June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and is an important time for making sure the seniors in your life are being cared for properly. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around one in six people over the age of 60 have experienced some kind of abuse in the last year. What’s more, this statistic is thought to under-represent the situation, as those who experience abuse often don’t report it.
Most commonly, elder abuse occurs in medical institutions such as care homes and hospitals. Abuse in such cases can be defined as any instance in which the care worker deprives the patient of dignity and care, such as leaving them in soiled clothes, neglecting their emotional needs or intentionally withholding necessary care.
According to the WHO, two in three workers in long-term care facilities admitted to committing some form of elder abuse in the past year.
Elder abuse also happens in community settings, such as when an elderly person lives alone or with a family member. In these cases, elders have an increased risk of social isolation and mistreatment from the people around them as they lose their health and mobility. Financial abuse is also common, as friends, relatives and community members are more likely than strangers to take property or money from seniors.
Elder abuse is everyone’s responsibility, and it’s important to report what you see to authorities and family members. Be sure to know the risks and to check in with your elderly relatives, friends and neighbors regularly to ensure that they’re getting the care and respect they deserve.
6 types of home care workers
Home care workers provide seniors with one-on-one care where they live, allowing them to be independent while getting the extra help they need. Here are the five main types of caregivers providing in-home care.
1. Personal care aides (also called personal care attendants) assist seniors with day-to-day activities, such as bathing and dressing, preparing meals and housekeeping. In some cases, they provide transportation and run errands. Their specific duties will depend on the elderly individual’s care needs.
2. Home health aides perform the same tasks as personal care aides but also fill certain basic medical functions including administering medications, changing bandages and checking vital signs. They’re also able to identify symptoms requiring medical attention and will seek appropriate medical help on a person’s behalf when needed.
3. Registered nurses typically assist seniors at their homes following a surgery, serious illness or injury. They provide follow-up and rehabilitation care, which extends to overseeing their patients’ diets, exercise routines and medication requirements.
4. Physical therapists help seniors improve their mobility and ensure that they can move around safely both inside and outside their homes. They’re sometimes required following an injury or surgery, and they’re almost always needed after a joint replacement surgery.
5. Occupational therapists help seniors live more productive, active and independent lives. They identify and solve problems interfering with their patients’ abilities to engage in everyday activities and tasks including social activities, leisure activities and self-care routines.
6. Speech-language pathologists assist individuals who have difficulty speaking or swallowing (which can occur following a stroke).
In-home care is becoming an increasingly attractive option for many seniors. If you’re interested in getting care at home, begin by consulting with a doctor, nurse or other health professional in your community.
Can reading in the dark damage your vision?
If you’re an avid reader, you’ve probably been told to turn a light on while reading so you don’t harm your eyes. According to most ophthalmologists, however, while reading in the dark temporarily strains your eyes, it won’t permanently damage your vision. In other words, it’s safer than most people think to read under the covers with a flashlight late into the night.
The reason most experts believe that reading in the dark won’t cause lasting damage is because your eyes are naturally designed to adjust to different levels of light.
In the dark, your pupils dilate to take more light into your retinas through the lens. Photoreceptors in your retina then convey information about what you can see to your brain. That’s why when you enter a dark room or turn off the lights, you’ll notice that you’re gradually able to see more as your eyes adjust.
Your eyes also regulate when reading in dim light. The extra effort can place strain on the various components of your eyes. This can potentially cause you to experience eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision and back and neck strain.
While these symptoms are unpleasant, they won’t cause lasting damage and should go away on their own. If they don’t, you may have an underlying condition and should see your optometrist right away.
No Kid Hungry Virginia is helping families find free summer meal sites
As schools close for summer break, No Kid Hungry Virginia encourages families to text FOOD or COMIDA to 877-877 to find summer meal sites near them. Nutritious, free meals are available for children and teens 18 and younger at many locations throughout the state during the summer months.
For many kids, summer is the hungriest time of year. When schools close for the summer, school meals disappear as well. Only about 15 percent of Virginia students who rely on free or reduced-price school lunches are also getting free meals through summer programs.
The federal Summer Meals program connects children to the nutrition they need during the summer months. Funded by the USDA, administered by state agencies and served by organizations families trust, like schools, libraries, faith-based organizations and community groups, these meals make sure kids have access to healthy meals when school is out of session. Many sites offer educational and recreational activities that kids of all ages can participate in so they can eat, hang out with friends, and take part in activities offered.
Families can text FOOD or COMIDA to 877-877 and type in a zip code to find nearby summer meals sites, along with operating days and times. This information populates once local schools are out of session and sites are up and running. No application or registration is required at sites. No Kid Hungry organizes the texting service and updates the information weekly. Locations are also available at https://www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks.
Learn more about the Summer Meals program here.
About Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign
No child should go hungry in America, but 1 in 6 kids will face hunger this year. Using proven, practical solutions, No Kid Hungry is ending childhood hunger today by ensuring that kids start the day with a nutritious breakfast and families learn the skills they need to shop and cook on a budget. When we all work together, we can make sure kids get the healthy food they need. No Kid Hungry is a campaign of national anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength. Join us at NoKidHungry.org.
Naloxone: the opioid overdose drug
Naloxone is a medication designed to rapidly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. It works by binding to opioid receptors in the nervous system to prevent other drugs from attaching to them and thereby flooding the brain with dopamine.
When correctly administered, naloxone will restore normal respiration to a person whose breathing has slowed or stopped after overdosing on heroin or prescription opioids.
Naloxone can be given through either an injection or a nasal spray. Although injecting naloxone liquid requires professional training, the brand of naloxone called EVZIO is available as a prefilled auto-injection device that makes it easy for family members, friends and emergency personnel to inject naloxone quickly into the outer thigh of the person overdosing.
The potentially life-saving drug is also available as the pre-packaged nasal spray, NARCAN, a pre-filled device that requires no assembly. It’s administered by spraying it into one nostril while the patient lies on their back. If you suspect someone has overdosed, call 911 for emergency services and immediately administer the naloxone.
Given the current , it’s important to inform yourself about how to procure and administer naloxone. If you know someone who is at risk of overdosing, you may be able to obtain a naloxone kit to have on hand in case of an emergency.
In some states, you’ll need to get a prescription from your doctor to obtain naloxone. In other states, pharmacies are allowed to distribute naloxone without requiring a prescription. Check your local laws to find out more about getting naloxone in your area.
4 common eye conditions and their symptoms
Here is an important reminder for people across the country to guard their eye health. According to the 2016 National Health Interview Survey, 25.5 million Americans age 18 and older report experiencing some form of vision loss.
Over the course of a lifetime, vision changes dramatically. Early detection is critical to prevent problems from getting worse. Here are the warning signs of four common eye conditions that can cause vision impairment.
1. Astigmatism occurs when the front surface of the eye (the cornea) is slightly irregular in shape and therefore causes a refractive error in your vision. It can be present at birth or occur due to disease or injury. Common symptoms of astigmatism include blurriness and double vision.
2. Glaucoma is the name of a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve. Symptoms include headaches, blurred vision, seeing rainbow halos around lights, red eyes, throbbing eye pain and nausea. Some forms of glaucoma show no symptoms, so it’s important to visit your optometrist regularly.
3. Macular degeneration involves the deterioration of your retina and could severely impair your capacity to see. Your vision may become fuzzy, straight lines could appear crooked and you may start to notice blind spots in your field of vision.
4. Retinal detachment happens when your retina becomes disconnected from the tissue around it. You may notice floaters in your eye, flashes of light and darkened or blurred peripheral vision.
Left untreated, these diseases can worsen and lead to blindness. They may also indicate other underlying health conditions. Make sure to have your eyes examined by an optometrist every one to two years and to contact your doctor if you start experiencing eye pain or notice redness, irritation or discharge.
Lip reading: a valuable skill for those with hearing loss
If you’re hard of hearing, you can greatly facilitate your aural comprehension by learning to read lips. But how do you develop this ability?
The first step in learning to read lips is to sign up for a course on the subject given by an audiologist or a speech pathologist. This course will teach you to interpret other people’s speech by paying close attention to non-verbal cues such as lip and jaw movement, facial expressions, posture, and gestures.
Afterwards, you’ll need to practice. Every time you take part in a conversation, you’ll further hone your abilities.
To get more information about hearing loss, visit the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website at asha.org.