Vision loss is a prevalent occurrence among seniors which often involves some difficult challenges and adjustments. While complete loss of vision is not a natural or typical aspect of aging, changes in vision and different forms of visual impairment are a common part of the aging process.
Visual impairment or total vision loss can cause significant problems for seniors, and there is often a variety of lifestyle adjustments needed to address them. Recognizing and confronting these issues is the first step towards implementing strategies and tools for support assistance as seniors continue to live active and enriching lives despite changes in vision.
Signs of Vision Loss
Vision changes often develop slowly and gradually over time. Families, friends, and caregivers can make a note of changes in behaviour that may indicate early signs of vision loss or visual impairment, such as:
- Walking hesitantly as though the path is unclear
- Squinting when looking at people or things
- Knocking things over or bumping into them
- Being a little bit off when reaching for items
- Decrease in hand-eye coordination
- Poor depth perception
Changes in eyesight may seem small and inconsequential at first, but can end up have wide-reaching impacts on daily life. For this reason, learning techniques and strategies to deal with vision-loss helps seniors make the necessary adjustments to allow them to hold on to their independence.
Modifying the Environment
Seniors living at home can make purposeful changes and modifications to their home environment, as well as to the features within it, to make living with vision loss safer and more manageable.
- Keep it Tidy: Minimizing clutter and having designated areas to store items after every use can help seniors find what they are looking for when things get tougher to see. 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 to distinguish similar items from one another can help seniors navigate their environments.
- Make It Bigger: Find ways to enlarge the sizes of pertinent 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: Ensuring that all rooms in the house are properly lit and that there are night-lights for overnight can help seniors guide themselves through the house comfortably and safely.
- Clear The Way: Arrange furniture in an appropriate way, and remove any trip hazards that may lead to falls and injury.
- Make Entertainment Accessible: Set seniors up with entertainment that is easy to access despite visual impairment. Choose large print or braille books, make TVs and DVD players easy to use by ensuring they have largely labelled buttons, try audio books, set computer screens to large-sized fonts, get large-print playing cards, and make magnifying devices available.
In combination with adjustments to the home environment that make it more easily navigable and safe for seniors with visual impairments, there are other behavioural and lifestyle considerations that can help manage changes in vision.
- See the Ophthalmologist Routinely: Not only does seeing the ophthalmologist on a regular basis help keep tabs on changes in vision, it also helps 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 and keep them healthy.
- Eat for Healthy Eyes: Nutrients in foods such as dark leafy greens, nuts, citrus fruits, and whole grains can help support eye-health.
Developing visual impairments or facing the realities of total vision loss are hard circumstances to deal with, but they do not mean that seniors must lose their independence or can no longer maintain a sense of control over their own lives. Utilising the available resources, strategies, and support systems in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge can help seniors address their vision loss and make appropriate adjustments. This helps with accommodating changes in vision while also preserving continued independence, happiness, and quality of life.