Seniors over the age of 65 and older, often struggle with low or poor vision. This can cause problems with everyday activities. The process of accepting these changes and adapting to them can sometimes be challenging for seniors.
As such, it is important to help seniors with low vision reinvent themselves by learning to accept these changes. Receiving the right care and support and learning to rely on other senses such as smell, hearing, and taste can help seniors to continue to remain active and maintain their quality of life.
This guide is designed to help caregivers better assist seniors with low vision so they can continue living independently and safely in their own homes.
Keeping An Eye On Visual Health
The most important thing seniors and their caregivers should focus on is understanding the severity of the situation and its underlying cause. For seniors 65 and above, it is recommended to have a dilated medical eye exam every year or so.
In this medical exam, the ophthalmologist evaluates a patient's eyesight and the overall health and function of both eyes. For optimal vision function at any age, it is crucial to maintain a prescription for eyeglasses or contacts and have regular screening for new or worsening eye conditions.
Vision loss is a gradual process and most seniors aren’t aware that their eyesight is being compromised. Caregivers or family members can keep a check by observing their behavior and looking for signs of visual impairment.
Seniors experiencing vision loss will tend to do the following:
- Tilt their heads to focus
- Squint when watching TV or on their phone screens
- Trip over objects and obstacles
- Avoid activities such as reading and writing which require constant visual focus
- Walk hesitantly
7 Tips for Helping a Visually Impaired Senior
Around the world, millions struggle with some form of visual impairment. This can make life challenging and difficult. Age-related vision loss in adults is not uncommon.
Adjusting to this change can be challenging as other senses like hearing, smell and taste also tend to weaken with age.
By following these tips, caregivers can ensure that their loved one is provided with proper care and takes advantage of all resources at their disposal to help them remain active
Work With A Low Vision Specialist
Finding a low vision specialist can help mitigate the loss of vision experienced by a senior. Specialists devise personalized solutions for patients with any eye-related medical condition. They cater to the specific needs of the patient and help the caregiver in providing the senior with the right care and support.
Take Steps To Minimize Risk Of Falls
Caregivers of senior citizens experiencing vision loss can help to mitigate the risk of falls by installing nightlights.
It is important to remove any objects that can cause the senior to trip i.e electrical cords or throw rugs. Pathways and corridors should be cleared from obstacles and difficult-to-see furniture. Repositioning the furnishings is a good way of ensuring that they can move around the home freely without bumping into things.
It is important to note that minimizing the fall risks to 0% is impossible. This is because a Caregiver cannot be present all the time and accidental falls can happen in an instant.
To help safeguard against unforeseen accidents and falls it is highly recommended that individuals with low vision use an Automatic Fall Detection system. This is one of the many safety devices offered by Northwood Intouch.
An automatic fall detection device comes with a help button that can be pressed in case of any emergency.
These devices also offer an added layer of protection by automatically detecting falls. Even if the senior is unable to press the help button or is unconscious in the event of a fall, a call is automatically placed to the response center.
These devices are lightweight and discreet, they do not cause any hindrance to the seniors wearing them and allow them to be more confident living on their own.
Provide Moral Support
Age-related macular degeneration, cataract, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy are some of the most common eye diseases that can impact a senior's ability to live a normal life.
Vision impairment can cause an aged person to withdraw from activities they previously enjoyed. Therefore, it is important to help them accept these changes.
Caregivers can help their loved ones by offering them unconditional support and care while reinforcing them with positive thoughts.
Creating a strong support system can help encourage seniors to remain active despite their vision loss. Caregivers can offer to assist them in their activities and appreciate them for their efforts.
Embrace Contrasting Colors
Another great tip to maximize functional vision is to change the interior setting of the house. Using contrasting colors for furniture, doors and other objects will allow the senior to see better.
Using household supplies with high contrast can also make the environment safer for seniors. For example, highlighting the edges of stairs and countertops can improve safety.
Good Lighting is Key
Keeping the environment and household well-lit will also help with vision loss. Special bulbs and lamps can be used to create a setting that has high contrast and reduced glare.
Additional tip: It is recommended to avoid large fluctuations in the level of lighting in different rooms. Equalizing indoor and outdoor lighting can help improve the functionality of the affected individual.
Improve Household Organization
Keeping things and objects in designated spots can help improve navigation. Seniors can develop a sense of where everything is and can find objects easily even if they have limited vision.
Using tactile systems can be extremely helpful. Tactile systems have raised plastic dots, or protrusions such as sandpaper cutouts to mark their placement.
Visual systems can make use of the remaining vision to identify the object.
Combining tactile systems and visual systems can make life easier for seniors with vision loss.
Using objects with magnified fonts, buttons and visual depictions can allow people with low vision to work more effectively. If certain items do not come in low-vision versions, electronic magnification units can be used to capture them and display a magnified image on a screen. The local CNIB has a variety of supportive devices available. It’s worth finding your local branch to see what they offer.
It is natural to experience deterioration of eye health and vision as our body ages. As a result, aged individuals can find it more difficult to conduct daily tasks and face a higher risk of falls and injuries. For seniors living at home, it is essential that they have the necessary help and equipment to deal with low vision. To learn more about how we can help visit Northwood Intouch.