November is National Family Caregivers Month. According to Caregiver Action Network, there are 90 million Americans who are family caregivers, and the numbers continue to rise. This equals about 39 percent of American adults who are caring for a sick or disabled family member. As the Baby Boomers age and the number of Alzheimer’s disease cases increase, the family caregiver is a significant part of the family unit and the healthcare system. When we think of caregivers, we usually think of women. However, the percentage of female caregivers is only slightly higher than that of men.
Whether male or female, young or middle-aged, the caregiver has a tremendously important role to provide care and assistance to a family member in need. For new caregivers, the task of caring for an aging parent or disabled family member can seem daunting and overwhelming. How do you help preserve your loved one’s eyesight?
Schedule Regular Comprehensive Eye Exams
As you help plan doctor appointments for your loved one, remember to schedule comprehensive eye exams for him or her to help maintain good vision. Sometimes, appointments to see general practitioners and specialists seem more important than appointments to see the eye doctor. However, a comprehensive eye exam can actually be a good assessment of overall health. Chronic conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration can be diagnosed during a comprehensive eye exam. Sometimes, eye doctors can see indications of hypertension and diabetes during an eye exam when inspecting blood vessels or the lens of the eye. Recent studies even indicate that a biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease can be located in the retina and lens of the eye.
Increase Lighting and Select Safe Furnishings
Another important part of caring for the eye health of your loved one is preventing injury. Degenerative eye disease can make vision blurry and increase the chances for accidents in the home. You can create a safe environment for your loved one by making sure that there is adequate lighting in the home. Eye disease and eye injury cause a condition called low vision, which can include symptoms such as blurred vision, loss of central vision or night blindness. Using brighter light bulbs, adding floor lamps and table lamps and putting night lights in each room will help the person for whom you care feel secure. Another proactive step you can take is making wise choices about furnishings. Desks, tables and dressers can have sharp corners and edges. Selecting round tables instead of square and removing pieces of furniture with sharp edges can help prevent eye injury (Source: Caregiver Action Network).