Of all our senses, eyesight may be the most precious. Unfortunately, millions of Americans aged 65-and-over live with some form of vision loss. Many aging in place seniors with diminishing eyesight face daily living challenges that eventually threaten their freedom and independence.
If you’re currently taking care of an at-home elderly parent with vision loss, helping them adjust to the lifestyle changes that are needed can be hard. Fortunately, there are several proven ways to provide mom or dad with the daily living assistance they need, starting with these.
Vision Loss Causes
These conditions commonly cause vision loss in seniors:
Over half of all seniors with diabetes experience gradual vision loss that may include blurred vision, eye pain, floaters, and trouble reading or differentiating colors.
This disease causes excessive fluid buildup and pressure in the eye. If left untreated, glaucoma can induce retinal damage that can even cause total blindness.
This refers to a condition when a patient experiences a gradual loss of their vision’s central field. Although macular degeneration doesn’t cause total blindness, at some point the resulting vision loss makes it impossible to drive, read or perform other daily tasks without assistance.
Seniors with vision loss oftentimes feel fearful, anxious and depressed. Not getting enough exercise or to important doctor’s appointments are common; all of which are a recipe for disaster when you’re trying to keep your aging parent healthy and independent.
Adapting to Vision Loss
As a family caregiver, here are some positive steps you can take to help your loved one adapt to their diminishing eyesight:
Find a Good Eye Doctor
Make sure your parent is getting the best vision care possible by taking them to an eye doctor for regular appointments. There are certain medications available that treat glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy, for example, so it’s also important to make sure that mom or dad are using their meds as prescribed. If diabetes is a concern, encourage them to keep their blood sugar under control.
Encourage Healthy Habits
Certain bad habits, like cigarette smoking, can exacerbate macular degeneration and other harmful eye conditions. If they smoke, talk to your loved one about quitting. High-carb foods can
elevate blood sugar levels and exacerbate diabetic retinopathy, so replace carbs and sweets with eye-healthy foods rich in antioxidants like kale, spinach, broccoli, lean meats and nuts.
Create a Safer Home
For someone with vision loss, the home can be a dangerous place. Make your parent’s home much easier to navigate by removing all trips hazards, especially in the bathroom and kitchen. Ensure that there’s enough lighting in hallways and above staircases, and install safety handrails and grab bars where needed.
Keep Items in Their Place
Talk to your parent about keeping frequently used items in specific places, for example small kitchen appliances or cleaning supplies. Discuss which doors need to be kept open or closed for optimal safety. Keeping household items in familiar places will give your loved one a renewed sense of independence by performing daily activities.
Paint a Picture with Words
As their vision loss progresses, it will become necessary to describe the world around them so that they will feel like they’re more a part of it. For example, sitting down and “watching” their favorite TV shows with them will heighten their other senses. While sharing a meal together, also share in words how the food looks and is arranged on the plate.
Keep Them Active
Just because your loved one’s vision is fading doesn’t mean they can’t join you for walks or help their grandchildren with homework. Encourage them to make phone calls to friends and accompany you on errands. There are also adaptive reading-assistance technologies now available for seniors, along with vision rehabilitation services through networks like VisionAware.
Compassionate In-Home Care for Seniors with Vision Loss
Assisting an aging parent with vision loss is highly rewarding, but it can also be frustrating and tiring. When you need a break, call Cranberry Home Care. As a family owned and operated agency, our highly trained and carefully screened in-home respite caregivers can provide your loved one with the daily or weekly assistance they deserve. While in the home, our fully licensed aides can deliver compassionate services like light housekeeping, personal hygiene, medication reminders, meals, transportation and companionship.
And, all our home care amenities can be individually tailored in an affordable package to restore your peace-of-mind. To learn more about Cranberry Home Care, or to schedule a FREE, in-home assessment for a senior in Southeastern, MA, please visit: www.cranberryhomecare.com now!