Vision loss is devastating at any age. With the loss of vision comes the loss of independence as well as the loss of many activities and hobbies that were enjoyed in the past. If you have a parent who is suffering from vision loss, help them make the transition by supporting them as much as possible. Try some of these tips to make the process, if not easier, at least more bearable.
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Tip #1: Arrange for Safe Transportation
One of the most frustrating things about losing vision is the inability to drive, which can make it difficult to get out and take care of errands, participate in hobbies, and more. When your parent is no longer able to see well enough to drive, make sure that there is safe transportation available for them. This doesn't mean that you have to be the one to transport them! Many senior living communities offer transportation as part of their services. You can also enlist a friend of your parent's to pick them up before activities, check out public transportation, or create a schedule with friends and loved ones.
Tip #2: Encourage Rehabilitation Services
Moving from seeing to poor vision or blindness can be a difficult transition. Rehabilitation services, however, are there to make it easier for your parent to learn the skills they'll need throughout this transition and beyond, in order to live a happier, more active life. Encourage your parent to participate in rehab and to do the exercises they're assigned when they aren't at the facility. This will help improve overall independence in the long run.
Tip #3: Get Them Out
Many seniors fear that the loss of vision will lead to the loss of their lives, preventing them from getting out with the family or participating in the activities they love. From the earliest days of vision loss, keep getting your parent out of the house! Encourage them to participate in activities. Bring them along on outings. Don't let that fear become self-fulfilling prophecy! The more your parent is out and about, the less they'll worry about that transition and the more they'll be able to do.
Tip #4: Make the Home Safer
Take a walk through your parent's home. Chances are, there are several hazards that will need to be taken care of as their vision deteriorates. Take the time to help them clean up. You don't want to move items to locations where they won't be able to find them, since they'll no longer be able to see to locate them; however, you can help improve organization and ensure that there's nothing that can hurt them in their own home. Take the time to move trip hazards, including cords and rugs out of any walkways or common areas. Move furniture around if necessary so that it's easier to navigate without bumping into things. Make sure that sharp or dangerous items are put away and that medication is clearly labeled in a way that your parent is able to feel, rather than see. These simple steps can go a long way toward improving overall safety and making your parent feel more independent at home.
Tip #5: Consider a Guide Dog
If you worry about a parent being out alone, consider the benefits of a guide dog. Far more than a pet, a guide dog can assist your parent and help them move through the world without the benefits of their vision. A dog can also help make your parent overall more independent, providing them with a smoother transition to life without vision.
Blindness is a deep fear for many individuals. Helping your parent make the transition can be difficult for both of you. Over time, however, both you and your parent will discover exactly what their limitations are and what they're still able to do, making it easier to take on their daily responsibilities and enjoy everything life has to offer.