White Cane Week in February in Canada helps remind caregivers of the right precautions when providing home care to a visually impaired senior. Straddling the balance between doing what is best for the senior and allowing him or her to remain dignified can be a challenge for those who provide senior care, but there are many things that can help seniors get on with their day to day lives.
Visually Impaired Seniors – Causes of Vision Loss
Many seniors experience vision loss due to many age-related conditions.
These conditions include:
- Diabetic eye disease
- Macular degeneration
Both benign and serious eye diseases can diminish a senior’s visual abilities. Seniors begin to lose visual acuity because of the natural aging process in which the eyeball changes shape, the lenses darken and eye muscles become weak. Most seniors become nearsighted, though there are a few that become farsighted as well.
Activities for Visually Impaired Seniors
Even if a senior has a limited visual capacity, it is still important to keep him or her stimulated and in good spirits. Arts and crafts are a great way to help seniors cope with vision loss. Painting and specifically finger painting is a therapeutic activity that allows seniors to work with their hands. Knitting can also be a soothing activity that stimulates the visual senses.
There are many ways to help seniors who still have some vision with their everyday tasks.
Companion care workers can make sure that senior’s homes have these elements:
- Proper lighting
- Colour coding
- Safely placed furniture
- Possible safety hazards prevented
While many of these precautions may seem to be common sense, it is quite possible to take these steps for granted and someone with limited visual abilities can be hurt.
Using Proper Lighting and Preventing Accidents
When a caregiver provides proper lighting, it is important that this light is not just bright. It needs to be placed in areas that will eliminate glare and other irritations caused from light that is placed too close to mirrors and windows. Glare and irritating reflections can be reduced with blinds, curtains and solar reflective glass.
Also, homes with shiny floors can be hazardous to a visually impaired person. It is important to clean floors and other potentially shiny surfaces with non-glare and non-skid products. Throw rugs that are not attached to the floor can also be dangerous to a person with limited visual capacities. Cracks in floors need to be fixed so that there is less chance of tripping.
Colour Coding and Safe Furniture
If the senior uses glass doors, like sliders leading to a deck or patio, a brightly coloured sign needs to be placed at his or her eye level to avoid injury from accidentally walking into the glass. Decorations and accessories need to have a different colour than the walls and furniture so that the senior can easily make a distinction between the objects.
Colour cues placed at the edges of landings, ramps and steps are also important in preventing accidents. Plants and other devices can also be used to signal walkways.
For More Information on Visually Impaired Senior Care
There are many organizations that help both seniors and their caregivers to improve the quality of life for those dealing with vision loss.