and size of the eye so he can choose the correct lens.

If you have had eye surgery such as Lasik in the past, it does not prevent cataracts, but you should let the surgeon know your medical history.

It is also important to inform the surgeon of any medications you take, including supplements and sleep aids. Some medications can slow the healing process. The doctor may prescribe eye drops for a few days after the surgery to help prevent infection.

Cataract surgery is generally quick and painless. The doctor makes a very small incision next to the cornea in the front of your eye. He then uses high-frequency ultrasound to break up the cataract before suctioning it away. He replaces the damaged lens with an intraocular lens (IOL). IOLs may be made of plastic, silicon or acrylic. As healing occurs, light begins passing through the new lens so it can focus on the retina and your vision starts to clear within a few days. To protect the new lens, the doctor places a protective shield over the eyes. He also provides wraparound sunglasses. After a short rest in the recovery, patients are ready to head home. However, every patient is required to have someone else to drive them home, as they are restricted from driving immediately after the procedure.

During the week after surgery you should:
-Avoid touching the eye
-Wear your shield continually
-Put on the provided sunglasses if in bright light
-Avoid lifting, bending or any strenuous exercise
-Protect the eye from water and dirt

It is normal for the vision to be blurry for a few days after surgery. If you experience pain, call your doctor immediately.

As with any surgery, there are some risks:

-The surgical site could become infected

-The retina or cornea or retina could swell

-The retina could detach

-You could experience glaucoma

-There could be hemorrhaging in the eye

Your insurance or Medicare sometimes helps with the cost of cataract surgery. Always check with your surgeon if you have questions about the surgery or expense when making your plans.

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How Senior Citizens Can Minimize Back Pain

Senior citizens are learning, as we age, problems with back pain seem to become a fixture in our lives, yet exercises are often a forgotten path. Senior Woman With Back PainCuriously, elderly patients run straight for a doctor, which typically results in a prescription. A better approach towards pain-free damage control is proactive stretching.

More than 50 percent of all Americans will suffer from some type of back pain during their lifetime. Some problems may be congenital, but classic back pain causes are simply due to muscular tightness, poor posture, inactivity, and being overweight.

For the elderly, the best approach to back problems is to implement methods of stretching, standing, sitting, and sleeping. Individuals who have reoccurring lower back problems should avoid any stretching that arch the back, called hyper-extensions. This creates too much stress on the lower lumbar.

Here are a few back pain exercises for daily care:

People tend to lift items when their legs are straight, causing tension in the back. The knees should always bend slightly when picking up packages so that the bulk of the work is done by the heaviest muscles in your legs. Not the small muscles in your lower back. When lifting, keep the weight close to your body, and the back as straight as possible.

Back pain is also a result of poor posture when standing and sitting. We tend to ignore our posture and usually will sit or stand with rounded shoulders, as our head droops forward. To correct alignment, pull your chin in, with the back of your head pulled straight. Keep your shoulders pulled back and down while you tighten your abdominal muscles. It sounds challenging, but getting into the habit will help flatten your lower back as you sit.

We also tend to stand with the knees locked. This tilts the hips forward and places the pressure of standing directly on the lower back. Use the large muscles, the quadriceps, to control posture when standing, and support the body in a position of strength. Your body will be always be aligned through the hips and lower back when the knees are slightly bent.

Every day individuals awake stiff, sore and grumbling about back pain. Bad sleeping habits account for a large portion of back pain causes. A good, firm surface can help with back care. A quick resolve is to sleep on your back, placing a pillow under your knees to keep the back flat, and minimize any tension.

Your Weight and Back Pain Causes

Tension in the back can be caused by excessive weight around the middle. The extra weight individuals carry can gradually cause the pelvic to tilt forward. Strong abdominal muscles can help support the pelvis and a stronger back. Many individuals simply ignore weight issues until it becomes one of their obvious causes of back pain. The good news is that back pain exercises can quickly address and resolve your problem. Here are a few simple routines to improve the condition;

1. Develop the abdominal muscles by regularly doing abdominal workouts. Of course, exercise within your limits. It will take time and regularity, but as you become more aware of weight issues and the uncomplicated treatments for these back pain causes, you’ll develop a daily routine.

2. Slowly allow the size of the stomach to shrink by not overeating. An overweight person needs more food to fill an over-stretched stomach and the outcome is an unbalanced body.

3. Build up the muscles in your chest and upper arms by performing daily knee push-ups. These push-ups help to isolate the muscles in the upper body without straining the lower back.

You’ll soon learn that movement will become much more enjoyable when your back is properly aligned. Proper nutrition and regular physical activity will add more function to your daily life, far beyond your current potential. When senior citizens introduce a few simple lifestyle changes, that include daily exercises that are targeted toward minimizing back pain, the problems will become a predicament of the past.

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Essential Facts About Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects physical movement and eventually cognitive function. It has been linked to low dopamine levels in the brain. The disease develops on a gradual basis, and often begins with a hand tremor that is almost undetectable at first. Parkinson's Disease awarenessHowever, even though shaking and tremors are the most recognized sign of the disorder, in many cases it also causes a slowing of movement and stiffness in the muscles. The disease typically begins in middle or late life, and it rarely afflicts young adults. The average age of initial manifestation is 65, and the risk for developing Parkinson’s increases with age.

The cause of Parkinson’s disease is not yet known and is not considered hereditary, but having a close relative with Parkinson’s may slightly increase the chance of developing it after age 60. For reasons unknown, men are at a higher risk for Parkinson’s disease than women. The sooner treatment is sought, the better the chances of delaying the progression of the disease.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s

Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease vary considerably from one individual to the next. Early symptoms are often mild and typically go unnoticed and are sometimes misdiagnosed. Initial symptoms usually occur on only one side of the body, and even after both sides are affected, the side where the symptoms first manifested usually remains the worst.

In addition to shaking and tremors, something referred to as a “pill rolling tremor” is quite common. This is a back-and-forth rubbing of the forefinger and thumb and typically occurs when the hand is at rest.

Over time, the ability to move fast is lost, which makes simple tasks time-consuming and difficult. A person may be unable to stand up quickly, and his or her steps may become shorter and stilted. Some patients described this symptom as feeling like their feet are anchored to the floor.

In a variation of the disease called Rigid Parkinson’s, muscle stiffness may be the first symptom to manifest. This sometimes leads to a longer period between initial symptoms and diagnosis, as there are a high number of causes for muscle stiffness, most of which are much more common than Parkinson’s disease.

Impaired balance and posture is common among Parkinson’s patients, as well. A stooped posture eventually emerges, and it is usually at this point that the “Parkinson’s shuffle” manifests. As its name implies, the person appears to be shuffling his or her feet across the floor, rather than the normal tandem gait that is seen in healthy individuals. Stiffly hanging arms rather than a normal swing is another common sign of the disease.

Often, a masked expression appears, which is noticeable to others. Speech problems occur as well, and these may manifest as stilted talking, slurred speech, or even speaking in a jumbled fashion. Handwriting may appear particularly small and writing may have a distinct wavy appearance. Additional symptoms are listed below which almost always worsen over time:

• Difficulty swallowing
• Depression
• Difficulty thinking and reasoning
• Constipation
• Fatigue
• Bladder problems such as difficulty urinating.
• Changes in blood pressure
• Muscle and joint pain
• Sexual dysfunction

Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease

There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease; however, symptoms can be controlled or reduced by specific drugs. In certain cases of advanced Parkinson’s, surgery may be recommended.

Medications

The medications prescribed for Parkinson’s disease were developed to increase dopamine, as dopamine deficiencies play a major role in the development of the disease. Significant improvement is seen in most patients shortly after beginning treatment. Below are the most common drugs prescribed for Parkinson’s:

• Carbidopa-levodopa

• Duopa

• Dopamine agonists

• MAO-B inhibitors

• Catechol-O-methyltransferase

• Tolcapone (Tasmar)

• Anticholinergics

• Amantadine

Surgery

In cases of advanced Parkinson’s disease, treatment may include surgery called Deep Brain Stimulation–DBS. This is considered one of the newest treatments for the disorder and has had good outcomes regarding lessening the severity and frequency of symptoms. During the procedure, surgeons implant electrodes into a specific area of the brain and a generator implanted near the collarbone sends impulses to the electrodes which then travel to the brain. Sustained relief from symptoms is often experienced by those who undergo this surgery, although it does not completely stop the progression of the disease.

Occupational Therapy

Some doctors also recommend occupational therapy. Physical therapists offer a wealth of advice to make life easier for Parkinson’s patients. Such therapy is typically focused on stretching, balancing and tips on how to avoid falls, which is of vital importance. Speech language pathologists are sometimes consulted as well, who can suggest exercises to improve speech problems. Although Parkinson’s cannot be cured, the appropriate treatment is available. Therefore, anyone experiencing symptoms of Parkinson’s disease should contact a medical professional for evaluation.

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Lifestyle Changes You Can Make to Reduce Your Chances of Getting Cancer

Reduce Cancer Risks with a Healthier Lifestyle

It is impossible to guarantee that you will never develop cancer. elderly couple with healthy lifestyle reduces risk of cancerHowever, you can significantly reduce your risk with simple lifestyle changes.

Limit Or Avoid Alcohol

When you drink excessively, you increase your risk of cancer. Studies show even moderate drinking can increase the risk. Women should never have more than one drink per day, and men should not have more than two. You may be able to prevent cancers related to alcohol by not drinking at all.

Make Smart Choices In Your Sex Life

Most people have only heard of human papillomavirus during the last few years. This virus can cause cervical cancer, but it can also cause other cancers in men as well as women.

As the virus can be transmitted through sexual contact, practice safe sex. You can choose between a monogamous relationship with your lifelong partner, or use condoms every time you have sexual relations.

Avoid Tobacco Products

It is extremely difficult to quit smoking, even when you know the risks. Lung cancer is not the only cancer connected to smoking. The carcinogens can cause other types of cancer, too.

The risks are not limited to cigarettes. You also increase your risk of cancer if you smoke cigars or use smoke-free tobacco products. If you cannot easily give up your habit, ask your doctor for advice.

Protect Yourself From UV Rays

The most common cause of skin cancer is too much exposure to ultraviolet rays. Prevention can be easy if you take it seriously. Limit your exposure to direct sunlight, and use a good sunblock whenever you are outdoors. Avoid tanning booths, tanning salons, and sunlamps.

You can also reduce your risk of skin cancer by monitoring your skin for changes. If you notice changes in moles, or skin discolorations that were not present before, report it to your doctor immediately.

Exercise Every Day

Moderate exercise on a daily basis can decrease your risk of cancer, including colon cancer and lung cancer. Choose an activity you enjoy, and do it every day.

Make Changes In Your Diet

Foods that contain antioxidants can reduce your cancer risk by keeping your cells healthy. Berries and cruciferous vegetables should be in your daily diet.

Your risk of lung cancer can be reduced with certain superfoods. Apples, garlic, red peppers, fish, spinach, and green tea are some examples.

Exercise moderation if you eat processed meats and red meats. Choose healthier products for your daily protein.

Know Your Environmental Risks

It may be impossible to eliminate environmental risks entirely, but knowing the risks in your environment can help you make changes. Purchase a test kit to test the levels of radon in your home. If the level is high, the problem can be corrected. Everyone in your household can have a lower risk of lung cancer.

Second, learn about environmental risks at your workplace. You may have an increased risk of cancer if you are exposed to certain chemicals, dust, or fumes at work.

Third, choose chemical-free products for your home and personal use. Toxic chemicals can be found in products ranging from cleaning supplies to personal grooming products and cosmetics.

Chemical-free products can reduce your own cancer risk and keep others in your home environment healthy, too. You can also consider the benefits outside your home and family. If you use toxic chemicals, residue that is rinsed away ends up in the waterways, soil, and land. When you choose natural products, it is the eco-friendly choice.

Avoid Sleep Deprivation

When you sleep, your body heals. While this is important for every part of your body, it helps your cells stay healthy. A full night’s sleep every night can reduce your risk of cancer.

Maintain Your Ideal Weight

Obesity can lead to many health risks, including cancer. A balanced diet and daily exercise can help you achieve and maintain your ideal weight. If you are having difficulty losing weight, ask your physician for advice. He can recommend a healthy approach to weight loss.

Know Your Family’s Medical History

If cancer runs in your family, discuss it with your doctor. He may advise tests, monitoring, or additional changes so your risks can be reduced.

These lifestyle changes can help you prevent cancer. You can enjoy a healthier life.

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What Seniors Need to Know About Health Care Decisions

As you grow older, it is time to think seriously about health care decisions. senior man with advance directive in hositialThe wisest step seniors can take is to prepare for their future health care by considering some important legal issues.

What Is A Durable Power Of Attorney?

A durable power of attorney for health care is also referred to as a health care proxy. When you appoint someone to this position, he will have the authority to make health care decisions in your behalf. If your illness is to the extent that you cannot make your own decisions, your proxy will be able to speak for you.

Complications can arise if you do not have a health care proxy. If you have not granted anyone this authority, the decisions may be up to your health care providers. If this occurs, your doctor may not know your wishes, or he may ignore your wishes and do what he feels is best.

You should put careful thought into choosing a health care proxy. While you should reasonably assume the person will be available if his assistance is needed, you also need to know he will abide by your wishes. Before you prepare this document, discuss every aspect of your health care with the person you are considering. You need to know he will respect your decisions, even if he does not agree with them.

Most seniors choose close family members as their durable power of attorney. However, this is not a requirement. If you are not sure a family member will carry out your wishes, or if you have no close relatives, you can appoint a friend, your minister or priest, or any other adult you feel is appropriate.

What Is A Living Will?

A living will covers your end-of-life decisions. Its purpose is limited.

If you become ill or injured to the extent that death is in the foreseeable future, a living will informs your health care providers of your wishes regarding treatment. As examples, you may want your life to be extended as long as possible, even if you are in a coma, or you may object to life-extending procedures such as feeding tubes or breathing tubes.

Whether you want every procedure possible, or a do-not-resuscitate order, your wishes will be clearly stated in a living will.

What Is An Advance Directive?

While an advance directive includes your end-of-life decisions, it covers more information regarding your future health care. You do not have to be near death for an advance directive to come into effect. It can make your wishes clear to the health care providers if you are too ill to communicate.

The advance directive will let health care providers know what you do and do not want regarding medical treatment. Your health care proxy should also be named on your directive. As the directive covers your end-of-life decisions as well as your future health care decisions, you do not necessarily need a living will if you have an advance directive.

For Seniors Making Health Care Decisions

If you are uncomfortable with these topics, it is easy to make mistakes. While living wills and advance directives are often available in hospitals, you do not have to use the forms provided by your hospital. Although forms are available online, they may not be exactly what you want.

As advance directives and living wills are legal documents, consider asking your attorney for assistance. Your lawyer can prepare the documents to meet your specifications. Your lawyer can also help you find witnesses to make the documents legal and valid.

Both living wills and advance directives must be honored by health care providers. If the provider in charge of your care does not agree with or approve of your decision, he is obligated to turn your care over to a provider who will abide by it.

Do not allow anyone to pressure you into naming them as your health care proxy. This is a decision you need to make for yourself. You do not have to appoint a family member if you believe someone else would be more reliable.

The best time to address these issues is when you are reasonably healthy and sound of mind. This can greatly reduce your risk of someone attempting to override your decisions when you cannot speak on your own behalf.

Your future health care decisions and end-of-life decisions should not be anyone’s decisions but your own. When you have an attorney to assist you with these documents, they will be completely binding by law. You will be able to update or revise the documents any time you choose, but no one will be able to ignore or override your decisions even if you are at the end of your life or severely incapacitated. With these documents, and a suitable health care proxy, you can have peace of mind.

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