As an optometrist at Hebrew SeniorLife, many of the eye problems that I treat in my patients are age-related. It is not uncommon for eyes to weaken as we age. One of those ways in which age can impact eyesight is through the onset of cataracts. Cataracts are one of the most commonly diagnosed eye disorders among older adults. In fact, by age 75—about 70 percent of people will have had cataracts.
What are cataracts?
A cataract occurs when the normally transparent lens of the eye becomes cloudy or opaque, limiting vision. Cataracts tend to develop slowly, making it difficult to detect a change. In some cases, a cataract doesn’t impair vision or affect daily life enough to warrant surgical intervention.
I’m sure you’ve heard the rhyme, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Unfortunately, this rhyme is not entirely truthful. Apples are healthy and good for you in many ways, but the reality is, eating an apple can’t keep you from getting sick. There is something that can do that though—vaccination (although we have yet to invent a rhyme reminding us of that).
Vaccinations are arguably the most important contribution to medicine. They are the reason polio no longer exists in the United States and why children no longer even need inoculation from small pox.
Following emergency surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to remove blood clots in his legs, Alvin Nigrosh came to Hebrew Rehabilitation Center to regain his strength and get back on his feet again with physical rehabilitation. He worked closely with our doctors and physical therapists to get moving. Before his surgery, Alvin was very physically active so getting up and moving again was a goal he took seriously! With the encouragement of our specialists, Alvin was able to recover from his surgery and walk blood-clot (and pain) free.
What is so scary about hearing loss? Everyone gets a little hearing problem as they age, right? Well….yes. Most people do acquire age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis, as they get older. Untreated hearing loss, however, can be a scary thing! Its onset is usually slow and gets worse gradually, making it easy to ignore until much damage is already done.
Research out of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, presents us with evidence of some frightening correlations between hearing loss and its subsequent effect on cognitive brain function.
While most seniors are happy, content and positive, others need assistance in helping them adjust to life's changes as they get older. It’s not uncommon for people of all ages to experience bouts of sadness but among seniors, depression can be a debilitating and life-threatening condition. Clinical depression is a disorder that affects mood, feelings, behavior and potentially physical health and is diagnosed when sadness is persistent or begins to affect a person’s ability to function normally.
Have you noticed any changes in vision? As we age, it’s not uncommon for eyesight to become impaired. Glacuoma, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) and diabetic retinopathy are the most common eye disorders experienced by seniors. I see my fair share of patients with these conditions in my role as optometrist at Hebrew SeniorLife and, while eye problems are irritating for anyone, they are particularly frustrating for seniors as impairment hinders independence.
Here is more information about the commonly developed eye conditions among older adults—so you’ll be knowledgable about the condition and proactive about speaking with your physician, should the need arise.
There’s no question sleep disturbances affect most of the population at some point in time. However, over half of the elderly suffer from difficulty sleeping. More than 50 percent of people over the age of 65 who live in the community and nearly two-thirds of seniors living in an institutionalized setting are affected by sleep disturbances.
Why is this so?
Sleep patterns and stages change as individuals age. Older adults require more time to fall asleep. Seniors also suffer from more frequent nighttime arousals and awakenings. The circadian rhythm which governs wakefulness and sleep shifts as we age, with the result that we tend to go to sleep earlier in the night and awaken earlier in the morning.
As a staff geriatrician for Hebrew SeniorLife, I often tell my patients: “You’ve got to work on lowering your cholesterol number.” High cholesterol levels are widespread because we absorb cholesterol from certain foods we eat. Once absorbed into the bloodstream, cholesterol is broken down into LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol). While LDL can cause plaque buildup on artery walls, HDL helps reduce plaque. LDL can lead to cardiovascular problems and put you at risk for stroke and heart disease.
As an expert on arthritis, I’m often asked for the best tips on how seniors can stay flexible even while struggling with the pain and stiffness this disease often brings. While there is currently no cure for osteoarthritis, there are a number of steps you can take to care for your joints to either prevent or control the disease.
Arthritis strikes both old and young, but can be particularly debilitating in older adults. Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis which occurs when the joint’s cartilage, the part that cushions the ends of bones, begins to breakdown. It is the most common of more than 100 forms of arthritis.
As you age, it’s not uncommon for chronic health issues to appear. While any type of chronic illness can be upsetting and feel daunting—it doesn’t need to be. Diseases such as Type II diabetes are manageable at any age. As physician-in-chief at Hebrew SeniorLife, I counsel our residents and patients all the time on some of the best ways to control their diabetes.
While the treatment of any disease should be tailored to a patient’s specific medical needs, the management goals for everyone who has diabetes are the same, regardless of age—enhancing quality of life and reducing complications.