Millions of aging in place elderly Americans suffer from failing eyesight that interferes with their normal daily living activities. Eye diseases that commonly lead to poor vision in seniors include cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Left untreated, the resulting vision loss can further cause depression, inactivity and withdrawal. If you’re currently assisting an aging loved one with failing eyesight, there are several proven ways to help ensure that they live a more productive and rewarding life.
Signs of Failing Eyesight
Signs of failing eyesight in seniors include:
- Bumping into stationary objects or knocking objects over
- Missing objects when reaching for them
- Squinting or tilting of the head when trying to focus
- Unexpected falls or walking hesitantly
- A lack of interest in daily activities like writing or reading
- If still driving, frequent accidents or risky maneuvers
When you start noticing some of these early warning signs, it’s best to discuss what you’ve observed with your loved one and to get them to an eye doctor to ensure early disease detection and treatment.
Is the Vision Loss Treatable?
Oftentimes, a thorough eye exam will reveal that new glasses are all it takes to correct the vision problem. If the failing eyesight is due to a medical condition like glaucoma, cataracts or diabetic retinopathy, there are medications and surgical procedures available that can help. But if your loved one is diagnosed with a non-treatable eye disorder, you’ll need to devise a game plan to keep them active and comfortable.
Helping a Senior Live with Failing Eyesight
There are different levels of vision impairment, so first learn as much as possible about your loved one’s condition and lifestyle limitations. As their vision loss progresses, you’ll need to modify their surroundings to keep them safer and more independent. Here are some ways to do so:
Beef up the Lighting
Being mindful of glare problems, make sure the home is well-lit. If the senior likes to read or do crafts, set up some direct task lighting. Ensure that staircases and steps are illuminated brightly, and install under-counter lighting in areas like the kitchen for added security. Adding nightlights in the bedroom, hallway and bath is also a good idea.
Minimize Fall Risks
Remove potential trip hazards like small furniture items, electrical cords and area rugs. Make sure all walkways are clear, wide and level for easier navigation. Move larger furniture pieces to the outer walls, but avoid dramatic rearrangements if your loved one suffers from memory loss.
Bigger is Better
You can also try some low-vision assistance devices with larger buttons and print, like:
- Remote controls
- Clocks and watches
Electronic magnifiers use cameras to capture a smaller image and project it onto a built-in monitor, TV screen or computer screen. For tech-savvy seniors, there are adaptive devices like screen enlargement software, near telescopic systems and large-lettered keywords.
Mix colors in task areas like the bathroom, laundry room or kitchen to make it easier for your loved one to carry out daily activities. For example, if the bathroom is painted gray, find some towels, bathmats and washcloths that sharply contrast with the room’s background. Placing a white cutting board in the kitchen will make preparing darker foods easier. And, paint or tape door frames in bright colors to visually set them apart.
Use a Low Vision Specialist
When modifying the senior’s home, a low vision rehabilitation specialist can provide individualized solutions by recommending different ways to organize, mark and label household items, or by assisting with mobility training. The specialist can also point out the various low-vision assistance devices that will help make your senior feel more independent. Many vision rehab programs also offer mental health services to help patients deal with negative emotions that oftentimes accompany permanent vision loss.
In-Home Caregiving Support for Seniors with Low Vision
Caring for a senior with failing eyesight is rewarding, but it can also be quite challenging. When you need a hand or just live too far away, call First In Care. While serving as an extended family in your senior’s home, our highly trained and carefully screened caregivers can deliver the nurturing care they deserve to keep them aging comfortably in place right where they want to be. As a fully licensed agency, our in-home services include companionship, light housework, personal hygiene, medication reminders, meals and transportation.
And, all our family trusted home care services can be flexibly tailored in an affordable package that’ll put your mind at ease. For more information about First In Care, or to schedule a FREE, in-home care consultation for a senior in Manatee County, FL, please visit: www.firstincare.com now!