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As a family caregiver in California, you may find yourself facing the complicated and emotionally challenging task of supporting a loved one experiencing vision loss. Vision loss can be caused by all sorts of things and it can have a profound impact on your loved one’s daily life. In this article, we’ll offer guidance to help you spot vision changes and give you tips for supporting your visually impaired loved one. Let’s dive in.

Understanding Vision Loss: Signs to Look For

Understanding the underlying causes of vision loss is the first step in providing support. Conditions like age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma are common culprits. Be vigilant about recognizing the signs and symptoms of vision loss, which may include: 

  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty reading
  • Peripheral vision reduction
  • Etc.

You can spot these by noticing things like new dents and scratches on their car, difficulty reading menus or street signs, or excessive squinting when they’re trying to focus. Early detection and diagnosis are crucial for managing the condition effectively.

The Importance of Early Detection

When speaking to your loved one about their vision, be sure to emphasize the importance of regular eye exams. Early detection can significantly slow the progression of vision loss and help preserve your loved one’s remaining vision. 

There’s a common misconception that nothing can be done once vision is compromised, but that’s not the case and an important misconception to dispell.

Communicating with Your Loved One As Vision Changes

It’s important to understand the emotional impact of vision loss. Losing that sense can be terrifying. If you suspect vision changes, initiate open and empathetic communication with your loved one about them. Encourage them to express their feelings, fears, and concerns. Feelings of frustration, anxiety, and grief are common, and it’s important they recognize they’re not alone in this. Your willingness to listen and offer support can make a significant difference in their emotional well-being.

Discussing Impact on Daily Life

Not only will they have strong emotions and fears about the prospect of vision loss, it will also affect their daily life and independence. That’s why it’s important to specifically address concerns regarding personal safety, mobility, and daily activities. As you discuss, encourage your loved one to actively participate in healthcare decisions to help instill a sense of autonomy over their care future.

6 Things To Do As Your Loved One Loses Their Vision

As your loved one’s vision worsens, it can be hard to know exactly what to do beyond communicating about it and discussing it with their healthcare team.

Here are some additional things to do in this time:

1. Home Safety and Accessibility

Make necessary adaptations to the home environment to enhance safety and accessibility. Consider things like the arrangement of furniture and the quality of lighting in different rooms. Ensuring a clutter-free and well-lit space can significantly improve your loved one’s confidence and independence.

2. Organize and Label

Clearly labeling items and using contrasting colors can do wonders for simplifying daily tasks for the visually impaired. Organize items in a logical and consistent way to help your loved one find what they need on their own, whether or not you’re there to help.

3. Seek Support Services

For both you and your loved one, it can be incredibly beneficial to seek out local support groups and counseling services in California. Sharing experiences and coping strategies with others facing similar challenges can be immensely beneficial. These resources provide emotional support not only to the visually impaired individual but also to caregivers. 

4. Plan for an Emergency

Most of us, usually unintentionally, avoid emergency preparedness conversations. But if your loved one’s vision is failing, it’s an important conversation to have. Here are some tips for this conversation:

  • Create a disaster box. Have a designated area for keepsakes and equipment in the event of an earthquake, fire or power outage. Make it easy to grab what’s needed and practice your emergency plan.
  • Create neighborhood helpers. If your loved one can’t drive, they may not be able to evacuate or get help when needed. Who is nearby that can help? Make sure thye know to check in on your loved one in the event of an emergency.
  • Create a contact and prescription list. Make sure you know how to get ahold of their doctors/care team and have a list of what prescriptions they’re taking in the event of an emergency.

5. Help Them Pursue Hobbies and Activities

Support your loved one in pursuing hobbies and activities they enjoy. Engaging in activities they are passionate about can boost their self-esteem and overall morale. Celebrate their achievements and encourage them to set and achieve realistic goals.

6. Make Legal and Financial Considerations

Finally, take some time to address any pertinent legal and financial concerns (for example, documents like powers of attorney and advance directives). Plan for managing healthcare expenses and explore government programs and assistance available in California to support individuals with vision loss.

Though it may feel odd or morbid, these conversations help you ensure that your loved one’s rights and interests are protected. Seek legal and financial advice when needed to make informed decisions that safeguard their well-being.

Closing Thoughts

Navigating vision loss is tricky, but you’re not alone in this challenge. Your empathy and support are invaluable in helping your loved one maintain their quality of life despite vision loss.

As a family caregiver in California, we invite you to check out our library of free resources. To get more information about the resources we have available to you as a California caregiver, contact us at the California Caregiver Resource Center nearest to you or join CareNav for free today. 

Further Reading: How to Support Independent Living: Keeping Your Loved One Safe and in Their Home

As a family caregiver in California, you know that supporting your aging loved ones at home is a growing challenge. You are essential in helping them stay independent. In this guide to independent living, we’ll show you how to safely support your loved one(s) in their independent living goals. Click here to read all about it.

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