Over the last 13 years, I have been providing onsite nursing home care in various facilities across southeastern Wisconsin. I’ve found the patient interactions to be very rewarding and sometimes very unique. I’ve chatted with WW II veterans for long periods of time, and year later seen some of those same individuals suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease and retreat into a shell from which there is no return. I’ve even seen the same patient in multiple nursing homes.
I’m amazed by the spirit of the patients that I meet, from the frail women to the strapping “young” men who were once captains of industry, or factory floor supervisors. Even though most of the patients I see in nursing homes (I only go to one home now, every Tuesday morning) are not happy to be in a nursing home, they endure and many flourish when given just a bit of a hand with daily activities. However, I’m often times saddened by the state that many of the residents enter the nursing home in, relative to their ocular health and vision correction.
Its not uncommon at all for me to see patients who are new to the nursing home who haven’t seen an eye doctor in years. Some of these individuals haven’t had proper eye care or ocular hygiene, causing them to have blurry vision, uncomfortable eyes and sometimes suffer permanent vision loss. With government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid covering “non-routine” eye examinations and treatment, there is no excuse for these patients going without proper care and vision correction.
If you have family members, friends or loved ones who are living alone or who need assistance getting around, especially now that winter is here, please talk with them about their eye care, ocular comfort and vision. If they are having problems with any of these issues, please assist them in getting to see an eye care provider, even if it means that you need to provide them with transportation. Most of us have evening hours so that you can “lend a hand” after normal work hours.
It breaks my heart to hear new patients in my nursing home practice who have lost vision or not been able to enjoy reading, watching TV or doing other simple vision related past-times tell me that they were waiting to get to a care facility so that they could get the routine care that they need. Our parents, aunts and uncles and grand parents deserve better, please do your part to the degree that you can.