Take 5: Understanding aging from head to toe

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by Sister Marilyn Herr

Eye Care
Be consciously aware of blinking during reading times.  The eyes water but they are not necessarily lubricating the eyes, hence the flow of excess tearing.

Skin Care
In the purchase of hand lotion select a product containing a moisturizer in it like mineral oil, water, and beeswax.  Avoid having water and alcohol listed as the primary ingredients.

In the purchase of hand soap, select one that contains a moisturizer and is unscented.  

Foot Care
My feet do wonders for me: help me stand, take me places, accept my weight, and endure strenuous movement all day.  I give respect and care for my feet by selecting shoes that fit and giving attention to them by gently massaging and frequently applying lotion on them.

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by Sister Jeanne Vander Bloomen

Ear Care
As we age our ears deteriorate. The ear drum thickens and this affects balance.

Wearing a hearing aid is difficult -- fuss with batteries, too much background noise, too loud or not loud enough. It requires training our brains.

Eye Changes

  • Arcus senilis -- As people age, a silver/gray/white ring around the iris is caused by fat deposits deep in the edge of the cornea.  It does not affect vision or require treatment.
  • Glare sensitivity -- Any eye over 20/50 does not tolerate glare (oncoming cars, sun shining on objects, driving at night, and even shiny floors).

Mouth
Taste buds -- Decrease with age. People compensate by adding sugar or salt which has its own consequence.
People with Burning Mouth Syndrome often complain of a metallic taste -- it's like sucking on a tin can lid.

Foot care
With peripheral neuropathy there is pain in the extremities. Your feet feel like you are walking on stumps or chunks of wood (description is right on!)

Our feet are our unsung heroes.  As we age we lose fat on the bottom of our feet. Wow! From our eyes to our feet, there is fat!

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by Sister Sharon Lasee

Farsightedness
Presbyopia is the technical name for farsightedness. It is a condition that normally becomes apparent in middle age. The lens loses elasticity, which decreases one's ability to focus on small or nearby objects. Some symptoms include:

  • The need to hold reading material at arm's length.
  • Blurred vision at a normal reading distance.
  • Headaches or fatigue from doing close work.

Burning  Mouth Syndrome
It affects your tongue but may also affect your lips, gums, palate, throat or whole mouth. Some symptoms include:

  • A sensation of dry mouth with increased thirst
  • Taste changes, such as a bitter or metallic taste
  • Loss of taste

I was surprised to learn that some mouth washes and toothpastes can aggravate this condition.

Skin changes
As we age, our skin can become dry, the membranes thin and there can be discoloration.  Skin changes are related to environmental factors, genetic makeup, nutrition, and other factors.

Use mild cleansers for the face and body. Avoid overwashing with harsh soaps and overusing alcohol-based products, sanitizers and cleansing agents that dry the skin.

Not all lotions and moisturizers provide the gentle care that our skin needs. Look for ones that do not have water as the first ingredient.


Stay in touch -- This story originally appeared in the Sisters' spring 2015 newsletter. Subscribe to our FREE printed newsletter (issued five times a year) and our FREE e-spiritual reflections (weekly). We enjoy hearing from you so visit our “Send a Greeting to Sister” page and say hello. Thank you and God bless!

From infancy to our final years, our bodies are constantly changing. To better understand the aging process, Sister Sarah Bertler, a Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity and a registered nurse with a master's degree in nursing, talked with our Sisters about some of the most common ways our bodies change as we age. Three Sisters have jotted down their favorite tips and have shared them here at "Take 5."

Take5