5 Healthy Aging Behaviors to Help Your Vision

by MikeMeehan 9/27/2017 1:08 PM

Healthy aging seems to be a trending phrase. But this trend might stick around for a long time since approximately 20% of our population is going to be over 65 by 2030. That’s about 72 million people. So how are we all going to age in a healthy manner? Or, more specifically, how will we all keep our eyes healthy? Take these five healthy actions to help with the aging of your eyes. These tips can help protect your vision, and for the 72 million of us out there who will be over 65 soon, we can try to keep our eyes as healthy as possible and set ourselves up for continued healthy vision. Visit your vision provider annually Because, as we age, we need to be concerned with more than just vision impairment. There are other health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, and some cancers, that your vision provider can detect during a comprehensive eye exam. The National Eye Institute states that vision loss and blindness are “not a normal part of aging” but some changes like losing focus, trouble distinguishing some colors and needing more light to see are common. But keep in mind, these vision changes “can often be corrected.” Visit your vision provider every one to two years. Wear sunglasses We talked about this over the summer, but we should always be aware of the damage UV rays can cause to our vision. Protecting our eyes from the sun is important for all age groups, and putting on your shades every time you step outside is a good habit to have. The long-term exposure to UV rays can increase your risk for cataracts when you get older. Make healthy choices… And this isn’t just eating more fruits and vegetables, although that’s a good place to start. Making healthy choices also means quitting smoking and keeping normal blood pressure and maintaining good cholesterol and glucose levels. Throw in 30 minutes of exercise daily, and your healthy choices are complete to benefit your vision health. Eating fruits and vegetables with vitamin C and E, lutein and zeaxanthin, studies show, can lead to a lower risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Vitamins A and D, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids are also on the nutrient list to help maintain healthy vision. Quitting smoking will also lower your risk for eye diseases like AMD and cataracts. Maintaining a healthy weight to lower your risk of developing diabetes is important because this condition can damage your eyes and potentially lead to vision loss. High blood pressure is also a condition that can damage your eyes. Limit time in front of digital devices Another trending term, along with healthy aging, is digital eye strain. This term, and condition, is also here to stay because we now spend so much time looking at our phones, working in front of the computer, or watching television. All this screen time can cause issues like eye dryness, eye fatigue, blurry vision and difficulty shifting focus to objects at a distance. Talk to your eye doctor if you have any of these symptoms of digital eye strain. Other steps you can take include using blue light filtering lenses and limiting your screen time by taking frequent breaks every 20 minutes for at least 20 seconds. We don’t yet know the long-term effects digital eye strain will have on the population, but develop these healthy aging habits to help prevent the symptoms. Educate yourself Knowing and being aware of any symptoms of vision loss will help you take the necessary step of visiting your vision provider and getting an eye exam. Look for any changes while reading, driving, or watching TV. Look for any changes with your loved ones like squinting or bumping into things. As we get older, we’re also at a higher risk of vision loss from eye diseases and conditions like glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and dry eye. Learning about these and other conditions, as well as knowing risk factors and your family history is an important part of your healthy aging process.

3 Healthy Aging Topics for Oral Health

by MikeMeehan 9/20/2017 12:45 PM

We have oral health concerns for older adults, so we have some information and tips to consider as part of healthy aging. We’ve talked about a diet filled with fruits and vegetables and improving your brushing and flossing technique, which will help your oral health in the long run. But let’s review more focused information concerning your oral health as you get older, or as your parents or loved ones get older. Don’t retire your dental benefits when you retire from work Most of us plan for retirement as best we can, but sometimes those plans do not include funds for dental benefits. Since most lose their employer-sponsored dental insurance when they retire and Medicare doesn’t cover dental, many older adults don’t visit the dentist. We don’t want that to happen. According to a 2012 study, almost 70% of people age 65 and older have gum disease, and gum disease is the most common reason for tooth loss among seniors. Despite issues like cavities, in the same study, about a quarter of adults 65 and older haven’t seen the dentist in the past five years, missing valuable cleanings and oral health exams. In addition to cleaning teeth at each exam, dentists should screen for oral cancer, periodontal disease and other mouth problems that become more common in older individuals. This is why it’s important to keep those appointments. Delta Dental offers low-cost individual plans designed for people of all ages and oral health needs. Consider putting away money for dental benefits when you plan your retirement accounts. Also, maintain your good oral health routines like brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing daily. Whatever your plans are, make sure oral health is a part of your healthy aging. Is your new medication also a prescription for oral health issues? As we age, some of us may face health issues that require medication, and your prescriptions can have negative effects on your oral health. One of the most common side effects from medications is dry mouth. This condition deprives the mouth of saliva, which plays a critical role in preventing tooth decay. To help with this, drink plenty of water and limit caffeine and alcohol. Canker sores, a metallic taste in the mouth, discolored teeth, and “gingival overgrowth” (when gums swell and start to grow over teeth) are other side effects to medication. Consult your doctor and dentist for guidance and more information. Also, it’s important to keep dentists up to date on medications, vitamins and supplements you’re taking so they can monitor your oral health for side effects. If you notice any changes in your oral health, contact your physician or dentist right away. How to help a loved one maintain their oral health Besides encouraging an older loved one to maintain dentist visits and the routine of brushing and flossing daily, for those with a friend or family member with dementia or Alzheimer’s, here are a few tips to consider: Keep step-by-step directions for brushing and flossing near the bathroom sink. Provide a toothbrush with a wider handle or an electric toothbrush with a timer so your loved one knows how long to brush. Notice any discomfort or pain your family member may have during meals or while brushing or flossing teeth. If your loved one is in a full-time care facility, ask how they handle dental care and dental visits. As discussed above, remind your loved one to drink water throughout the day to help with dry mouth, a side effect to many medications. Dry mouth can cause plaque build-up and lead to gum disease. Learn about other dental concerns and ways to counteract them. And look for more about healthy aging and your vision in next week’s blog.

3 Quick Ways to Improve Your Oral and Vision Health Habits

by MikeMeehan 9/13/2017 11:35 AM

Let’s make this one easy. You already have good oral and vision health habits like visiting your eye doctor and dentist, brushing and flossing your teeth, and eating healthy foods to keep your teeth, gums and eyes strong. For self-improvement month, let’s take those habits and improve them a bit. With these small improvements, you’ll make a big difference in your oral and vision health. Brush for a full two minutes, time yourself!You’ve mastered your brushing technique, hitting all the tough-to-reach spots. You brush every morning, every night, and sometimes in between. Now, are you sure you’re brushing for two to three minutes? Try using our mobile app with the toothbrush timer, or try playing a song (average length is three minutes). Two minutes can seem like a short amount of time, but watch the clock, you might not be brushing long enough.Brushing for two to three minutes allows enough time for the fluoride in your toothpaste to do its job. Also, two to three minutes is approximately how long it takes to brush every tooth. But don’t think brushing harder, or faster, can make up for shortened time. If you brush too hard, or apply too much pressure, you could hurt your enamel and gum tissue.Can I sneak in one more small improvement with this one? Brush your tongue! It only adds another few seconds! Due to its rough surface, your tongue can be a hiding place for bacteria that causes bad breath. Rest your eyesThis is a fast-growing vision problem affecting everyone – digital eye strain caused by blue light from our computer screens, phones, and other devices. To improve your vision health and prevent this condition, the easiest step you can take is to limit your time in front of a screen, or, at the very least, take frequent breaks. Breaks should be every 20 minutes and at least 20 seconds. Another prevention step to consider is using glasses with blue-light filtering lenses. Because this condition is becoming commonplace, vision providers are offering this option for your lenses. Improve your techniqueYou’ve advanced your oral health care by including flossing in your routine. That’s fantastic, but we’re going to push you a little bit further to improve your flossing technique. While you’re gliding the floss between your teeth with a gentle sawing motion, improve this technique by curving the floss along the gum line and sliding up and down. This improvement will help to clean not just in between your teeth, but along the gum line.Flossing protects your gums and helps to prevent disease. If you’ve already mastered your flossing technique, consider making improvements to your brushing technique too.  These three suggestions are a quick way to improve your dental and vision health­ – brush for two minutes, give your eyes a break from blue light and improve your flossing technique. And if you’re looking for more ways to improve, see last week’s blog about adding more fruits and vegetables to your menu.

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