If your aging parent or spouse is experiencing vision loss, this could affect many aspects of their life and independence. Although it’s important that your perception of your loved one doesn’t change, you may still need to help them adjust to a new lifestyle to help prevent or delay further vision loss. At the end of the day, they can still be dynamic, independent individuals with the right emotional support and, if necessary, physical assistance with daily activities.
Here are five practices that we recommend to help a loved one adapt to vision loss.
- Stall further vision loss if possible. If your loved one is smoking, urge them to quit since smoking can double the risk for developing macular degeneration, an eye disease that causes permanent vision loss. Studies have also shown that high-carb diets can cause elevated blood sugar levels, increasing the risk of vision loss. Adopt a healthier diet of foods high in antioxidants such as carrots, kale, spinach, broccoli, nuts and lean meat. Findings concluded that age-related macular degeneration can be reduced by almost 25 percent from consuming antioxidants.
- Create a safer home. With some adjustments, you can make your loved one’s home much easier to navigate. Remove or reduce any items on the floor that can present a tripping hazard. Hire a contractor to mount handrails and grab bars as needed outside and within the home. An Occupational Therapist can also help you create a plan of action by looking through your home for potential hazards and making expert recommendations and referrals.
- Put things in their place. For the person with vision loss, being able to do simple things around the home promotes the feeling of independence. Agree on home rules, such as leaving doors open or closed, and putting items back where they can be easily found, to help make your loved one’s life a little more predictable and manageable.
- Show the world through words. Encourage your loved one to “watch” television with you. The visual clues you provide will allow your loved one to create mental pictures that can accompany other senses, which may now be heightened. Once a meal comes in a restaurant, describe the plate arrangement. One such description could be: the eggs are at seven o’clock, the bacon is at twelve o’clock and the potatoes are at four o’clock.
- Keep them involved. Your loved one wants to feel useful and share the strengths he or she has always possessed. Ask your loved one to share stories or help grandchildren with homework, make telephone calls or engage in other errands and activities.
It will take time and practice for a loved one to learn how to live with loss of vision. Give them time and remember, your loved one is still the same person. Continue to make time for his or her favorite pastimes and enjoy the time spent together.
Home Care Assistance holds the belief that aging adults can remain as independent as possible in an environment that promotes health and vitality. If your aging loved one is facing vision loss, discuss when may be a good time to bring in extra support and determine the level of care that will help your loved one remain at home with maximum independence.