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AGEWISE: Staying healthy and staying within a budget
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AGEWISE: Staying healthy and staying within a budget

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Q: What can I do to stay healthy while I am trying to stay at home, safe and within my budget?

— KR

Answer: The Piedmont Triad Regional Council’s Area Agency on Aging has a number of free and virtual courses available to local area adults 60 years old and older. We reached out to Evelyn Smith, Health Promotion Coordinator with the PTRC for more information.

Many people are concerned about their health at this time, not only due to COVID-19, but because exercise has well known health benefits especially for older adults with chronic health issues. With the need to maintain social distancing, many individuals have decreased or even stopped participating in healthy activities and routines they previously enjoyed.

For many, going to a gym or community center to work out with and around others just doesn’t feel safe right now. This is understandable and even though things have changed, our need to maintain our health has not. There are alternatives to help you learn ways to manage your health and chronic conditions. Living Healthy at Home, Living Healthy Online and the Diabetes Self-Management Program are delivered to you in the comfort of your own home.

Living Healthy at Home is a six-week class facilitated by a trained leader. Participants meet by phone for an hour once a week. Classes include information on healthy living, including eating better, exercise, managing emotions, managing chronic conditions and more.

Living Healthy Online is a six-week class held virtually once a week for 2½ hours. This course covers the same types of material as Living Healthy at Home, but goes more in depth. This class requires the use of a computer and webcam. Technical support is available to help people access the class and participants can receive a loaned webcam if they do not have one available.

Diabetes Self-Management Program meets online for 2½ hours weekly for 6 weeks. Participants learn techniques to manage symptoms of diabetes, healthy eating, appropriate exercise, working effectively with healthcare providers, and more.

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All of the classes are available at no cost to adults age 60 and above who reside in Forsyth, Alamance, Caswell, Davidson, Davie, Guilford, Randolph, Rockingham, Montgomery, Stokes, Surry and Yadkin counties. The classes are offered through the Piedmont Triad Regional Council Area Agency on Aging. All of the classes are offered at no cost to participants and funded through available federal, state and local funds with the option for voluntary consumer contributions if you choose.

We are currently enrolling for classes beginning in March. Additional sessions will start throughout the year. There are several time and day options, and staff will help place you in a class that best works for your schedule. If you are interested more information or registering for a class, visit: www.ptrc.org/agewell or contact MaryLou White at 336-497-5610 or agewell@ptrc.org.

Q: I have had some eye trouble lately when looking at my computer for long periods of time and heard about blue light glasses. Do you have any information about these type of glasses?

— WD

Answer: So many of the devices we use every day such as computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and even televisions all emit blue light. Blue light glasses have filtering materials or coatings that block a portion of the blue light. You are not alone in your interest in blue light glasses. Their popularity may be on the rise, at least in part, because so many of us have been using our devices more than ever during the pandemic. We work on our computers from home, attend meetings and virtual events online, even stream much of our entertainment on our phones and smart televisions. Using these devices for prolonged periods can result in eye fatigue, blurred vision, dry eyes, and even disrupted sleep problems for some. Manufacturers of blue light glasses contend that these glasses can remedy some of these eye issues but it is unclear if these conditions are a result of too much blue light.

Presently, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) does not recommend any special eyewear for computer users. The AAO suggests that blue light from devices does not lead to eye strain or eye diseases, but instead that these issues are the result of overuse of digital devices. To help with issues of overuse, such as eye fatigue, dry eye, and blurred vision the AAO recommends that you take regular breaks when using computer devices or smartphones.

They suggest people follow the 20/20/20 rule and take a break from your computer devices every 20 minutes and look at something that is at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Other suggestions that may help to reduce eye strain include lubricating your eyes with artificial tear eye drops, changing to a matte screen filter to reduce glare, and increasing the font size on your devices when possible. In addition, try to remember to keep blinking your eyes as research shows that most people blink less than normal when using computer devices.

Even though some individuals who use blue light glasses report that they feel less eye strain when wearing them, there is not enough definitive research at this time to show that they are effective. So far, there seems to be no indication that wearing blue light glasses causes any harm to your eyes. Any eye concerns should always be addressed by an eye care professional. Your eye care doctor should be able to advise you on the next best steps to ease your eye issues.

AgeWise is a weekly column compiled by staff of Senior Services Inc., a nonprofit organization in Winston-Salem. If you have a question, email agewise@seniorservicesinc.org or mail to Senior Services, 2895 Shorefair Drive, Winston-Salem, NC 27105.

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