ADVICE FOR YOUR BUCKET LIST

Do you know what a bucket list is? Most people think it is a list of things you want to do before you die. A typical guess is people want to visit a particular place before dying. Based on an unscientific poll about bucket lists, that is not a bad guess. Travel appears to be a frequent bucket list ambition.  Anne is an American who is proud her ancestors lived for centuries on the group of small islands in the English Channel between the southern coast of England and mainland Europe.

REDUCE STRESS, INCREASE ENJOYMENT FOR A HAPPY 2018

Family caregivers provide practical assistance and enhance the quality of life for frail seniors who might otherwise require placement in a long-term-care facility. Typically, caregivers are spouses or adult children, many of whom are seniors themselves. Their role involves physical, psychological, emotional and financial demands. It can be a heavy load.  If you are a caregiver, consider the following strategies for not only surviving but thriving in the year ahead.

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DISCOVER A LOVE OF LIFELONG LEARNING

Curiosity, exploring interests and engagement are a few crucial ingredients to healthy and happy longevity. Enrolling in a class just for the love of learning is a great way to do this. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of Kentucky offers educational and enrichment courses, forums, shared interest groups, trips and more for adults age 50 years and older. Membership for the full year is $25; summer programs are at a prorated fee.

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6. Foot pain

Neuropathy and some other foot conditions ranging from bunions to corns and hammertoes can all impact steady footing and increase the chances of a slip and fall.


7. Uncontrolled diabetes

This condition can affect just about every organ in the body. It can cause vision problems and balance instability resulting from a combination of loss of sensation or nerve damage and inadequate blood flow to the bottoms of the feet.


8. Diseases of the eye

Some of these can lead to dizziness and loss of equilibrium if vision becomes impaired. Annual eye exams are vital to identifying and preventing conditions such as glaucoma and cataracts from affecting depth perception and healthy sight. Cataracts may cause balance issues as well. In most cases, when diagnosed early, successful cataract surgery will help fully restore balance.


Good health and wellness practices, including regular exercise, good nutrition and ample rest, are important ingredients in maintaining favorable equilibrium. The healthier a person’s lifestyle, the better chances he or she has for reducing the risk of balance issues.

Vision and balance are highly integrated in the brain, but we don’t fully understand the relative contributions of the visual, proprioceptive and vestibular systems in maintaining balance and preventing falls. We do know there are several possible causes of balance problems. Balance erodes naturally and gradually with age, but several health conditions can cause people to experience equilibrium issues that affect proper stability.


Some of the most common medical conditions that can affect the sense of balance include:


1. Medications

Some medications carry side effects that can negatively impact balance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points to certain sedatives, antidepressants, antihistamines and blood pressure medications that have been linked to vision issues, drowsiness and dizziness. Some of these also cause damage to the inner ear, which is the body’s balance center.


2. Neurological disorders

(such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke or other ataxia- related disorders) People suffering from these disorders often experience a decline in muscle control in the legs and arms, resulting in loss of balance, disturbed gait and decreasing coordination and equilibrium.

BALANCE AND VISION IMPORTANT FOR PREVENTING FALLS


3. Migraines

These debilitating headaches can cause motion sickness, vision issues and even disruptions in balance as the person suffering from them becomes extremely sensitive to light and sound. Dizziness usually occurs when the body’s visual information system is unable to properly process exterior stimuli via the brain, a function that is needed to maintain proper balance.


4. Inner-ear conditions

An ear infection can cause vertigo or dizziness, which in turn can cause balance problems.


5. Low blood pressure

This condition, known as hypotension, occurs when blood pressure in the arteries is low (typically under 90/60) and the brain is robbed of oxygen-rich blood. As a result, light-headedness occurs, causing impaired spatial awareness and dizziness and fainting if the patient sits or stands up too quickly.

DR. THOMAS W. MILLER, PH.D, ABPP

Thomas W. Miller, Ph.D., ABPP, is a Professor Emeritus and Senior Research Scientist, Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut and Professor Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine and Department of Gerontology, College of Public Health, University of Kentucky.

more articles by dr thomas W. Miller