Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Glaucoma the "Sneak Thief of Sight"

There are many good reasons to get an eye exam each year, and perhaps one of the most important is to find out if you have indications of glaucoma, a group of eye diseases that can lead to blindness. January is Glaucoma Awareness Month. This can serve as a public service to people of all ages to get a comprehensive eye exam. While there is no cure for glaucoma, there are treatments available to preserve sight. According to the World Health Organization, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world. Some estimates state there are over 60 million people worldwide with suspected glaucoma. The Glaucoma Research Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for glaucoma, states that there are currently 2.7 million people in the United States over age 40 with glaucoma. The National Eye Institute is projecting that there will be a 58% increase in this number by 2030. There are risk factors for glaucoma. Glaucoma can strike at any age, from newborns to elders; everyone is at risk for glaucoma. However, certain groups are at a higher risk that others. People over age 60 are at a higher risk (you are six times more likely to get glaucoma if you are over 60 years), as are family members of those who have glaucoma (the most common type of glaucoma is hereditary; family history increases risk of glaucoma four to nine times), and people with diabetes. People who are severely nearsighted are also at risk for glaucoma. Some evidence links high doses of steroid use to glaucoma. Eye injuries may cause glaucoma, also. This type of glaucoma can occur immediately after the injury or years later. Glaucoma is sometimes called the “sneak thief of sight” because often there are no symptoms of the disease and once vision is lost it cannot be regained. The Glaucoma Research Foundation states that as much as 40% of vision can be lost without a person noticing. If you receive a diagnosis of glaucoma, it is important to know what it may mean. First, it does not necessarily mean that you will go blind. Blindness from glaucoma is a relatively rare occurrence. Sight impairment from glaucoma occurs in about 10% of patients. Glaucoma can be controlled with treatments for life – eye drops, laser treatment or surgery – and these treatments may be able to help prevent additional vision loss. Is it time for your annual eye exam? It may be a good time for you to schedule your eye exam for 2014.

Healthcare System Facing Many Challenges

Up to a fifth of Americans over 65 years old have mental-health or substance-abuse conditions, according to a report released by the Institute of Medicine, an independent government-advisory group. According to this study, at least 5.6 million up to as many as 8 million older adults in America have one or more conditions, which present unique challenges for their care. And, the health-care system isn’t set up to adequately address their concerns. With the number of adults age 65 and older projected to soar from 40.3 million in 2010 to 72.1 million by 2030, the aging of America holds profound consequences for the nation. Substance abuse appears to be a growing problem among Baby Boomers, and there’s no reason to believe the trend will stop. Between 2002 and 2007, the percentage of people aged 50 to 59 nearly doubled to 9.4%, and non-medical use of prescription drugs also increased substantially to 4% from 2.2%. Also, of particular concern are depression and dementia-related behavioral or psychiatric symptoms. Some of this may be brought on by the events more commonly experienced later in life, such as the death of loved ones. Another factor in the looming increase in demand on the mental health-care system is simply a larger number of aging Americans. However, older people are less likely to seek psychiatric treatment compared with younger ones, and the availability of services and professionals geared to treat this population is lacking, according to the report. Many older people with mental-health problems also have physical ailments, so clinicians have to be especially careful to avoid unsafe drug interactions. An older person’s goals for mental-health treatment also may be different than a younger patient’s. Instead of a total cure, an older individual may just want to function better while reducing the amount of needed medications. For decades, policymakers have been warned that the nation’s health care workforce is ill-equipped to care for a rapidly growing and increasingly diverse population. In the specific disciplines of mental health and substance use, there have been similar warnings about serious workforce shortages, insufficient workforce diversity, and lack of basic competence and core knowledge in key areas. An expert committee assessed the needs of this population and the workforce that serves it. The breadth and magnitude of inadequate workforce training and personnel shortages have grown to such proportions, says the committee, that no single approach can adequately address the issue. Overcoming these challenges will require focused and coordinated action by all.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year Healthy You Resolutions

As we start the New Year, many people make resolutions; often times it is to be healthier. What are some of the lifestyle changes that can lead to a more healthy life – and not fade away as the idea of making resolutions wears off? A balanced diet and participation in regular exercise are paramount in maintaining a healthy life for people of all ages. Routine exercise and healthy diet can have an even more noticeable impact on our general well being. Different people prefer different types of exercise. Whether you are looking for exhilarating work out such as Zumba or are trying to ease into a lifestyle change and are looking for exercise that would be beneficial but gentler – several options are available for your level. A few examples follow: Chair Exercise Class – chair exercise increases strength, flexibility, balance and endurance to those individuals with mobility limitations, arthritis and a decreased level of functioning. Classes are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30 – 11:30. Meditation – Discover a new level of peace with yourself. Dress comfortably, bring a towel or mat to sit on and learn the basics of meditation. Thursdays for 4 weeks starting January 16th at 7:00pm. Qi Gong – Low impact exercise that can be practiced standing or sitting. Promotes relaxation, balance, and coordination with the use of gentle, fluid movements. Each class is 30 minutes. Wednesdays at 9:00am. Yoga – this relaxed, open class is offered ongoing for all levels. Come as often as you like and work at your own pace. Wear comfortable clothes and bring a yoga mat. Mondays from 10:00 -11:30AM. Zumba Fitness – feature exotic rhythms set to high energy Latin and international beats. Zumba is easy to do, effective and totally exhilarating. Mondays for 6 weeks beginning January 13th from 8:15 – 9:15am. Zumba Gold – modifies the moves and pace of Zumba to suit the needs of the active older participant, as well as those just starting their journey to a fit and healthy lifestyle. Wear comfortable clothes and good sneakers. Fridays for 6 weeks beginning January 16th from 8:15 – 9:15am. All of the above take place at The Dale Association, 33 Ontario Street, Lockport. Please call 433-1886 for additional information, costs, and to register. As always, be sure to check with your physician before starting any new exercise program. Many diseases in adulthood may be preventable or at least slowed down as a result of healthy lifestyle. Osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, dementia and depression are some of the common conditions that can be positively modified through diet, exercise, and other simple lifestyle changes. A free diabetes prevention program is being offered on Thursdays, starting January 23rd at 10:00am. The workshop is being presented by Niagara County Department of Health, Nursing Department. This interactive and empowering program is for adults with pre-diabetes and diabetes. For more information or to register for this program, please call 297-1900. Workshop will take place at 33 Ontario Street, Lockport, NY. Also, Let’s talk about Cholesterol – is a free health seminar being offered on Thursday, February 13th at 10:00am at 33 Ontario Street, Lockport. Participants will learn about cholesterol and how it affects your body. Find out the difference between good and bad cholesterol, and discover how diet and exercise can help control cholesterol. Tips about eating healthier will also be provided. This free workshop is being presented by BlueCross Blue Shield of Western New York. The public is invited to attend and reservations can be made by calling 433-1886. A Parkinson’s Disease or a Movement Disorder Support Group meets the first Friday of every month at 12:30pm. This support group welcomes all. Please call Beth at 433-1886 for information or questions. Memory Minders is a social day program for people with mild memory impairment and welcomes new participants to the program on Mondays and/or Fridays from 10:00am – 2:00 pm. Participants enjoy activities and support designed to slow the further deterioration of mild memory loss. To schedule a pre-screening and for additional information, please call Angie at 433-1886. Some other important lifestyle modifications include: smoking cessation, going to your primary care doctor routinely, reviewing your list of medications with your doctor, visiting the dentist annually, following up with your eye doctor and engaging in regular and ongoing social activities. Here’s to a healthy you and happy New Year!