The return of better weather seems to naturally make us stir and think of changes. Perhaps you are thinking to do some remodeling in your loved one’s house. Or maybe it’s time to check on Mom if you’re a long-distance caregiver. And then there are the changes of aging. Some are normal, some problematic. This month we offer tips about common changes in eyesight and eye health.
Considering a remodel?
Do you want to ensure that Mom and Dad can live safely and comfortably in their home over the years to come? Many seniors want to “age in place.” Remodeling can remove safety hazards and prevent common accidents. It also can be less expensive than paying for assisted living. Plus, making the home “senior friendly” can add to the value of the building long term.
Discuss with your parent(s) the win-win of remodeling to improve the home for
- ease of getting around: single-floor living with an accessible full bath, stair-free entry, and doorways wide enough for a wheelchair.
- ease of use: lever handles for doors and faucets, wide light switches.
- safety: nonslip floors, bright lighting and motion sensors, grab bars, sturdy railings, and simple locks.
These features simply make life easier and safer. More and more they are considered standard (“universal design”) for homes serving people of all ages and abilities.
Here are some tips for finding a qualified contractor:
- Ask friends and professionals you trust for a referral.
- Look for a contractor specializing in “aging-in-place remodeling.” The National Association of Home Builders has a “CAPS” directory of certified aging-in-place specialists (CAPS). These specialists understand the unique needs of older adults.
- Get the license number of any contractor you are considering and look it up on the website of the state licensing board. Check that they have a current license and are bonded. You can also view complaints and lawsuits.
- Ask about experience. For example, how many years in business? Any past “aging-in-place” remodel projects completed?
- Request references. Call several of them! Ask if they were happy with the job. Was it completed on time and within budget? Would they use the person again?
- Get a written bid based on a review of plans. It is appropriate for a contractor to get paid to prepare an in-depth package such as this.
- Ask about written warranties.
Easing the disruption of travel
You can ease the disruption by acknowledging that you have this “second life,” the one when you are periodically away. By treating it as a given, you can put systems in place to make a sudden departure less stressful.
Your home responsibilities:
- If you live with others, have a household meeting to talk about what to do whenever you are called away. Write down who will take on your chores. Then, when you do get the call, everyone can shift to the agreed-upon “Plan B.”
- If you live by yourself, arrange with others ahead of time to step in for common chores, such as pet care, picking up the newspaper and mail, watering the yard.
Finances and work:
- Create a personal savings program for transportation expenses. Offset the financial stress of caregiving trips by putting aside a little money every month.
- Set bills to pay automatically online. Remove the need to worry about what has and hasn’t been paid!
- Save up your sick time, vacation time, or personal time off at work. Coworkers might even be willing to “donate” some of their paid time off to help.
- Arrange to continue some projects remotely. Perhaps you can bring a laptop, or phone in to join meetings.
Arrange a time for daily contact with those back home. Touching base by phone or email is beneficial for everyone. It maintains a thread of continuity to your “normal” life and helps everyone know they can count on time to discuss the day’s challenges.Consider an Aging Life Care Manager to serve as your local “eyes and ears.” He or she can help you decide if you need to leave urgently or if you can wait until a scheduled visit. Return to top
Changes in vision
Some changes in vision, however, are signs of a more serious condition. The most common eye diseases of aging include cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. There are also vision problems associated with diabetes.
Signs of a serious problem include
- blank spot in the center of the eye (like a piece is missing)
- blurry or wavy vision
- double vision
- sensitivity to glare
- black spots that seem to float in front of the object being viewed
- loss of peripheral vision (side vision)
Early detection is the best way to catch and treat these conditions. If your loved one complains of any of these problems, make an appointment with an eye doctor for diagnosis. Medicare pays for diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases.
If your loved one learns that his or her eyesight is in jeopardy, expect an emotional response. Shock, grief, anger, and depression are all normal reactions. To help your relative,
- acknowledge his or her feelings. Show that you care. Let him or her know that you understand how scary this might be.
- treat the situation as a family problem. Assure your relative that he or she has your support. Together you will address what can be done medically. You will also work together to find solutions so your loved one can remain as independent as possible.
- ask your eye care provider for a referral to a “low vision specialist.” If the diagnosing eye doctor is not a low vision specialist, ask for referral. A directory can be found at http://www.afb.org/directory/profile/national-council-of-state-agencies-for-the-blind/12
- check out assistive devices. A low vision specialist can suggest simple tools that make daily life much easier. These range from self-threading needles to stand-alone magnifying devices.
Senior Solutions was founded over 20 years ago by two sisters who shared backgrounds in healthcare, counseling and business. They saw a real need in the Lehigh Valley for a company who specialized in helping families sort out the many services and resources available to them when they found themselves in the position of caring for an aging loved one. These families often were overwhelmed with information and they started reaching out to Senior Solutions to help them through the complex maze of lifestyle and health care options available. Senior Solutions soon became the place to turn for professional, unbiased assistance when comparing options or making sense out of overwhelming information. We are here to help you come to an informed decision about your options.
Senior Solutions was one of the original care management firms in the Lehigh Valley area to become a member of the National Association of Professional Care Managers (NAPGCM). This organization certifies members as Care Managers through testing and ongoing training. In 2015, the NAPGCM revitalized their name and trademarked the term "Aging Life Care™ Professional" and renamed their organization the Aging Life Care™ Association (ALCA). This name change helps to clearly designate for consumers that they are dealing with experienced healthcare professionals who have been certified, tested and trained by the ALCA.
In addition to providing Certified Care Management services, Senior Solutions started their own non-medical healthcare registry and agency to offer families the support they need to keep their loved ones healthy, safe and at home. We have two offices, one in Allentown and one in Palmer/Easton, to help serve you when you require assistance with day-to-day care such as bathing, dressing, toileting, meal preparation, and other various in-home services.
Working side-by-side with you and your family, Senior Solutions can provide the support system you need to ensure proper care. Let Senior Solutions be your helping hand. You can be confident that our recommendations are unbiased and tailored to your individual circumstances.
For more information, please visit our website at www.senior-solutions.com or call our Allentown Office at 610-435-6677 or our Easton/Palmer Office at 610-258-0700.