Resolving medication safety issues for low-vision clients


By Cheryl Wilkinson

PREVIEW Columnist

Most older people with vision impairment or blindness are not aware that they can access services or devices that can make daily tasks more straightforward and, in some cases, simply safer. 

Medications — something often prescribed for low vision, vision impairment or other vision conditions — are one of these areas where a little assistance can go a long way toward providing privacy and independence.

Communicating drug information is a necessity. Blindness and vision impairment increases in adults, especially after age 75 (Prevent Blindness America, 2002). 

“People age 80 years and older currently make up 8 percent of the population but account for 69 percent of blindness” (Eye Diseases Prevalence Research Group, 2004). 

Safety and nonadherence issues arise for these consumers. The lack of a national standard for labeling for this consumer base compromises their ability to read labels and information sheets, as well as determine color, shape, markings and measuring devices and the number of refills left on a prescription. This problem is recognized by the U.S. Veterans Affairs Office, which mandates that Audible Prescription Reading Devices are required to be provided for veterans needing this assistance. We could not locate in an online search a local or regional pharmacy that advertises this type of service and the related devices.

Useful sites for those wishing to pursue improved services for loved ones or other individuals in their care:

• ScripTalk Talking Prescription Labels are designed to help pharmacists better serve low-vision or blind patients using a smartphone app or a ScripTalk Station Reader. A tag that uses RFID technology is placed on the bottom of the container that allows patients to hear all their vital prescription information and is available in 25 languages.

• Accessible Pharmacy is a fairly new service, kicked off in 2020, where accessibility and reduction of barriers are the primary focus combined with a sense of hospitality. The company offers services, including assistance from those who can see and free home delivery for prescriptions, medical devices and over-the-counter medications. A packaging and labeling menu for prescriptions includes Braille, large print, and audio — all free of charge. Talking medical devices are also available, such as blood pressure cuffs, thermometers, blood glucose meters and monitors.

• The American Foundation for the Blind and its component for older consumers have embarked on the Rx Label Enable campaign.

• The American Society of Consultant Pharmacists Foundation develops practical interventions for improving medication use in the older adult population.

• U.S. Veterans Affairs provides guidance and fact sheets for all low-vision services, including ScripTalk.

ASI’s website provides a wide variety of resources on aging, active engagement, provider and caregiver education, and information about ASI programs in Archuleta County, as well as contact information for making reservations at The Community Café for take-out and for Meals on Wheels at: 

Take-out meals continue at Senior Center

In order to continue providing meals, the Senior Center is offering take-out hot meals and a salad with a drive-up option under the portico at the Ross Aragon Community Center. 

These meals will be available Monday through Friday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. There is a $4 suggested donation for lunch for those age 60 and better. If you need to have your meal delivered, please call (970) 264-2167 to see if this option is available in your area. 

The cost per meal for the public age 59 and under is $8.50. The meals include a salad, hot meal, drink and dessert or bread. 

Please call (970) 264-2167 to make a reservation for pickup. We are also continuing our Meals on Wheels program. 

Community Café menu

Thursday, Sept. 30 — Pork sausage with red beans and rice, collard greens, cornbread with butter, milk and salad. 

Friday, Oct. 1 — Cod piccata with asparagus and tartar sauce, milk, salad and lemon cream cake.

Monday, Oct. 4 — Vegetarian spinach pie, Greek avgolemono soup, milk, salad and apple pie.

Tuesday, Oct. 5 — Chicken crepes, green peas, milk, salad and chocolate cake.

Wednesday, Oct. 6 — Pork green chili stew, bacon green beans, jalapeno cornbread with butter, milk and salad.

Thursday, Oct. 7 — Seafood chowder, buttered corn, biscuit with butter, milk and salad.

For your convenience, you can make your reservations in advance or have a standing reservation on days you know you will always pick up. Please cancel if you cannot attend on your standing reservation days. Due to COVID-19, food supplies have been affected. Substitutions will be made accordingly.