…Proudly serving older blind South Carolinians for over 25 years.
- DIABETIC RETINOPATHY
FOUR MAIN CAUSES OF VISUAL IMPAIRMENT AND BLINDNESS FOR OLDER ADULTS ARE:
The South Carolina Commission for the Blind’s Older Blind Program assists consumers in maintaining independence within their home and community settings. Older Blind Program counselors serve consumers from several SCCB district offices throughout the state. These office locations include Columbia, Charleston, Greenville, Florence, Conway, Greenwood, and Aiken.
The initial phase of all services begins with a determination of eligibility and an assessment of the individual’s expressed concerns regarding performing daily living skills with vision loss. During the initial interview, information is obtained related to medical issues, family support, the current living situation, and a comprehensive review of the consumer’s needs pertaining to independence.
To qualify for the Older Blind Program, consumers must:
- Be at least 55 years of age
- Provide evidence of legal blindness or a progressive eye pathology, in both eyes, which could lead to legal blindness
- Require services to maintain independence
- Be a resident of South Carolina
With the information shared during the application and assessment process, and in full partnership with the consumer, a plan of services is developed. Some of the services provided by the Older Blind Program may include:
Counseling and Guidance
Training on how to manage personal care and daily tasks
Labeling and organizing items around your home
Safe cooking techniques
Adjustment to Blindness
Referral to Resources in the Community
Low Vision Evaluations
Orientation and Mobility Training
Instruction in the use of adaptive computer software
Other applicable services
Approximately 60,000 older individuals are receiving services through the Older Blind Program nationwide. There are over 2 million older persons, over the age of 65, who are beginning to experience some type of vision loss and may qualify for services. (RSA Title VII Chapter 2 Annual Report FY2001). In South Carolina, there are approximately 43,640 blind individuals over the age of forty, and 83,557 individuals over the age of fifty with a visual impairment…specifically related to Macular Degeneration. (Vision Problems in the U.S. 2008, 2002 Prevent Blindness America). A 2006 National Health Interview Survey indicates 13.6% of Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 years of age have vision loss, and 21.7% of Americans 75 years of age and older experience vision loss. (Vision Problems in the U.S. 2008, 2002 Prevent Blindness America).
The Older Blind Program is extremely cost effective and serves an increasingly older population. A minimal one time expenditure provides most independent living services for a person to remain in his/her home as compared to a $36,500.00 annual cost for a person to receive nursing or residential care. (Based on SC Medicaid rates of $100.00 per day). Nationally, seven out of 10 consumers (70%) are 75 years of age or older. Fifty-three percent are 80 or older, and more than 3 out of 10 (31%) are 85 years of age or older. (RSA Title VII Chapter 2 Annual Report FY 2001). South Carolina’s numbers certainly reflect these trends, as approximately 65% of consumers served by our Program are over age 75.
The Older Blind (OB) Program is funded by a formula grant provided by the Rehabilitation Services Administration of the US Department of Education. Recurring annual funding is also provided by the South Carolina General Assembly. Title VII Chapter 2 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended, is entitled “Independent Living Services for Older Individuals Who are Blind.” All 50 states and several territories provide services to older blind consumers. No other consistent source of federal or state funds exists to provide these unique opportunities.