Possibly the best thing you will be doing this year is helping your seniors to see again.
Which one of your senses do you value the most? For most of us it is sight. What proportion of residents in elderly care facilities do you think have unnecessary visual impairments or blindness?
Can you believe it is as high as 30%? This group of people typically accepts their failing vision as just another part of the aging process, but it doesn't always need to be. For example, for each person known to eye-care services in the care homes studied, there was another person who the doctors would have been keen to help, if only someone had noticed that they had a cataract.
Is it possible for a non doctor to check for a cataract? Yes, using the Catatrac device. This is a simple, safe and effective device, originally developed for the mass screening of adult cataracts in Africa, and used predominately in Malawi, Ghana and Botswana. The device has also been used for the screening of thousands of babies in Brazil, and has also shown to be effective in the hands of nursing staff, or home managers, in checking for cataracts in the elderly.
If some of the seniors within your sphere of care struggle to see print or the TV, use this specially designed torch to check for the most common cause of age associated, avoidable blindness.
Help the elderly to see for themselves by identifying possible cataracts promptly, and bringing this to the attention of their family and physician. The doctors can then arrange the appropriate treatment once they have confirmed your diagnosis, based on a proven 96% agreement in diagnosis between the nursing home manager using a catatrac device and an ophthalmologist using a good quality ophthalmoscope in trials examining the same patients.
If a person can see, they can help themselves. If a confused elderly person with poor vision is alarmed by people, it may be because they cannot see them properly. If a senior is quiet and withdrawn, it may be because they feel isolated by their failing hearing, and sight.
The assessment is painless, non contact, and takes no more than approximately 30 seconds or so. The torch is a special red shade, which is part of normal white light, and entirely safe. In fact it emits less light energy than a conventional torch and doesn't heat up. Each device can be used to screen around 500 people, and costs just $129.
Can you believe that 30% of the residents of nursing homes we studied had treatable cataracts, but nobody thought to investigate?