COMMUNICATION TIPS - VISUAL LIMITATIONS
With aging comes changes in vision, including the need for increased light and contrast and, for many, there is a sensitivity to glare. In addition, a person may be dealing with vision changes related to cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, loss of sight in one eye, or difficulty seeing items either on the far right or left side as a result of stroke.
When modifications are made to accommodate some of those changes in vision, an older adult may be able to participate in activities more comfortably and be safer in their own environment.
- Make sure the person is wearing his or her own eyeglasses.
- Keep their glasses clean. If they are having trouble with manual dexterity, such a simple task can be difficult.
- Introduce yourself when you walk into the room if their sight is significantly limited.
- Address them by name so they know you are talking to them or waiting to shake their hand.
- Explain to them what you are doing or describe what is happening. Be specific.
- It is helpful if you explain where you are placing items or where specific food items are located on a plate.
- Make sure there is sufficient light, especially when they are reading, working on an activity or moving around an area. Inadequate light can promote some unsafe conditions.
- Determine which size print will be easiest for them to see. Whenever necessary, provide them with large-print reading material or get the information enlarged.
- Glare can be bothersome to an older adult, so be aware of where they are seated. Facing the direction of bright light from a window could be annoying for them.
- Sometimes busy patterns on clothes or carpeting, tablecloths, etc., might be difficult for them to see.
- Offer enough contrast since they may not easily identify the last step on a flight of stairs or a light-colored object on a white or neutral background.
- If they have cataracts, provide sufficient lighting in the room.
- If they have macular degeneration, sit to one side or the other since they have more difficulty seeing objects directly in front of them.
- If they have lost the sight in one eye or have a vision loss on one side due to a stroke, sit on the side where they have better vision and approach them from that side.
- If they are having problems keeping their place when reading, try holding a narrow piece of colored paper under the line they are reading to help keep their place.
- Be on the lookout for things in their environment that could be potentially hazardous. Notice and assist them with the necessary changes, especially if there is loose carpeting, throw rugs, oxygen cords, etc., over which they might trip.
- Do not move items to places that you feel might be more appropriate without checking with them first. Communicate any environmental changes that have to be made.
- Let them do as much as they can do safely. Provide assistance or supervision when safety is a concern.
Communication Connection © 2004