When parents start to lose their vision, it falls upon you to provide them assistance and support. However, if you have never experienced low vision problems yourself, it could be challenging to figure out the best ways to help them.
Hence, we have recommended five strategies to manage elderly vision disorders in this blog post. Our care specialists regularly work with elderly suffering from visual problems. They rely on these strategies to make their day-to-day activities easier to perform.
Before we reveal the tips to manage elderly vision problems, let’s understand what causes vision loss with age.
Impact of Aging on Eye Health
Elderly vision loss is a severe health concern. Age-related macular degeneration, cataract, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy are the most common causes. Some of these conditions, like macular degeneration and open-angle glaucoma, may initially be asymptomatic.
The former leads to loss of central vision, while the latter causes optic nerve damage. For this reason, you must take your aging parents for regular screening examinations. Some of these elderly vision disorders like cataracts, can be fixed with surgery.
If your parent has been diagnosed with diabetes, they must undergo annual eye examinations to detect diabetic retinopathy in its early stages. Besides timely check-ups, you can take specific measures to either prevent or minimize the effects of ocular problems in seniors.
This brings us to our strategies:
Senior Fall Prevention
A significant part of elderly care is fall prevention. Because of low mobility, vision issues, weakened muscles, and bones, seniors are more likely to fall. That may cause serious injuries, disabilities, and in worst cases, death.
Please make sure you get anti-skid mats installed in different house areas (like in the shower) to prevent them from falling, tripping, or slipping. Another measure you can take is replacing dim lights with higher-wattage fixtures, especially in risky areas such as staircases.
Seniors with partial vision may need brighter surroundings to avoid falling. You can also apply brightly coloured tape along the edges of each step, making it easier for your parents to see them.
Fall prevention in the elderly also necessitates removing rugs, keeping cords out of their path, removing the clutter, and applying a non-slip coating to floors. Additionally, you should also encourage them to wear rubber-soled shoes as they have a firm grip.
Products for Elderly with Vision Loss
Besides keeping them safe, helping your parents with vision loss also means keeping them comfortable and happy. Day-to-day activities can become challenging to accomplish for people with ocular disorders, unfortunately.
Hence, providing them with products such as a television with high contrast images and books with oversized print can enable them to cope with gradual vision loss. Moreover, to make activities for the elderly with vision loss easier to perform, you must keep everything organized.
That means getting rid of uncluttered cutlery drawers, dressers, etc. It allows them to pick out items by touch or memory. Keeping things where they belong helps your parents maintain a certain level of independence as well.
Moral Support is Key
Those with worsening visual impairments require a robust support system. Who better than friends and family to give that? Encourage your aging parents to stick with their hobbies and remain active.
When they’re able to participate in things, it gives them a huge morale boost. Some seniors may also slip into depression because they are losing sight. For them to feel confident and be near their loved ones is vital.
They should feel free to share their worries and fears with you, and for that, you need to foster honest and open communication. Some elderly vision problems are also accompanied by Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS).
Such patients experience visual hallucinations triggered by significant vision loss. This condition is often confused with dementia, but it’s not the same. Though harmless, it’s very unsettling for the elderly.
Let them know that they can communicate with you regarding any new symptoms they might be experiencing so that nothing goes amiss during the treatment.
Healthy Diet to Fight Complications
A healthy diet is necessary to not only fight elderly vision disorders but also to prevent them. Your diet and that of your parents should have nuts, beans, eggs, green vegetables, and oily fish. Other foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids should also be a part of your menu.
Besides, try to get your parents as much lutein, zinc, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C as possible. These nutrients are essential to prevent the onset of age-related macular degeneration and cataract. Take this as a golden mantra to avoid any health complications down the road.
Apart from that, if your aging parent smokes, try your best to persuade them to stop. Such lifestyle habits spike the probability of developing macular degeneration, cataract, and low vision. If needed, counselling may help with smoking cessation.
Prevention Against UV Exposure
During outdoor activities, it’s essential to wear sunglasses, especially for seniors. Moreover, those glasses should block UVB (ultraviolet B) and UVA (ultraviolet A) rays from all sides of their eyes.
That should prevent the UV rays from penetrating and reaching the eyes of your parents. Prolonged exposure (particularly during the summertime) can damage the conjunctiva (a layer that protects the inside of your eyelids as well as the white area) and cornea.
Communicate with them to determine if they need help with something. If they insist on doing certain tasks themselves, let them. Greater independence is necessary for better cognitive functioning and longevity.
You can always hire help if they need 24/7 assistance.
Bonus Tip: Visual Rehabilitation and Occupational Therapy
A study done by the American Journal of Occupational Therapy suggests that elderly vision problems can be managed by occupational therapy. A thorough evaluation may identify what daily activities may still be performed by the senior using their remaining vision.
After a visual rehabilitation, seniors may regain some sense of independence regarding their choice of movement. Besides, therapists may also identify tasks that the elderly should not prevent accidental falls that lead to injuries.
They can also teach them how to use magnification devices and determine optimum lighting facilities. Hence, you should talk to your parents if they are willing to adopt such therapies as their consent is necessary.
Make sure you enunciate properly because they may not observe lip movement due to poor vision. In addition to that, always maintain a natural conversational tone while talking to your parents to avoid triggering any sort of panic.
Wrapping It Up
Learning how to help the elderly with vision problems is vital to prevent further loss of sight or help them manage day-to-day activities with ease. Besides providing them with visual aids and products, it’s also important to maintain their independence as much as possible.
If they can manage a few home tasks, run errands, and perform other daily life activities themselves, it’s great for their emotional and mental health. For that, you need to intervene early, take the above-mentioned steps, and ensure regular medical check-ups.
If the disease has progressed to advanced stages and they have partially or completely lost their sight, you should consider hiring a care team. They can provide round-the-clock assistance to seniors even when you cannot be near them 24/7.