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January is Glaucoma Awareness Month – Here’s What You Need to Know

Monday , January 18 , 2021

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month – Here’s What You Need to Know

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, and at ComForCare, we’re encouraging people to start the new year by getting a comprehensive eye exam.

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of vision loss and blindness in the United States, affecting about 3 million people. While anyone can get it, those most at risk include African Americans over the age of 40 and anyone over 60.

Unfortunately, without a dilated eye exam, many people don’t even know they have symptoms. The disease is often referred to as “the sneak thief of sight.”

With a rapidly aging population, the epidemic is only expected to grow. To help raise awareness, we’ve put together a quick guide to Glaucoma. Keep reading to learn more about the disease and what you can do to help prevent it.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that affects the optic nerve within your eyes. It gradually damages the nerve’s ability to function correctly, affecting the brain processes the way images. Typically, it is entirely painless.

The disease’s progression varies from person to person, but it often affects peripheral (side) vision first and later leads to “tunnel vision.” According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, about 5% of cases result in blindness.

Types of Glaucoma

There are several types of Glaucoma, but the main two are open-angle and angle-closure. These are marked by pressure inside the eye.

  • Open-angle Glaucoma is the most common form of Glaucoma, accounting for more than 90% of cases. It’s caused by the slow clogging of drainage canals in the eye, leading to increased pressure. This is a lifetime condition that develops slowly with symptoms that are not noticed.
  • Angle-closure Glaucoma is also caused by the clogging of drainage canals in the eye, however, it usually develops quickly and has very noticeable symptoms. Without immediate medical attention, the damage could be severe.

Risk Factors

Because Glaucoma can destroy vision before any symptoms are apparent, it is vital to be aware of these risk factors:

  • Being of African, Asian, or Hispanic descent
  • Being over 60 years old
  • Having a family history of Glaucoma
  • Having diabetes
  • Being severely nearsighted

Regular screenings are essential to help diagnose the disease as early as possible. If Glaucoma is found, treatment can begin immediately.

Glaucoma Treatment

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for Glaucoma; however, medical treatment can help slow the spread of the disease. The effectiveness of medication or surgery depends on early diagnosis and the type of Glaucoma treated.

Final Thoughts

Regular eye exams can help detect Glaucoma in the early stages before severe damage has occurred. If you or someone you know needs help getting to an eye doctor appointment or picking up medicated eye drops, ComForCare can provide a reliable, safe, and flexible transportation solution.  Reach out today to schedule your transportation services.

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What Older Adults Need to Know About the Covid-19 Vaccine

Monday , January 11 , 2021

What Older Adults Need to Know About the Covid-19 Vaccine

Older adults are among those most at risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19. That is why, now that vaccines against the virus are being distributed, seniors will be some of the first to receive them.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended that people living in long-term care facilities, as well as those 65 and older, be included in Phase 1 of the COVID-19 vaccination program.

While distribution will vary from state to state, here in New Jersey, all residents aged 65+ are eligible for vaccination beginning January 14.

As you get ready to receive the vaccine, you may have some questions. That’s understandable.

In this blog, we address some of the most common queries older adults have about the COVID-19 vaccine so you can feel more comfortable as you move forward with the process.

Keep reading to learn more:

Older Adults and COVID-19

According to the CDC, “risk of severe illness increases with age, with older adults at highest risk.” In the U.S., 8 out of 10 COVID-19 deaths have been in adults aged 65 and higher, and those aged 85 and higher have a 630x greater chance of death.

One of the reasons older adults are so likely to become gravely ill is underlying medical conditions, such as COPD or diabetes. To mitigate risks, experts recommend that older adults continue with their regular treatment plan and have at a least a 30-day supply of any medications. Most importantly, they say that you SHOULD NOT avoid going to the hospital or doctor office out of fear of contracting COVID-19.

Vaccine Distribution

The CDC has recommended that states give vaccine priority to health care workers, long-term care residents, essential workers, adults with high-risk conditions, and those aged 65 and older (in that order).

Already, more than 9.3 million doses of vaccine have been administered across the U.S. – mostly to healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities. Soon, the process will be opened to those aged 65 and older (some states, such as Florida, have already begun inoculating older adults).

It is estimated that about 50 million doses of vaccine should be available this month, followed by another 60 million doses in February and March. That’s enough vaccine for roughly 85 million people, and should be enough to immunize medical personnel, front line workers, and older adults.

Getting the Vaccine

There are two authorized vaccines in the United States (Pfizer and Moderna), and both require two shots to be effective. Vaccine doses are purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars and will be given to the American people at no cost, however vaccination providers may charge an “administration fee” for giving the shot. The fee may be covered by your insurance company or, if you are uninsured, by the Health Resources and Services Administration Provider Relief Fund.

Each state has its own plan for who will be offered the COVID-19 vaccine first. For more information on when you may be eligible, contact your state health department.

Is the Vaccine Safe For Older Adults?

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been tested in adults aged 65 and older. Research shows that they are safe and effective at preventing illness due to COVID-19. Since it is known that older adults can become gravely ill from COVID-19 and are more likely to die from the infection, it is highly recommended that they receive the vaccine.

What are the Side Effects?

Based on what scientists have seen so far, there seem to be few side effects. Most often, recipients have noted symptoms such as:

  • Soreness at the site of injection
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Low-grade fever

Please note that if you are on chemotherapy to treat cancer or immunosuppressants (such as post-transplant), you may experience additional side effects and you should speak to your doctor before receiving your first dose.

Do I Still Need to Wear a Mask Post-Vaccine?

Yes. The CDC recommends that during the pandemic, people continue to wear a mask that covers their face and nose, even after receiving the vaccine. It is unknown whether vaccinated people can become carriers of the disease and spread it to other people, leaving the possibility that they could become silent spreaders of COVID-19.

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Improving Balance to Prevent Falls

Monday , December 14 , 2020

Improving Balance to Prevent Falls

Seniors are at high risk of severe falls. According to the CDC, about 36 million older adults fall each year, resulting in 32,000 deaths.

How does this happen?

As people age, gradual physical changes, such as decreased strength and loss of flexibility, lead to a greater risk of accidents. These falls can lead to more significant health problems than they would in a younger adult and may impact a senior’s ability to lead an active, independent life.

Fortunately, exercises that focus on improving balance can help.

Keep reading to learn more:

Facts About Older Adult Falls

Falls are the leading cause of injury and injury-related death in adults aged 65 and over in the U.S.

According to the National Council on Aging, an older adult is treated for a fall in the emergency room every 11 seconds, and the average health care cost for each of these falls is approximately $35,000 per patient.

Other notable statistics include:

  • One out of every five falls results in an injury, such as a broken bone or head wound
  • Every year, at least 300,000 older adults are hospitalized for a fall-related hip fracture
  • Women fall more often than men and account for three-quarters of all hip fractures

However, it’s important to note that falls are NOT a normal part of aging, and there are things you can do to reduce your risk.

Balance Exercises

The risk of falls in older adults is usually related to various factors, including balance and/or walking problems. For many seniors, activities such as standing up from a chair or getting out of bed at night to go to the bathroom can pose a risk.

While it’s impossible to eliminate the possibility of falls completely, exercises that focus on balance can reduce the risk.

These five exercises from Synergy Sports and Rehab can help:

Standing March: Alternate lifting one knee at a time as high as comfortable, for up to 30 seconds. Vary the surface on which you march (i.e., hard floor to the back yard) for more of a challenge. A sturdy countertop, table, or chair back can be used for support if necessary.

Heel to Toe: Starting with both heels touching the wall, put one foot in front of the other, so the heel touches the toes of the opposite foot. Repeat with the other foot, as if you’re walking a chalk line. Hold your arms out to the sides for balance and repeat for up to 20 seconds.

Weight Shifts: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your weight equally distributed on both legs. Shift your weight to one side, lifting your other foot off the floor just a few inches. Hold this pose for as long as you can maintain good form, then shift and hold on to the other leg.

Single-Leg Balance: Starting with the same stance as above, lift one leg off the floor, bending it back at the knee. Hold for as long as you can maintain form, up to 30 seconds, then do the same with the other leg.

Try Yoga: Balancing poses in yoga, such as balancing mountain and tree pose, can improve stability, endurance, and confidence. Find a local class or look online for a beginner series and amp up your practice as you become more comfortable.

Final Thoughts

Balance training is an essential tool to help prevent falls and subsequent injury or loss of function. As always, if you are new to exercising or suffer from a chronic condition, check with your healthcare provider before beginning a new program.

Good luck on your fitness journey. Stay happy and stay healthy!

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