Picking up your parent or spouse from the hospital can bring feelings of worry and anxiety, especially if they are blind or experiencing visual impairment.
Even more concerning is the fact that hospital discharge plans don't always have the specific needs of a person with low vision in mind.
A study by medical professionals reveals aging people with vision loss are likely to experience re-hospitalization and usually need costly emergency department services post-hospitalization.
Hospital Discharge with the Blind in Mind
At Florida Agencies Serving the Blind, we believe hospitals serve our community better by providing useful toolkits for a successful transition home.
We advocate for every person to have a meaningful level of contact with a healthcare worker who knows how to recognize possible vision loss as well as a vision impairment specialist partner. However, we do understand that may not always be available.
An alternative option is for a family member or close friend to advocate on their behalf. Some items to ask for in your hospital discharge plan include:
• Medication instructions in large print or Braille
• Reviewing how patients can identify their medications
• Printing at-home care instructions in large print or Braille
• Getting information from a local agency specializing in services to the blind and visually impaired
These can prove to be valuable resources to you, the patient, and any home care professionals involved for a safe transition home.
Unsure if your loved one is experiencing vision loss?
Having difficulty reading small medication bottles, recognizing faces, or being in a strange hospital room can be confusing, or even disorienting. While some medical professionals may think this confusion and disorientation are signs of cognitive impairment, these could also very well be indications of visual impairment.
You know your parent or spouse better than someone who just met him or her. If you have reason to doubt the symptoms are related to dementia or Alzheimer's, say something. Remember, many people don’t want to admit they are not seeing well, or think it is just a part of getting older. Sometimes, if finances are a concern, this may impact their decision to see an eye doctor.
In Florida, for example, research shows about 2 million Floridians are currently living with vision loss while only a half-million Floridians have Alzheimer's, according to www.alz.org. That means it's more likely that someone acting in such a manner has severe vision loss.
Working Towards A Common Goal
Cooperation between hospitals, home care professionals such as Home Care Assistance, and non-profit organizations such as Florida ASB is essential in making hospital discharge protocols for those experiencing vision loss more effective and relevant.
Both Florida ASB and Home Care Assistance have a clear path forward as an alliance, providing vision rehabilitation services to seniors. Florida ASB offers free healthcare worker training opportunities, resources for the blind, help with finding or even paying for eye care, and more. While Home Care Assistance professionals provide services to meet the challenges of transitioning home from the hospital and beyond.
For more information on Florida ASB, you can contact us through our website, www.beyondvisionloss.org.