5 Ways to Help Someone with Macular Degeneration Thrive
Being a caregiver for an elderly loved one isn’t easy, particularly if they have an illness that affects their interaction with the world around them. One such illness is an advanced eye disease called macular degeneration. As the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in the elderly, this condition begins from deterioration of the central part of the eye called the macula, which is a small area of the retina that allows us to see fine details clearly. For example, the macula is what enables you to do tasks like thread a needle, read fine print, or distinguish minute details in images.
Adjusting to life with macular degeneration can be difficult both for the individual effected and the person who acts as their caregiver, especially because, as the name of the condition suggests, the condition will gradually progress to complete vision loss. As their caregiver, you must be prepared to help with their physical, mental, and emotional needs.
Depending on the amount of vision they have lost and how advanced their condition is, they may require your help with the following tasks:
- Detail-oriented tasks like paperwork, shopping, or cooking
- Finding suitable low-vision aids
- Contacting social support services for adults
- Making adaptations to the home
- Transporting them to appointments or other visits
Supporting Your Loved One with Macular Degeneration
1.Find an ophthalmologist who specializes in low vision.
A board-certified ophthalmologist is a physician trained in managing elderly patients who have visual impairments such as glaucoma, cataracts, or macular degeneration, among other conditions. These specialists will evaluate the degree of vision loss and help teach your loved one about adaptive devices they can use in their home to help ease burdensome symptoms of their condition. They can also recommend a variety of magnification devices like spectacles, high-tech vision aids, and more.
- Ask them to describe what they can and cannot see to make home adaptations.
It’s helpful to gain the perspective of your loved one who has vision loss so you can make adjustments. These may include installing brighter home lighting, changing the layouts of the rooms in your home, and buying vision aids and equipment. All of these changes help reduce their risk of falling. You can also make their ability to interact with household items easier, such as by pairing a brightly colored toothbrush against a white background so they can locate it easier. Remember that any of the changes you make should suit your loved one’s needs rather than being an adaptation that you think will be right for them.
- Take the time to learn about macular degeneration.
By researching the condition, you’ll understand what it looks like when the macula fails to work as it should and images become unclear. Doing so will enable you to empathize with your loved one so you can engage in more meaningful conversations. You could also find support groups for your loved one so they can have the opportunity to talk with those who understand their condition and can learn how to better cope with low vision.
- Help them through the grieving process of losing their sight.
Gradually becoming vision-impaired is challenging for anyone and takes time to process emotionally. Commonly, those who are diagnosed with it may experience shock and denial, particularly if they are diagnosed before symptoms have set in. They may then experience the remaining 5 stages of grief, such as bargaining, depression, and anger before they reach acceptance. Remember that grief is a cyclical process, so they may go through these emotions time and time again.
- Encourage commitment to a healthy lifestyle.
People with macular degeneration should be dedicated to physical activity and keeping their hearts pumping. There are non-intimidating forms of low-impact exercise perfect for people with low vision, such as yoga, brisk walking, or riding a stationary bike. Likewise, encourage your loved one to eat healthy food, particularly those that contain eye-health-boosting nutrients like carotenoids, such as potatoes, cantaloupe, spinach, and corn.
Contact At Home Healthcare for In-Home Caregiving Help
Looking for in-home caregiving assistance in Texas? When you need us, At Home Healthcare can help. Contact our team of caregivers today and learn more about how we provide assistance to elderly adults with macular degeneration and a variety of other conditions brought on by advanced age. Our empathetic, compassionate caregivers are only a call away.
To reach At Home Healthcare for a consultation, please call (877) 959-9093.