As a caregiver, you want to help your loved one feel as independent as possible. Living independently with a visual impairment is not just possible, but it’s well within reach. If you’re planning on updating your current home to make it safer and more comfortable for your loved one, you don’t have to spend a ton of money. Simple modifications can make your home safer and more convenient.
By knowing how to design, illuminate, and organize your house, you’re taking the first step in helping your loved one live comfortably with a visual impairment. Keep in mind that while some of these projects are DIY, you may need to hire some help for bigger jobs, especially those that require electrical work.
Rethink your lighting and contrast
Making changes to the lighting in your home is not only inexpensive, but it’s probably the best thing you can do to make living with a visual impairment a little easier. For the most part, it’s advisable to increase the amount of light in every room of your house. This includes overhead lighting, lamps, and specialized direct lighting on desks and tables. The brighter it is, the better your loved one will be able to navigate your home.
Keep in mind that “too bright” can also cause problems, mainly with glare. Experiment with different types of light bulbs, from incandescent to halogen and LED. Work with your loved one to figure out what works best for their specific type of visual impairment.
Even if your loved one can’t make out definite shapes, text, or patterns, color is one of the strongest visual cues for most with visual impairment. Use this to your advantage. Use contrasting colors to draw attention to potential hazards in your home. Paint the edges of stairs white. Use dark-colored mats, grips, and fixtures on light-colored appliances and fixtures.
Invest in kitchenware and prevent bathroom falls
You spend a lot of time in the kitchen. However, for the visually impaired, it can be one of the most challenging rooms of the house to make comfortable. Not only should you apply lighting and contrast principles to the kitchen, but you should invest in some basic kitchen equipment that will make your loved one’s cooking experience not only more enjoyable, but a whole lot safer.
VisionAware suggests some specialized tools, like “long oven mitts to protect hands and arms from hot surfaces; a low-vision timer with large, raised, high-contrast numbers, such as white numbers on a black background; a boil alert disc to know when water is boiling and to keep liquid from boiling over; [and] a double spatula to avoid spills when turning foods.”
Your number one goal when it comes to bathroom safety is preventing falls. First make sure the bathroom is well lit. Next, you should add non-stick flooring and grab bars and a railing wherever it’s most practical. You should also add a non-slip mat in the bathtub or shower.
Don’t be afraid to hire some help
Despite your best efforts, amid all your caregiving duties, it can be hard to keep the house clean. However, it’s especially important to maintain a tidy home for those with a visual impairment. Clutter leads to potential hazards.
You should consider hiring a part-time or full-time housekeeper, depending on your specific needs. The cost will depend on which company you hire, how large your home is, and how often you schedule the cleaning services. Do your research to find the best housekeeping services in your area.
Remember: it’s not only OK, but in many cases, recommended, that you accept a little help in order to help your loved one maintain their independence. Plus, having a little extra help frees up time for you to take care of yourself and avoid caregiver burnout.
As a caregiver, it is crucial that you modify your home environment to meet the needs of your loved one while helping them maintain a sense of normalcy. Small changes, such as additional lighting and color contrast, modified kitchen equipment, and extra help to keep the home tidy, are all great ways to help your visually impaired loved one. You support your loved one 100 percent, so make sure your home does, too.
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