Editor's note: Every May, the Administration on Aging, part of the Administration for Community Living, leads our nation's observance of Older American's Month. The 2018 theme, "Engage at Every Age," emphasizes that you are never too old (or young) to take part in activities that can enrich your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It also celebrates the many ways in which older adults make a difference in our communities.
Creating a World With No Limits for Older Persons with Vision Loss
The theme of this year's Older American's Month could not be more appropriate to the work that the American Foundation for the Blind is spearheading regarding older Americans with vision loss, the 21st Century National Agenda on Aging and Vision Loss. AFB is working to increase funding and capacity to serve the needs of older adults with vision loss. AFB is leading the vision loss community in the implementation of a national advocacy strategy to dramatically increase federal funding and implement the structural reforms needed to strengthen the breadth, quality, and availability of services available to older adults with vision loss.
Older adults with vision loss are frequently overlooked and underserved. Vision loss can also exacerbate normal changes associated with aging. Further, the numbers of older persons with vision loss keep rising. The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS, 2016) Statistics on aging and visual impairment indicated that 7.3 million American adults 65 years and older report experiencing trouble seeing even with glasses or contacts. The data also indicated that older adults are significantly more likely to report vision loss as follows:
- When compared to Americans age 18 to 44 years of age, Americans 45-74 years of age were approximately twice as likely as to report vision loss.
- When compared to Americans 18 to 44 years of age, Americans 75 years of age and older were approximately 2.5 times as likely to report vision loss.
Given these statistics, through our nationally led "conversations with older people," we are seeking input on the most critical issues that concern older persons with vision loss.
Consistent Themes That Have Arisen in the AFB-Led Conversations
- Concerns about accessing medical care and lack of ophthalmology referrals for vision rehabilitation services
- Need for transportation
- Desire to continue reading
- Need for technology and training on how to use it
- Issues related to accessibility of information including text-based financial and legal information
- Need for advocacy for funding and services
- Issues with managing medications, monitoring diabetes
- Need for preventative care, exercise, healthy eating
- Concerns about mental health, depression, and isolation
- Problems with participating in and receiving effective long-term services and supports
- Limitations in saving for retirement
- Concerns about extra expenses related to vision loss
- Issues related to financial management and financial literacy
- Concerns about abuse, scams, discrimination, and theft
Engaging in the Conversation: Your Chance to Contribute
Please respond to our national survey on aging and vision loss and give us your input on "a world without limits" for older persons with vision loss. Or call us and leave a message at 234.228.6165.
Additional Information on This Topic
Blewett, L.A., Drew, J.A.R., Griffin, R., King, M.L., and Williams, K.C.W. (2016). IPUMS Health Surveys: National Health Interview Survey, version 6.2. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota.