Caring for the Caregiver

Caring for the Caregiver

Posted on Apr.08, 2013, under Educational, Guest Blogger

Many people with macular degeneration or other forms of low vision have someone who is considered their main caregiver – it may be a wife or husband, an adult child or other family member or close friend. My mother-in-law is the main caregiver of my father-in-law who has wet macular degeneration. They are both in their 80’s and over the 10 years that his vision has deteriorated there has been many changes in their roles and responsibilities. He no longer drives and she does all of the driving. He used to handle the checkbook and now she takes care of all the bills.

Everyone has their own ways of adapting and adjusting to their new circumstances but here are some tips that can help you as the caregiver to help yourself and your loved one:

1. Communicate

Ask the person with AMD to describe what and how they see to better understand their vision loss. Discuss with each other how this retinal condition is affecting what you do or don’t do as well as your fears and concerns.

2. Learn

Find out what your loved one with AMD is going through by reading books on macular degeneration such as The First Year: Age-Related Macular Degeneration: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed by Dan Roberts.

3. Rehabilitation

Together go to low vision rehab. Help the person with vision loss maintain as much independence as possible by finding out about vision aids for macular degeneration. You may be surprised at what they can do given the right training and tips for maximizing one’s usable vision. Read the book Macular Disease: Practical Strategies for Living with Vision Loss by Peggy Wolfe who has AMD herself and gives tips on cooking, lighting, and organizing the home.

4. Get Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help from others. Perhaps you could ask someone else to drive or to take your loved one to an appointment or to an event. When possible hire someone to help clean the house or to do the lawn work instead of trying to do it all yourself.

5. Socialize

Take time for yourself and don’t become isolated. It may mean that you have to leave your loved one home alone while you have lunch with a friend. Get involved in something outside of caregiving whether it’s a book club, a gym or a place of worship. Find outlets to do things that are of interest to you.

Chris Roberts, the wife of Dan Roberts, the author of The First Year: Age-Related Macular Degeneration: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed, shares how she and Dan have adjusted as a couple and shares her tips on being a caregiver as well as how to get a free booklet written by Dan called Caring for the Visually Impaired here:

Help for Caregivers

Leslie Degner, RN, BSN