Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Jan Stube


Health Personnel -- education; Vision Disorders -- rehabilitation; Vision, Low


Throughout the United States, low vision affects more than 3 million Americans 40 years of age and older (Rosenberg & Sperazza, 2008). As the population continues to age, more individuals will be moving to some form of either assisted living care or long-term care, which will increase the number of individuals with visual impairment living in such situations and requiring appropriate services. An individual with low vision typically has a decreased ability to function in daily life with a considerable impact upon functional decline in performance (Haymes, Johnston, & Heyes, 2002; Horowitz, 1994). Difficulties occur in everyday activities such as reading, driving, preparing meals, social activities, mobility, and more. With a decrease in independence and perceived loss of control, an individual's quality of life is impacted causing psychological stress (Horowitz, 2004). There is a concern that an individual with low vision living in an institutionalized setting is often overlooked or misinterpreted as having cognitive decline and disruptive behavior leading to further participation restriction and dependency (Horowitz, 1997). The purpose of this project is to educate healthcare workers (ex. CNAs) in skilled nursing facilities and/or assisted living facilities. The education will include common visual impairments and adaptive techniques and devices to use when working with individuals with low vision to help them cope, manage, adapt to lifestyles changes, and participate in occupations.

Occupational therapists have the background knowledge on visual impairments and techniques to help improve and maintain occupational performance. An extensive literature review was completed in order to develop an educational inservice for healthcare workers. The components of this inservice are guided by the Adult Learning Theory and Ecological Model of Occupation. Information in the developed materials includes a general overview of common visual impairments, impacts of low vision, low vision aids, and strategies for adapting activities of daily living. This scholarly project is intended to help healthcare workers become more aware of visual impairments experienced by the elderly as well as how to facilitate healthy, successful participation in life tasks. Increased knowledge of teclmiques and strategies that can be implemented when working with elderly individuals with low vision can, in tum, improve their quality of life.