The Level Of Assistance Required In Caregiving For the Blind Or Vision Impaired Depends On Their Overall Health And Abilities
Pegasus home healthcare services in Hidden Hills and elsewhere include caring for the blind or vision impaired. Millions of individuals require assistance due to a lack of good sight. Compassionate career home health care nurses provide the necessary physical and emotional support to their senior clientele.
Some vision loss is common as individuals mature. They might need brighter or more lighting to navigate safely. They may have trouble reading the small print, especially on their medicine bottles.
Your assistance as their home health nurse may be minimal in these instances. For instance:
- Advise the family to install adequate lighting. If they can’t afford an upgrade, use your networking skills to find a community resource that can help them.
- Mark their medicine bottles with large letters or color coding. Or prepare a schedule in large print and code each medicine to it.
- If they can’t distinguish one color from another, work with the family to code or tag their clothing, so they aren’t embarrassed by mismatched outfits.
Talk to your patient about what they have difficulty seeing. Ask about what they need to distinguish one item from another. That, along with your observations, will determine what things need to be coded or labeled better.
Age, Medical Conditions, Or Eye Disease Can Cause Impaired Vision
Your patient may be experiencing more than age-related vision loss. Conditions such as strokes can cause a temporary or permanent loss of their ability to see.
More commonly, many older individuals have one or more eye diseases. These include:
Each condition presents challenges. None are curable. However, early treatment may slow the rate of vision loss.
Eye Exams Are Essential
If your patient hasn’t recently seen an optometrist or ophthalmologist, strongly encourage them to do so. If they have been diagnosed with an eye disease, they need regular follow-up exams.
Vision loss is often gradual, and your patient may not be aware of declining eyesight. Many people unconsciously compensate for any loss of their senses, including vision. Because you interact with the individual on a regular basis, you may notice symptoms such as the following:
- Bumping into things
- Ceasing to read or write if they enjoyed those activities in the past
- Fear of falling
- Missing objects when they reach for them
- Tilting their head to focus
- Walking with hesitation
Some of these could be due to factors other than vision loss. Or you may notice other symptoms of impaired vision. Again, encourage them to obtain an eye exam.
Whether due to age or disease, the individual loses the ability to see clearly. Most retain some vision. Statistically, only about 5% are totally blind.
The amount and kind of home healthcare required depends on other factors as well as their vision loss. The individual may have additional medical conditions. Knowing that their vision can’t be restored can leave some seniors depressed, and you may need to arrange for counseling.
Educate Family Caregivers
An essential part of your assistance is educating and supporting family caregivers. They often want to keep their senior loved one safe but don’t know what to do. Suggest that they:
- Avoid leaving their vision-impaired loved one standing alone in an open area. Having something nearby to hold on to prevents disorientation and also decreases the risk of falling.
- Encourage participation in social events. It’s too easy for individuals who don’t see well to become isolated and depressed. Although Covid-19 brought everything to a halt, activities are resuming. The vision-impaired and their family caregivers can ease into activities they enjoy.
- Refrain from referring to their loved one in the third person unless the individual is not present.
- Say hello or goodbye when entering or exiting the area occupied by their loved one. This is especially important if the individual is blind.
- Select bright and contrasting colors for clothing and items their loved one uses frequently.
- Speak in a normal voice, unless their loved one is also hearing impaired.
- Use a very large and easy-to-read font if communicating via email or text.
- Use dark ink and print in large letters if writing a note or directions.
Organizations such as LowVision provide a variety of resources and links to support groups. Most are free, including a booklet written in English and Spanish for caregivers. The site also includes updates on eye disease research.
You have the opportunity to observe and evaluate everyone’s strengths or skills. Ensure that family members and friends aren’t doing things that their loved one could do. Taking over unnecessarily leads to resentment on both sides.
A nutritious diet and adequate exercise are important. You can enlist the aid of the dietitians and physical therapists on your Pegasus team if necessary. If it appears that a family caregiver is approaching burnout, arrange for respite care.
Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. Our professional home health caregivers in Hidden Hills and our other locations have provided quality service since 1994. Our career home health care nurses are a crucial part of customizing care to meet the needs of each individual.