Vision Changes in Our Senior Years

Vision-Changes-to-Watch-Out-for-as-You-Grow-Older-300x266I always had perfect vision. I remember when my Mom started asking me to thread the needle on her sewing machine because she couldn’t see right to do it anymore. Now I have my grandkids do the same thing for me. My sister and brother started wearing glasses when they turned 40. I couldn’t imagine myself ever needing them, but 40 seemed to be the magic number for me too. What I found out through my research is that most of us develops this condition around the age of 40. It’s called Presbyopia. It’s when the normal flexible lens of the eye becomes increasingly rigid and unable to focus on objects close up.

I started off with reading glasses. By the time I was about 45 I started noticing that the signs along the road were starting to get blurry now too. So, I went from reading glasses to bifocals. With my check-up each year I’d only see a slight change, and about every two or three years I’d need a new prescription. When I got in my middle 50’s I started noticing that I was getting night blindness when I’d drive, and if it was raining at night I couldn’t see at all. The doctor said I had cataracts but they weren’t ripe enough to operate on yet. Eventually I had the surgery when I was 63. I was so hoping I wouldn’t have to wear glasses anymore, like many of the people I knew, but I still needed them for distance. I can drive at night without any trouble now though. One of the other conditions I get is dry eyes especially when I’m working on the computer a lot with my writing. Eye drops help that. These are all the typical eye disorders that come with age.

The diseases that can happen are more serious:

  • Age-related macular degeneration-it’s leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 50. It’s caused from damage to the macula area on the retina, and area that makes clearly defined, central vision possible.
  • Glaucoma-is the leading cause of blindness in the U.S. It’s caused by an abnormal rise in pressure in the fluid-filled chambers of the eyes, damaging the optic nerve.

This is why it’s so important to have regular eye check-ups.

The other thing that happens is the reduced muscle tone around the eyes. The muscles that support the skin around the eye socket and control the upper and lower eyelids sometimes become so relaxed and weak that they lose their firmness and elasticity. I remember many years ago when I worked as a bank teller. I had this dear older lady who would come to my window. The skin above her eyelids hung so heavy you could barely see her eyes. As she struggles to sign her check I wanted to reach over and hold her eyelids up so she could see what she was doing better. In later years my Dad’s eyes got the same way, not as bad but bad enough that he was starting to have more trouble seeing. His ophthalmologists sent for an eye tuck, and it was nice to be able to see his deep blue eyes again. I may have to have the same thing done someday. It’s a condition called blepharoptosis or ptosis and along with not being able to see well it causes headache and fatigue.

A good healthy diet, using brighter lights and regular checkups are the ways to stay ahead of some of these disorder and diseases. I’ll leave you some links with more detailed information. That way you can read them at your own convince.

Remember being informed is the best way you can be your own advocate for a health life.

https://www.sharecare.com/health/eye-vision-health/article/aging-eye

pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-2418/T-2140web.pdf

https://www.consultgeri.org/geriatric-topics/sensory-changes

A special note: Due to it being summer and the many commitments I have right now. I will not be posting my blog on a weekly basis anymore. I will still be posting, from time though. I do enjoy sharing with you the things I learn as I search for the answers to my own questions about aging.

Thank you…Connie

“Our Aging Senses”

Frogs

When I was growing up, I was taught to be mindful of my surrounds to see, hear and speak no evil. My senses were sharp and quick back then. Now that I’ve gotten older I don’t have to put my hands over my eyes and ears, but maybe keeping them over my mouth isn’t such a bad idea. I often don’t hear half of what’s said. That, in turn, tends to distort what I think I see also. What slips out of my mouth is a distortion of my senses.

“What’s that? Did you say, Pat’s getting fat?”

“No! I said that’s a great hat!”

My Dad was an expert in this department, and he would come out with the funniest things he thought he’d heard. He’d have us all laughing and got a kick out it as much as we did. Now I do the same thing. Being able to laugh along with everyone else is a good thing. But it’s not always funny and sometimes even embarrassing. Worst of all it can be quite isolating.

I bring the topic of our 5-senses up because I’ve been hearing a lot of thought-provoking stories on the subject and how it relates to getting older. It is after all our hearing, vision, touch, taste and smell that gives us valuable information about our surroundings. One of the things I learned was that as we age our brains begin to shrink and that in turn makes our senses less sharp. That, in turn, makes it harder for us to detect the critical details that allow us to function socially as well as safe in the world. The more I reached the subject I realized I’d have to break this article up into sections. There is so much information about how each of our senses changes with age that I thought it was worth talking about one at a time.

When I have questions about the changes going on in my own life, I do my research. First, I’m looking to be informed. Second, I’m looking for solutions. If there are none, then I’ll find a way to live with it. It’s all about having the best quality of life and working with what we have. One thing I learned over the years caring for my loved ones was how vital it is to be informed but most of all to be the best advocate we can for ourselves.

So stay tuned, next week I’ll share what I’ve learned about hearing loss.

Through The Eyes of Babes

Have you ever wondered what it is about babies and toddlers that captures our attention?

Of course it’s because they’re so darn cute. But, more than that I’ve discovered that it’s because they remind us of the things we take for granted.

I remember how in awe I was when I watched my own babies discovering life. But I never appreciated it to the extent I could once I became grandparent. I wanted to carry them away to place where they would never lose it. Where the ugliness of life could never enter into the pure joy of life’s discoveries. Now out of 9 my youngest grandchild is 8 and my oldest 26. I wasn’t ready to be a great-grandparent yet. But in becoming one God had a deeper level of pure joy to show me through the eyes of our 14 month old great-grandson Ryder. As he stands in the rain for the first time in his life. With a smile looking up toward the heavens he lifts his arms as if praising God. Opens his mouth to let the rain in while trying to catch the raindrops with his hands at the same time. He jumps, dances, and giggles as he plays in the pouring rain. If I hadn’t been so awe struck I would have joined him myself. But, I am grateful for the reminder to open my own eyes to the things I take for granted. For those are the grace-filled moments when we get a glimpse of heaven on earth.

“Do What You Gotta Do!”

do it
It’s not as easy as it sounds to do what Dr. Roizen teaches in his book “This is Your Do-Over.” Creating a do-over in your life is literally what you have to do. Most importantly for it to work you have to be committed to the changes you need to do.

I start off with all the best intentions but it never fails that something happens to sabotage my efforts. Something like an injury, surgery, sickness or even a vacation. You’d think it would be easy enough to get back on the train to good health once you’ve learned all the tricks, but it isn’t. When you don’t feel good you sit, and when you sit too much that sedentary life begins to feel comfortable. Soon your back to feeling lousy and let’s face it…old again.

When I get like this it’s not long before I hear the words of my mother echoing in my head, “Well, you know, I am in my 60’s now, what do you expect.”

Okay, Mom, I can understand to a point what you were talking about now, but I also understand that I could have another good 20 or 30 years to live. I’m not ready to give up yet. As I keep reminding myself, aging is not for those who don’t have the fight in them to live. The bottom line is, if you want to live, you have to keep moving. That’s where living exists in the things we do, and you can’t create your do-over without doing the work it takes to do. “So, Just do it!” is what I tell myself, doooooo it!

 

“Summertime Senior Safety”

Summertime and the living is easy!

Man, listening to Ella Fitzgerald singing that song makes me want to go outside, sit in warmth of the sun with my gin & tonic, and a good book. The truth is I can’t lay in the sun anymore. I never should have all those years back when I lathered up with baby lotion to get a tan. I’ve been lucky so far that I haven’t had a skin cancer, but I’ve had a few big scares. I’ve read that the older we get the longer we’ve been exposed to the sunlight which is one of the many reasons we’re at higher risk for skin cancer.

I don’t know about you but I want to live, and a lot of that living has to do with being outside. I like to garden, walk on the beach, play in the pool with my grandchildren, watch them play sports, and walk my dog. So, how can I do that and be safe too?

6 steps for senior skin care

I did my research, and while many of the things I learned I was already doing. The things I read made me sit up and take those things a little more serious. I would encourage you to read them if your serious about taking care of yourself. I’ll have the site information at the end of this post. For now, I made up a reminder list of the important things we can do.

  • Be commitment to the consistency it takes to be the best you.
  • Check your skin on a regular basis
  • Stay out of tanning beds
  • Apply SPF 30 or higher before you get dressed to make sure you don’t miss a spot.
  • Pay special attention the ears, bald spots, hands and feet, and reapply exposed areas throughout the day.
  • Always use a lip balm of at least 30 SPF and apply several times throughout the day.
  • Sit in shade
  • As my friends would say moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/protecting-senior-skin-from-the-summer-sun-147114.htm

https://www.skincancer.org/healthy-lifestyle/anti-aging/seniors

“The Dis-ease of Seniorities”

IMG_0127

I was working on my memoir and started a sentence off with the word senior. It was about reaching that final year in high school. I sat there looking at the word senior, thinking how surreal the moment felt. I mean, here I was a senior again going through some of the same feelings and emotions only this time it’s at the opposite end of life. But what could make two such different correlations of the word anything alike? It could only be that dreaded feeling that comes with the anticipation of the unknown. It creates a kind of dis-ease they call…senioritis.

So, I wondered, what are the symptoms of senioritis? Of course, it only applied to seniors in high school. But once again I couldn’t help seeing the correlation to those of us adjusting to our retirement and our senior years of life.

The symptoms:

Loss of interest in your appearance
Lack of motivation
Increased irritability
Difficulty reading things longer than a few paragraphs
A drastic increase in TV watching
Feeling rebellious
Feeling superior
Short-term memory loss
Sleep too much or too little

Oh, those years of youth when I had my whole life ahead of me to look forward to. Another symptom of senioritis comes with the wonder of what’s left to come. Barbara Hannah Grufferman’s in her book, “Love Your Age,” reminds us that, “We can’t control getting older, but we can control how we do it.” Understanding those words gives us our power back. It takes us out of that senioritis mindset. We realize life is no longer about looking ahead or back, but about making the most of the moments we have right now. I’m learning that you can live a lifetime in those moments because it actually feels as if time stops and all that matters is where you find yourself.

So, there we have it. Another way to embrace this stage of our life, take control and do it our way.

If you’re looking for more ways to find out how to make the best of this time in your life check out Gruffermans’s book. She has lots of great ideas and insight.

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“Come Dance With Me”

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it and join the dance.”-Alan W. Watts

dancing lady

About

As I  search for answers to my own questions about getting older. I wondered why no one my age wanted to talk about it. Some would simple say, you’re only as old as you feel. Well it’s true, I mean when I hear an oldie but goody on the radio and I start to be-bopping around like nobody’s business. Next thing ya know my hip is out of whack, and I find myself having to take a time out for a few days till I can move around normal again. That is as normal as a 65 year old can. Oh I don’t want to say it like that. I sound like my mother who was always saying, “Well you know I am in my 60’s now.”

“That’s not old,” I’d tell her.

So now when I go away with my girls and they want me to go dancing with them they say come on Mom, live it up, and I have to bite my lip from saying the same thing my Mom did. Instead, I did go out with them, and I did live it up, and I did have a great time because I still can. All I want to do is embrace this stage of my life, but I don’t understand what that means. That got me thinking that maybe no one wants to talk about it because they don’t know what it means either. What I do know is that I want to live the best life I can with the years I have left to enjoy it. So, I thought I’d share with you the answers I find to my questions.

Maybe you’d like to come dance with me along the way. Maybe together we can figure out how to live the best life we can with what we got. As I said to a friend the other day, two heads are better then one, and who wants to dance alone, that’s no fun.