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Glaucoma, a group of eye conditions that cause loss of vision, has been called “the sneak thief of sight” because there are no symptoms apart from the actual vision loss—and once vision is lost, it’s permanent. This makes glaucoma not only the second leading cause of blindness in the world, but the leading cause of preventable blindness over all.

Although glaucoma is not just one eye disease, the group of eye conditions is characterized by optic nerve damage. The optic nerve carries images from the eye to the brain, like an electric cable. For those with glaucoma, high pressure inside the eye (intraocular pressure) causes damage to this cable, resulting in loss of peripheral vision. The progression of this  “tunnel” vision is gradual, and as much as 40% of vision can be lost without a person noticing. In its most advanced forms, glaucoma can lead to total blindness.

Risk of developing glaucoma increases with age. Some populations, including Mexican-Americans and African-Americans, have higher risks of developing glaucoma. Family history, long-term corticosteroid use, and medical conditions like diabetes and hypothyroidism can also increase your risk. The best and only way to prevent vision loss from glaucoma is to get your vision checked regularly. For those aged 65 and older, doctors recommend a vision check every six to 12 months. To minimize damage and limit further glaucoma-related vision loss, doctors may prescribe medicated eye drops, or recommend surgery to lessen pressure in the eye.

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, so there’s no better time to make sure our family and friends know how to prevent glaucoma-related vision loss. Ensure that the seniors in your life understand that glaucoma-related vision loss can often go unnoticed, and is permanent. Talk to your friends and family about the importance of vision testing, and help raise awareness by reading up on glaucoma at the Glaucoma Research Foundation’s website.

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It’s no secret that we love our coffee. Each survey offers another impressive number:

  • 624 million cups of coffee a day in the United States
  • 3 cups per coffee drinker
  • 83 percent of adults can’t imagine life without coffee
  • 90 percent of adults consuming some form of caffeine every day

The Drawbacks
We often hear about the pitfalls of drinking coffee. Caffeine is a drug, and most coffee drinkers know that it can be addictive. Cutting off caffeine can result in headaches, nausea, and fatigue. Plus, caffeine can be troublesome for those with high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Have trouble sleeping at night? Coffee and caffeine are not for you—they’re shown to worsen insomnia, anxiety, and heartburn. Even decaffeinated coffee can do a number on sensitive stomachs, because the drink is highly acidic.

The Benefits
In contrast, other research shows that caffeine—and coffee in particular—can actually benefit your health, and that includes seniors. The National Institutes of Health point out that coffee beans are loaded with protective compounds, which can help prevent diseases like stroke, and certain oral cancers, plus lower the risk of Parkinson’s and even dementia. Plus, caffeine, the much-loved stimulant present in coffee, is linked to lower risks of Alzheimer’s disease.

The Final Word
Everything in moderation. Enjoying a cup daily can improve your life, give you a boost in the morning, plus help protect you against certain diseases. But if you’re noticing immediate backlash from your caffeine intake—acid reflex, jittery nerves, or sleepless nights—then it’s not worth hoping for longterm benefits. Instead, when you’d like a cup of something toasty on a cold winter day, sip some herbal tea. Then sit back and enjoy your cozy drink!

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Facing stigma, or the use of negative labels to identify a person with a disability or illness, is often one of the primary concerns of people living with Alzheimer’s disease. Stigma around dementia, which is often due to lack of public understanding and awareness, can often prevent people from seeking treatment, developing support systems, or enjoying a full quality of life.

Worldwide, 35 million people and their families are affected by dementia, and they each face stigma in their own way. Current and former members of the National Alzheimer’s Association Early-Stage Advisory Group came together to develop these five tips for overcoming stigma:

1. Be open and direct. Discussing Alzheimer’s disease is a great way to dissolve tension on the subject.

2. Communicate the facts. Access to accurate information is the first step to dispelling misconceptions and myths about Alzheimer’s disease.

3. Seek support and stay connected. A support network is critical for both those with Alzheimer’s disease, and those close to them, whether it’s a formal support group, or a network of family and friends.

4. Don’t be discouraged. Sometimes, people with Alzheimer’s will experience denial of the disease by others close to them. This is not a reflection of the person with Alzheimer’s—see it as an educational opportunity.

5. Be a part of the solution. Self-advocacy and speaking out for others will raise awareness and dismantle stigma.

Raising awareness about Alzheimer’s and diffusing stigma can be as simple as wearing purple—the trademark color of Alzheimer’s advocacy—and speaking up! Show support for those affected by Alzheimer’s by making their cause visible. For more information about advocacy, visit alz.org.

At AlmaVia of Union City, we are proud to provide dignified care and services for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. For more information, call (510) 400-7250.

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As we age, we’re confronted with medical decisions—medications, treatment, insurance—that can be daunting. If you’re caring for an aging parent or loved one, AlmaVia of Union City wants to make sure you’re prepared to help them.

To make good healthcare decisions, you need to have the right information. That’s why we’ve invited patient advocacy expert Dr. Lael Duncan to discuss the complexities of navigating the challenges of aging while preserving the highest quality of life.

Dr. Duncan will discuss the types of decisions facing individuals and families with aging loved ones. Her discussion will provide guidance and education for those that may encounter a new diagnosis, a hospitalization, an unplanned or elective surgery, or transitioning between home and assisted living.

Are you prepared to help an aging parent? Get expert advice and vital information.


“Making Informed Healthcare Decisions”
with Lael Duncan, MD
October 29, 2013, 5pm – 6:30pm | Union City
AlmaVia of Union City, 33883 Alvarado-Niles Road

Space is limited for this engagement, so please visit ElderCareEvents.org to RSVP.

At AlmaVia of Union City, residents are the heart of our community. We are proud to provide educational opportunities like this one, to advance the quality of life for both our residents and their loved ones.

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