One of the most significant changes for an elderly person is the change to their vision. This can be the most devastating effect of aging. Loss of eyesight equates to loss of freedom and can lead to depression, too.
The elderly can suffer great losses as they age – loss of freedom, loss of family members, mobility, friends, and independence. And close to 20 percent of the aging population suffer from some type of vision problem. Common problems include:
- Cataracts – Cataracts can cause blurry vision, which, in turn, can cause difficulty reading and writing.
- Macular Degeneration – Macular degeneration impacts millions of people annually.
- Glaucoma – One of the effects of glaucoma is that individuals can only see what is directly and absolutely in front of them. This causes them to have to turn and face something that is to their left or right in order to see it.
- Diabetic retinopathy – Diabetic retinopathy causes tiny blind spots, which will in turn distort vision. This can change from one day to the next with regular vision to impaired vision on any particular given day.
Effects on Vision
There are many adverse effects to impaired vision:
* Inability to read
* Inability to drive
* Difficulty in mobility
* Trips and falls
* And even difficulty recognizing a familiar family member’s face
Devices for Seeing Assistance
There are many tools to aid in assisting the elderly with their vision loss, as well as types of medication to keep pressure in the eye down or at least stable. In addition, there are some types of surgery that can improve vision.
Assistive devices that can aid with an elderly individual’s loss of vision include:
* Voice activated caller id
* Voice activated watches
* Larger print for crossword puzzle books, books, and magazines
* Audio books
* Braille software
Devices for Walking Assistance
Along with these visual aids, sometimes an elderly person needs mobility assistance due to loss of vision such as:
* Grab bars for bath and shower
Of course, preventative steps to ensure healthy vision is the best choice. It is best to maintain healthy vision with proper eating, regular exercise (studies are beginning to show that cardiovascular exercise assists in this area), and regular eye exams.
It is also important to understand that vision loss has a direct impact on mood in elderly individuals. Vision loss means loss of freedom and independence and family members and friends need to be sensitive to this fact.
Scheduling visits with an elder, having them join in social activities in the community in their place of worship, a nursing home, or senior center are all excellent ways to make them feel part of something and still viable and useful as human beings.