Whether caused by glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, macular degeneration, side effects of regular medication, or other reasons, low vision affects many seniors. Impaired eyesight can interfere with leisure activities such as reading and watching television, which has the potential to disrupt day-to-day living, hinder engagement, and even lead to depression.
If you or your loved one is coping with low vision, know that there are resources available to help resume or continue these favorite pastimes. Read on for some common alternatives to traditional print and film media, and discover how consulting with an in-home occupational therapist may be your best resource of all.
Many seniors with low vision are still able to read by sight, so long as the text is large and bold enough (and with an added boost from improved home lighting). The large-print format is gaining ground, with a wealth of books, periodicals, magazines, and national newspapers available. Start your search at a nearby library, ask bookstore staff, find a local organization for the blind, or investigate online retailers or publisher websites.
If reading written text is not feasible, audio books are also plentiful and available to rent, borrow, or buy: try perusing the selection at your local library, or explore convenient digital download possibilities. Audio book titles range from recent bestsellers to textbooks to the classics; you can even find versions narrated by celebrity actors.
Computer, tablet, and smartphone technology can bring the whole world right in front of your eyes — or ears. Some of the benefits technology can provide for seniors with low vision include:
- Font size can be increased, whether through a keystroke or (for touch screens) simple gestures.
- Text-to-speech technology can read aloud anything from an article to an e-mail message, and the reverse (speech-to-text) allows the user to respond in kind.
- Resources for many religions are available online, in the form of books, audio lessons, Bible verses, and websites optimized for individuals with low vision.
- Many universities and public radio outlets across the country provide online access to written materials that were previously only available in print. Consider approaching one of these local resources, or start browsing to find trusted sources for local happenings and global knowledge.
For a person with low vision, the television set may no longer be the best way to watch video content: TVs are often positioned far across the room, and glare might interfere with visibility. Rather, a laptop computer screen or tablet, coupled with a video streaming service, can position a screen comfortably closer for anytime viewing. Many broadcast television programs are available online for free; other shows, as well as movies, can be accessed through popular subscription programs.
Get the Latest Tips and Guidance
Adaptive technologies and resources for low vision are constantly evolving, and there are many options for seniors with low vision to keep up with their favorite interests, news, and communication. To better understand the possibilities and to learn the latest advances and tips, consider working with an in-home occupational therapist. In addition to providing guidance about adaptive equipment, an occupational therapist can give instructions on proper usage as well as suggesting practical improvements throughout the home for improved safety and independence.
To determine whether you or your loved one might benefit from in-home occupational therapy or other home care services from Residential Home Health, call (888)930-WELL (9355) to discuss your specific situation with a Home Care Specialist today.