My dad had double vision when he entered his 90′s. Nothing that the eye doctor did seemed to really help and my dad really didn’t want an operation on his eyes. So my brother did what he could — he simply had one of dad’s eyeglass lenses darkened. And that seemed to work.
Most people do experience some sort of vision impairment as they age. Difficulty reading begins around the age of 40 (as most of you reading this no doubt already know). Cataracts can appear with advancing age; but are easily treated and are covered by Medicare. Glaucoma can cause optic nerve damage. My mom had macular degeneration — a condition that makes it more difficult for seeing fine details in the center of your vision. Diabetes can cause failing vision. You should have your eyes checked at regular intervals. And observe your parents — are they having trouble seeing? Sometimes this comes on so gradually, we don’t notice. But we need to, so we can help.
So if you parents have failing vision, what can you do to make their home safer?
1. If there are steps going into or inside the home, you are going to what to paint them a bright color or put brightly colored tape of some sort on the steps — so your parents can see the steps more easily.
2. Use night lights as much as you can. We had them all over my dad’s room, in his bathroom and the hallway. They helped quite a bit. If you can install the type of night light that comes on automatically when it gets dark, that would be best. that way your parent doesn’t have to remember to turn the lights on every evening.
3. Try to ensure that the level of light throughout the home is even. Moving from a brightly lit room to a darker one can make it difficult for seniors to refocus. If relocating from a bright room to a darkened room, step into the darkened room and stop, let your eyes adjust completely before taking the second step.
4. Remove scatter or throw rugs. These are so easy to trip over. If a rug is needed, try a rubber backed rug that won’t slip. Still — a shuffling foot can catch these — so it’s best to remove them completely.
5. Make sure light switches, whether they be on the wall or on a lamp — are easy to see and reach. If you can paint the light switch panel a bright color — that would be really helpful. On lamp switches where’s there’s a chain — add something to the end of the chain like a ping pong ball — so they are more easily pulled. Lamp’s that might using a turner — are the most difficult for seniors to use. I would avoid them if possible.