Vision loss and different types of eye problems afflict many Americans of all ages. Seniors are particularly affected, with about half the number of blind people being 65 years of age and older according to the National Federation of the Blind.
There is a fair chance you have a good friend or relative with some type of eye condition. But thankfully, with modern technology and medical support, there are plenty of ways for people with visual impairments to live full lives.
For some people, especially senior citizens, it can be a good choice to live in assisted living facilities or nursing homes, where they can be taken care of around the clock. These places have particular arrangements for blind people in a structured environment.
However, many people would prefer to stay in their own homes and be independent, despite the restrictions placed on them by their visual disability. If you have a family member who is visually impaired who prefers to stay home, let’s take a look at what being legally blind is and how home care services can help.
What Is Legally Blind?
"Legally blind" is the definition of blindness used by the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) to determine if someone is eligible to receive disability benefits, tax exemptions, and low vision training.
Personal Care Options
Individuals who have vision issues have the option to utilize Personal Care Assistant (PCA) services who can assist them while they adjust to a deteriorating eye condition, recover from eye surgery, or to help them manage day-to-day challenges at home for those who have long been blind.
Home care support can cover many aspects in taking care of visually impaired persons, including:
- Personal care, such as bathing, grooming, dressing, transferring, eating and toileting
- Getting around, including blindness training and rehabilitation
- Reading and accessing information
- Managing kitchen and household tasks, such as cooking and cleaning
- Organizing household items and ensuring safety, such as avoiding sharp or heavy objects
Do’s and Don'ts When Caring for a Person Who Is Visually Impaired
When caring for a patient who is visually impaired, it is important that:
- You DO listen to their specific needs and requests. Some blind people are perfectly comfortable reading Braille, while others may prefer assistance. Outline what their needs are at the beginning of the relationship.
- You DO speak directly to them, using their name at the beginning of a new conversation. Without being able to see your body language, visually-impaired people may not realize they are being addressed immediately, especially if more people are around.
- You DON’T touch them without permission. It might seem like the easiest way to assist them is to take them by the arm, but this can be overstepping and not everyone is comfortable with it. Once again, learn the recipient of care’s boundaries at the beginning of your relationship.
Great activities for blind seniors are based on making the most of other senses. Playing with animals with soft fur, for example, can be an enriching experience.
Otherwise, listening to podcasts, audio books, and so on can be a great alternative to watching the TV, as they are designed to be auditory-only.
Home care services and family caregivers can really help your family member who is visually impaired. Together with blindness training, rehabilitation, and plenty of encouragement and support from family and friends, they can prove that they can remain independent, free to enjoy life, and show that they still have a lot to offer to the world.
If you have any questions about assisting blind or visually-impaired people, then don’t hesitate to reach out to the Best Care team. We’re here to help!