Dementia Awareness Week is a timely reminder of the obstacles those living with dementia experience when accessing healthcare, including optometry services, and the steps we must take to create a dementia-friendly future.
Dr Marianne Coleman, Clinical Vision Research Fellow with the ACO’s National Vision Research Institute and the University of Melbourne’s Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences, has collaborated with Dementia Australia Research Foundation to examine how we can improve the experience of receiving eyecare for people with dementia and family caregivers supporting them.
Throughout this research, Marianne has worked closely with people living with dementia, family caregivers (both supported by a social worker) and eyecare professionals to identify and remove barriers to eyecare. Improving access to eyecare and thereby promoting better eye health helps people with dementia maintain their independence and live at home for longer.
From this work, Marianne has produced information booklet about dementia-friendly eye tests and eyecare. Designed in consult with Dementia Advocates, the booklet responds to the concern that people with dementia and carers were unsure whether the dementia diagnosis was relevant to their eye examination, or what would change about their experience if they notified the optometrist in advance. The new resource enables them to communicate the type of dementia they have and any difficulties they might face during the examination, such as spatial navigation issues, concentration problems or decreased energy levels.
Additionally, an online dementia-friendly eyecare training course underpinned by research insights has also been developed for eyecare professionals wishing to improve their practise. This training course will launch in December 2023. To submit an EOI for this course, please visit http://go.unimelb.edu.au/e8is
For a preview of this content, tune into Marianne’s Optometry Australia’s 1-hour webcast on Tuesday 19th September at 7.30pm – Register here