Someone who is visually impaired has vision that affects their ability to perform normal activities of daily living. Some of the causes of their visual impairment or loss of vision can be related to older adulthood when your visual acuity (the sharpness of your eyesight) deteriorates or eye conditions such as age related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetes and cataracts.
As a caregiver it is often a worry to know if you are doing everything you can in supporting someone with visual impairment. If you work in a care home or you’re a carer for a loved one, you will always want to ensure that the person has their independence and positive levels of life satisfaction. We have put together some tips on how you can support in simple and helpful ways.
Introduce yourself when you enter a room, let people know why you are there and what you are doing and let them know when you are leaving, as communication is important when someone has their sight impaired. Other things you can do to help their daily life is to highlight obstacles at head height or on the floor that may cause injury.
There are many low vision aids that will help around the home, from lighting and magnifiers, to find out more check out our blog we did at Christmas for visual aid gift ideas: https://opticalleyecare.co.uk/visual-aids-for-christmas-gifts/. There are also other practical things that you can buy that can help in normal life such as a larger TV screen, large-print reading books or audio books and large-print phones and clocks etc.
When outside it is important to point out kerbs, steps or uneven grounds to avoid trips and/or falls. Again be mindful of other obstacles at differing heights. Always ask if additional support is needed and what help you can offer rather than assume what someone wants. If going shopping, for example, offer help but show encouragement for them to do as much of the shopping task as they can on their own, but be close by to support when needed.
People with impaired vision can struggle with their mental health and wellbeing. Limited vision (and the impact of vision loss) that has occurred over time can lead to feelings of anger, hopelessness, fear and depression as daily life problems. There is an association between loneliness/vulnerability and impaired vision so it is important to help them with their emotions by encouraging them to take part in activities they used to do, or going to outdoor spaces and meeting new people. People with vision concerns may not get normal vision back but they can live a normal life.
In April 2015 the Care Act 2014 was introduced to help to improve people’s quality of life, independence and wellbeing and for care providers and givers to promote a person-centred approach to the care and support they provide. For people with vision impairment this is good news because it means that their local authorities have to support them. Find out more about this here: https://www.rnib.org.uk/nb-online/understanding-care-act.
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