Habits for Healthy Eyes

As we age, our body needs an increased level of attention. However, one thing we tend to overlook is the need to take care of our vision. Vision loss is one of the top 10 causes for disability in the U.S., and the number of people with sight problems will double in the next 30 years, as reported by “ParTNers for Health”. Most of us do not notice sight issues, ie cataracts, glaucoma, etc. until the problem is at a critical stage. A regular visit to your optometrist is very necessary as we grow older. But also, there are some regular habits we can develop that keep your eyes healthy and keep your world around you clearer.

Eat for Better Sight – Most have heard that carrots are good for your eyesight. It is very true, but other eye friendly foods include leafy green vegetables like spinach, collards and kale, plus fish including salmon, tuna, and halibut.

Stay Fit – In addition to healthy eating, exercise can help you maintain your weight and avoid diabetes, a major cause of blindness.

Wear Safety Gear –  Googles, shields and other eye guards that are made of special lenses help protect your eyes during sporting events or while gardening, woodworking or other active hobbies.

Shade Your Eyes – Wear sunglasses that block 100% UV-A and UV-B rays.

Do not Smoke – Smoking can lead to AMD, cataracts, nerve damage and blindness.

Remember 20-20-20 – When using a phone or computer, every 20 minutes look away about 20 feet for 20 seconds to rest your eyes.

Keep it Clean – If you wear contacts, wash your hands and your lenses the right way to avoid eye infections.

Aging Gracefully

Aging gracefully, what does that really mean? Is it about cheerfully accepting growing older and the changes that come with aging? Or is it about feeling good ans staying as healthy as possible?

“There is normal aging and there is successful aging”, says Dr. Noel Ballentine of Penn State Hershey Internal Medicine. “Successful aging is being vibrant well into your 80’s. It is not only possible, it is common.”

“Aging gracefully is being as healthy and active for as long as possible, even when your health is in decline,” says Ron Bart, president and CEO of LeadingAge PA.

Here are some tips:

Get an early start: ” You have to start taking care of yourself long before you are in your 70’s,” says Ballentine. “Don’t count on your health to be excellent unless you’ve been working on it for 20-30 years.”

Keep actively physically: We are not saying you have to run a mile everyday, but some form of physical exercise is always a good idea regardless of age. “Once you start moving, you will feel better almost immediately,” says Rene Harlow, fitness director at Country Meadows Retirement Communities in Hershey. “It is never too late to begin exercising.”

Keep your mind active: Read, do crossword puzzles, etc. Your brain needs as much exercise as your body.

Eat Right: Good Nutrition is vital, and poor diet can lead to such problems as diabetes, obesity and joint issues.

Be proactive: Plan for the future. Think about where you are going to be in 10 years and what you want to do. A lot of people get to the point where retirement hits and not sure what is next.

Ask yourself tough questions: What are you going to do with your time once you are retired? What are the things that you wanted to accomplish or enjoy when you were younger, but did not have time to do? Do you have enough money to live as you need to? Do you want to stay in your current home or move into a retirement community? What are the things you thought of doing, but have not had the chance yet?

Once you make some decisions about your future, and plan for it, you will get a sense of relief to know steps are in place.

Get Involved: Staying active in your community is a good way to keep your mind sharp, while feeding your desire to be a servant to others.

Anticipate your health-care needs: Put plans in place so that if you or your loved ones become ill, you know what to do. The cost of aging can be very expensive, so it is wise to review all options in advance of needing care. These should include comparing cost and services of facilities as well as home care.

Maintain a positive attitude: There are benefits that come with growing older, such as having a better understanding of yourself and feeling comfortable in your own skin.

Do not fight getting older: The only way to live a long life is to get older, and if you ignore encroaching age, you are going to have difficulty adjusting to it.

Addressing Senior Obesity

The battle of the bulge affects seniors as it does most age groups. With less activity, the issue grows in impact, and becomes a serious health challenge. 58% of the 65+ population are overweight or obese. Studies show those of us who are overweight are not getting the recommended 30 minutes per day of physical activity that the surgeon general suggests. while we all know that diet has a huge impact on weight reduction, diet without exercise greatly limits impact on your health. Also, increasing physical activity is known to be one of the best preventative measures to take to decrease the risk of falls in elderly. Three of every ten seniors will fall each year and approximately 6% of all emergency room visits were the result of injuries sustained in or related to a fall. Those are just the numbers on the falls that are reported. Many falls go unreported to family and doctors.

Poor physical fitness in the senior years can result in difficulty performing the activities of daily living. These activities include bathing, dressing, eating, getting up and down, walking, and using the toilet on your own. Four of every ten people over the age 65 report having difficulty completing at least one activity of daily living. There are may easy exercises that you can do from home to help you stay strong and flexible. Examples are stretches, using resistance bands, lifting light weights, walking, etc. There are also programs at the YMCAs and the Senior Citizens Centers that are geared toward senior health. Almost everyone is able to add some level of exercise to their daily routine, even if limited to what can be done from a sitting position.


Senior Isolation

Unfortunately, senior isolation is an issue that can affect many of the seniors in our lives. According to the US Census Bureau approximately 28% of people 65 and older lived alone at the time of the census. Unfortunately, as time goes on it is more likely that the seniors will live alone which can result in loneliness and isolation. This can be extremely detrimental to the senior’s health. There are ways we can help prevent this from happening to the seniors in our lives. Here are just a few ways we can connect to the seniors in our lives:

  • We can help promote a sense of purpose. By promoting a sense of purpose this will give your loved ones something to live for and something to strive for. By having something to strive for it can lower their stress and help them live longer. If your loved one once showed an interest in spirituality it might be a good idea to encourage them to attend services. By attending services, it can help their mood, outlook on life, and give them a sense of community.
  • Make transportation available to senior loved ones. Transportation is a vital part of keeping your loved ones active and social. By them having access to transportation this allows them to go to doctor appointments and other social engagements. These appointments are important to keep your loved ones healthy in body and in mind.
  • If your loved one is an animal lover, a pet would be a great addition to their life. Sometimes just to have the companionship of a pet can do a world of wonders!
  • Keeping you loved ones involved with the things that they have shown interest in over the years would also be a great way to keep them active. Sometimes just a little help with a passion project that they once had can make all the difference.
  • We may not associate technology with the elderly, but it just may be a lifeline when family and friends do not live nearby. If we show them how to use the new technology we can connect with them more often. This would be a great addition to your family and help keep you connected.


Boomers Changing the Game

“Aging in Place” is a growing trend that is driven by the fact that the older Americans want, and sometimes need to remain in their homes as long as possible. This trend is quickly becoming mainstream and has implications for several industries from housing to technology, health services, home care and financial services.

Of course, Boomers are driving the aging in place movement. One of the factors contributing to this trend is that today’s boomers are dealing with multiple generations of life stages – aging parents, their own health and career challenges and possibly caring for adult children and grandchildren. Clearly, boomers are juggling quite a bit and the option of remaining in the family home is very attractive. Previous generations of retirees fled for the warm climates and controlled environments of classic retirement communities of Florida and Arizona. But Boomers have a lot going on in their lives and don’t see themselves as the type of people to hit the shuffleboard court. They want to remain independent, are looking for products and services that will help them maintain their quality of life and maximize their retirement nest egg.

Here is a list of industries that are capitalizing on this trend by providing the right solutions to Boomers to enable them to meet their goals of Aging in Place.

New Housing – New housing options for the 55+ group are popping up around the country. These look nothing like the cookie-cutter developments of the 70’s and 80’s. Their main feature is that they enable retirees or downsizers to stay in their community where they have family, friends, and emotional connections. This allows people to remain part of their community as volunteers and also be on the receiving end of care when they need it.

Remodeling – The trend of multiple generations living together is driving expansion and retrofitting of existing homes to accommodate either an aging parent or a returning child. There is also a large need for making houses more accessible to seniors with health and mobility issues. Everything from walk-in tubs, barrier-free showers, pull-out shelf systems, assistive equipment, technological controls and accessibility ramps to improve ability to remain in homes with physical limitations.

Financial Services – The need for special banking and investment advice and management, along with providing advocacy support will only grow in importance.

Health and Social Services – The needs for clinical and home based care is growing exponentially as the aging in place population explodes. These range from home health, professional caregiving services, physical fitness equipment and hospice service. Along with this comes a need for transportation services to and from healthcare facilities.

Technology – Boomers will not be typical seniors as they continue to redefine every age group they enter. Technology is and will be front and center in their activities, their entertainment and managing their healthcare. The mobile healthcare market is about to explode and is a big initiative for technology giants to integrate your health data into accessible apps for fingertip access. These new tools will allow doctors and other healthcare professionals to monitor you health instantaneously. In addition, the ability to use technology to monitor your home and belongings and connect to public services is growing in need and support.

Boomers will once again change the game as they begin to “Age in Place”, and this movement will result in new businesses and services being created to fill the needs. Stay tuned, this will not resemble your grandfather’s retirement!

Using Hospital Beds

We do not generally like to think about having to use a Hospital bed in our homes, but they can be a very effective tool to enhance care of a loved one. Also, they do not have to be a permanent, as health improvements can allow a return to normal bedding. Some proven advantages of using a hospital be include:

Better positioning for patients – When people spend extended periods of time in bed, the pressure that the bed exerts on their bodies causes skin tissues to become trapped between bone and the bed surfaces, causing pressure sores or bed sores. The hospital bed allows users to make periodic adjustments, allowing them to shift the pressure throughout the day.

Improved Circulation – The hospital bed allows user to adjust the bed for better head and feet position, allowing proper blood circulation.

Safety – Anyone at risk of falling out of bed will benefit from using bed rails that are a part of the hospital bed, and can be raised or lowered as needed. This can be of enhanced need when the patient suffers memory issues.

Transferring – Patients with limited mobility have real challenges with the transfer from bed to the floor (with walker) or to wheelchair. With the ability to raise or lower the bed to the best transfer position, the patient and their caregiver can minimize awkward positions that impede safe transfers.

Caregiver Assistance – Caring for a loved one who is bedridden can take a toll on the physical condition of the caregiver, especially in the back area. Hospital beds allow caregivers to elevate their patients to a level at which they can care for them with straining their own bodies.

Hospital beds came to be acquired with different options, including headboard and footboard, styles and colors, mechanical and electrical controls and bed sizes. When prescribed by a physician, the cost is typically covered by medicare. At Touching Hearts at Home, we employ professional caregivers who are trained at assisting clients with the unique needs they have. Utilizing hospital beds along with the caregiving services can create an effective care plan for those in need.

Old Meds Need Disposing

We are all subject to hanging on to old meds that are no longer needed, and in many cases expired. These need to be disposed of, and in the appropriate manor. The proper method of disposal for all expired or unwanted over the counter and prescription drugs is to take them to your local law enforcement agency’s permanent drub take back bin. Law enforcement collects these drugs and takes them to an approved facility to be incinerated in a way that does not negatively impact air quality. Simply throwing away, flushing, or diluting and mixing are not safe and responsible ways to dispose of drugs. These pharmaceuticals are hazardous waste and should be handled responsibly.

When drugs are flushed down the toilet, or poured down the sink, chemicals in the drugs enter the watershed or groundwater. Some of these chemicals are toxic and can negatively affect drinking water and aquatic ecosystems. Pain medications, hormone therapy, and birth control dissolve in and combine with water in a way that normal soil filtration cannot remove. Wastewater treatment plants are not designed to remove all of the pharmaceutical compounds found in the water before releasing it back into the watershed. The contaminated groundwater can then be introduced to groundwater that potentially supplies water wells. The drug contamination amount may be small, but if consumed by humans over a long period of time, it can lead to serious health problems. Not only can contaminated water affect humans, it can also alter aquatic ecosystems, as well as other wildlife. Studies have shown that both fish and algae respond negatively to pharmaceutical contaminates. Small changes in algae growth and production can disrupt an entire ecosystem. Drugs that are thrown in the trash and end up in landfills also are subject to entering the local water system.

Therefore it is very important to make sure all pharmaceuticals are properly disposed of to eliminate any possibility of contaminating the waterways, aquatic ecosystems, or ourselves. And finally, not disposing at all is a large risk. According to the CDC, in Tennessee there has been a 345% increase in prescription drug overdose deaths from 2001 to 2015, which is a major increase. Decreasing availability is one positive step towards reducing the number of overdose cases.

So please make efforts to dispose of you medications that are no longer under prescription and/or expired.


If you have seen an episode of Dr. Phil in the past 5 or 6 years, you may have seen the horror stories about people of all ages being exploited on the internet for their money. This term is ‘Catfishing.’  When you read the title of this article you may have imagined a great fishing trip up to Kentucky Lake that resulted in great memories and good food. If you ask someone in Generation Y or Z what catfishing is, many of us are going to associate it with online scamming, unfortunately.

According to the Urban Dictionary, a ‘Catfish’ is “someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.” I have read that the term catfish was coined because the person pursuing you using these tactics often comes off as quite a catch but turns out to be a bottom-feeder. If you Google ‘Catfish’, the first few links will have nothing to do with the delicious, whiskered scavengers that are on the menus at Higg’s and Hop’s, served up with tarter sauce. Yum! What does come up on a search is a TV show, articles, and advice about how to avoid being ‘catfished.’

Senior citizens are extremely susceptible and targeted by catfishers. Some of the reasons include: there are more seniors using social media now than ever; a lot of seniors that are online are widowed or divorced; they may have assets, retirement, social security, and savings that younger people have not amassed; and they may be more lonely and eager to connect with someone. This is a new form of scamming. Do not ever feel ashamed if you have fallen victim. Catfish target good people with big hearts. If you are not sure if someone who is contacting you is a catfish, ask an internet savvy friend or family member to do a little bit of research on the person trying to connect with you.

According to socialcatfish.com, there are 12 signs that you or a loved one may be getting catfished online. They include:

  1. If they seem too good to be true, they probably are. (single, attractive, have lived an abundant life, travel often, are wealthy, etc.)
  2. You meet someone online and they have broad interest that could relate to just about anyone. (They may be throwing a net out there to appeal to as many people as possible.)
  3. They say that they care about you and they act like things are serious only after a short amount of time. (They may be trying to push the relationship forward or prying into your personal business without ever actually meeting them or talking on the phone.)
  4. They don’t know what Skype or Facetime is or say they say they are having trouble using or downloading it and you can chat online only. (They may always have an excuse for why they can’t chat with you face to face or online or if you talk to them on the phone, their voice may not match the ethnicity they are claiming.)
  5. They have a job that makes them travel all over the world (mainly the middle east and Africa) and their job title is along the lines of contractor or engineer. (There are rings of people in those countries, especially Nigeria, that spend all of their waking hours trying to financially exploit people.)
  6. They ask for money and give an excuse to have you send it to someone else. (This is a scam! Stop all communication and block this person from messaging you.)
  7. They contact you out of nowhere and you don’t know them and they try to romance you through chat and email. (See if you have any mutual friends. If so, contact those friends and see what they say about this person. If none of your friends know them in real life, deny their request to chat.)
  8. Their profile is littered with poor grammar that sounds like it is the person’s second language when they say it is not. (Don’t be afraid to ask questions and dig for more information. Many times they are copying and pasting poems or passages from movies or novels.)
  9. They don’t have pictures on their profile of the people they are friends with or their family and the only people who comment on their profile don’t seem to actually know them or their friends. (There should be evidence of them interacting with other real people, people tagged in pictures, etc.)
  10. They look like a model of mildly famous. (catfish want to be appealing so they often steal pictures from attractive people’s profiles or famous people in other countries.)
  11. The person you met online has stories that always seem unattainable or far fetched and you haven’t actually met them in person. (They will make you fall for them, and make you feel sorry for them by pulling at your heartstrings is their goal. They may say that their spouse, children, and/or parents have passed away.)
  12. You’ve met someone online and something just doesn’t seem right or you have suspicions that you just can’t put your finger on. (Go with your intuition! They may draw this out for years to gain your trust. They are probably scamming multiple people at one time so you aren’t the only victim they are trying to take advantage of.)



Importance of Taking Medications Properly

Taking medications properly is so important to get the maximum benefits, and incorrect usage of prescriptions medications can have dangerous consequences. Pfizer.com reports that 40% of seniors, who take more than one drug, fail to properly take their prescriptions. Here are some tips offered by Pfizer.com to ensure that you are maximizing the benefits of your medicine:

Talk to your health professional so you understand:

  • Why you need the drug
  • How and when to take the drug
  • How to store the drug
  • What might happen if you do not take as prescribed

Make sure you never:

  • Use your medication for any symptom or illness other than the one for which it is prescribed
  • Take someones else’s medication or give your medication to someone else
  • Take more or less of a medication, unless directed by your healthcare professional

Get Organized:

  • List all medications that you take, which includes prescriptions, over the counter drugs, vitamins and supplements
  • Write down any questions you have to ask your Doctor
  • Keep a list of your medications, along with any allergies and emergency contacts. Keep this information with you at all time, along with insurance information.

Do any of the following apply to you?

  • I sometimes forget/put off having my meds refilled
  • I sometimes forget to take my meds as prescribed
  • I have trouble keeping my meds straight
  • I sometimes stop taking my meds when I feel better
  • I sometimes stop taking my meds because I do not think they are working
  • I do not as my health care professional questions about my meds because I am embarrassed or shy

If any of these apply to you, we encourage you to strive for improvement in your medication management for you health’s sake. At Touching Hearts at Home, our professional caregivers are trained in assisting with medication management. We cannot administer meds, but we can ensure that meds are taken as prescribed with friendly reminders and documentation. We are also distributors for Guardian Medical monitoring devices; which includes an electronically controlled medication planners. We can be reached anytime at 731-613-2526 and viewed on the web at www.touchingheartswesttn.com.

National Senior Citizen Day

“For all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish, we owe older citizens our thanks and a heartfelt salute. We can best demonstrate our gratitude and esteem by making sure that our communities and good places in which to mature and grow older – places in which older people can participate to the fullest and can find the encouragement, acceptance, assistant, and services they need to continue to lead lives of independence and dignity.”  President Ronald Reagan – August 19, 1988 Proclamation 5847

Ronald Reagan declared August 21st as National Senior Citizens Day, and rightfully so. We have so much to learn from seniors! Today is a great day to take the time to recognize our seniors in our lives, and stay connected with our loved ones.

Different ways to stay connected:

  • Start a family history project. You can learn so much about your family that you would have never known if you didn’t sit down and listen to stories from their childhood.
  • Recipes are a great way to pass down tradition for generations. Getting a cookbook together would be a great project to do together, and you might learn the secret to getting that recipe to come out just right.
  • Painting a picture together would also be a great way to connect. There are local paint workshops that you can take and you both will have a painting to take home and remember the great time you had together.
  • Make a homemade treat and surprise them with it. Sometimes the simple things are what mean the most to others. Making their favorite dish or dessert and taking it to them might mean more to them than you might think it would.

Seniors are a major contributing factor to our society, doing all the things that their younger counterparts do. Seniors also give generously: they make more charitable donations per capita than any other age group. When family members are not always available to either watch children or take care of sick family members. Seniors are the bulk and usually the first to volunteer. Acknowledging seniors’ contributions would help make ours a more age-inclusive society that does not pit one generation against the other. It would also be a more accurate reflection of how most of us engage with each other in our everyday lives.

National Senior Citizen’s day is a great way to show our appreciation for all the seniors’s in our lives. Just showing appreciation can make all the difference, and let seniors know how important they are to everyone.