Issue 27

Mar/Apr 17 Young at Heart Senior Section


Of the many things to take care of as you age, don’t let your vision fall to the wayside. With every birthday, most will experience a decreased ability to see fine details.

This might be due to cataracts—a natural clouding of the crystalline lens that develops as we age. Cataracts can come with decreased color brightness, difficulty seeing in dim lighting, and problems with glare, such as from car headlights.

“Regular optometric exams can detect cataracts and changes to your vision as early as possible,” said Erika Bray Ortega, O.D. at Vision First Optometry. “Often, updating your glasses prescription and requesting anti-reflective coatings on your lenses can help to minimize your symptoms until you are ready for cataract surgery.”

Seniors should follow their doctor’s recommendations for controlling blood pressure and blood sugar, wear sunglasses or photochromic lenses, and maintain a healthy diet with plenty of omega 3s and green leafy vegetables. And don’t forget to schedule at least one annual eye exam for early detection of eye diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, and dry eye.

“Often, early detection can be the difference between maintaining healthy, clear sight and losing vision—particularly in the case of glaucoma,” said Dr. Bray Ortega. “Glaucoma rarely has symptoms and is most often discovered during routine eye health examinations. When detected and treated early, many glaucoma patients can successfully control the disease and reduce their risk of peripheral vision loss.”

So, what’s holding you back? Your eyes are important—make sure to take care of them even before there’s a problem.

Dr. Bray Ortega is a Modesto native who’s committed to providing quality eyecare and beautiful vision correction solutions in her community. Her office, newly renovated and located in the Century Center, is replete with state-of-the-art technology specialized in detecting retinal diseases like macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and retinal detachments.

Do your eyes a favor and look after your vision. Give Erika Bray Ortega, O.D. a call for a personalized experience from scheduling your appointment to coming to pick up your glasses or contact lenses.

Call Vision First Optometry at 209-525-8436 or visit


All around us are families trying to find their way through the impact of memory loss. The disease is deceptively prevalent—maybe you even know someone with it.

There are over five million Americans who have to live with Alzheimer’s disease, and 610,000 of them are in California alone. It’s the fifth-leading cause of death in the U.S., making Alzheimer’s not just prevalent but achieving almost epidemic proportions.

Even in the face of towering numbers like these, it’s important to remember that it isn’t just a statistic, but a very real battle for those who suffer with it—and it doesn’t define a person or a family. A person with Alzheimer’s is the same person they were before the diagnosis and can continue to do what they love with the right support. And thankfully, our community has that.

El Rio Memory Care of Modesto and the Alzheimer’s Association have partnered to bring support and provide free educational opportunities for families and those who provide care. Each person diagnosed has countless caregivers who may experience financial hardship, health difficulties, deep emotional stress, and even depression. So where can they find support?

The partnership of El Rio and the Alzheimer’s Association aims to provide education, wellness programs, and options for full-time or respite care, so families can better understand dementia and have access to the resources they need.

Alzheimer’s can affect anyone and there are clear warning signs to be aware of. Early signs of dementia can include memory loss that interrupts daily life and a slow decline in memory, thinking, and reasoning skills.

For more information about upcoming educational classes and local support groups contact El Rio Memory Care at [email protected]  or call  209.409.2877. 


When it comes time to choose a recovery care center, it’s always an important decision. It requires research and careful planning in order to ensure that your loved ones get the best care they can.

“Choosing the right nursing facility is vital to the health and well-being of your loved one,” said Deanna Hill, administrator of English Oaks Nursing & Rehabilitation Center. “Call facilities to arrange for a representative to show you around and answer your questions.”

When perusing a care center, make sure to use all of your senses, Hill cautions.

 1. Look Around:
Look for staff engaging with residents. Are activities taking place? Do staff smile and greet you on the tour? Is the tour informative? Is the tour limiting in some way, as if the staff do not want to take you to certain areas or halls?

2. Tasty Treats:
Food and Nutrition services should be appetizing and presentable on the plate. Look for posted menus and ask if family members can purchase meals at the center. You will have an idea of the quality of the food when you order the meals yourself.

3. Smell the Roses:
Bad odors might indicate that housekeeping isn’t up to par. Don’t be fooled by heavy air fresheners. Make sure residents are dressed in regular clean clothes and that they appear well-groomed with brushed hair and clean teeth.

4. Listen In:
It is often useful to have a list of questions prepared for the staff. You can use a nursing home checklist which can provide you guidance during a visit. Listen to the communication that occurs between staff and the patients. Is the conversation polite, respectful, and dignified?

5. Reach Out:
Ask your friends and neighbors about facilities in your community. Look for a center whose staff are happy and willing to meet with you. Choosing a nursing home is one of the most difficult decisions a child may have to make for a parent. Ask questions and understand the types of services that each center offers.

“It is our purpose at English Oaks Nursing & Rehabilitation Center that whoever enters a Generations home will be met with kindness, competence, and compassion,” said Hill. “We are caring for a lifetime—a lifetime of memories, a lifetime of care, and a lifetime of love.”

For more information about a lifetime of love for your loved ones, visit


Many see hospice as the end of hope. It is not!

“Often, people have a concept of what they think hospice is and what it used to be years and years ago,” said Ryan Smith, Community Educator at Optimal Hospice Care. “There’s so much that has changed and we need to provide more education.”

Sometimes patients might have cultural customs or spiritual beliefs—and different cultures or faiths see hospice differently. Hospice is generally recommended in situations where the patient is facing a terminal illness, such as cancer, lung disease, or heart disease, and the physicians feel that it’s likely the patient may pass in six months or less. However, few realize that life expectancy tends to lengthen while on hospice care. This is because our physicians and other clinical staff specialize in symptom management being incorporated into a patient and family’s individual end-of-life choices and goals.

“For example, we often find that with our homeless population, their diseases are made worse by the lack of medication management, etc,” said Smith. “If we can get them into a stable environment and stable care, their time remaining will improve with our interventions because their body isn’t under as much stress.”

This is true of patients in all social classes. The better the symptoms are managed, the more likely the patient will remain stable, survive longer, and be more comfortable. Sometimes this means that an illness with a six month prognosis without hospice care could be managed and stabilized under hospice care and lengthen the prognosis, thus resulting in the discharge or “graduation” of the patient from hospice. When the decline begins again, Optimal can readmit the patient to restabilize and manage symptoms. Not many people realize that this is an option.

“Our hospice team comes to you, wherever you call home,” said Smith. “We become the eyes and the ears for the doctors. We are able to service the patient and the family as a whole by giving clinical services as well as physical and spiritual support. Clinically, spiritually: all of those aspects are cared for when we have patients. The biggest benefit is being able to be a family—to be there for the patient and let us take on the medical aspect of the illness. Support for the family is huge.”

And the biggest tip about hospice care?

“I think the biggest thing is just don’t give up hope: it’s not about giving up hope, it’s about living and quality of life,” said Smith. “The biggest advice is just to ask questions. The more education and options we offer as a provider to families is the key. The best thing you can do for a loved one is be their advocate and let hospice do the work.”

For more information about Optimal Hospice Care in Modesto, call 209-338-3000 or visit


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