From the Vision Loss Alliance of New Jersey:
“Our committee felt that adding occupational therapy as part of a wellness program was an important component to help people who are losing their sight achieve a healthier and better quality of life,” said Joseph Nazzaro, chair of the Morristown Medical Center Community Heath Advisory Committee.
Morristown Medical Center is part of the Atlantic Health System, which operates five other hospitals and another 400 treatment sites in New Jersey.
Nazzaro said the project “fits well with the committee’s mission of funding health-related projects that support our community health needs assessment.” He added: “We were impressed with the collaborative efforts of Vision Loss Alliance and felt our support would be leveraged to a broader reach.”
Vision Loss Alliance’s low vision occupational therapy teaches participants ways to maximize their remaining vision.
It covers home safety, cooking, grooming, medication management, paying bills, reading, appropriate lighting, watching television, and using the computer.
Program Director Elsa Zavoda, an occupational therapist certified in low vision by the American Occupational Therapy Association, provides the one-on-one sessions.
“Vision loss doesn’t mean life has to stop,” Zavoda said. “People dealing with it can adapt, learning to do things differently.”
More than 160,000 New Jersey residents are either blind or have severe vision loss, and that number is expected to increase as the population ages. Adults age 60 and over make up 20 percent of the state’s residents, but that percentage is projected to grow to more than 25 percent by 2034, according to the state Department of Human Services’ most recent State Strategic Plan on Aging.
“We are grateful to Atlantic Health System, which is committed to building strong communities and recognizes the value of empowering individuals who are blind or visually impaired,” Vision Loss Alliance Executive Director Kris Marino said.
Contact Zavoda at firstname.lastname@example.org or 973-627-0055, ext. 1335, for more information. Most major health insurance plans, including Medicare, cover low vision occupational therapy. Vision Loss Alliance is based in Denville.