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Age Related Sight Loss a Global Time Bomb
This USB stick contains a collection of resources brought to you by the World Blind Union’s Elderly Working Group and the Scientific Committee of AMD Alliance International. The explanations, documents and links are designed to help in the planning of a strategy to address the global growth in age related sight loss.
In the resource we use some symbols to help identify where you are and what functions are available. There are seven key areas and these are the introduction, the know your numbers section, the working in partnership section, the involving elderly blind people area, the awareness training area, the addressing social isolation section, and the low cost low vision section. Each section is accompanied by a coloured symbol.
Throughout the resource you will find external website links and these are indicated by a symbol of a computer. The resource contains documents for further reference and for each of these we have included three links. The first takes you to the original document, the second link goes to a page where the document has been set out in HTML (web page) format, and the third provides an audio version of the document.
We face a global increase in age related sight loss, a challenge that many blindness organisations and countries are not responding to. This campaign wishes to bring about change, with local organisations preparing action plans, developing new initiatives and campaigning for a health and social care response to the needs of older people experiencing sight loss.
Behind this campaign is a report "Ageing and Visual Impairment" prepared by the WBU -
www.worldblindunion.org: Ageing and Visual Impairment report
and which evidences the global growth in age related sight loss.
Don't leave it, take action now to campaign or plan for a future where people are living longer and for an increasing number - facing the prospect of age related sight loss. This campaign pack will help to take you through some key issues which should help you to plan effectively for the future.
This resource covers six key themes that will help the reader to consider how to develop a strategy and containing links for useful documents and web based resources.
The six themes are:
Know your numbers
The world is getting older at an unprecedented rate and by 2050; 1.5 billion or 16.3% of the population will be over 65 years old. Declining birth rates and higher life expectancy will equal elderly outnumbering the young! Age related sight loss could affect 15% of those over 75 years old and 20% of those over 85.
Essential to local or regional campaigning you need to understand your current population over 50 years old, the projected growth in those over 50 together with the prevalence of age related sight loss in your region.
Working in partnership
Since vision loss affects so many aspects of life, it is critical to partner with organizations across a spectrum of disabilities and service provision. Aspects of living with vision loss that should be considered are: eye care, reading, independent living and products that enhance independent living, employment, mobility, nutrition, services for families, support services such as meals on wheels, personal care, and transportation.
In forming partnerships consider: organizations working directly with older people, those supporting individual co-morbidities, and those supporting specific aspects of independent living. Partnerships provide the benefit of shared resources, knowledge and skills, community of interest and the opportunity to deliver more for less.
Involving elderly blind people
“Nothing about us, without us” was the title of the 2004 International Day of Disabled People. The motto “Nothing About Us Without Us” relies on the principle of participation, and it has been used by Disabled Peoples Organizations throughout the years as part of the global movement to achieve the full participation and equalization of opportunities for, by and with persons with disabilities.
The active involvement of persons with disabilities is an essential principle that should be followed and is essential if we are to develop a truly inclusive society. The challenge is to ensure that all voices are heard.
Most older people experiencing a sight loss are in the ‘older persons’ care system. Care workers in this sector do not appreciate the importance of sight loss to quality of life and independence. An important way to address this is through a basic awareness training programme so that they can identify serious sight loss and understand the strategies required to support people to maximise on independence and to enjoy a high quality of life.
We know that many older people do not come forward or seek help when they experience a deterioration in their sight, they just accept failing sight as a consequence of old age and assume that nothing can be done to help them. Most people will retain good levels of residual vision and maximising use of residual vision will always represent the best low cost solution. This example from Australia shows how this important health message can be conveyed in the wider community.
Addressing social isolation
The increased risk of social isolation as a result of partial sight or blindness is undisputed. This is also true for ageing. Consequently social isolation among visually impaired older people is a major issue.
Social support for older adults who lose their vision is a highly relevant topic when looking at the impact of this loss. Next to the availability of a social network, personal skills and accessibility issues, self-esteem is on the basis of staying connected to other people. Visually impaired older people usually think that others should not expect too much from them because of their visual impairment, that they have become dependent on sighted people to do most of the things they used to do by themselves and many feel uncomfortable making new friends because they can not see people’s faces.
Losses related to personal networks can seriously affect people suffering gradual loss of sight. As people grow old, they often find themselves alone, particularly women. When people lose sight at an older age they feel less certain in their environment; they find it more difficult to participate in recreational activities and this is something they notice with respect to relationships with others and their own support network.
Low Cost Low Vision
Age related sight loss does not normally mean total blindness. Most people will retain good levels of residual vision and maximising on use of residual vision will always represent the best low cost solution. Low cost interventions can prevent the need for expensive health and social care support, through greater independence, prevention of falls and just by being able to lead a more active life.
Providing a positive psycho-social message.
The first simple element that the older person, losing sight, will require is someone to talk to, someone to listen. For them it will be a life changing and often a traumatic event. They will not understand what is happening to their sight, what can be done, who to go to for help.
We leave the final word to Don Curran, a Past President of AMDAI who speaks of the very small and simple steps that can turn depression and hopelessness in to hope and independence. This article by Patrick Tudoret describes that journey:
Eyes Wide Open (PDF) Eyes Wide Open (HTML)
We hope that these resources will help you to plan an effective strategy to meet the needs of the growing number of older people who will experience a serious age related sight loss.
For more information please refer to the World Blind Union website or the AMD Alliance International website
The World Blind Union ( WBU )
You can also contact the World Blind Union in other ways:
World Blind Union Head Office
1929 Bayview Avenue
AMD Alliance International ( AMDAI )
You can also contact AMD Alliance International in other ways:
AMD Alliance International Offices
City Gate East
Toll House Hill
Telephone: +44 115 935 2100
Fax: +44 115 935 2001
Skype: +44 115 714 0092
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