Without a doubt, the eyes are the windows of the soul. Chances are that when the vision of an elderly parent takes a drastic turn for the worse, you find them lonely and alone. But that should not mean that you should just leave them to their own devices. After all, a big part of keeping the brood happy is making sure that the older generation is taken care of, especially for those whose eyesight starting to go south.
What’s important is that you know how you can help your visually challenged senior citizen get back on their feet. While going to the eye doctor on a regular basis must be included in the overall recovery of your parent’s vision, starting key routines from home could be a lifesaver.
1. Exercise is key to 20/20 vision.
Everybody longs to have that perfect vision, no doubt. 20/20 vision, defined by the American Academy of Opthalmology as how an individual with healthy eyes can see on the eye chart from 20 meters away, is visual acuity at its finest.
Getting back 20/20 vision, therefore, is the ultimate goal for an aging senior, albeit an uphill climb. If the legendary Robin Hood in his prime would be able to hit an apple atop a beautiful girl’s head, then we’d be all the more amazed by his tale. But that’s wishful thinking. Americans 75 years and above are three times more likely to report vision loss than the younger generation aged 18 to 44.
But if you’re serious about helping, know that enlisting exercise as part of your aging parent’s routine can work wonders to put amazing back to their vision. Although the recovery may not be as drastic as you want it to be, the routine can show a lot of promise.
The frequency? Daily, whenever possible.
Over the past years, extensive research has shown the positive impact of regular exercise and the reduction of risk in developing a host of regular eye ailments such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, and glaucoma.
Aerobics and cardiovascular exercises, for one, lower the pressure inside the eyes (intraocular), fostering better eye health by protecting the retina. Moreover, cardio routines facilitate blood flow toward the retina and the optic nerve. Such processes promote healthy vision, and they would be most helpful for patients suffering from glaucoma.
It’s true that seniors, your parent including, may not take the prospects of exercise positively. But choosing the right method and a little prodding should help you.
But it’s best you exercise together with your aging parent whenever possible. That way, you need not go through a lengthy persuasion just to put those joints to active use. You shouldn’t be worried so much about any untoward incident while exercising. Not stretching those old muscles can bring more harm than good.
Nevertheless, you can check with your group health insurance provider from work. Such health benefits are a treasure trove for anyone. Typically, they allow you to take care of yourself and your family—your spouse and children—without having to lose an arm and a leg in the process.
Ask if there’s a way for you to include your beloved seniors in your group health plan. If not, taking individual health insurance for grandma or grandpa should be in order.
2. Nutrition matters.
If you’re thinking what one eats won’t adversely affect the eyes, then you need to think again. A 2008 study in Europe showed that those who made a habit of taking in oily fish, which the study pointed out as rich in EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids, had a far lesser risk of eventually developing eye macular degeneration in comparison to people who barely eat fish.
So if your mom or dad doesn’t have access to a fresh supply of oily fish, taking in lutein omega-3 capsules could be timely. A double-blind placebo study covering the effects of regular doses of lutein (a plant derivative) and omega-3 (longer-chain) fatty acids along with zeaxanthin (another plant extract) showed a remarkable increase in the optical thickness of a person’s macular pigment, improving eyesight in people with AMD.
Lutein and zeaxanthin, both carotenoids, are naturally occurring in plants as pigments. Lutein dubbed the “eye vitamin” is found in abundance in green leafy vegetables (spinach, carrots, kale). Both lutein and zeaxanthin have been found to be most helpful in protecting the eye from the harmful effects of direct sunlight.
3. Make your abode elderly-friendly.
Last but not least, design your home so that your dearly beloved mom or dad can move about safely. A little practicality should go a long way in making sure that accidental slips and falls are avoided.
While such accidents may not be risky for you and your kids, these “little mishaps” can be traumatic for a senior citizen. And it’s especially harmful for someone with deteriorating vision.
Thus, hand bars and all sorts of assistive devices in the bathroom could be spot-on. With the right motivation, helpful hands from the family should follow in getting the work done. And if the design of these structural modifications have you worried, a timely chat with your senior should be helpful. After all, you have their best interests at heart.