By Jennifer Kaldenberg, MSA, OTR/L, SCLV, FAOTA, and Stacy Smallfield, DrOT, OTR/L
Occupational therapy practitioners working with older adults must address multiple health and social issues. The number of adults diagnosed with AMD is expected to double to 17.8 million by 2050, while those diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy will increase to 9.9 million in that time. In addition, it is expected that over 30 million will be diagnosed with cataracts by the year 2020. Of the clients seen for low vision rehabilitation services, nearly 1 in 3 is age 80 or older. Visual impairment in older adults is becoming a significant public health issue. Regardless of setting, practitioners working with older adults must address the visual needs of their clients to address their occupational needs.
This work includes occupational therapy assessment and intervention guidelines for older adults who have visual acuity or visual field impairments. The evaluation and intervention process is applicable to a wide spectrum of those with a low vision diagnosis. Interventions discussed include visual-skills training, magnification, sensory-substitution strategies, organizational strategies, environmental adaptations, non-optical strategies, community mobility, problem-solving, advocacy, and multidisciplinary and multicomponent strategies. Appendixes include CPTTM codes and evidence tables.