February 2015 - The Wesley Communities

Bones and Balance

Falls are a common reason for trips to the emergency room and for hospital stays among older adults. Many of these hospital visits are for fall-related fractures. You can help prevent fractures by maintaining the strength of your bones. Having healthy bones won’t prevent a fall, but if you fall, having healthy bones can prevent hip or other fractures that may lead to a hospital or nursing home stay, disability or even death.
Osteoporosis makes bones thin and more likely to break. It is a major reason for fractures in women past menopause. It also affects older men. If bones are fragile, even a minor fall can cause fractures.
At any age, you can take steps to keep your bones strong. Be sure to consume adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D. Women over age 50 should consume 1,200 mg of calcium daily. Men between the ages of 51-70 should consume 1,000 mg of calcium daily, and men over 70 should consume 1,200 mg daily. This can be accomplished by eating calcium-rich foods and taking calcium supplements. Low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese are good sources, and orange juice and cereals are great ways to start your day with a good dose of calcium.
There are many health benefits to dark green, leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, and building up healthy calcium is one of them. There are several things you can do to improve your bone strength, and it all involves what you eat. Did you know sardines, salmon, soybeans and almonds can provide you with calcium you need each day?
Once you have the calcium addressed, consider increasing your amount of vitamin D. This helps your body absorb calcium. Getting sunlight can help. If you can’t get vitamin D this way, try to consume foods high in vitamin D, such as tuna, liver, eggs and fortified milk. Talk to your doctor about how much vitamin D you need. It’s believed that people between 51 and 70 should consume at least 600 units of vitamin D each day, and people over 70 should consume at least 800 units each day.
You’re never too old to improve your bone health. A diet that includes enough calcium and vitamin D and physical activity can help prevent bone loss and fractures. You can also have your bone density tested. Ask your doctor about supplements or other medicines to strengthen your bones if needed.

Healthy Vision

Have you ever tried looking at the back of your bank card or credit card to get
the phone number for customer service and no matter how many different ways
you hold the card you’re still unable to make out the phone number? Well you
are not alone. This happens to all of us as we age.
If you’ve lived 50 or more years without glasses, it’s probably time you give your
vision health as much attention as your heart health. If you wear glasses, make
sure your prescription is accurate. Anyone 65 or older should have an ocular
examination performed by an ophthalmologist every one or two years at
minimum. More frequent exams are warranted for anyone with a high risk of
developing eye disease. These risk factors may be based only on ocular history,
but also upon medical history, such as diabetes or family history of diabetes.
While seniors expect general attrition in their eye sight, it’s not uncommon for
ophthalmologist to see patients in their 90’s who have excellent vision in both
eyes. Minor vision changes are normal and often don’t pose significant risk for
the vision and can easily be overcome. Some seniors may experience dimness of
vision and require more light because their pupils do not dilate at dark or
because of a progressive cataract or other problems as simple as presbyopia,
which is blurred near vision while reading, sewing or working on a computer.
It’s important that seniors and their caregivers understand that proper eye care
is a significant component of their overall health care. Many patients come to
the office and have poor or no vision in one eye and are unaware of it until the
other eye is covered for the eye exam and the deficit is suddenly revealed.
Seniors may take slow onset of decreased vision for granted and learn to
accommodate for it. This is commonly seen with cataracts that act as variant
degrees of darker sunglasses in some cases. This problem can temporarily be
overcome with bright lighting, and the individual gets used to always being
somewhat in partial darkness. You don’t want to miss out on the simple things in
life, so make sure to get your eyes checked on a regular basis.

Hearing Health

Do you remember the commercial from a few years ago where a man moved around from place to place with a cell phone in hand repeating, “Can you hear me now” over and over?  That wireless company received a lot of mileage from that commercial.  It is a good reminder for all of us to keep a check on our hearing.
About one-third of Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 have hearing problems.  About one-half of Americans who are 85 years and older have hearing loss.  Hearing loss can affect your life in many ways.  You may miss out on conversations with friends and family.  On the telephone, you may find it hard to hear what the caller is saying.  At the doctor’s office, you may not catch the doctor’s words.  Sometimes hearing problems can make you feel embarrassed, upset and lonely.  It is easy to withdraw when you can’t follow a conversation at the dinner table or in a restaurant.  It is also easy for friends and family to think you are confused, uncaring, or difficult, when the problem may be that you just can’t hear well.
Many people lose their hearing slowly as they age.  This condition is known as Presbycusis.  Doctors do not know why Presbycusis affects some people more than others, but it seems to run in families.  Another reason for hearing loss with aging may be years of exposure to loud noise.  Many construction workers, farmers, musicians, airport workers, yard and tree care workers, and people in the armed forces have hearing problem even in their younger and middle years because of too much exposure to loud noise.  A hearing loss can also be caused by viral or bacterial infections, heart conditions or stroke, head injuries, tumors and certain medicines.
Do you have trouble hearing over the telephone?  Do you find it hard to follow conversations when two or more people are talking?  Do you need to turn up the TV volume so loud that others complain?  If you answer yes to any of these questions, see your doctor as soon as possible.  Depending on the type and extent of your hearing loss, there are many treatment choices that may help.  Hearing loss does not have to get in the way of your ability to enjoy life.