Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is one of the leading causes of vision loss among people 50 and older and impacts 16 million Americans – more than glaucoma and cataracts combined.

AMD is a progressive eye condition caused by degeneration of the part of the retina that impacts central vision.  Early-stage AMD often does not present any symptoms or vision changes.  Symptoms usually appear gradually over time.

In its later stages, AMD can lead to difficulty with daily activities like driving, reading, or recognizing faces.  As people age, their risk of eye-related diseases like AMD increases dramatically.  Smokers, women and those with a family history of AMD are at higher risk.

Common symptoms of age-related macular degeneration include:

  • Blurry or fuzzy vision
  • Difficulty recognizing familiar faces
  • Straight lines appearing wavy
  • Loss of central vision, which is necessary for driving, reading, recognizing faces and performing close-up work

There are two types of AMD, wet and dry and they have differing levels of concern:

Dry AMD is the most common. About 80 percent of those with AMD have the dry form. Its exact cause is unknown, although both genetic and environmental factors are thought to play a role. This happens as the light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly break down, generally one eye at a time. The loss of vision in this condition is usually gradual. It is believed that the age-related damage of an important support membrane under the retina contributes to dry age-related macular degeneration.

Wet AMD. Though this type is less common, it usually leads to more severe vision loss in patients than dry AMD. It is the most common cause of severe loss of vision. Wet AMD happens when abnormal blood vessels start to grow beneath the retina. They leak fluid and blood — hence the name “Wet AMD” — and can create a large blind spot in the center of the visual field.

Some doctors recommend taking a combination of zinc and antioxidants to reduce the risk of progression of AMD.  Frequently doctors will prescribe an “eye vitamin” to address the issue.

Funeral or Celebration?

Funeral or Celebration?

When a loved one dies, we look for ways to honor them.  So too, we want to give those left behind ways to say goodbye.  Customarily, society has turned to funeral services that are based on religious or cultural traditions to commemorate one’s passing.  But, times change.  As the world has become more mobile and less connected to organized religion, less formal and more personalized approaches are more often acceptable.

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Aging in Place; Now it is Easier Than Ever

Aging in Place; Now it is Easier Than Ever

Stories about Covid infections in nursing facilities are all too common.  This has expanded the feeling among families (88%) that they would rather find a way to care for relatives in their own homes instead of moving them into a facility.  The deaths of nearly 200,000 long-term care patients and staff in the US has fundamentally changed the business of long-term care.  This is the result of the fact that aging in place overwhelmingly seems to increasingly be the decision of choice. The pandemic seems to have highlighted the benefits of home care and it is likely that the trend of delivering long-term care in the home will expand.

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The Living Will

The Living Will

The living will is one form of Advance Directive that speaks for you when you cannot.  They are generally written, although oral directives, properly witnessed, are legal, too.  They are important should you or a loved-one become incapable of conveying your wishes due to illness or by being unconscious.

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Treating Seniors: Risks vs. Benefits

Treating Seniors: Risks vs. Benefits

While informed consent policies require health care professionals to make sure that patients or those who are acting on their behalf are comfortable with the suggested course of care. Making medical decisions is a challenging process that entails a thorough assessment of the risks and benefits of treatment.  With informed consent, the burden increasingly falls on patients and their caregivers to ask the right questions to understand their options.

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