How to Help a Senior Loved One Cope with Vision Loss

How to Help a Senior Loved One Cope with Vision Loss

Posted under Eye Health, Living With Low Vision, Low Vision Info

If you have a parent or loved one going through vision loss, you aren’t alone. In fact, it’s estimated that nearly 3.5 million Americans over the age of 40 have some degree of vision loss, often from age-related conditions. In addition to the home and lifestyle adjustments that must be made when one receives this kind of news, it can take an emotional toll on your loved one as well. Here are five ways you can help:

Know the signs.

It’s often uncomfortable for seniors to seek help in this situation, so it’s important that you know what to look for. Signs may include bumping into things, squinting or tilting the head to see, dropping food or silverware when eating, walking and moving around hesitantly, tripping over area rugs, stains on clothing and mismatched outfits, and walking close to the wall. There are also verbal cues to listen for; if your loved one talks about seeing double, distortion, spots in front of the eyes, halos or rings around lights, or having trouble with night vision, she may be going through vision loss. Those afflicted sometimes have migraine headaches that cause blurry vision, and often request more or different lighting.

Make helpful home adjustments.

One of the major concerns of those going through vision loss is maintaining independence. If your loved one lives on her own, make sure not to be too pushy about home adaptations (for risk of being perceived as condescending) but do ensure her home is a safe, functional place for her to be. Brighter lighting, especially fluorescent bulbs, is one of the most important adaptations. Use bright colors to your advantage; this could be especially beneficial on the handrail of the stairs, the door handle or with stove and appliance dials.

Talk to her about low-vision aids.

There are specialized tools made specifically for the visually impaired that can make all the difference in maintaining a regular life. Some are as simple as customized magnifiers for reading, others may be as high-tech as computerized text-to-speech programs or devices. This list of low-vision devices from the American Foundation for the Blind has descriptions that can help you figure out which items best fit your needs. (You can even find items for sale right here at Enhanced Vision!)

Try to help her keep an active lifestyle.

Not only does regular exercise help fight other health conditions, it’s a great way to lower stress and improve your mood. While vision loss does make it trickier, she can maintain her hobbies with adaptive sports equipment, computer programs, games and crafting tools.

Help her find additional support.

Your support is crucial, but it’s also important for her to be able to reach out to others who understand exactly what she’s going through. Most areas have nearby support groups for the visually impaired that can offer a special outlet for members to share their feelings and discuss coping strategies. Find a group near you and see if she’s open to you accompanying her sometime. And don’t underestimate the power of having a four-legged friend. Dogs reduce our stress and anxiety and even keep our hearts healthier. If your loved one is feeling isolated and lonely as a result of their worsening vision loss, they may want to consider getting a four-legged pal to keep them company.

Vision loss is a big adjustment for your loved one, but it doesn’t have to be the end of independent living. Help her as much as she’ll let you, and above all, support her as she adjusts to and accepts her new life changes.



Patricia Sarmiento is a lifelong athlete. She enjoys writing about health, wellness, and safety issues for A former high school and college swimmer, she continues to make living an active lifestyle a goal for her and her family.