About the SeniorAdvisor.com 2014 In-Home Innovation Scholarship: We started the scholarship program to bring awareness of the unique benefits and challenges of in-home caregiving for seniors to younger generations. The questions posed by the scholarship encouraged our nation’s future caregivers to present solutions for improving home care in the United States. College-aged students were required to answer one of the three essay topics below and provide a short bio as part of their scholarship application. Read the winning essays here.
How can your major of study improve the lives of seniors receiving in-home care services?
Essay response by Christina Hii, Western University of Health Science
Since when my grandmother laid on the bed most of the time, she never had her eye exam. None of my family members ever thought about having her eyes checked annually or at least once every two years as she never complains about her vision. Until I started optometry school and shadowed many optometry offices, I know that I could improve the lives of seniors receiving in-home care services.
Most of the hospitals in California do not have optometrists. Thus, for the patients who are bedridden or paralyzed, they could call in the optometrists and have their eye exams on their beds. In the other hand, we could do the same things to seniors who receive in-home care services or those in nursing homes. I had been to a lot of vision screening or local health fairs, however, I have never heard about vision screenings for in-home care seniors. They are the group of people who need eye care the most but unfortunately is the ones who have been forgotten most of the time. The health care department needs improvement on linking the local optometrists to seniors who receive in-home care services. Instead of staying in the office seeing the walk in patients, we could also “walk out” to the community for those who are not very convenient in movement or those who couldn’t drive. We have portable refractors, phoropters and hand-held equipment that are more than enough to have complete eye exams. All those equipment can fit into regular cars.
Most of the time, people do not understand the importance of having eye exams. A lot of the medical conditions cause eye problems. Besides prescribing different kinds of glasses, for example, computer glasses or reading glasses for seniors, we could diagnose medical conditions by “looking through” the eyes, and even treat some of them. Diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and hypertension are some of the common medical conditions among seniors. We use BIO (binocular indirect ophthalmoscopy) and volk lenses to check the retina, optic nerves and blood vessels, Perkins hand-held tonometer to check for eye pressure, which is very important for screening glaucoma, etc. In addition, instead of checking their eyes, we could also educate them. Most of the seniors need reading glasses, however, they like to buy reading glasses over the counter in the retail stores because they are cheaper. In fact, the size and distance between the pupils varies in everyone, one glasses doesn’t fit all, and the lenses might be more fragile, which is more easily to break the lenses or even cause eye injury, thus getting the prescriptions and glasses from optometrists can ensure the best quality in reading. Also, applying sun block lotion and wearing sunglasses are essential in reducing the risk of skin cancer and getting cataracts. In conclusion, I have not heard any optometrists who are providing the in-home care services. I really enjoying working with the seniors and I wish in-home care could expand their in-home services to annual eye exams.
Christine is currently studying optometry at Western University of Health Science.