March 2015: "Save Your Vision Month"
HELP FOR SENIORS WITH VISION LOSS: TIPS FOR FAMILY MEMBERS AND CAREGIVERS
Vision loss can greatly affect the participation levels and safety of seniors. As people lose vision they tend to isolate themselves and do not believe they can still maintain an active, independent life style. We at ElderCaring can assist in achieving a safe environment to keep your loved one home. We can help you choose an experienced caregiver to meet your needs.
Different eye conditions (as explained in last week's blog) affect the ability to see and function in varying ways. Example: macular degeneration affects central vision and the ability to read, see faces and drive.
Tips to help provide a friendlier, safer environment for one experiencing vision loss:
1. Control glare by using appropriate window coverings. Make sure person is not seated facing window. Position lighting directly onto tasks such as reading, cards or hobbies.
2. Increase use of contrast: paint door trims, put contrasting tape on steps.
3. Use white index cards or light yellow paper with large print using a dark colored, bold tip pen for activity calenders and labeling.
4. Use of magnification: magnifying glasses; large print books, calenders, calculators, remote control devices, clocks, watches and playing cards.
5. When walking with one with vision loss-offer your arm for the person to hold unto. Walk about 1/2 step ahead to avoid objects in the pathway. This assistance is called "sighted guide".
6. Face person directly when talking to them.
7. Describe the place setting and food arrangement on the plate in terms of a clock face so the person can participate in meal time more confidently. You may even offer to cut food into bite size pieces if the person is worried about cutting self. Can also use same clock face technique to describe furniture placement in rooms. Do not move furniture or objects without announcing changes ahead of time.
8. Use of canes and even dogs can be used to help one with low vision to navigate.
LOW VISION SPECIALISTS
These professionals have the knowledge and experience to help find personal solutions for specific needs. Vision rehabilitation can help with mobility training as well as methods to organize, mark and label things, and resources for and proper use of low vision aides. Many vision rehabilitation programs even offer mental health services to help with the anxiety or depression that often accompanies loss of vision.