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Consider your eyes – and lots more – during Healthy Aging Month

By Judith Whitehead
Contributing writer

September is Healthy Aging Month. In addition to taking care of our eyes – especially as we enter the senior years – we need to take steps to take care of our bodies.

With age comes wisdom but also health issues that never occurred as a young adult. Among them are cataract formation, which makes it harder to drive and perform daily functions.

There also is aging in the back of the eye (the retina), called age-related macular degeneration. These medical conditions are part of a gradual process that we suddenly notice in our everyday tasks. They usually don't happen suddenly, though it may seem so.

Most cataracts form slowly and cloud the lens of the eye gradually. Aging spots, called drusen, can gather in a cluster and affect the center of our vision.

Seniors need to consider several health-related questions as they age, says Judith Whitehead.

It’s important to have an eye care professional examine your eyes during these Golden Years to determine if any treatment must be done to preserve vision and make it safe for your lifestyle. Cataract surgery is very streamlined these days, with in-and-out procedures. Macular degeneration, if the wet and leaking type, may take several treatments to preserve sight.

As we age, it is also time to take a step back and assess our lifestyles. Are we living in a safe place? Do we have many stairs to climb each day? Do we have many throw rugs placed around our home? Throw rugs were popular during those baby boomer years but pose a threat to tripping in the home as we age.

Are we wearing slippers with backs to them in the home? Do we have safety grab bars in the bathroom and shower? Do we have a plan in place if living alone that allows us to reach out for help if we are in danger or having a health crisis?

Is it safe to continue driving a vehicle any longer? Driving is not just a vision decision, it is a cognitive one. These are all important matters that need to be reviewed with our aging population.

Make it a point to help our seniors live their aging years in a safe environment; whether it is a family member, friend or neighbor, put someone in charge of checking out the home. Enjoy the senior years.

Our population is growing into a higher percentage of seniors since we can medically take better care of people now. We need to spend more time caring about this valuable segment of our population.

Judith Whitehead, of East Amherst, is a certified ophthalmic technician.

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