Taking care of an aging family member with sensory impairment can be challenging. Still, by using a compassionate and intentional approach, you can create a safe and supportive environment and keep their quality of life high.
What Is Sensory Impairment?
Sensory impairment comes in different forms, such as hearing, vision, or a sensory disability associated with autism. Sensory impairment is a condition that affects many people, including seniors. In fact, nearly two-thirds of seniors in the United States live with two or more sensory deficiencies.
Family caregivers and personal care assistants (PCAs) must understand how to support people with sensory or dual sensory impairment.
How Does Sensory Impairment Affect Quality of Life?
Living with sensory impairment can significantly impact a person's quality of life. Hearing loss can make it difficult for people to communicate and connect with others, while vision impairment may limit mobility and independence. Each individual's experience is unique, and the needed support level may vary.
Caring for Someone with Sensory Impairment
To create a safe environment for your loved one with sensory impairment, take care of their surroundings. For example, if your loved one has a visual impairment, ensure their living space is free of potential tripping hazards. Moving furniture to minimize sharp corners can also help prevent injuries.
Here are a few more tips and ideas.
Keeping things organized can make life easier for your loved one with a visual impairment. Set designated spots for essential items like eyeglasses or hearing aids, and keep them within reach. This simple step adds routine and gives your loved one a sense of control.
You can also use colors to help your care recipient find things more easily. Adding bright tape or using colorful chains for keys, remote controllers, and phones can make a big difference in locating these frequently used items.
Increase Screen Size
Depending on their level of visual impairment, set up all their electronic devices with enlarged text or a screen reader.
Speak with Intention
If your loved one has a hearing impairment, try to speak loudly, clearly, and steadily, and keep your mouth visible to them when you're talking. Avoid shouting, as it can be overwhelming or patronizing. Remember, your loved one may need you to rephrase or repeat things, so be patient and understanding.
Be careful when approaching individuals with sensory impairments. To avoid startling them, come slowly and touch them lightly on the shoulder so they know you’re there.
Maintain Positivity and Patience
Patience is vital when caring for someone with sensory impairment. Their frustration levels might be higher as they deal with the limitations of their disability, so as a caregiver, it’s essential to maintain a positive attitude. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, take a step away to collect your thoughts, and make sure you regularly take breaks and arrange respite care.
Caring for a loved one with sensory impairment requires empathy, patience, and a willingness to adapt. By implementing these tips and seeking support when needed, you can create a safe and loving environment that enhances their well-being and independence.
At Best Care, we understand the challenges of caring for individuals with sensory impairments. We offer professional home care services and comprehensive resources to support personal care assistants and caregivers. If you have any questions or need assistance with family caregiving, we're here to help!