Free program for seniors with vision loss that can’t be corrected

By on October 14, 2019

Charles, age 65, has dealt with the effects of Diabetic Retinopathy for years. “It’s the simple things that are the most frustrating for me. A big obstacle for me now is not being able to drive anymore. If I get hungry for a burger at 8 p.m., in the past I would get in the car and go get one. I can’t do that anymore. There are the small things, like the challenge I face putting toothpaste on my toothbrush, which are the disheartening for me.”

About 21 percent of New York State seniors have permanent vision loss. Common reasons in later life include Macular Degeneration, Diabetic Retinopathy, and Glaucoma. One-third of people with vision loss develop major depression; another 10 to 20 percent report high levels of distress.  This is often due to the fact that vision loss prevents them from doing activities they care about, like driving, reading, and crafts.  Rates of loneliness are higher for older people with vision loss.

Project REBUILD-VL, offered by the University of Rochester and the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ABVI), seeks to reduce the psychological effects of vision loss with the help of a grant from the Greater Rochester Health Foundation. The acronym stands for: Resilience-Building Intervention to Prevent Late-life Depression with Vision Loss.

“The logic behind the Resilience Building Program is that building problem-solving and future planning skills build up seniors’ resistance to the effects that vision loss can have on mood and everyday functioning.  It’s kind of like a psychological flu shot,” says Silvia Sörensen, the program director and associate professor of counseling and human development at the University of Rochester’s Warner School.

REBUILD-VL is free to anyone over age 55 bothered by vision loss that cannot be corrected. People with only partial vision loss are welcome. The program involves attending four one-hour classes at ABVI, and includes six weekly one-on-one visits (in-home, if desired). Free transportation is offered within Monroe County. The next group starts in October.

Learn more about REBUILD-VL, or contact Kate at 371-8173 to request more information.

Provided information