Loss of vision is common among the older adult population. The American Academy of Family Physicians reports that approximately one in every three adults over the age of 65 has some form of vision-reducing eye diseases, such as macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.
Low vision is defined as visual impairments that are not able to be corrected through surgery, prescription medication, glasses, or contact lenses. It is not the same as needing reading glasses or bifocals to navigate everyday life. Low vision greatly interferes with a senior’s ability to live daily life and puts them at a higher risk for social isolation and falls.
Luckily, there are things seniors and their families can do to ensure they continue to safely live their daily lives. Here are four practical tips to help seniors with low vision navigate everyday life.
Re-envision the Home Environment
Although seniors are familiar with their own homes, low vision can still make their homes difficult to navigate. Seniors with low vision should re-envision their homes through the lens of safety and make modifications to keep it a safe place. Arrange furniture in a way that allows you to safely move from room to room, without fear of tripping over objects. Use contrasting colors to help you define the location of furniture in each room. Avoid placing similar-colored furniture on similar-colored flooring. Use colorful throw pillows to help you distinguish the boundaries of your sofa, chair, and bed. Remove potential tripping hazards and secure cords underneath carpeting.
Improve Lighting in the Home
Proper lighting in the home can significantly help a senior with low vision perform daily tasks. Evaluate your home and see where you can make improvements. Ensure each room has appropriate lighting for the activities that take place in that room. For example, direct lighting is best for activities such as reading, playing a game, or completing a craft. Consider placing an arc lamp over a sofa or table where you do these sorts of activities. Under-counter lighting can help seniors as they prepare meals. Stairways and hallways too should be adequately lit. Nightlights with sensors can help keep these areas well-lit. Keep lights on during the daytime to help equalize lighting from both indoor and outdoor sources, especially on cloudy days.
Learn About Assistive Devices
Today, a wide variety of low-vision aides can help older adults navigate everyday life. From magnifying and telescopic glasses to closed-circuit TV screens and reading prisms, assistive devices provide stronger visual enhancement than regular eyeglasses. There are even apps available to help seniors with low vision discern between clothing colors or identify products in a store.
Plan for the Future
Low vision is often a permanent condition that cannot be cured. It can be slowed or slightly improved, depending on the type of eye condition that caused your low vision. Seniors with low vision need to plan for their future. Make a plan for how you will get around your community once your vision no longer permits you to drive. Talk with your family about their ability to assist you as you need more help with home tasks. Gather important documents and place them in a secure location, so you know where they are even as your eyesight declines. Learn about resources available to you in your community and how you can contact help in case of an emergency.
When seniors begin to lose their vision, they may decide it’s time for more help. Whether you are planning to move to a senior living community or prefer to age in place, Senior Living Solutions is here to help. We provide free senior placement assistance in Arkansas to help relieve the stress and ease the burden of finding the best senior living options for our clients. We have over 20 years of experience in the healthcare industry and are familiar with the different needs of seniors as they age. We can walk you through the many options for senior care and help you find the best one based on your needs and preferences, including home care. If you’re ready to lean on professionals with experience navigating senior living options, please contact us today by calling 501-650-3013.