How common is vision impairment among seniors?
While there is currently no single, agree-upon definition for the terms “low vision,” “vision loss,” or “visually impaired,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that around 12 million people over the age of 40 are afflicted by some degree of vision loss. For many, this can be as simple as slight blurriness, nearsightedness, or farsightedness. For others, this vision loss could be as severe as partial or total blindness.
Unfortunately, the older we get, the more likely we are to suffer from vision loss. Usually, this is due to factors such as:
- Cataracts, which can cause blurred vision
- Diabetic retinopathy, which causes spotty vision
- Glaucoma, which can cause peripheral vision loss
- Macular degeneration, which can cause central vision loss
As common as poor eyesight is for seniors, this doesn’t mean that your quality of life or your ability to enjoy fun activities with friends or loved ones has to suffer. In fact, there are a number of great activities for vision impaired seniors that can be especially engaging, even if your loved one has relocated to a nursing home or long-term care facility.
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What are some engaging activities for vision impaired seniors?
While it may take some time and some trial and error to find engaging activities that your older, visually impaired loved one will enjoy and appreciate, there are a number of interesting things you can try. Courtesy of Nursing Home Reviews, check out the following activities you may wish to try with them:
Medical professionals have been singing the praises of physical activity for generations, and that’s for good reason. Fitness has been shown to not only boost circulation and overall physical health, but it’s also been shown to boost mood and improve mental wellness too.
For older, visually impaired seniors, gentle exercises such as yoga or aqua aerobics can go a long way in improving one’s overall mindset, which in turn can dramatically improve their physical well-being.
Is your loved one’s recent vision loss interfering with their love of the written word? No worries, this can be easily rectified by participating in a story time session where you can read your loved one’s favorite books, genres, or tales aloud to them.
Even if you can’t be there to read to them in person, you always have the option to get them interested in audiobooks, where they can catch up on the books they’ve always wanted to read simply by listening along.
Join a Social Group
These days, there’s a support group for practically everything. If your loved one is someone who enjoys socializing, why not find a group of other visually impaired people and encourage them to join for some good, old-fashioned support and socialization. Sometimes, a good conversation can rectify many everyday difficulties.
Practically everyone loves petting and playing with cute furry animals. Interacting with these adorable creatures isn’t always just about fun either. In fact, some people find that touching or engaging with a pet to be therapeutic and soothing.
If your loved one has a beloved pet at home, why not bring them in for a visit every so often? Even if they don’t have a pet of their own, you can always find out what sport of animals they like and invite someone with docile and relaxing pets to come and spend some time with your loved one.
Listen to Music or Podcasts
Long before the internet or television, it was radio that kept people entertained and informed. Luckily for us, radio still exists in large capacity today, albeit in a slightly different context. These days, many people are finding interesting sources of entertainment from audio-only podcasts that cover a wide range of topics from true crime, to pop culture, to history, to science. There truly is something for everyone when it comes to audio-exclusive entertainment these days.
Even if podcasts aren’t your loved one’s thing, they may still enjoy listening to their favorite music, including songs and albums they are familiar with, or entirely new sounds that may interest them. Try exploring online music streaming services, which often feature specialized music stations, and see how your loved one reacts to them.
Like exercise, the positive effects of nature on physical and mental health are well-documented. Try taking your loved one for an extended walk outside for some fresh air and sunshine. If your loved one has difficulty with mobility, you could always opt for a wheelchair or perhaps even a nice car ride through the countryside where you can describe the passing scenery to them while they take in the smells and sounds of the environment around them.
Large-Print Board or Card Games
If your loved one suffers from a milder form of visual impairment, you will likely be pleased to know that there are a plethora of card games, board games, and even word puzzles that are presented in large-print format specifically with the intent to make them more accessible to visually impaired individuals.
Large print playing cards, as well as themed large-print decks of cards like Go Fish or Old Maid can be a great gift for vision impaired seniors. There also exist fun, simple, large-print matching games or sets of raised dot dominoes that may also be of interest to a senior who has poor eyesight.
The most important thing to remember when it comes to your visually impaired elder loved one is to utilize your knowledge of their preferences and interests when attempting to get them to try new things. Remember that interests can change over time, so don’t be afraid to encourage them to try something entirely different as well.
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