As you get older, your visual capacity diminishes. You may no longer be able to read fine print without the aid of glasses as the result of presbyopia, which begins to creep in during your 40s. You may be dealing with a more serious eye disease, such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma. Whatever the reason, if you or a loved one is trying to cope through life with declining vision, it's time to take these steps in the home to prevent injuries and enhance quality of life.
Safety First: Prevent Falls
Those who can no longer see clearly may not notice household hazards in their path that can cause them to trip, slip, stumble or fall. Take the following precautions to reduce these hazards:
- Secure all electrical cords, USB cables and other wires out of all foot traffic lanes.
- Consider eliminating the use of area throw rugs. If no one wants to part with great-Grandma's heirloom rug, tape it down, especially around its edges and corners.
- Pick up children's toys, pets' toys and other potential small obstacles off the floor.
- Avoid using wax or cleaners that leave a gleaming shine on your floors. Once light floods the room, the floors will appear as a glare that can make it difficult for someone with waning vision to see clearly.
Home Décor: Color Their World
While neutral taupe, gray, cream and beige are all the rage, pops of bright color in the home palate will help you or your loved one in the following ways:
- Brightly colored trim on doorframes, window frames and baseboards will command attention and help to guide someone around a room or toward an exit. Using brightly-colored window dressing will also define where the windows are.
- Arrange brightly colored trays and baskets around the house for corralling belongings that the individual will want to find often and easily.
- Consider installing brightly hued anti-slip treads on each step to guide someone safely up and down the staircase. Remember to place a tread on the landing point at the top and bottom of the staircase.
- Paint important hardware objects, such as wall switch plates, electrical outlet covers, stair banisters and doorknobs a contrasting bright color as well.
Let There Be Light: Brighten the Scene
Install enough lamps and overhead light fixtures to ensure that each room is brightly illuminated so that your loved one doesn't slice into his skin while cooking or pierce her finger while sewing. Preserving the ability to continue engaging in favorite pastimes is essential in maintaining an enjoyable quality of life. Remember that a glare can create a blind spot. Position wall mirrors strategically to that they are not reflecting sunlight or natural light, and place sheer curtain panels over the windows for daytime use.
Gather 'Round and Come Closer: Rearrange Seating Arrangements
Pull conversational seating pieces closer together, and rearrange televisions so that they are a little closer to the couch and bed. Nobody wants to have to squint to watch his or her favorite program or to have a conversation with a friend. Many people experience a diminishing hearing capacity in addition to faltering vision as they get older, so these rearrangements will enable such individuals to hear better as well as to see more clearly. While you are redecorating, steer clear of busy patterns on sofas, chairs and linens, and opt instead for textural patterns, which will be less challenging to the eyes' focus.
Tech Savvy: Give the Gift of a Tablet
A tablet is the ideal solution for those with decreased vision who enjoy reading, exchanging emails and viewing photographs. Many tablets provide options to view larger text, adjust the screen brightness and offer other visual aids. Tablets are also held close to the user, unlike a television, which can make watching a movie easier. Another important benefit of using a tablet is that its functions help people to stay connected to friends and family.
Following the aforementioned suggestions in the home and maintaining a regular schedule of recommended eye examinations with an optometrist or ophthalmologist can help those with age-related vision loss remain independent and see a brighter world around them to enjoy during their golden years.