Visual impairment or total vision loss can cause significant challenges for seniors, and there are adjustments that must be made to address these challenges.
Signs of Changes in Vision
Vision changes often occur gradually. Families, friends, and caregivers of seniors should keep track of things that might be early signs of vision-loss or visual impairment, such as:
Walking hesitantly as though the way isn’t clear
Squinting when looking at people or things
Knocking things over or bumping into them
Being a little bit off when reaching for items
Modifying the Environment
Seniors living at home can adjust their homes to make living with vision-loss safer and more manageable.
- Keep it Tidy: Minimizing clutter and having designated areas for things can help seniors find what they are looking for. Keeping remotes, keys, wallets, purses, and other frequently accessed items in the same place all the time will help eliminate difficulty finding them.
- Make Use of Colour: Using contrasting colours around the house or to distinguish similar items from one another can help seniors navigate their environments.
- Make It Bigger: Find ways to enlarge the sizes of text or numbers so that seniors can navigate appliances and other household items. Find remotes with larger buttons, clocks with larger numbers, ensure medication labels have large text, and that appliances have large buttons or tactile indicators.
- Light The Way: Ensure that all rooms in the house are properly lit and that there are night-lights for overnight.
- Clear The Way: Arrange furniture in an appropriate way, removing anything that may create a hazard for tripping.
- Make Entertainment Accessible: Choose large print or braille books, make TVs and DVD players easy to use with largely labelled buttons, try audio books, set computer screens to large sized fonts, and make magnifying devices available.
Behavioural and lifestyle considerations can also help manage changes in vision.
- See The Ophthalmologist Routinely: To keep tabs on changes in vision, and to ensure that overall eye-health is being assessed and attended to.
- Keep Eyes Protected: Take precautions, such as wearing sunglasses when outside, to protect eyes from damage.
- Eat for Healthy Eyes: Various nutrients from foods such as dark leafy greens, nuts, citrus fruits, and whole grains can help support eye-health.
Developing visual impairments does not mean that seniors must lose their independence or can no longer keep a sense of control over their own lives. With support and strategies, seniors can remain safe and happy at home.