One of our five senses, our eyesight is crucial to how we function every day. As we age, many of us will be faced with changes to our eyesight that means we have reduced or impaired vision. While this is a common symptom of ageing and often inevitable for many, there are ways we can help to protect and even improve our eyesight, so it serves us better for years to come.
Vision aids including glasses and contact lenses can go some way to helping us see and there are more invasive options such as Lasik eye surgery for those who are suitable candidates, however, there are other ways we can support our sight too. Here are the best 8 ways to help improve and protect your eyesight.
Regular eye tests
Prevention is better than a cure which is why it’s crucial to attend regular eye tests to ensure any issues are spotted early and can be dealt with before they progress. A visit to your optometrist isn’t just for checking your glasses prescription. They also look for other diseases or conditions that show up in the eyes including glaucoma and cataracts, as well as signs of more general health conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Eye tests are usually conducted every two years but may be required more regularly if specified by your specialist.
Wear the correct prescription
It might not seem like much but wearing a prescription that isn’t correct for you or is outdated can do more harm than good. Not only can wearing the wrong glasses or contact lenses make it more difficult to see, but they could also be straining your eyes and effectively degenerating them prematurely.
We know there are a whole host of health issues related to smoking and the eyes are perhaps a less common organ we think of when it comes to the effect of smoking on our body. Research has found smokers had increased risk for developing macular degeneration, especially heavy smokers that consume a pack-a-day or more. If the well-known side effects weren’t enough to help you quit, protecting your sight might change your mind.
Use appropriate lighting
Ever found yourself squinting when the light is a bit dim? If you’re reading, undertaking craft activities or even cooking, you should ensure to provide adequate light to avoid eye strain. As you age, you will need to increase the amount of light you need to see properly. So much, that the amount of light you need to see at 20 needs to increase as much as three times by the time you’re 60. If you need additional light sources, add in extra lamps where you read or increase the wattage of your bulbs in overhead lighting in rooms such as your kitchen.
In the same way, our skin needs to be protected from harmful UV rays with SPF, our eyes are also sensitive to the effects of ultraviolet rays. Over time, exposure to sunlight without adequate protection can increase the risk of sight-related diseases such as cataracts, keratitis and conjunctival cancers. Protect your sight by wearing sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays and wear a hat when possible to reduce the exposure that can creep in from above. Don’t forget it’s not only in summer that the sun’s rays can cause damage, the reflection from snow and water is also a big contributor.
Antioxidants – found in a lot of dark leafy greens as well as brightly coloured fruit and vegetables, antioxidants help to fight the effects of free radicals (oxidising agents) that can contribute to eye diseases.
Carotenoids – certain plant pigments called Lutein and zeaxanthin have been found to help protect the retina. These are commonly found in fruits and vegetables that are yellow, orange and red such as squash, carrots, grapefruit, oranges and sweet corn. They’re also found in a few greens including broccoli. Seems our parents were telling the truth when they said eating carrots would help us see in the dark!
Healthy fats – don’t be afraid of these kinds of fats, they are actually incredibly beneficial for our health. Omega-3 essential fatty acids are found in fish, canola oil, flaxseeds and chia seeds as well as walnuts. Touted as helping with conditions related to dry eyes and cataracts, they’re also great for your overall health.
It goes without saying, but looking after your general health and wellbeing will give your eyes a better chance in the long run. Maintaining a healthy weight and keeping up an exercise regime that is suitable for your age and fitness level will improve circulation and oxygen intake as well as reduce the risk of health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Sleep is the body’s natural repair session. When it comes to our eyes, as we sleep they are constantly lubricated which can ease dry eyes as well as flush out irritants that we have accumulated throughout the day. Ensuring you get enough sleep helps your body to repair the eyes naturally and prevent irritation. 7-8 hours is recommended for adults to ensure they are getting their optimum support for their body and mind.
As you age, it’s normal for your eyesight to deteriorate and you may need to wear glasses or contact lenses. While this is common, following the suggestions above to help improve and protect your eyesight should help reduce the impact. Not only that, but they’ll also be better for your overall health. It’s a win-win really.
We understand that the impacts of vision impairment as we age can make everyday activities more difficult. At Mobility Plus, we help with a range of walk-in bath and walk-in shower solutions that take away some of the difficulty at home associated with stepping over the side of the bath or into a shower that isn’t level with your bathroom floor. We can help optimise your bathroom when your eyesight is getting in the way.
Our mental health can be affected at any stage of our lives, however, depression is often a concern as we age. It is important to note that anxiety and depression are not a natural part of the ageing process, but due to other factors such as medical conditions, disabilities or isolation, it may occur for some people.
The good news is there are ways to combat these feelings, support your mental health and boost your mood to make your senior years healthy and happy. For too long, mental health has carried a stigma with it, however, if we treat it with daily measures, just as we do for our physical health, we can live optimally.
Signs and symptoms of depression in the elderly
In order to fully recognise the difference between an occasional ‘blue’ mood and lasting depression, it is important to understand the reg flags to look for;
Loss of interest in socialising or hobbies
Sadness or feelings of despair
Weight loss or loss of appetite
Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
Loss of self-worth (worries about being a burden, loss of purpose)
Increased use of alcohol or other drugs including excess medications
Fixation on death or ending own life
Neglecting personal care (forgetting to eat, skipping medications, stopping personal hygiene)
Whilst people often associate depression with feelings of sadness, most seniors who suffer from the condition often say that they do not actually feel sad yet complain instead of lack of energy and motivation or even a numbness of feelings. Furthermore, the most common symptoms are usually physical problems such as pain or headaches, which make up a part of the whole picture of depression.
When these feelings and symptoms begin interfering with your life and don’t go away after a few weeks, or if they come back over again in a cycle, it may be a sign you are experiencing depression.
Going through depression or seeing a loved one experience it can be very difficult, but there are some steps you can take that can help. Read on to find out our top self-help tips for depression in the elderly;
Adopt healthy habits
Whilst exercise and healthy eating is possibly the last thing you feel like doing, they can have a major effect on depression. Many people with a low mood often reach for crisps, chocolates or junk food as a way to bring some comfort to their life. However, nutritional research now shows that the food you eat can have a direct impact, positively or negatively, on your mood and levels of happiness.
It’s common knowledge that eating a diet full of processed food, sugar and excess alcohol is damaging to our body. On top of this, the lack of vital nutrients from these types of foods can be responsible for causing further issues and symptoms of some mental health conditions. However, opting for nutrient-dense, whole foods provides the body with vitamins and nutrients needed to make your happy hormones and brain chemicals. Cooking is also an act of self-care and people can often use this as a way to nourish their minds as well as their body.
Studies have shown exercise may reduce depressive symptoms in the elderly and in fact, a more sedentary lifestyle can exacerbate symptoms further. Exercise may seem daunting to some, especially if suffering from pain or depressive symptoms, but starting small and building up to more consistent movement is the key here.
The most important aspect is moving your body – this doesn’t have to include going for a run or lifting weights (unless you enjoy that) but finding natural ways to move. From walking around the local park, doing some housework or even gardening can provide the body with daily movement. Classes such as Tai Chi or Yoga are especially effective as they also provide a mindfulness component.
Connect with others
Often overlooked, yet a major cause of depression in the elderly is isolation and loneliness. Humans are social beings; therefore, it is essential to continue to interact with others on a regular basis.
A great way to do this is by joining a group. This could be a community project, a sports team or even a hobby group. What’s important is finding an activity you enjoy, and you feel motivated by so you will want to continue to attend. If you find it difficult to get out and about, there are Befriending Charities in many towns and cities who aim to match you with another person in order to create friendships. They can pop to your house or offer weekly phone calls to connect regularly with.
To overcome depression once and for all it is important you feel engaged in life and that you have a purpose. As we age, we often suffer loss; loss of people we love but also of the loss of your job, your physical health, your family moving away or other things that occupied your time and gave your life some meaning. Although it is ok to feel sadness for loss, we also must adapt and create a new sense of self-worth.
Volunteering for a cause that is important to you or supporting your local community in some way can be extremely rewarding. Not only are you helping and giving back, but you also have an opportunity to use the skills you have honed in your career.
Know when to ask for help
Whilst trying to take part in acts of self-care such as eating well or joining a community group sounds great on paper, the reality of it for some may be too difficult to face. Reaching out to someone who can help can be the greatest step towards overcoming depression in the elderly. This might be a friend, a family member or even your GP. Open up about your feelings and remember you are not alone.
Here at Mobility Plus, we are big believers in acts of self-care. Our walk-in bath or walk-in shower can be a fantastic addition to your daily self-care rituals in supporting your mental health.
At Mobility Plus we believe cooking & baking are important pieces of the wellness puzzle, but in the age of convenience these skills are sometimes side-lined, especially as we age. However, making magic in the kitchen can have benefits beyond what just appears on your plate.
As well as developing our cooking skills, studies into cooking interventions have been shown to improve health and manage our weight control. Research has also shown cooking at home can improve outcomes in type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.
Here are some other amazing benefits of baking and cooking to inspire you to bring out your spatula!
Stress is a common problem and not just for the elderly! Unfortunately, we now know chronic stress is harmful to health and can be particularly hazardous for older adults. There are many benefits of baking for stress reduction. Baking takes time, requires your attention and uses repetitive techniques such as stirring or chopping, which can be extremely meditative. Movements such as kneading bread have been shown to reduce levels of anxiety. Furthermore, research shows starting then finishing a project (or bake) increases happiness.
Food is extremely emotive and for many people triggers positive memories of celebration or familiarity of family. Whether it’s memories of cooking with a grandparent or baking treats for your own loved ones, the smell of fresh bread or a traditional favourite dinner is a powerful trigger. This can help to stimulate memory centres, which is particularly supportive for those suffering with or aiming to prevent neurodegenerative diseases of the brain such as dementia.
Control your ingredients
Possibly one of the clearest benefits of cooking your own food is that you can choose exactly what is going into your body. When we buy fast, convenient, or pre-packaged foods we are often subject to higher levels of sodium, sugar, preservatives and artificial flavourings – all proven to be damaging to our health. However, the benefit of cooking for ourselves allows us to include more nutrient dense foods and control ingredients we need to be mindful of.
Many people lose their appetites as they grow older, and although the need for more calories decreases, it is still extremely important to continue to nourish the body to avoid disease, depression and dementia. When we cook our food, it starts a biochemical reaction inside us, to prepare our body to take on nutrients. By doing this; smelling the ingredients, thinking about the provenance of food and looking forward to it – we increase our appetite and ready ourselves for nourishment.
Incorporating mindfulness in our lives can bring wonderful benefits to both our mental and physical health. Cooking mindfully can help you practice mindfulness techniques by focusing on the present, rather than allowing your thoughts to ruminate. Cooking mindfully involves really bringing awareness to the ingredients you are using – from choosing them in the shop to preparing them in the kitchen. Then, as you peel, chop and cook the food, you can appreciate the colours, the aromas, the sensations on your fingers, the sounds and the changing textures. Although it isn’t practical to do this every time you make a meal, by occasionally choosing mindful cooking, it can make it a more satisfying and healthful experience.
Studies have shown a link between creative expression and wellbeing. One benefit of baking is the freedom to express yourself in the kitchen. Whether it’s decorating cakes or styling a meal on a plate – you can bring colour and fun to your cooking and baking and speak to that creative part of you.
When you become more confident around ingredients and cooking skills, it no longer has to be a “follow step-by-step” activity with a strict recipe. Starting to explore cooking on your own and creating dishes really gets your creative juices going. With enough practice you can make dishes with specific tastes that you or your loved ones look forward to eating, giving you satisfaction and joy.
Variety is the spice of life
Nutritionists often recommend having a varied diet as this results in eating a greater range of the nutrients that your body needs, leading to overall better health. One study showed the benefits of cooking at home with French adults who ate a greater variety of foods than those who primarily ate out.
A great way to implement this is to get into the habit of buying ingredients (especially vegetables or wholefoods) that you have never bought or don’t usually buy. With the wonders of the internet, it has become easy to search for a recipe based around your new ingredient. This allows you to cook up a dish that you’ve never made before and have a fun time in doing so.
Eating out, takeaways and even pre-packaged food is expensive! A benefit of baking or cooking is that it allows you to keep eating low-cost by purchasing your own ingredients. Focusing on fresh wholefoods such as vegetables, fruit, legumes, beans and grains, as well as frozen whole food and store cupboard essentials like dried foods, herbs and spices is a way to keep costs down. This money-saving strategy will improve your finances and cut down on your stress levels.
Food as medicine
As we get older, health issues often start to mount up. However, science is now showing the powerful benefits of food and nutrition in preventing and supporting the body back to health. The benefit of cooking at home is how it increases your knowledge of food. Food is so much more than just something that fills you up until your next meal.
What you eat can either cause sickness or heal the body and learning this is one of the most important aspects of home cooking. We live in the age of information and cooking your own meals can teach you which foods are high or low in certain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Combining different foods into a balanced meal is a skill that can benefit our bodies with each mouthful.
It’s an act of self-love
Self-care is extremely important to long term health. We often see acts of self-care as pampering ourselves in a candlelit bath or hot shower. However, when you take time to prepare something nourishing for yourself, it’s saying that you’re important and you are prioritising yourself in that moment.
When you’re good to yourself, you might think you’re being selfish. However, self-care gives you the resources you need to be compassionate and generous to others as well. After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
Eyesight – it’s one of those things that we take for granted while we have it. Of course, some people are blessed with 20/20 vision for most of our lives, whilst others experience short-sightedness from a young age. But what no one can escape is that, with age, our eyesight will change.
As much as we might want to fight the signs of ageing in all their forms, changes in vision are unavoidable as we grow older. But what are the normal signs of ageing eyesight – and which signs should be cause for concern?
Keep reading to find out how eyesight changes as we age.
We find it harder to focus
If there’s one symptom of ageing vision we all know about, it’s the inability to focus on items close-up. When we’re young, we’re all bemused by our parents, holding their phone as far away from their face as possible – but the years go by, and before we know it, we’re doing the very same thing!
The condition that causes this is called presbyopia, and it affects all of us eventually, mostly after the age of 40, Presbyopia is the hardening of the eye lens, which becomes less flexible, causing difficulty in focus. This is completely normal – not at all dangerous – and can be treated with reading glasses.
We struggle to adjust to light changes
As we grow older, it is normal that our muscles lose strength. The same apply to the eye muscles, which become weaker with age. This causes the pupils to reduce in size, and therefore become slower to adjust to different lighting. Many people will find that they become more sensitive to bright lights as they age for this very reason.
Our peripheral vision wanes
If you have ever wondered why there is such debate around a maximum driving age, it is because of the issue of peripheral vision. As we grow older, our peripheral vision decreases – by one to three degrees each decade. That means that by the age of 70, our peripheral vision has reduced by between 20 and 30 degrees. Quite a significant amount when you’re behind the wheel!
Don’t worry, the world does not fade into monochrome in old age – but our colour vision does gradually become impaired. This is because the cells in the retina that produce colour vision become less sensitive with age, causing colours to appear less bright. The contrast between different colours will also appear less stark. Blue tones are known to be particularly likely to look faded with ageing vision.
Our eyes get drier
One of the more frustrating symptoms of ageing vision is dry eye. Simply, this is a condition we experience when the eyes are no longer able to produce enough moisture to create fluid in the tear ducts. The result is dry, scratchy eyes. Luckily, though, it can be easily managed with eye drops.
We get ‘floaters’
Floaters are a frustrating part of most people’s daily lives, but as we get older, these irritating spots in our vision become more common. Floaters are caused when the gel-like vitreous inside the eye begins to separate from the retina. This is a normal part of ageing, but if you begin to experience regular flashes of light, you should consult a GP, because this could indicate a detached retina, which is a much more serious problem!
It is inevitable that our vision will change as we age, just like everything else. In most cases – like those listed above – this is nothing to worry about. However, it is important to monitor any changes in your vision, and see an optician and GP regularly to ensure your eyes are in good health.
With more and more people considering their impact on the planet, it is no surprise we are looking at our food choices as one of the ways to help with sustainability. The meat and dairy industries have come under scrutiny for their part in causing damage to the environment, via greenhouse gases from livestock, deforestation and water shortages from farming, and vast ocean dead zones from agricultural pollution.
People all over the planet are adopting diets to support this movement. Ranging from flexitarians (a person who has a primarily vegetarian diet but occasionally eats meat or fish) to vegetarians (no meat) to vegans (no animal products at all). However, people are not just looking to reduce their carbon footprint. Many are looking at these lifestyle changes to improve their health too.
Scientists have long known the anti-inflammatory effects of plant foods and how one can positively affect health issues, such as arthritis, by focusing on what’s on their plate. But does a vegan diet help reduce arthritis symptoms and pain?
This appears to be heavily dependent on what type of arthritis is the focus. Adopting an ‘anti-inflammatory diet’ rich in plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, for an inflammation-led disease such as Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) has had promising results in trials. One study found that 4 weeks on a low-fat vegan diet improved RA joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. There is also an interesting link with improving the ‘good bacteria’ in your gut by eating more fibre from a higher plant diet. These bacteria help to keep inflammation in check and support the immune system.
Furthermore, studies show that people who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet are less likely to be overweight or obese compared to their meat-eating counterparts. The impact of weight on the joints and bones significantly drives factors that contribute to Osteoarthritis (OA) and RA.
Is meat & dairy the problem? What the studies don’t show clearly however, is if it is the animal products causing the issues of inflammation and weight gain or if it’s the overconsumption of animals, unhealthy habits and processed foods that accompany the majority of people following a typical Western Diet. The issue is more complex than “plants good, animals bad,”. Vegan diets tend to include more healthy foods in general as well as healthy lifestyle choices such as exercise and being in nature. Meat eaters as a group tend to eat more processed foods (pizza, burgers, cheese) and are more sedentary, which can trigger inflammation. There is yet to be a study on a population who eats mostly plants, some animal products and adopts healthy lifestyle choices and the impact on arthritis, however.
Likewise, you can be vegan and still eat plenty of foods that will not help your arthritis symptoms or contribute to a healthy diet. For example, sugar, chips, white bread and meat substitutes, which all come from plants, can trigger inflammation.
More plants What is clear is the impact on having more plants in the diet is good for both your health outcomes and the planet. People who focus on a diet with more fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, healthy fats and whole grains (i.e., brown rice and barley) instead of refined carbohydrates like white pasta, bread or rice are increasing their body’s nutrient stores to support repair mechanisms in the body. These plant foods are also packed with phytochemicals (plant-based compounds) that include antioxidants, flavonoids and carotenoids, all of which protect the tissues from oxidation and help reduce inflammation.
What to look out for If adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet sounds appealing for your arthritis, consider what you may need to supplement or provide more of in your diet.
These include; vitamin B-12 (which are only found in animal products and essential for brain function) omega-3 fatty acids (which also reduce inflammation and support cell-communication), iron (to protect against potential anaemia), zinc & vitamin D (for the immune system), calcium (for bones support) and selenium & iodine (for a healthy thyroid). It is also essential to consider your protein sources in a vegan diet to ensure you are eating enough
We all know that water is the healthiest choice for staying hydrated, but it’s not the only drink that can boost our energy levels and improve our health. Healthy drinks should be as much a part of our daily routine as movement and exercise. As well as being an important inclusion into your day, different drinks can also improve digestion, sharpen your
cognitive functions and ease your stress. Read on to find our top 4 drinks that not only taste delicious but pack a huge nutritional punch too!
Green Smoothie Starting off your morning with a nutrient-rich smoothie is a fantastic way to ensure you’re meeting your 5-a-day and can be made quickly if you’re in a hurry.
1 cup frozen fruit (e.g. banana, mixed berries)
1 cup of fresh greens (spinach, kale, or rocket)
1/2 – 1 cup milk (e.g. almond, coconut)
1/2 tablespoon ground seeds (flax, chia, etc.)
1 tsp nut butter
Place the above ingredients in a high-speed blender and mix until they’re smooth. We recommend starting with 1/2 cup of milk and topping up with water depending on how thick you like your smoothies.
Immune Boosting Shot Certain ingredients are well known for their immune-boosting properties, and whilst there are many supplements available, nothing compares to real food. This recipe is perfect to prevent and treat colds as well as being a great natural anti-inflammatory remedy.
2-inch piece of ginger root (about 5cm)
2-inch piece of turmeric root (about 5 cm)
1 pinch black pepper (this helps your body to absorb the nutrients)
Wash all these ingredients before preparing. If they’re not organic, we recommend peeling them as well. Chop the ingredients and put everything through the juicer. If you don’t have a juicer, place all the ingredients in a blender, add some water and blend until smooth. Take as a shot and enjoy the spicy after taste!
Healthy Hot Chocolate There’s nothing more comforting than a hot chocolate. However, it’s often packed with sugar and is usually more indulgent than healthy. But it doesn’t have to be! Cacao and cinnamon have fantastic health properties and these can be enhanced with the right combination of ingredients.
1 teaspoon of almond butter
1 cup of almond milk
2 teaspoons of raw cacao
2 tablespoons of date syrup
¼ teaspoon of cinnamon and nutmeg
Optional: add a vanilla protein powder or top with orange zest
Take all the ingredients above and place them into a saucepan. Then, gently stir them while on low heat. Use a whisk if you want a frothy finish. Once the whole mix is warmed up, serve it in your best mug and relish!
Turmeric Latte Turmeric is a wonder herb and has been used in traditional Indian cooking for thousands of years. Yet, we’re only just starting to understand the therapeutic properties of its active ingredients. The anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric have been shown to be comparable to the many pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, without any noted side effects. Although you could add it to your cooking, you can also enjoy it as a warming drink!
Turmeric Latte Mix
5 Tablespoons ground turmeric
3 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
To Make a Turmeric Latte
1 1/2 cups milk of choice (e.g. oat/coconut)
1 teaspoon turmeric latte mix
½ teaspoon honey (optional)
To Make Turmeric Latte Mix
In a bowl combine turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and black pepper. Whisk to combine. Transfer to a glass jar with a lid.
To Make a Turmeric Latte
Splash some of the milk accompanied by 1 teaspoon of turmeric latte mix in a small pot. Whisk these together to create a consistent liquid.
Add the remaining milk, whisk to combine the ingredients, and heat over medium-high heat until steaming.