Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Nursing Home Residents’ Vision and Quality of Life

Imagine that life is a blur with moving shadows of people wearing fading faces. What if you have to give up reading newspapers and watching television because they’re too hard to figure out? Suppose a time when you really could see well was only a memory, and you miss the joy you felt when life was sharp and clear. Did you know that large numbers of nursing home residents see the world in a blurred manner? Sure, it’s expected that eyesight could be declining in later years. But did you know that the lack of eye care for nursing home residents is widespread in America? If any population needs regular eye exams, it’s seniors in nursing homes.

University of Alabama researchers studied nursing home residents and discovered that residents who received eyeglasses had higher scores for general vision, reading, activities, hobbies, social interaction, and fewer depressive symptoms. It’s no surprise they concluded that basic eye care services (spectacle correction) have significant implications for improving quality of life.

Patients with vision that can be corrected easily should not have to guess which foods are on their dinner plates or wonder how their surroundings and people in them really look. Our seniors deserve so much more. The study states that steps should be taken to improve delivery and eye care utilization in America. I certainly hope this “revelation” opens eyes and produces results. This research study can be found in the JAMA Archives of Ophthalmology.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
"Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes”
“Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog”

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