Advice for the Sandwich Generation Regarding Blindness and Low VisionPublished on
The sandwich generation is defined as adults, typically in the age range of 30-years to 50-years, who are caring for both their own children and their aging parents.
If you are someone who fits into this description you are not alone. The Pew Research Center estimated that 47% of middle-aged adults are included in the sandwich generation, providing some financial support to both their children and their parents. PEW Research further finds 1 in 7 adults ages 40-59 are providing complete support for both their own children and a parent aged 70 and older.
Age and vision loss
Blindness and impaired vision are reportedly two of the leading causes of social dependency and economic burden facing the aging population. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and cataracts are the leading causes of blindness and visual impairment in the aging population. A literature review by Jennifer Braun highlighted that two times as many people are affected by AMD as Alzheimer’s disease.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in 2014, cases of diabetes increased to 422 million worldwide, surpassing the predictions for 2030. Diabetes is the only cause of diabetic retinopathy. The National Eye Institute recognizes that forty to forty-five percent of patients with diabetes have some form of retinopathy. The loss of vision and visual quality is on the rise in the aging population, specifically in the baby boomer generation.
The likelihood of an aging parent having some form of visual impairment or blindness is increasingly high. There are steps that you can take to help a parent maintain some independence.
Maintain independence with accessibility
The best way to maintain independence with vision loss is to understand the resources available. It is also vital to comprehend accessibility laws.
Resources and independence training for people with vision loss and blindness:
- Vision Aware
- National Eye Institute
- Connect with your local Lighthouse for the Blind or Division of Blind Services for training and assistance.
Part of maintaining independence is being able to manage one’s affairs. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and numerous federal laws require accessible formats of documents, as a civil right.
- Special Notice Options from Social Security for the Blind or Visually Impaired.
- Accessible Communications from Medicare.
- Blank Accessible Document Request Form to submit to organizations.
Last bit of advice
Independence is often something that we are uncertain how to maintain or provide, especially in areas that are unfamiliar. However, providing a pathway to independence for a person with a visual impairment or blindness is possible. Independence will enhance their quality of life while alleviating some of the responsibility of you as the caregiver.
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