More than 6% of Americans age 65 and older have a vision-related disability. If your parent is among them, you may wonder how you can help them avoid falling into depression, maintain their daily routines and stay active. The solution may be a type of therapy many people haven’t heard of yet: visual rehabilitation.
Learn more about visual rehabilitation services and how the therapy can help your parent or senior loved one’s vision.
Earlier this year, Aging and Vision Specialist, Pris Rogers, spoke with A Place for Mom about helping parents cope with recent vision loss. In that conversation, Rogers also talked about the different types of specialized therapy that can help seniors with severe vision impairment — if they and their families know how to find these services.
Talk with a Senior Living Advisor
Our advisors help 300,000 families each year find the right senior care for their loved ones.
The overwhelming majority of seniors who could benefit from visual rehabilitation therapy never get it, Rogers says. That’s because the general public — and even many doctors — don’t know that visual rehabilitation services exist or are unaware of the types of therapies that are available.
A lack of program funding limits visual rehabilitation services in communities across the country and then seniors with vision disabilities assume nothing can be done to make their daily lives better. It’s important to track these services down because there’s a lot of help to be had, Rogers says.
There’s more than one type of visual rehabilitation specialist, each focused on helping people with a different aspect of daily life.
Your parent may benefit from working with one or more of these kinds of professionals:
What about occupational therapy? Visual rehabilitation therapists work a little differently from occupational therapists, Rogers says, but occupational therapists with training in vision loss can also help patients learn ways to make daily tasks like bathing, cooking and dressing easier.
Now that you know what visual rehabilitation therapists can do, you may want to find one to help your parent with activities of daily living (ADLs), safer living at home or mobility. But with these therapists in short supply, where should you start your search?
Rogers recommends several possibilities:
Finding a visual rehab therapist to help your parent can take time, but the results can be well worth the effort.
Besides the practical skills that your parent can learn, Rogers says they can also feel freer to get creative when it comes to adapting.
“Sometimes [after vision loss], people get too scared to let their practicality come through. Learning ideas for coping can spark more ideas” and help your parent reclaim some of their sense of self-reliance.
Has a visual rehabilitation specialist helped your parents or senior loved ones? What was the experience like? We’d like to hear your family’s stories in the comments below.