Your elderly father has always been a strong and independent man, but lately something’s changed. You’ve noticed him squinting at the TV screen more, his driving has become erratic and he fell down the stairs (again). You suspect that dad is having vision issues.
According to a study published at American Family Physician, by age 65 roughly one-in-three adults have some form of vision-reducing disease. As an informal caregiver, here’s how to know for sure if your senior parent is experiencing vision issues and what you can do to help.
Common Vision Issues a Senior May Experience
The National Eye Institute has identified these common age-related vision problems in the elderly:
Glaucoma. Glaucoma describes several different conditions, all of which can damage the optic nerve, resulting in impaired vision and even blindness.
Macular degeneration. This age-related condition causes part of the retina to lose function, which affects a senior’s ability to maintain sharp, central vision.
Cataracts. A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens, which makes objects look blurry. Cataracts can also exacerbate glare and diminish one’s ability to perceive colors.
Diabetic retinopathy. As one of the complications from diabetes, retinopathy is caused by damaged blood vessels in the retina.
Low vision. Low vision describes a reduction in eye function that may make reading, watching TV and performing other routine activities more challenging.
Signs of Vision Loss in Seniors
If you suspect that your elderly loved one has vision loss look for these telltale signs:
- Frequently bumping into objects or knocking them over
- Squinting or tilting their head to focus
- Slip, trip and fall accidents
- Unexplained dents and scratches on their car
- Missing or spilling items when reaching for them
- Hesitant to walk or move
- Avoiding everyday tasks like reading the mail, cooking or driving
- Mixing up household items, foodstuffs or boxes
Left unaddressed, progressive vision loss could place your parent’s independence at risk.
Vision Health Tips for Older Adults
As their caregiver here are several vision health tips you can use to keep your parent safe and comfortable:
Share your concerns
Based on what you’ve observed sit down and respectfully share your concerns with mom or dad. If they deny any problems at first be patient-yet-persistent. Once they admit that they have vision issues offer to help. The worst thing you can do is ignore the problem.
Schedule them an eye exam
To proactively prevent eye disease the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that all seniors get a complete eye exam every year. Schedule an eye appointment for your parent and then offer to join them so you can hear what the doctor has to say. Sometimes an updated eyeglass prescription and new set of lenses is all it takes.
Encourage healthier eating habits
For older adults, diet can be a major factor for maintaining and even strengthening their vision. Encourage your senior to eat nutrient-rich foods as part of a well-balanced diet, including those that specifically benefit vision. Leafy greens, fish, omega-3 eggs, nuts, citrus fruits and carotenoid-rich vegetables all “eye-healthy” choices.
Ensure medication compliance
Medications for glaucoma, diabetes and other eye-related health conditions need to be taken as prescribed. Help your parent devise a medication management system that ensures total compliance. If picking up their drugs or remembering their refills are problematic, set them up with an online pharmacy like PillPack that offers to-the-door deliveries.
Another Pair of Eyes in Your Loved One’s Home
Caring for an senior parent with vision issues is never easy, especially when the vision loss is permanent. When you need assistance, contact New Wave Home Care. While serving as another pair of eyes in your loved one’s home, one of our skilled caregivers will keep them safe and comfortable so they can continue living right where they want to be. Our professionals use a unique caregiving approach that’s all about compassion and connection, delivered with a personal touch so that our clients can experience a degree of joy.
We support clients and their families with personalized in-home services like personal care, transitional care, specialized care, respite care, medication reminders, dementia and Alzheimer’s care, hospice support and more. At New Wave Home Care, it’s not just about caregiving. It’s about heart! To read our glowing client testimonials now, or to set up a FREE in-home assessment for a senior in the greater Los Angeles area, please visit us at: www.newwavehomecare.com.