According to a recent study, nearly 30 percent of adults age 71 and older have impaired visual function. Conditions such as cataracts, diabetic eye disease, dry eye, glaucoma, and macular degeneration are more common among the elderly, which means patients over 60 likely account for a significant portion of your patient base.
These changes in vision are not always easy to cope with. Most often, visual impairment means a shift in everyday routine, which can be difficult for your older patients to come to terms with. Taking steps to make them feel comfortable and informed while in your office will go a long way toward ensuring positive patient outcomes in your ophthalmic practice.
When meeting with your senior patients, follow these simple steps to help them feel at ease.
Make comfort a priority.
While you may think nothing of shuffling younger patients in and out of your office throughout the day, senior patients often benefit from a more personal touch. From the waiting area to your exam room, do a quick walk-through to ensure each space is easily navigable for your elderly patients. Is there room enough to maneuver with a cane or other mobility device? Is the exam chair comfortable and easily accessible? Putting an emphasis on their physical comfort will help senior patients feel at ease.
Choosing the right ophthalmic equipment will also go a long way toward showing your senior patients you care about their physical comfort. For example, using a digital refraction system instead of manual refractor can significantly shorten exam time and make the overall experience more comfortable and enjoyable.
Likewise, integrating VR perimetry technology into your exam process provides added flexibility and accessibility for elderly and ADA patients, since the lightweight, portable headset allows for testing to be performed anywhere in the office, as well as in a nursing home or hospital.
Listen, educate, and inform.
Oftentimes in the clinical setting, elderly patients can feel talked over or their concerns dismissed. When treating seniors in your eye care practice, be sure to give them your full attention and listen carefully to their concerns. Allow them plenty of time to speak, make sure you are facing them and making eye contact, and repeat back their questions and concerns to show them you are listening.
Your administrative staff and technicians also play an important role in helping senior patients feel at ease. Encourage them to be welcoming and supportive, and to offer extra assistance as needed. This includes taking the time to explain what each piece of pre-test equipment does and why it's important, especially since many older adults may not feel as comfortable with digital technology and automation.
Finally, because it may be difficult for older patients to remember what was discussed during their exam, consider making handouts or providing written notes so they have the information to take home and review later.
Always be patient and respectful.
Overall, be patient and respectful when caring for senior patients in your eyecare practice. While they may require a little extra attention and care, they are also often the first to leave positive reviews when a business shows them they matter. At Veatch Ophthalmic Instruments, our industry experts can help you outfit your testing and exam rooms with the latest digital instruments and equipment to help your patients feel at ease every time they visit. Contact us to learn more.