Browse By Topic: Health

Understanding Vision and Perception Problems Associated with Alzheimer’s Disease

  November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness and Caregiver month. In this post, we alert you to information on how Alzheimer’s disease can alter vision and perception, what type of difficulties this can cause, and how to support and care for the person experiencing these disturbances. Even older adults with low vision or severe vision loss without the additional complications of Alzheimer's or cognitive problems need special support and accommodations to remain healthy, engaged, and


Where to Find Help When Your Loved One Is New to Vision Loss

Editor's Note: November is National Caregivers Month with a special day celebrated on November 1. We have had a large number of inquiries from family members seeking advice, so VisionAware's support group advisor has written a special blog post to help provide some answers and resources.   Vision Loss: A Distressing Experience Vision loss is a distressing experience for not only the person with the eye condition but also for their loved ones. When a family member begins to have difficulties with activities of daily living, can no longer drive, and cannot get around safely, it can affect their partner, children, and close friends. Suddenly,


Ways People Who Are Visually Impaired Can View the Solar Eclipse

It has been almost 100 years since a total solar eclipse has happened coast to coast in the United States. Typically, solar eclipses occur somewhere on earth about once every year and a half, but on Monday, August 21, everyone in the US will be able to see this momentous event. Image courtesy of NASA's Decorate Eclipse Glasses A solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks the disk of the sun and, as a result, the day will darken. Lasting for only a few minutes, it is an incredible sight to see but very unsafe to do so because of the


Reasons Accidents Happen and How to Minimize Them As an Individual with Vision Loss

"Would you believe that I’ve been punched in the nose by a refrigerator, a closet door ajar, and even a wall? It’s all been caused by my hurrying frantically to get just one more task done, just one more e-mail answered, just one more load in the washer before my ride comes." Do these scenarios by a very competent, independent blind woman sound familiar? Whether blind or sighted, no matter how careful, we are to make our home environments safe, accidents are going to happen, but we can minimize them by reminding ourselves to slow down, focus on the current moment, and consistently use the safety techniques we often ignore because of our


Mental Health and Visual Impairment: Peer Perspectives

Mental Health Awareness Month Editor's Note: According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately one in five adults in the U.S., 43.8 million or 18.5 percent, experience mental illness every year. Since 1949, May has been observed as Mental Health Awareness Month, specifically highlighting and educating the public about mental illnesses. The campaign also seeks to diminish negative stereotypes associated with these diseases drawing attention to the realities of living with these conditions and providing effective strategies for maintaining mental health and wellness. Further, June is designated as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) month. <img src="http://www.afb.org/image.asp?ImageID=8382" width="450px" alt="logo saying I'm into mental health


Mental Health Awareness Month: Action Steps

Coordinated by Sandra Burgess, MSW, LCSW Mental Health America and its partner organizations have coordinated the observance of May as Mental Health Month throughout the United States since 1949. During this month, information to promote good mental health and treatment for common mental health issues is disseminated via media outlets, free depression screenings, and other community events. This year, Mental Health America is highlighting a campaign called Risky Business, an effort to educate the public about some habits or behaviors that can lead to mental illness, be warning signs of present mental illness, or


During Older Americans Month, Meet the Challenges of Aging with Vision Loss

How Can We Add More "Life" to Our Life? Science and medicine have added more years to our life, but how can we add more "life" to our years? Growing older is not just about loss and decline, it can bring new opportunities and adventures. We all want to age gracefully and maintain our independence, but what is the secret to positive aging and satisfaction in this stage of life? A growing number of Americans are aging with disabilities which threaten their independence. According to the 2010 Census, almost 50 percent of respondents over age 64 reported some level of disability. Specifically, the prevalence of vision loss is growing


Four Things I Learned from the 1Touch Self-Defense Project

In March, I attended the AFB Leadership Conference in Alexandria, Virginia. One of the numerous workshop sessions on the agenda that I found interesting was on the 1Touch Self-Defense Project. I had taken a self-defense class for people with visual impairments, but it was many years ago, and I have to admit I was pretty rusty on the topic and even more on the physical techniques. So, I decided to attend the class to get a refresher and update my skills and knowledge. The session was only for about an hour, but I learned a wealth of information that I want to share with you in this post. <img


Are You at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes? Take the Test!

Editor's note: Audrey Demmitt, VisionAware peer advisor and R.N., reminds everyone of the risk of diabetes and what you should know. Could you be the one in three American adults who is at risk for developing type 2 diabetes? Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness among working age adults, and that’s why VisionAware is participating in American Diabetes Association Alert Day(r). On March 28, we encourage you to take a quick (and anonymous) one-minute Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test to


Keeping Your Balance Through Outdoor Bike Riding

"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving." Albert Einstein Editor's note: In the New Year we all make promises to ourselves about coming up with a new weight loss plan or exercising more. Beckie Horter, new VisionAware peer advisor, describes her joy in bike riding and how she does it. Feeling Out of Balance To keep moving is not always an easy thing for people with vision loss to do. While we may want to stay active, and may even seek it out, our vision oftentimes interferes and spoils our best-laid plans. I discovered this firsthand after central vision loss left me legally blind in my mid-thirties. Along with


Stay Active and Keep Your Sense of Adventure Alive at Hull Park

Editor's note: It's Active Aging Week. The theme this year is Explore the possibilities. Audrey Demmitt explores a new possibility and writes about it in a post that is a great testimonial to the ways we can all keep active and explore our sense of adventure. The word recreation really is a very beautiful word. It is defined in the dictionary as the process of giving new life to something, of refreshing something, or restoring something. This something, of course, is the whole person. Hans Geba My Adventure at Hull Park The old adage


Preparing for Pregnancy: A Blind Mother's Checklist Part 3, Resources and Services

Editor's note: This is part three of A Blind Mother's Checklist from the new series, Blind Parenting. Part 1 covered the basic questions to ask yourself when deciding to start a family. Part 2 reviewed the medical implications and various doctors a mother planning to get pregnant should have as part of her medical team. Preparing for


Preparing for Pregnancy: A Blind Mother's Checklist Part 2, Medical Implications

Editor's note: This is the second post in our new series, Blind Parenting. This series will provide you first-hand accounts of how other blind and visually impaired parents have used organizational strategies with adaptive techniques to parent safely and independently. This is part two of a three-part blog post. Read part 1 to determine if you are ready to start a family. Preparing for Pregnancy: A Blind Mother's Checklist Part 2 By


Summertime and the Living Is Easy

Sue with guide dog So a song by the American artist, Ella Fitzgerald, begins. I grew up in the American south. As a child the heat never really bothered me. We spent the summers outside, usually at summer camp. When not at camp, we were outside riding our ponies or playing physically demanding games. It’s quite different now! My day job is with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. I spend my days before a computer. It’s a fun job, and I enjoy my team and the work we do. But it’s a pretty sedentary job. Last February, I trained with my fifth


Get in the Swim for Memorial Day

Editor's note: Just in time for Memorial Day and the opening of swimming pools across America, Mary Hiland writes about the joys of swimming! So read up and enjoy the holiday with a dip in the pool! Discovering the Joy of Sports I have never thought of myself as an athlete. As a little girl, I studied dance and wanted nothing to do with any game involving a ball. then I discovered individual sports, starting with cross country skiing back in 1986. After learning to ski at Ski for Light, I was inspired to try other athletic endeavors, such as bike riding, hiking, ice skating, jogging, and even swimming. Afraid of the Water I


Physical Fitness: Move More, Sit Less

You may have heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking,” but what does this mean exactly? How does it affect me and what can I do about it? Impact of Increasingly Sedentary Lifestyles Researchers have been studying our increasingly sedentary lifestyles for years to determine the impact on our health and mortality. With advancements in technology, people are sitting more and moving less. From sitting during our daily commute, sitting in the office or on our computers, sitting to watch television…you get the picture. It is actually making us sick and killing us. The World Health Organization has determined physical inactivity is the 4th leading


Depression During the Holidays and Beyond

The holiday season is tough on those who are struggling with depression, anxiety and stress. Let’s face it--for many of us the family gatherings, endless shopping, and chaotic parties can leave us feeling down and exhausted. It’s a time that may be particularly difficult for someone new to vision loss. Many people who are blind or visually impaired find it stressful to go shopping, attend social functions, navigate crowds and manage family relationships. And that is just what the holidays are all about. Vision loss will certainly change the experience and may even trigger depression. Loneliness and social Isolation Predict Depression Social isolation is one of the biggest


My Emergency Preparedness Bag

Planning Ahead When Visually Impaired One of the complications we experience as people who are visually impaired is that we have to do a lot of planning ahead. Gone are the days when we could impulsively meet a friend for lunch, run out to pick up that missing ingredient we need for dinner etc. When you have to figure out the logistics of getting where you want to go and how you will get there in advance, it means being organized and creative. This extends to making plans for emergencies. Having a network of support is important. During a city wide


Protect Your Independence: Create a Fall Prevention Plan

Editor's note: September is National Fall Prevention Month. The VisionAware peer advisors felt it important to bring to our readers the risk factors as well as what you can do to prevent falls. VisionAware has many resources to help you and many of these are included in this post. Being Pro-Active My vision loss has caused me to fall many times in the past. As I get older this concerns me because I realize the potential for serious injuries. So I decided to attend a workshop on Fall Prevention. I would like to share the highlights of what I learned since this is National Fall Prevention Month. Falls Are Not a "Normal" Part of the Aging Process Many


My Anti–Aging Exercise Routine

Getting in Shape Editor's note": this is the last of our posts for National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. You may want to read the first two: Make Physical Activity and Exercise a Way of Life and Ways You Can Exercise. The soreness in my abdominals this morning told me that I must have done something good yesterday for my body. Let’s see. I got back on my jogging trampoline, and I did a couple of


Ways You Can Exercise If you are Blind or Visually Impaired

We are continuing our theme of National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. Even though there may be a few added challenges for people who are visually impaired to get exercise, we need to make it a part of our daily lives. This can be done with the right information, creativity and motivation. VisionAware Peer Advisors share their routines and ideas in hopes of inspiring others to pursue greater levels of physical activity and achieve the associated health benefits. Let’s make fitness a priority, together. Audrey Demmitt, Georgia <img src="http://www.afb.org/image.asp?ImageID=5496"


Make Physical Activity and Fitness a Way of Life

"If exercise could be purchased in a pill, it would be the single most widely prescribed and beneficial medicine in the nation." – Robert H. Butler May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month and a great time to commit to an exercise plan and explore new ways to get moving. You may think that with visual impairment this isn't possible anymore, but there are powerful health benefits to physical activity and no matter our age, size, and physical condition, we need it. Exercise and healthy eating are the most effective means of protecting your body against chronic diseases, building a strong body, and ensuring a long active life. As a nurse, I know the


Seeing Colors With My Brain Versus My Eyes

Healthy Vision Month Editor's note: May is Healthy Vision Month. Although Maribel has retinitis pigmentosa, a group of hereditary retinal diseases for which there is presently no definitive treatment, in this post she discusses her appreciation of vision. She encourages you to make your eye health a priority during this month. Take the first step by getting a dilated eye exam. And find out more steps you can take to preserve vision. <img


Being a Caregiver and Advocate When You Are Blind

This post is part of our Caregiving Series in honor of National Family Caregivers Month. Mother in Emergency Room There are times when I feel more blind than usual, and when my 98-year old mother was sent to the emergency room (ER), this was one of them. First, when I got the call from the assisted living home, I had to recruit someone to take me to meet Mom at the hospital. It was the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. Fortunately,


Managing Diabetes from Head to Toe

Diabetes Requires Self-Care What a person with diabetic retinopathy sees Diabetes is a serious disease and affects all parts of the body. It demands constant monitoring and a disciplined routine of self-care. There is no taking a break from this chronic condition. Many people who have diabetes become “burned-out” on taking care of it. Some lack the


Exploring Ways to Stay Fit in Retirement

It’s Active Aging Week and peer advisor Audrey Demmitt shares her secrets on keeping physically active. Exploring Ways to Be Physically Active In my retirement, I have been exploring new ways to be physically active. I have always walked for exercise with my guide dog. We mapped out several routes in my neighborhood and enjoy this special time together. But walking just didn’t seem like enough and I was experiencing changes in my balance, muscle strength, range of motion, and stamina. As a visually impaired person with retinitis pigmentosa I had become less physically active and I didn't like


Advocating for Yourself Within the Healthcare System

Editor's note: This post was written by Max Ivey, a new peer advisor for VisionAware. In honor of Healthy Aging Month, Max has written this post on his recent medical experiences. Do You Really Communicate With Your Doctor? A recent experience with my doctors had me wondering how well people listen to their doctors. I also started wondering about how well our doctors talk to those of us who are blind or visually impaired. And finally, it made me think about what suggestions I could give people to make their experience more


Enjoying the Miracle of Seeds with Vision Loss

Miracle of Seeds Do you remember the sheer delight of planting a bean in a handful of dirt in a Styrofoam cup and watching it grow as a child? There is nothing quite as wonderful as a cup of seeds. The variety of color, shape, fragrance and flavor contained within that tiny package is a miracle. It is spring now and miracles await to delight, inspire and calm the soul. “In every gardener there is a child who believes in The Seed Fairy.” ~Robert Brault. I remember the first time I planted my own vegetable garden. Enthralled with the simplicity of the seeds, I lavished them upon the


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