Can You Reduce Your Risk for Dementia?

tips for preventing dementiaWhile there’s currently no cure for dementia, more recently researchers have been focusing on the prevention of the disease over the treatment of it. Certain risk factors like age and family history cannot be controlled, of course, but studies are showing promising results in regards to making certain lifestyle changes and preventing dementia. In fact, some of these studies have proven that a combination of small adjustments to your daily life can not only slow down the progression of the disease, but also reverse some of the cognitive decline that has already occurred.

Prevention Strategies to Reduce Your Risk and Fight Dementia

Research for a cure for dementia continues, but in the meantime, it’s important to take certain steps in preventing and fighting the onset of cognitive decline. Studies have shown that certain healthy habits have been effective in preventing and delaying some of the symptoms of dementia. As an added bonus, these healthy habits not only reduce the risk of cognitive decline, but they are also effective in reducing the risk of other chronic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis and more.

Fight dementia by incorporating these healthy lifestyle habits into your daily routine:

Exercise regularly. Seniors benefit in many ways from regular exercise, but studies have also shown that physical activity may help protect the brain. Exercise gets the blood flowing, and increases the number of small blood vessels that supply blood to the brain. Plus, exercise also helps stimulate the brain’s ability to maintain connections and make new ones that are vital in healthy cognition.

Keep the brain stimulated. Intellectual stimulation is also associated with a lower risk for dementia, so setting aside time every day to keep your brain active is also key in preventing dementia. For instance, try an activity as simple as memorizing shopping lists. Or, keep crossword puzzles, brain teasers and strategy games part of your daily routine.

Eat a well-balanced diet. Meals consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and little added fat or sugar may help decrease the risk for cognitive decline – plus, a healthy diet also helps you maintain an ideal weight and reduce the risk for other chronic conditions. More recently, studies surrounding those who enjoy the Mediterranean diet, which includes eating lots of fish, legumes, olive oil, vegetables and the occasional glass of red wine, have reported less instances of dementia.

Avoid isolation. Humans thrive in social settings, and maintaining a strong support network and continuing to build relationships in later years may help protect against dementia. Find activities that keep you involved in the world around you, like volunteering, joining a club, taking a senior fitness class, or even just scheduling weekly lunch dates with family or friends.

Manage stress levels. High levels of stress negatively affect our bodies in a variety of ways, and it can also take a toll on brain health. Chronic stress leads to shrinkage in a key memory area of the brain, which hampers nerve growth. Try some deep breathing exercises and add time every day to indulge in activities you enjoy.

Get quality sleep. Adults need at least seven to eight hours of sleep nightly, and many studies reveal a link between poor sleep and a higher level of beta-amyloids, the brain-clogging proteins that further interfere with sleep. Plus, deep sleep is necessary for the mind to recover, form memories, and flush out toxins. Create a relaxing bedtime routine, eliminating stimulating activities, caffeine and late afternoon naps to ensure you’re sleeping as soundly as possible.

Additionally, keep in mind that bad habits like smoking or excessive drinking that have negative effects on the body can have the same negative effects on the mind. Cut these habits out of your life as soon as possible. Plus, if you already have some chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure, it’s important to properly manage and control them to prevent further complications from arising.

American Senior Communities offers person-centered dementia care at our Auguste’s Cottage and a variety of assisted living memory care apartments throughout our locations. Contact us today to request more information.


Weight Loss Tips for Seniors

weight loss tips for seniorsMaintaining a healthy weight is important at any age. Those who pack on extra pounds may find themselves more at risk for a variety of health problems, like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and even some cancers. For seniors, changes in the metabolism, decreases in strength, muscle mass and flexibility, lower energy levels, plus chronic aches and pains can make it easy to gain weight over time.

However, while it may be a little bit tougher and take slightly more time to see results, seniors can lose weight as effectively as their younger counterparts.

Senior Weight Loss Secrets

The same weight loss rules everyone should follow also apply to seniors: eating a healthy diet that consists of fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy while limiting empty calories from sugars, plus burning more calories daily than you consume. However, if you’re over the age of 60, there are a few additional senior weight loss tips to keep in mind:

Adjust your attitude. Gaining weight does not have to be just another downside of aging. While adding daily physical activity may present some challenges at first, it’s still important for seniors to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. Try joining a senior fitness program so you can work out with your peers. Or, talk some friends into forming a walking group or taking some classes together like yoga or water aerobics. Making it a group affair also provides the added benefit of social interaction that helps seniors avoid loneliness and depression.

Change your eating habits. If your eating habits haven’t changed since you were in your 20s or 30s, you definitely can expect your weight to increase. This is because seniors need less calories overall; for example, a woman in her 50s only needs around 1,600 to 2,000 calories per day, depending on her level of activity. Instead, if you’re looking to lose weight, make sure you’re bumping up the amount of protein you eat. Protein not only helps support muscle growth and repair, but also keeps you feeling fuller longer than carbs and fats would.

Improve your strength and flexibility. Muscle mass decreases as you age; by age 50, you have 20 percent less muscle than you did in your 20s. By adding strength training exercises, you can get some of that muscle mass back. But don’t forget to add in stretching exercises to your routine, too! Stretching keeps you flexible and limber, and reduces your risk of injury in any workout.

Stay hydrated. Studies show that seniors are less likely to recognize when they are thirsty. Or, you may drink less than you need to avoid running to the bathroom all the time. However, your body can easily mistake thirst for hunger, which means you may turn to snacking on foods with little nutritional value. Try to drink at least 64 ounces of water every day; you can also get more water from foods like cucumbers or tomatoes that are naturally rich in water.

Patience is a virtue. Don’t get discouraged if you aren’t losing weight right off the bat. Remember, you may not be able to work out for as long and as hard as you used to, and it may take time to increase the weights in your strength training exercises. However, seniors are just as able to reach a healthy weight as someone 40 years younger. Plus, try to focus more on losing fat, not necessarily weight, as muscle weighs more than fat! Invest in a body fat measurement tool, or take manual measurements of your waist, arms and hips as your progress to your goal.

American Senior Communities’ New Energy Wellness program is a unique fitness program for seniors designed to promote an active lifestyle. Contact us today to request more information.


Rehabilitation for Back Pain Relief

rehab for back painWhile almost everyone experiences back pain at some point throughout their lives, for seniors, it’s a far more common occurrence. Back pain in seniors can be due to a variety of reasons, whether because they suffer from chronic conditions like arthritis or osteoporosis or simply due to just normal wear and tear on the spine.

Aging itself is the number one reason for lower back pain in seniors. The vertebrae in the spine are protected by disks filled with a jelly-like substance that acts a shock absorber, but over time, these disks begin to wear away, shrinking down until the vertebrae rub together, causing pain and stiffness many seniors suffer from daily.

There’s also a common condition called spinal stenosis, where the area around the spinal cord begins to narrow, putting more pressure on the cord and spinal nerves. Osteoporosis can also make the vertebrae more vulnerable to fractures that cause chronic pain.

Rehab for Back Pain: Exercises for a Strong, Limber Back

When seniors suffer from chronic back pain, it’s important to visit the doctor to make sure something more serious isn’t going on. Plus, there are certainly things they can do to help provide some back pain relief, like taking over-the-counter medications or alternating cold and warm compresses.

However, experts suggest one of the best ways to relieve back pain is to simply get up and move. While rest is of course necessary, taking it too easy can have adverse effects. Exercise and rehab for back pain help strengthen muscles in your back, stomach and legs, plus they help support the spine. When done in a controlled and gradual manner, exercise keeps the muscles, ligaments and joints in the back healthy and fluid, as well as reduce the recurrence of pain.

When seniors suffer from lower back pain, they’re often referred to a rehabilitation program that provides physical therapy, especially before considering additional options for relief like surgery. The goals of the physical therapy exercises are to decrease pain and improve overall function, plus provide the senior with a way to prevent problems in the future.

Here are some of the best lower back rehab exercises that can provide some pain relief:

Abdominal crunches. Partial crunches not only help strengthen stomach muscles, but they also strengthen the muscles of the back. However, avoid doing full sit-ups as they can put too much pressure on the discs in the spine.

Stretching exercises. Stretching exercises help loosen the joints by activating the fluids inside of them, helping to reduce damage caused by friction. Plus, stretching lengthens the muscles, keeping them long and less susceptible to injury. Doing hamstring stretches can be particularly beneficial in back pain relief.

Water aerobics or swimming. Water provides a way to do a “no impact” workout, since the buoyancy of the water counteracts gravity. Plus, aerobic activity strengthens the lungs, heart and blood vessel to help keep seniors in better shape physically. Just be careful of any movement in the water that could twist the body.

Walking. For seniors with chronic lower back pain, walking just three times a week for 20 minutes at a time helps strengthen both abdominal and back muscles to provide pain relief.

Core strengthening exercises. Improving core strength is vital for better stamina, stability, coordination and posture. Plus, a strong core helps support the spine and protects from future injury.

American Senior Communities offers quality rehabilitation for seniors in our Moving Forward Rehabilitation program throughout our locations. Contact us today to request more information.


5 Foods for a Healthy Brain

foods for brain healthAlthough scientists are still searching for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, recent research has revealed that certain lifestyle choices may help delay cognitive decline. Exercising regularly, getting a good night’s sleep, managing stress levels and keeping the brain stimulated all can help boost memory and cognition.

New research has also been conducted that focuses on the impact certain foods have on overall brain health. Alzheimer’s has been sometimes called “diabetes of the brain;” in diabetes, the body doesn’t use insulin as it should to keep blood glucose at the right levels, and high levels of insulin can also negatively affect brain cells and lead to Alzheimer’s disease. This suggests not only that there could be a link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s, but also that the same healthy diet needed to manage diabetes could also promote better brain health.

Brain Healthy Foods that Improve Memory and Cognition

With that in mind, adjusting eating habits can be vital for delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and improving overall memory and cognition. Cutting down on sugar first and foremost can reduce the dramatic spikes in blood sugar which affect the brain.

Try incorporating these five brain healthy foods into your daily or weekly diet:

Seafood rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that is anti-inflammatory, and this healthy fat can reduce the buildup of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain that cause Alzheimer’s disease. Fish, like salmon, tuna and mackerel, are all rich in omega-3 fats. Don’t like seafood? Try a fish oil supplement.

Blueberries, blackberries and cherries. Dark berries are known to be rich not only in antioxidants, but also flavonoids that can help boost memory function. Throw some blueberries on a salad or try blackberries mixed into your morning oatmeal. Even the frozen or dried versions are extremely beneficial!

Leafy green vegetables. Studies show that having even a mild iron deficiency can lead to problems with memory and attention. Adding more iron to your diet helps restore cognitive function, and dark leafy green veggies are packed full of iron. Plus, veggies like spinach, broccoli and kale are also full of vitamin E and folate, which can help lower an amino acid called homocysteine in the blood that may trigger the death of nerve cells in the brain.

Avocadoes. Foods rich in vitamin E are associated with decreasing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, and the avocado is full of this rich antioxidant. Plus, they are also high in vitamin C! Try using avocado as a sandwich spread to replace mayonnaise.

Walnuts (and other nuts). Walnuts are already known for improving heart health, but they can also help improve memory. Plus, other nuts like peanuts, although high in fat, are a good source of healthy fats and are packed with vitamin E. Almonds and hazelnuts are good choices, too. Nuts make the perfect on-the-go snack, or can easily be tossed onto a salad or into cereal.

Adding these foods for brain health into your daily diet not only helps keep your mind functioning properly, but they’re also great for supporting lifelong health.

American Senior Communities offers person-centered memory care in our Auguste’s Cottage throughout our locations. Contact us today to request more information.

Community Living in Winter – The Benefits to Seniors

Benefits of Senior Living Communities in WinterWinter can be a tough time of year for seniors. The cold, blustery weather can make it difficult to go outdoors, even for something as simple as walking down the driveway to retrieve the mail. Plus, many seniors are more at risk for a variety of illnesses and isolation that often leads to depression.

But, it doesn’t have to be this way! There’s a perfect solution to avoiding the challenges seniors face throughout the winter: living in a senior living community.

A Variety of Services and Amenities for a Safe, Fun Winter

One of the biggest benefits senior living communities offer to residents is the fact that everything they need to thrive is offered all in one convenient location. Many senior living communities offer a “campus” lifestyle. Residents simply have to travel from building to building for meals, social events and healthcare, often never even needing to step foot outside into the cold.

Some of the great benefits community living provides for seniors include:

Social activities on-site. Senior living communities have long recognized the importance of staying socially active in your later years. When seniors live alone in their homes, during the winter when the weather is bad it can be difficult to interact and engage with others. However, avoiding social isolation in the winter is not a problem at a senior living community. Residents have access to a wide variety of events and activities, everything from bingo and movie nights to speaking engagements and lifelong learning opportunities.

Scheduled transportation to off-campus events or appointments. Road conditions throughout the winter can often be hazardous, leading to many seniors dreading getting in their car for any reason. This can lead to skipped doctor appointments or trips to the grocery store, or even simply missing out on seeing friends and family. At a senior living community, residents don’t need to worry about driving to off-campus appointments or events, as transportation is often readily available as needed.

A variety of fitness and wellness programs. Staying physically active is vital to overall health and wellness, and senior living communities have plenty of options available to residents to ensure the blood stays flowing and the heart rate gets elevated regularly. Instead of taking the risk of walking outside on an icy sidewalk to get some exercise, or worse- not moving at all– residents can take part in exercise programs offered right on campus. They can choose to work out in the fitness center, or take a yoga or water aerobics class.

On-site, daily dining services. Because sometimes driving is not an option during the winter, some seniors end up not eating as healthy as they should, or even skipping meals altogether. In a senior living community, residents enjoy delicious, healthy meals in a beautiful restaurant-style dining room on a daily basis. This is not only important for their overall nutrition and health, but gone is the need to spend time meal planning, shopping for groceries, or cleaning up a sink full of dirty dishes.

American Senior Communities offers a variety of independent living apartments and assisted living apartments throughout our locations. Contact us today to request more information.

American Heart Month 2017

American Heart Month 2017Because of Valentine’s Day, we often associate the month of February with bright, red and pink hearts. However, there’s another reason we should think about hearts in February; it’s also American Heart Month! Is there a better gift to give your loved ones for Valentine’s Day than a strong, healthy heart?

Since 1963, American Heart Month has been celebrated as a way to educate and urge Americans to join the battle against heart disease. In 2004, February has also been the signature month for the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign, spreading the message that heart disease is not just a disease men suffer.  Since 1996, the AHA has invested more than $3.7 billion into studies and research about heart disease.

Million Hearts™ is a national initiative that was launched by the Department of Health and Human Services in September 2011. Their goal is to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by the end of this year, empowering Americans to make smart, healthy choices regarding their lifestyles. This year, for American Heart Month 2017, Million Hearts™ is calling upon the younger generation to spread the word about heart disease prevention.

The Facts about Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. In fact, every year, one in four people will die from heart disease. In the U.S., the most common form of heart disease is coronary artery disease, which can lead to a heart attack. Heart disease can strike anyone, no matter your background, but certain individuals may be more at risk than others. For example, those who are overweight, have high blood pressure or diabetes, and smokers.

Heart Disease Symptoms

While there are several different forms of heart disease, they share common symptoms and warning signs. It’s important to learn these symptoms to receive a prompt diagnosis and medical treatment. The most common heart disease symptoms include:

  • Angina, or chest pain and discomfort – this is often mistaken for indigestion or heartburn
  • Heart palpitations or increased heart rate
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or sweating
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness and weakness
  • Throat or jaw pain
  • Fatigue or exhaustion

Heart Healthy Tips for Seniors

By making certain lifestyle changes and managing medical conditions sooner rather than later, it’s possible to reduce the risk for heart disease. Small steps can go a long way in reducing your risk for heart disease! For example, decreasing salt intake by using spices on your favorite dishes instead. Stock up on heart healthy foods like fruits and veggies, and choices that are low in sodium and fats. Get at least 150 minutes of exercise every week; workouts can be broken down into ten minute increments when you’re first starting until you build your strength and stamina.

Also, it’s vital to get your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked on a regular basis. If you’re on medications to control conditions like high blood pressure, take them on time every day to help further control your risk factors.

American Senior Communities offers a variety of senior healthcare services throughout our locations. Contact us today to request more information.


What to Expect after Moving to Assisted Living

what to expect after moving to assisted livingOnce the decision has been made that moving to assisted living is the best option to improve a senior’s overall quality of life, both the senior and his or her family members are faced with another challenging situation: the move itself and settling into a new living space. For many seniors, leaving a home they may have lived in for many years due to their declining health, mobility issues or safety concerns may have been a final option to ensure they will receive the level of care they need to thrive.

Settling in to an Assisted Living Community

Starting the conversation about moving to assisted living was the first step in this important process, with the next step being researching and visiting communities until the community that will best meet the senior’s needs has been identified. Then, it’s time to plan for the moving day and how to get adjusted to a new way of life, for both the new resident and their family members.

Tips for New Residents

Seniors may feel a certain level of intimidation when they first move to assisted living. After all, they may feel like they’re being forced to learn a new routine or feel their independence will now be compromised. The first few weeks in their new home represent a crucial time to ensure they’re getting adjusted successfully. Here are few things seniors can do to settle in more quickly:

Ask questions. The staff at the assisted living community is there to help new residents feel as comfortable and as welcome as possible. If they feel unsure about anything, they should seek out a staff member and ask questions. In fact, many communities will designate a particular team member or long-time resident to help the newbies learn the ropes.

Get to know the neighbors. Assisted living communities recognize the importance of social activities for seniors, and new residents should be able to easily find ways to make friends and build new relationships. Staying socially active can really help their new living space feel like home.

Stay positive. Although moving to assisted living may seem like a major life change, new residents should keep an open mind and embrace their new lifestyle.

Tips for Family Members

The move to assisted living is a transitional period for the family members, too, who want to make sure their aging loved one is as happy and as healthy as possible. A few ways family members can help their loved ones settle in include:

Help create a familiar space. To recreate the feel of an aging loved one’s previous living room or bedroom by bringing personal items like photos and knick-knacks. At the same time, recognize they will most likely be downsizing and making decisions about what belongings will make the move with them, so family members can help in that decision-making process.

Stay in touch. Family members play a vital role in this life-changing event for their aging loved ones. Visiting often, talking on the phone, and connecting with staff members provides peace of mind for both the family member and the new resident that that transition is going as smoothly as possible.

Allow seniors their independence. Family members should let go of some of the guilt they may be feeling in regards to the move to assisted living. Recognize that the move was for the best interests of everyone involved, and try not to become overprotective, as this can easily keep loved ones from successfully adapting to life in the assisted living community.

American Senior Communities offers comfortable assisted living apartments with a variety of amenities throughout our locations. Contact us today to request more information.

Top Reasons Family Caregivers Need a Good Night’s Sleep

avoiding caregiver burnout with a good night's sleepTo ensure optimal health and performance, adults need between seven and nine hours of quality sleep every night. Sleep deprivation is the culprit of a variety of issues, from obesity and high blood pressure to depression and decreased productivity. However, those who provide care to an aging loved one often find themselves sleeping less and less, putting their own needs behind the needs of the person in their care.

The Importance of Sleep for the Family Caregiver

Getting a good night’s sleep is not only necessary for you to take care of yourself, but also to ensure you’re providing the best care possible to your loved one. Some of the most important reasons family caregivers need a good night’s sleep include:

Staying physically healthy: A sleep-deprived body may not be able to fight off common infections like the cold or flu. Or, any current conditions you already have, like high blood pressure, are likely to worsen the less sleep you get.

Lessen the risk for mental health problems: Studies have linked sleep deprivation with depression and other mental health conditions. Plus, lack of sleep can lead to problems with memory and cognition or trouble thinking clearly in stressful situations.

Improve emotional health: Providing care to a loved one is usually an emotional rollercoaster, and you may find yourself unable to cope with all those ups and downs when you aren’t sleeping well. You might even act out of character, getting angry or irritated with the person in your care.

Provide the best care possible: Feeling exhausted throughout the day can take a toll on how well you’re providing the care your loved one needs. You may even start to question your caregiving abilities and the safety of your loved one under your care.

Not getting enough sleep will likely catch up with you sooner than later, and getting ample sleep each night can help you avoid caregiver stress and burnout.

Avoid Caregiver Burnout by Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

A family caregiver puts in many hours every day, participating in loved one’s healthcare tasks, providing transportation, and making sure the person in their care is safe. When it comes to sleep, studies have shown around 60% of family caregivers report getting less than seven hours of sleep every night, or suffer from various forms of insomnia. They may have difficulty falling asleep or falling back to sleep after being awoken, or wake up not feeling refreshed. Plus, a family caregiver providing care for a loved one with dementia may also deal with sundowning, when their loved one is more agitated later in the day and has trouble falling and staying asleep.

If you find you are not sleeping as well as you should, first, talk to both your own physician and your loved one’s physician. It may be possible to better manage the sleep problems your loved one is having, which in turn could help you sleep better.

Also, try to exercise daily and get out into the fresh air. Create a calming bedtime routine, where you read or watch a little television to relieve some of the stress of the day. Cut down on caffeinated drinks later in the day, and make sure your bedroom is cool, dark and quiet.

Finally, seek respite care services from time to time to give yourself that much-needed break in caregiving duties. Or, consider starting the conversation about moving to an assisted living community, where you can have peace of mind that your loved one will receive the right level of care 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

American Senior Communities offers quality senior healthcare services throughout our locations. Contact us today to request more information.

Top Museums in Indianapolis

museums in indianapolis
Indiana State Museum

Finding ways to stay entertained throughout the winter months can be a challenge. It’s difficult to enjoy the outdoors when bitter winds bite through your coat or snow piles up on the sidewalks. Luckily, those who live in the Indianapolis metropolitan area have a wide variety of indoor attractions to visit that only require a quick walk after parking the car!

Visit these Amazing Museums in Indianapolis

Don’t let the winter get you down this year! Stay active and see some amazing sights, all located conveniently in or near downtown Indianapolis. Here are just a few of the top-rated museums in Indianapolis and surrounding areas:

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Founded in 1925, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is a 472,900-square foot facility situated on 29 acres—the largest children’s museum in the world. Always topping the lists of “must-see Indianapolis attractions,” visitors can enjoy exhibits featuring physical and natural sciences, history, the arts and world cultures.

Indianapolis Museum of Art

The Indianapolis Museum of Art is the fifth-largest encyclopedic art museum in the world. Located since 1969 at 38th Street and Michigan Road, current exhibits include “Chemistry of Color,” which charts the history of chemistry and art over a period of more than 4,500 years, works by Polish sculptor Monika Sosnowska and so much more.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum

Celebrating the innovation and thrill of racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy 500, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum is located just five miles northwest of downtown on the grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The museum’s collections features race cars from a variety of series including, of course, the Indy 500, NASCAR, Formula One, as well as motorcycle races and drag races.

Indiana State Museum

This world-class institution features exhibits and hands-on experiences that showcase the stories and characters who helped shape the history of the state of Indiana. Located in downtown Indianapolis in White River State Park, the Indiana State Museum hosts a variety of year-round exhibits that explore Indiana culture, art and science.

Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art

The Eiteljorg prides itself on offering engaging exhibitions covering a wide range of subjects; everything from the histories of pistols and motorcycles to Jewish life in the West. It is one of only two museums east of the Mississippi that feature both Native American culture and the American West.

Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site

The 23rd president of the United States was Benjamin Harrison, who built the home located on North Delaware Street in Indianapolis in 1874 and lived there until 1913. Today, the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site offers visitors guided tours throughout the most historic rooms within the museum, plus the opportunity to view the variety of exhibits that rotate throughout the year in the third floor ballroom.

What are some of your favorite Indianapolis attractions to visit?

American Senior Communities offers quality senior healthcare services near Indianapolis and throughout Indiana. Contact us today to request more information.

Avoiding Eye Complications from Diabetes

diabetic eye problemsWhen you have diabetes, you already know you are at a higher risk for certain complications when it comes to your eyesight. While you have an increased chance for blindness over someone without diabetes, most diabetics generally only suffer minor vision problems.

However, having chronically high blood sugar can lead to diabetic eye disease, as it can cause damage to the tiny blood vessels in the retina. High blood sugar can also cause blurry vision and an array of other issues.

Common Diabetic Eye Problems

A few of the most common diabetic eye problems include:

Cataracts: Cataracts cloud the lens of your eye, making it difficult to see clearly and focus. Although plenty of people who don’t have diabetes get cataracts, diabetics are 60 percent more likely to develop them, especially at a younger age. They will also progress faster in someone with diabetes.

Glaucoma: Those with diabetes are 40 percent more likely to suffer from glaucoma, a complicated disease that is caused by increased pressure in the eye that ultimately leads to blindness. It can be difficult to diagnose glaucoma because there are generally very few recognizable symptoms.

Diabetic retinopathy: Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision impairment and blindness in those with diabetes. This diabetic eye disease can start off mild, where blood vessels in the retina leak fluid or bleed. In the advanced stage, new, abnormal blood vessels increase in number on the surface of the retina, leading to loss of cells and scarring.

Diabetic macular edema (DME): DME is the buildup of fluid in the macula, a region of the eye within the retina. In those with diabetic retinopathy, DME is the most common cause of vision loss.

How to Avoid Diabetic Eye Disease

By visiting your eye doctor regularly, you can keep these diabetic eye problems from escalating. A routine visit to the eye doctor for a person with diabetes includes a comprehensive dilated eye exam so the ophthalmologist can thoroughly examine the retina and optic nerve for any signs of damage. A few other tips to keep your eyes healthy include:

Keep blood sugar levels in check.

High blood sugar affects the shape of your eye’s lens, which can make your vision blurry. When blood sugar levels go back to normal, your vision will clear. Plus, high blood sugar can also cause damage to the eye’s blood vessels. If you’re maintaining your blood sugar levels, you can avoid these types of problems.

Manage your blood pressure.

If you have high blood pressure and diabetes, elevated blood pressure increases blood flow to the eye and can escalate the risk of diabetic retinopathy. Controlling high blood pressure will lower this risk, or reduce the worsening of existing retinopathy even more so than maintaining your blood sugar levels.

Live a healthy lifestyle.

Regular exercise and a well-balanced diet can also help decrease your risk for diabetic eye problems. Plus, if you are a smoker, it’s time to quit. Smoking constricts blood vessels, which raises your blood pressure and prohibits the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen to the eye (called retinal hypoxia). Quitting smoking is the best thing a diabetic can do to prevent eye problems, as well as prevent a variety of other health issues.

If you have diabetes and experience any change in your vision, make an appointment to see your doctor immediately. Finding problems as early as possible makes treatment easier and more effective.

American Senior Communities offers a variety of senior healthcare services throughout our locations. Contact us today to request more information.

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