In 2004, some 3.3 million people over the age of 40 were living with blindness or low vision. Low vision meaning their reduced sight affected their daily activities. And by 2030, it’s predicted that this number will double as the rapidly aging population deals with diabetes and other chronic disease diagnosis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Home can become a common place for mishaps for the visually impaired. While it’s easy to think that our home provides the safest space for comfort and security, it’s also a place where it’s easy to let one’s guard down. This can lead to accidentslike falls and poisonings.
If you or your loved one is dealing with changes in vision, take these steps to make your home safer.
Remove Common Obstacles
When walking away from a chair be sure to push it so that it is underneath the table. Although, you may not have thought about the position of your chair in the past, pushing your chair in keeps your walking lane clear. Small modifications in your behaviors may protect you or your loved one from a fall or other injuries. The following are additional tips you might consider for a safe environment:
· Make sure hallways and common areas are clutter free.
· Keep cabinet doors and drawers closed.
· Return things to the same place, like remote controls, keys, and glasses.
· Consider organizing yourself with braille labels as well as raised dot markings. You might reach out to an organization like the American Foundation for the Blindfor assistance if you find you need braille or other assistive devices.
· Practice leaving doors either open or closed to avoid mishaps.
· Remove breakables from precarious spots.
· Have a fire escape route pre-planned. You may choose to visitthe American Red Cross for tips and tools to help you develop a fire safety plan for you and your loved one or client.
Eliminate Common Hazards
Examine your home for things and situations that could prove to be hazardous. Here are some common examples:
· Old flooring that is buckling, lifting, or gathering. For example, wood flooring that has uneven seams or old carpeting that is wrinkled and gathered from too much wear.
· Remove area rugs which are a common tripping hazard.
· Throw away all expired medications.
· Remove electrical cords from pathways.
· Keep cosmetic and personal care products like bath gel, shampoo and body lotion, as well as cleaning products like bleach and toilet cleaners clearly marked or locked away to avoid accidental ingestion.
There are several steps you can take to make moving around your home easier. You may consider using the following suggestions to improve accessibility:
● Remove furniture from walkways.
● Install bathroom grab bars.
● Stairs and steps should have handrails on one or both sides.
● Purchase accessories, such as vases and lamps with plenty of color to help locate furniture easier.
● Reduce glare by covering windows with shades or mini-blinds.
● Avoid patterned floor covering.
● Keep a comfortable chair near a window so you can do hand work in natural lighting.
According to the American Foundation for the Blind, there are several key things you should do to improve your home’s lighting.
● Use a directional lamp that you can adjust to perform tasks like cutting in the kitchen.
● Where possible, use fluorescent lighting that doesn’t cast shadows.
● Use highly concentrated incandescent lighting for all close-up activities, like reading, knitting, or doing puzzles.
● Add night lights in the bedroom, bathroom, hallway, and kitchen to help navigate in the dark.
● Add lighting to hallways and stairways.
If you’re cutting a piece of steak on a cutting board, you’ll see it better if it’s on a light-colored board. Contrastthroughout the home will improve your overall safety. Please consider the following:
● Place a dark object against a light wall. For example, a dark wood grain dining table against a light-colored wall will make it easier to see.
● Door frames should be painted a contrasting color to wall paint to make them stand out.
● Use colorful, textured tape to mark step.
● Purchase pots and pans with white interiors.
● Use a white plate on a dark placement.
● Use towels, washcloths and bath mats that contrast with the tub or shower.
Make sure to go room by room with the help of a loved one to identify any other areas that might be a danger to you. Also, take time to fill out the Home Evaluation questionnaireprovided by VisionAware. This brief survey will guide you to other items that you shouldn’t overlook. Your home should be a place where you can enjoy comfort and relaxation and feel safe. By following these steps and making some home necessary modifications, you’ll be doing just that.
About Harry Cline- Guest Author on Caregiver Support Service’s Blog
Harry Cline is creator of NewCaregiver.organd author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.