8 Tips for Assisting Seniors Coping with Vision Loss

November 4, 2013
Using sunglasses in bright sun is one type for helping vision impaired seniors

Using sunglasses in bright sun is one type for helping vision impaired seniors (Image courtesy stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Making minor adjustments in the home is one way that family caregivers can accommodate the needs of vision-impaired aging parents.  Vision loss is one of the many issues affecting aging parents and this loss can have a profound impact on independence and safety.

Dedicated caregivers need to be prepared to make things easier for aging parents and others who experience some degree of vision loss.  Here are a few tips that can help.

  1. Use shades.  The sun is your friend, but it’s not always friendly.  Even during winter months, rays from the sun can damage eyesight.  Make sure that your loved one wears protective sunglasses when outside for any extended periods of time.  For those with eyeglasses, look into prescription sunglasses or detachable sunglass lenses that can be placed over prescription eyeglasses.
  2. Go for contrast. Weakened vision causes those affected to have a hard time distinguishing between colors that are close to each other on the color wheel.  It’s much easier for a person with vision loss to distinguish between red and yellow than to distinguish between red and orange, so whenever possible use contrasting colors: in your clothes, in dinnerware, in food choices, etc.  Also, an oversized calendar is an ideal tool for maintaining appointments.
  3. Make things obvious.  Grandma will have an easier time finding that pink toothbrush if it’s in a black cup instead of hanging against the pink bathroom wall.  If the black TV remote control lives on a dark brown table, put a bright yellow napkin underneath the remote so Dad can spot it more easily.
  4. Fill the house with music.  A person doesn’t need to be able to see well to appreciate music.  Give your child a list of some of Grandfather’s favorite songs and ask him or her to put together some playlists.  This will not only entertain Grandfather, it may open up conversation about his memories concerning these songs.
  5. Let your electronics do the talking.  Many electronic devices come with or can be equipped with a voice function.  For example, if your husband has a hard time reading the clock, get one that tells him the time.
  6. Keep reading.  Aging parents who love to read don’t have to stop because their eyesight is too poor.  You or another family member can read aloud to them, or you can check out audiobooks from the library.
  7. Enter loudly.  A person with poor vision can’t always tell that someone has entered the room and may feel unpleasantly surprised to suddenly discover this.  Make a habit of saying “Here I am” or “I’m coming in now” before you enter.  Also make sure that your loved one knows when you are leaving the room.
  8. Tape things up.  Sometimes aging parents have a hard time locating doorknobs, light switches, edges of stairs, keyholes, curtain pulls, etc.  Keep bright fluorescent or glow-in-the-dark tape around these items and mark them so that your loved one will have an easier time identifying them.

Many tools for vision impaired seniors can be purchased through resources such as The Lighthouse of Houston.

No matter how dedicated a caregiver you may be, you can’t cure a loved one’s vision problems, but you can make changes that can help him or her to cope with eyesight issues.

Resources:

Foundation Fighting Blindness

National Eye Institute

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