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We help blind and visually impaired individuals stay in their homes and out of institutions.

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About Blindness in our Community
 

We live in a community which is over 30% senior, and one in four will be legally blind at age 80.  Our local senior population is predicted to be 57% in twenty years.  Diseases causing visual impairment include macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. Senior blindness receives little federal assistance. Less than $6 million services 2.7 million visually impaired individuals, that translates to just $2.22

Blindness is a unique disability.  Beyond magnification in early stages there is no mechanical fix.  You cannot use a prosthesis, a wheelchair, have your car modified to accommodate your need, or any other of the devices used to accommodate as described in the Americans with Disabilities Act.  In fact, the A.D.A. deals separately with blindness and can only require, "reasonable accommodation".  This is why in every major city there is a separate agency for the blind, an agency that does not claim to serve all disabilities, just the blind.  National organizations such as Lighthouse, the Braille Institute, centers run by the National Federation of the Blind and the American Federation of the Blind, and those that train guide dogs are local in their operations and only appear in major cities.

The nature of the community and the needs of our predominately elderly clientele make it impractical to use service techniques used on younger blind.  Center based programs found in the city are based on coming to a class for a period of time.  We do not have their transportation system, so we must provide our own.  You learn what skills you need to accommodate your blindness, and the program is done with you.  In a rural community of mostly seniors you must serve the individual.  They are not suddenly blind.  You have to follow them as they lose vision gradually.  You can not center base the program because the transportation system is missing; and, simply stated, you don't have to teach them how to cook for themselves, just how to do it a new way.  Departments of Rehabilitation are geared to retraining toward employment, and except for the blind, they are successful.  Blind seniors are not looking for employment; they are trying to forestall institutionalization at public expense.  While they represent 5% of the population, they are 48% of those in long term care institutions.

Seniors tend to congregate in rural communities for three reasons.  One, they retire there for a more relaxed lifestyle, and as so many are in their 80's and 90's often come when their children retire and bring them along.  Or, they are "left there" when the younger population has to leave to find work.  As a group, seniors in rural communities do not seek services from program based agencies; the program does not fit their ongoing and changing individual need.  Simply, it is for us to fill their need at a given time, not for them to fit ours.  Our society is aging to the point where it now constitutes a structural change in our society.  A change we have adjusted to as a smaller more flexible agency.

The financial cost to the public for the institutionalization of senior blind individuals is measured in billions of dollars, and will grow dramatically as society ages.  As is often the case in national trends, the problem rises in rural America first.  When it comes home to the cities, it is often too late to stem the tide, and far too expensive to accommodate.  Further, this does not address the cost in human terms.  This elderly generation wants a hand, not a handout.  What we do now not only affects seniors left in institutional darkness, it effects younger generations knowing it is their future as they age.

More Facts on Blindness

  • Diseases causing visual impairment include macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.
  • At age 80, one out of four (25%) of the population will be blind from macular degeneration alone.
  • Smokers are 2.5 times more likely to become blind. They are more likely to become blind than contract lung disease.
  • Recent studies show that taking a vision formula vitamins supplements forestalls macular degeneration.
  • Less than $6 million services 2.7 million visually impaired individuals, that translates to just $2.22.

Please CONTACT US to find out about more about what we do to help people with this unique disability. 

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