Make Life Easier and Safer for Low Vision Patients
In this day and age, it is hard to think about losing our sight as a great loss. Many people do not suffer from total blindness but the number of people that have a visual impairment is huge.
The National Eye Institute (NEI) reports that most people who are visually impaired are older adults. Unfortunately, most older adults have a difficult time adjusting to the loss of their sense of sight due to other senses weakening as well, such as hearing and smell.
Age-related eye disorders are a major concern for many people. The following tips will help you take care of your loved ones if they have vision problems and will help them stay active even if they’re losing their sight.
The first step is understanding the degree of your loss and its cause. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that people who are 65 or older get a dilated medical eye exam every year or two, or as recommended by their ophthalmologist or low vision specialist. You may also wish to consult an eye care practitioner for more information on managing your condition.
The ophthalmologist will ask you a series of questions during your routine eye exam, such as what you were wearing when you last saw better or what other symptoms you have been experiencing. In addition, the doctor will evaluate your eyesight and assess the overall health and function of both eyes. Some of the tests that may be performed include screening for new or worsening eye conditions and determining the type of prescription needed to optimize your visual abilities.
For the most part, vision loss is a gradual process. Seniors and their families may not know when they can no longer see what they once could. Caregivers can help keep tabs on a loved one’s vision by looking for an increase in:
As they age, many people notice that their vision begins to change. Some common signs of vision loss are squinting or tilting the head when trying to focus, bumping into things or knocking objects over, discontinuing everyday activities like reading or writing, missing objects when reaching for them, and falling or walking hesitantly.
Did your spouse or child mention their struggles with driving? If so, they may need glasses. This may be a difficult conversation to have, but it’s important to bring up and discuss these noticeable visual changes. Make an eye appointment with your loved one and gather as much information as possible. Early detection and treatment of any eye disease can prevent lasting damage and vision loss.
Accept Visual Changes
Did you know that seniors suffer from eye diseases such as macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy? These diseases can lead to impairments in functional abilities and quality of life. They also cause depression and withdrawal in some cases.
The loss of vision can be a difficult thing to cope with for many older adults. They may feel like there is no way to live life with even the most basic of daily tasks. It is important for people who care for and support these vision-impaired people to understand the consequences and find hope in these new circumstances.
Tips for Seniors with Low Vision
It’s important for caregivers to learn as much about their care recipient’s visual condition and limitations as possible. This will help you suggest appropriate modifications, such as adaptive tools or behaviors to better suit them.
Eyesight is hard to maintain as we grow older. But, with the right help, it’s still possible. The following tips are a great place to start for helping blind or visually impaired seniors remain independent.
When it comes to the environment, remember to keep things well-lit but be mindful of glare. When you use specialized lamps or bulbs, this will help reduce glare and increase contrast. You should cover reflective surfaces when possible, too, to help reduce glare. Finally, make sure that you provide appropriate lighting for all activities your loved one engages in, such as reading, card games, or crafting.
Task lighting can help you work in the kitchen or read a book in the bedroom, but the room shouldn’t be completely dark. There shouldn’t be a clear difference between the brightness of the lamp and that of the surrounding room. The increased task lighting should also work to highlight the other lights in the room—don’t let them crash!
Minimize Fall Risks
It’s important to have a safe environment at night. However, it is easy to overlook nighttime safety. In order to reduce the risk of tripping or falling at night, use nightlights in bedrooms, hallways, and bathrooms. Remove clutter and hazardous objects such as throw rugs and electrical cords from the floor. Consider relocating short or difficult to see furniture, such as a glass coffee table or a side table.
It’s time to rearrange the furniture. This can be a little confusing, but don’t worry about it. Your loved one will get used to the changes in no time. Just make sure that they get extra help getting around while they’re adapting to the new layout. You might not want to rearrange everything right away, though. If your father’s got some memory issues, the less drastic changes might be better for him.
Designating spaces for frequently used items is an excellent way to make things easier for your loved one. It may be practical to always put the remote to the TV, for example, by the couch so that they always know where to find it. Using baskets or bins can also be helpful in storing items together, making it easy to find items like keys, remotes for electronics, and more.
Senior citizens may have a hard time with their surroundings. For those who can’t see or have limited sight, tactile systems are essential to help them navigate the environment. An example of a tactile system would be to cut out a piece of sandpaper to mark where a specific object is placed or to differentiate similar objects.
Visual systems use any remaining vision to identify and organize things. Store items can be marked with either large, individual labels or colored tape to differentiate one from another. These visual systems are common in retail stores and make it easy for shoppers to find what they need.
Using light and dark colors together can make everyday life easier for people with limited vision. This is because the contrast between the two different colors can help those with visual impairments detect obstacles. Like colors, however, can cause problems because it’s difficult for those with limited vision to detect doorways, stairs, and furniture. Plus, small objects tend to blend into their surroundings.
Low Vision Specialist
Low vision specialists know the right ways to help a visually impaired person find solutions. These experts know how to train those with low vision for mobility and how to instruct them on the proper usage of low vision aids. They also know how to help clients access resources for obtaining these aids and can provide them with instructions on how to use them.
If your loved one has an eye condition that is worsening, it’s important to provide them with a strong support system. Remind them that they are still an important part of the world. Help them stay active with friends and keep up with hobbies or pastimes they enjoy. Offer assistance or accompaniment so they can be confident in their ability to participate.