Share and Care Homeshare has collated a number of guides full of information, which can help you and your loved ones understand issues affecting the elderly.
What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration is a term that describes problems with the macular – a tiny part of the retina that is responsible for all or our central vision.
Most people associate macular degeneration with getting older – and, indeed, age-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of sight loss in the developed world and affects over 600,000 people in the UK.
There are other, less common, types of macular degeneration which are rare and inherited conditions. Some appear in childhood but some are not diagnosed until later in life.
Age Related Macular Degeneration [AMD]
Macular disease affects central vision but does not cause complete sight loss – some peripheral vision remains. Central vision may become blurry or distorted and gaps or dark spots may appear in your vision. As the disease progresses your ability to see clearly will change.
There are 2 types of Macular Degeneration:
Wet Age Related Macular Degeneration
- Wet AMD is caused by abnormal blood vessels growing and leaking into the macula. Scarring results and causes rapid loss of central vision. This condition can develop very suddenly but can be treated if caught early.
- Treatment involves injection into the eye of drugs that will stop the growth of the abnormal blood vessels. These injections will usually be carried out on a monthly basis for 3 months and assessment will then be carried out to see whether further treatment is required. The injections are made only after the eye has been anaesthetised and so are painless.
- Occasionally, laser treatment may be used if injections are unsuccessful.
Dry Age Related Macular Degeneration
- Dry AMD occurs when retinal cells die and are not renewed – so it is a slow and gradual process that takes place over months or years. There is currently no treatment for dry AMD.
- Approximately 10 – 15% of people with dry AMD will go on to develop wed AMD. If you have dry AMD and notice a sudden change in your vision you need to seek medical advice.
- If you have dry AMD in one eye, it may also develop in the other. Again, seek medical advice if you notice changes in vision in either eye.
Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
The first symptom is often blurred or distorted area in your vision. As it worsens you may struggle to see anything in your central vision.
AMD can make it difficult to do things like reading, watching TV or driving.
People with AMD may also notice that they see straight lines as wavy or crooked, that objects look smaller than usual, colours are less bright or that they see things that aren’t there [hallucinations].
AMD is not painful and does not affect the appearance of the eye[s].
Making Life Easier for People with Macular Degeneration
There are steps that can be taken to make life easier for people who have AMD. Things that make life easier for someone with AMD include:
- Good lighting – bright and even general lighting together with good task lighting
- Pale walls and ceilings reflect light back into a room.
- Differentiate between wall and door colour or curtains.
- Ensure that dining areas are well-lit and use the principle of colour and contrast to make plates, knives, forks etc. more visible. Wrapping brightly coloured tape around the handles of utensils and tools can make them easier to find.
- Investigate “talking” kitchen items, including scales.
- Pegging shoes together in pairs
- Hanging colour-co-ordinating outfits together
- Apply toothpaste to your finger and then apply to the brush
- Use a pill box organiser for medication
- Invest in a big buttoned phone. Programme speed dial to store numbers which can be called at the touch of one button.
- Register for BT’s free directory enquiries service by ringing 0800 587 0195.
- Sit close to the TV screen, sitting at a 45 degree angle to the screen, or use a telescopic magnifier
- Subscribe to the weekly “Big Print” newspaper
- Ask your GP for a referral to a Rehabilitation Officer for the Visually Impaired service – ROVIs can teach people with AMD to move around safely, including outside the home
- You may be eligible for discounted bus or train fares – contact the relevant companies for more information.
- Subscribe to the RNIB Talking Books service – they have more than 200,000 books available as well as newspapers.
Looking After Your Eyes
- Have regular eye tests – at least one every 2 years
- Stop smoking – the association between smoking and AMD is as strong as the link between smoking and cancer
- Eat healthily – a diet low in saturated fats but rich in green leafy vegetables such as spinach or broccoli may help delay the progression of cataracts and AMD. Oranges, kiwis, nuts, seeds and oily fish may also prevent some eye conditions. Maintaining a healthy weight reduces the risk of diabetes and related eye conditions.
- Protect your eyes in the sun
The Macular Society https://www.macularsociety.org
Royal National Institute for the Blind [RNIB] https://www.rnib.org.uk
Moorfields Hospital Medical Retina Service https://www.moorfields.nhs.uk/service/medical-retina
To contact Share and Care Homeshare:
Tel: 020 3865 3398 or 020 8405 6316
Follow us on Social Media
Twitter – @ShareAndCareOrg
“Art can make a difference for people with dementia – like a call to the brain, a connection, helping people come alive again.”
You can’t control memory loss – you can control your reaction to it. Compassionate communication will significantly heighten quality of life.
Falls happen at home because people tend to move around without thinking about their safety.
Many falls could be prevented by making simple changes to the home as well as by making some simple personal and lifestyle changes.
In the UK it is estimated that 800,000 individuals are living with dementia, yet fewer than 50% of that number are ever formally diagnosed.
There is a belief that dementia is part of normal ageing and that nothing can be done to contribute to the low diagnosis rate.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists has identified that depression in the elderly is “the next big public health problem”.
GPs often (wrongly) assume that being elderly is, in itself, a miserable experience.
They do not consider the possibility of depression being an issue for older patients.
Dementia is an umbrella term for a progressive neuro-degenerative illness.
There are different forms of dementia, some which may occur early (before the age of 65) and which may have different symptoms:
- Is an enjoyable form of exercise
- Increases levels of physical activity and helps mobility and flexibility
- Encourages use of all motor skills
- Improves endurance and strength
- Helps prevent diseases such as osteoporosis
- Reduces stress levels and promotes relaxation
- Provides stimulation and an interest in nature and the outdoors
- Improves wellbeing as a result of social interaction
- Can provide nutritious, home-grown produce.
The NHS defines Parkinson’s disease as a condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged over many years. Clinically, Parkinson’s disease is primarily described as a movement disorder and is characterised by its variety of motor symptoms.
In any bereavement situation it is important for carers to acknowledge their own grief and emotions. It may become difficult to care for someone living with dementia and to help them to come to terms with the bereavement if you yourself have not done so.
Finding friends or others to talk to, doing activities that you enjoy (making time for yourself) may seem like luxuries, but they are fundamental to your ability to care and support others.
Research suggests that hormonal changes naturally occur when humans and dogs interact and that these could help people cope with depression and certain stress-related disorders.
Preliminary results show that a few minutes of stroking a dog prompts a release of a number of “feel good” hormones in humans, including serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin. Simultaneously, levels of the primary stress hormone cortisol, the adrenal chemical responsible for regulating appetite and cravings for carbohydrates, are decreased.
Power of Attorney (POA) gives someone you trust the legal power to act or make decisions about you on your behalf.
A POA is a very useful document; like a Will, it only comes into force if it is needed. Most people are happy to make a Will but feel that they don’t want someone else having the power to make decisions for them. However, ensuring you have a POA in place before it is needed makes a lot of sense.
The second most common infection type in humans, a UTI is an infection which is caused when germs get into the urethra and travel up into the bladder and kidneys.
The most common kind of infection is Iscycystitis; inflammation and infection of the bladder, although other parts of the urinary tract can become infected.
For older and more vulnerable people, nuisance calls can be more than a nuisance – they can be intimidating and upsetting.
Which? and trueCall tracked over seven million calls made over a three-year period. Analysis showed that four in ten calls were nuisance calls.
Worryingly, older customers received 46% more nuisance calls a month than younger customers.