The loss of your loved one’s vision is a loss of their independence and a battle with their quality of life. The decline in their depth, central, and peripheral perception has a negative effect on mobility, communication skills, safety, and emotional health. It’s very important to come up with a plan to help them cope.
Impact of Vision Loss
The easiest way to think of how your loved one feels is to think of someone who is hearing impaired. They communicate by sight, with their hands, and read lips. They are able to pick up facial expressions, head nods, and gestures. You may already have to speak louder to a loved one because of hearing loss. The loss of two senses is heartbreaking and leads to a lack of social interest and activity, a poor quality of life, anxiety, and even depression.
There are also safety issues associated with vision loss. Your loved one is in danger of falling doing normal activities, slipping on spilled oils, lotions, or food. They could trip over cords that were previously tucked away, or miss stepping over something because of poor judgment of the height of an object. Loss of vision impairs driving ability and increases the chances of vehicle accidents. The worst safety concern is that your loved one might not be able to effectively communicate what is wrong because they’re in a state of panic and not able to see their surroundings properly. Living in assisted living can mitigate some of these risks because the environment is designed for senior safety, but it’s impossible to completely prevent accidents from happening, especially if a senior miscalculates what they can handle.
Helping Your Loved Ones Cope With Vision Loss
There are many things you can do to help your loved one cope with vision loss.
- Color code medicine bottles or purchase pill containers to help with medication management
- Make standardized arrangements of household items
- Add safety features to household items such as table edge guards and gates around stairs, and place non–slip mats around slippery areas such as the kitchen
- Decrease glare from the sun or other light sources in the home; add motion sensors and plenty of lighting
- Minimize clutter and bulky furniture
- Attend eye doctor appointments with your loved one; discuss all medication because drug reactions can have side effects on vision as well
Your loved one may feel they are a burden and keep important issues away from you. It’s important to let them know you are there for them. Set up a caregiver treatment plan. Help them connect with community resources for assistance such as transportation services and support groups. Provide self-help aids such as magnification devices, various eyewear, tinted lenses, closed-circuit television, large print books and telephones with dials. If they enjoy sewing, have a needle threader and plenty of thimbles. If they love novels, get them a subscription to an audio book of the month club.
By being mindful of what loss of vision means and showing compassion and support, you can ease the negative effects of this health condition.