Caring for a Visually Impaired SeniorDecember 30, 2020
Caring for a Visually Impaired Senior: Many seniors who receive home care assistance suffer from some degree of visual impairment. A 2013 study estimated that nearly one in 12 seniors suffer from some form of visual impairment that cannot be corrected by refractive correction (i.e., glasses, contacts or laser procedures). However, it should be noted that there are many elderly people who suffer vision loss could be aided by refractive correction; but who have not been properly diagnosed. Some of the most common causes of visual impairment include:
- Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood sugar over long periods of time damages the blood vessels around the retina. Causing spots, blurred vision and vision loss.
- Macular degeneration occurs when the macula, part of the retina responsible for central vision, deteriorates over time. People with macular degeneration often have difficulty seeing fine details. But maintain good peripheral vision.
- Glaucoma is caused by pressure on the optic nerve. It is the most prevalent cause of vision impairment in those over 60.
- Cataract which is a clouding of the naturally clear lens in your eyes causing blurry vision.
Visually Impaired Senior Needs At-Home Care
Seniors with visual impairments who remain living at home may need a good deal of in home care. An in-home caregiver should keep the needs of the person they are caregiving for in mind. But especially when it comes to visual impairments. Obviously, helping them with personal care like bathing and dressing can be important; but it’s also important to keep in mind ways to help visually impaired seniors be as independent as possible. Some examples are:
- Help them to figure out which buttons they frequently need on a remote control. Many remotes have different shaped buttons for different functions.
- Use technology: many visually impaired people report being able to read better on a tablet screen because the font size can be increased.
- Be sure to write out instructions in large font. Make sure to consult with the person receiving care that the handwriting is large enough. What seems like large print to someone with normal vision may still not be large enough.
- Audiobooks are a great way to keep visually impaired people entertained and informed. However, they can be expensive and subscription services can have limited options. The National Library Service, from the Library of Congress, provides free braille and audiobooks for anyone who qualifies. There are eligibility requirements and an application, but the service is free.
Elderly Care Tips for Visually Impaired Seniors
Many visually impaired seniors still have some vision that they can rely on. And will wish to remain as independent as possible. An in-home caregiver can help with that in several ways. First, make sure to take care of any fall risks. Loose rugs, cords or other obstructions are all the more dangerous when a senior can’t see them clearly. A caregiver should discuss with the senior what paths through their home they take the most frequently. And make sure they are well-lit and free of obstructions. Also, using bright contrasting colors where possible can help the senior figure out where they are going. Any printed materials a caregiver leaves with a visually impaired senior should be in a large font. Again, confirm that the size is actually large enough for the person to read.
Seniors with Visual Impairments in Home Care Need Social Interactions
Many visually impaired seniors who live at home tend to isolate themselves. Going out is difficult, which makes being with friends and family difficult. Providing social interaction and companionship can help seniors who feel isolated because of their visual impairment. An in-home caregiver can also help set up phone calls to friends and family.
Adaptive Technology Can Help Visually Impaired Seniors In Home Care
There are many products on the market to assist visually impaired seniors living at home. From simplified remote controls with large buttons that control TVs with higher contrast to an Amazon Alexa specifically programmed for the visually impaired, these products can help a visually impaired senior be independent. An in-home caregiver can provide technology assistance to help seniors use these adaptive aids. Many television services have an audio description feature that can aid a visually impaired person the same way closed captions can aid someone who is hearing impaired.
It’s important to be patient with your elderly loved ones when first introducing these technology solutions. Many seniors are reluctant to admit they need these accommodations. While others may be afraid to try new things or fear new technologies. Staying patient, being willing to repeat directions, and setting realistic expectations are important.
Keeping Visually Impaired Seniors Safe at Home in the Kitchen
Meal preparation and planning is a vital tool in home care for the visually impaired. Preparing meals can be a dangerous undertaking for a visually impaired senior. They may not see when a pot is boiling over, or may leave an oven on because they didn’t see that it is still on. Planning meals ahead of time and assisting with preparation can help keep the danger to a minimum.
Seniors with Complete Vision Loss in At-Home Care
Caring for a senior with complete vision loss is obviously a more challenging prospect. They may need more care, or at least more intense care, while trying to remain independent. Blindness training and rehabilitation will get a visually impaired senior started, but an in-home caregiver can be extremely valuable to follow up on this training. Seniors with total vision loss may need additional assistance with housekeeping to keep paths clear for walking, and they may struggle more with some aspects of personal care.
Home Care Powered by AUAF Can Help Visually Impaired Seniors Live at Home
An in-home care aide can provide the essential services that seniors living at home need to be independent. Our dedicated professional caregivers are trained to help seniors with their basic needs. Call us at 773-274-9262 or contact us to find out how Home Care Powered by AUAF can help take care of an elderly loved one.
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