Eight Tips for Aging Parents with Vision Problems

October 28, 2013
Agings parents should wear sunglasses in strong sun.

Sunglasses can help protect eyesight. (Image courtesy stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

 

Vision loss is a common problem for aging parents and other seniors. In some cases, such loss simply includes a mild lessening of a person’s sight; in other cases, the loss can be severe and have a profound effect on lifestyle.

Dedicated caregivers need to be prepared to make things easier for aging parents and others who experience some degree of vision loss. Here are a few tips that can help.

  1. Use shades. The sun is your friend, but it’s not always friendly. Even during winter months, rays from the sun can damage eyesight. Make sure that your loved one wears protective sunglasses when outside for any extended periods of time. For those with eyeglasses, look into prescription sunglasses or detachable sunglass lenses that can be placed over prescription eyeglasses.
  2. Go for contrast. Weakened vision causes those affected to have a hard time distinguishing between colors that are close to each other on the color wheel. It’s much easier for a person with vision loss to distinguish between red and yellow than to distinguish between red and orange, so whenever possible use contrasting colors: in your clothes, in dinnerware, in food choices, etc.
  3. Make things obvious. Grandma will have an easier time finding that pink toothbrush if it’s in a black cup instead of hanging against the pink bathroom wall. If the black TV remote control lives on a dark brown table, put a bright yellow napkin underneath the remote so Dad can spot it more easily.
  4. Fill the house with music. A person doesn’t need to be able to see well to appreciate music. Give your child a list of some of Grandfather’s favorite songs and ask him or her to put together some playlists. This will not only entertain Grandfather, it may open up conversation about his memories concerning these songs.
  5. Let your electronics do the talking. Many electronic devices come with or can be equipped with a voice function. For example, if your husband has a hard time reading the clock, get one that tells him the time.
  6. Keep reading. Aging parents who love to read don’t have to stop because their eyesight is too poor. You or another family member can read aloud to them, or you can check out audiobooks from the library.
  7. Enter loudly. A person with poor vision can’t always tell that someone has entered the room and may feel unpleasantly surprised to suddenly discover this. Make a habit of saying “Here I am” or “I’m coming in now” before you enter. Also make sure that your loved one knows when you are leaving the room.
  8. Tape things up. Sometimes aging parents have a hard time locating doorknobs, light switches, edges of stairs, keyholes, curtain pulls, etc. Keep bright fluorescent or glow-in-the-dark tape around these items and mark them so that your loved one will have an easier time identifying them.

No matter how dedicated a caregiver you may be, you can’t cure a loved one’s vision problems, but you can make changes that can help him or her to cope with eyesight issues.

Resources:

Foundation Fighting Blindness

National Eye Institute

 

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Writer, Craig Butler

Craig Butler has been writing on a wide range of topics for more than fifteen years. As the National Communications Director for the Cooley's Anemia Foundation, Craig regularly writes on a range of health and medical topics. Among the many projects he has written for the Foundation is the Cooley's Anemia Storybook, a collection of original short stories for children with the blood disorder Cooley's Anemia. His freelance work has ranged from reviewing moves and CDs to creating entertainment-related stories about baldness, to creating text for comic strips. Craig looks forward to having a dialogue with you about senior care and issues of concern.

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