Cape Cod's Premier Senior Living Community
(Originally published in To Your Good Health, spring 2016)
By Larry Lyford
As seniors age, physical and age-related limitations create multiple challenges. But for those with a visual impairment, the challenge to maintain quality of life increases. Fortunately, modern standards of caregiving and technologic advances help avoid debilitating conditions of years past.
There is a special category, however, known as Low Vision, which requires the assistance of physicians who specialize in this problem along with specially trained occupational therapists and local organizations.
Dr. Jennifer Salvo, an optometrist who specializes in low vision and also serves as the Medical Director for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired, describes Low Vision as “visual impairment that cannot be corrected by wearing glasses or by surgery or other treatment. It affects a person’s ability to function in the world and perform daily tasks.”
Vision loss doesn’t discriminate and can affect both the young and old and many free services and resources are available. The Perkins School for the Blind is a great resource and many of their services are accessible through the mail for free including newspapers/magazines in audio format, audio books with players and audio-described DVDs.
Many adaptive aids designed to assist those with low vision at home are available, including iPads with targeted applications and large flat screen televisions with an optical mouse to magnify reading materials. Also there are lower-tech options such as “bump dots” to mark settings on stoves and washers/dryers, high intensity task lighting, magnifying mirrors, contrasting colors on walls and switches for easy recognition.
Some retirement communities offer fully equipped low vision apartments and scribe services to help residents with reading their mail or writing cards and letters. Daily recorded calls announce activities, events and menus.
Mr. Lyford is the Director of Sales & Marketing for Thirwood Place in South Yarmouth.