Many people will think that losing their eyesight is one of the worst ailments they can endure. While not many have complete blindness, millions at present live with some form of visual impairment. Older adults make up a large proportion of people with visual impairment in America. Although vision loss often happens to people later on in life, it can be particularly difficult for seniors to accept and adapt to this disability because not only do they need to cope with the loss of sight, they also need to contend with the deterioration of other senses like taste, hearing and smell.
It is best for our loved one’s caregiver and us to learn as much as possible about our loved one’s vision impairment and their limitations. Here are some tips to help us make life easier for our visually impaired senior.
Keep the surroundings well-lit while being mindful of glare at the same time. Use specialized lamps or bulbs to increase contrast, reduce glare. and cover reflective surfaces where possible. Ensure that there is appropriate lighting in the places where your loved one does their activities. For example, direct task lighting is best for things like crafting, reading or playing cards. You can consider getting a small gooseneck or clip-on lamp for these activities.
Minimize Fall Risks
Use nightlights in bathrooms, bedrooms and hallways to reduce the risk of tripping and falling at night. Keep your home clutter free and remove potential hazards such as electrical cords and rugs. Consider relocating or replacing short or difficult to see furniture, such as a glass coffee or side table. Create level, wide and clear walking paths that lead to all areas of the home for safe and easy navigation. You may also have to relocate some furniture to make it easier to navigate around the house.
Improve Household Organization
Designate spots for frequently used items and be sure to always return objects to the same place. As such, your loved one will be able to navigate the space and find whatever they need. Sometimes using a basket to store similar objects can make it easier to find loose items like remotes to electronics, keys, and so on.
Provide Moral Support
Being visually impaired can have a great impact on a senior’s functional abilities and quality of life. Many of us or our loved one may, at one point of time, believe that it is not possible to cope with this loss, since it’ll affect almost all areas of our daily life. However, caregivers and family members need to constantly assure our loved ones that they can still do life, albeit in a different way.
Our loved ones may be worried that visual impairment will reduce their independence. We can make it easier for them by suggesting audio resources that they can listen, which can benefit them in maintaining their independence. We can also get our loved one to practice moving around the house while we are around to support them. Once they are familiar with ‘markers’ in the space, it’ll be easier for them to get their bearings and find their way around.
It’s vital to create a strong support system to rally for our loved one. Encourage your loved one to remain active with their friends and continue with the hobbies they enjoy. For a start, you can accompany or assist them in these activities until they are more confident about participating on their own.