Caring for Parents
December 14, 2004 10:37 AM   Subscribe

I need ideas on how to help an aging parent losing her eyesight. [mi]

My mom has had a couple surgeries for double detached retinas with some success. However this is the conversation we just had:

"I went to make myself a cheese sandwich this morning, and the bread was fuzzy."
Mom: "I hope not, I made toast this morning. How fuzzy was it?"
"Bear fuzzy."
Mom: "Jesus Christ!"

I've adjusted her computer for someone with poor sight, and her phone has huge easy-to-read buttons. But I'm looking for other suggestions from adult children slowly becoming caretakers. What items or ideas helped you and your parent? Mom is too active and quick-witted to accept coddling, and I'm always hearing I'll do it myself just before a huge clean up. Any advice would be great.
posted by FunkyHelix to Human Relations (7 answers total)

She must be losing her sense of taste too.

If she enjoys reading, most libraries in decent-size towns have large print sections.

You may also want to help her start learning braille or listening to audiobooks. Keeping a senior's mind active is mentally and physically important.
posted by u.n. owen at 10:53 AM on December 14, 2004

Lighthouse International is an organization that does a whole slew of things "vision-loss" related. They are as good a starting point as any.

A good magnifying reader is quite expensive, but worth it, IMHO.

They have a store in NYC.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 11:38 AM on December 14, 2004

It's difficult when you get that role reversal with your parents and I'm currently going through that myself so any advice would be useful to me too. Acceptance of help on the parents part is probably the more difficult than that of the child carer. And blimey they can be stubborn! I don't live with my parents and I'm lucky that my mum is still pretty active and so I don't have to help out too much with my dad who's recently become a double amputee (due to one of the many complications of diabetes). Thankfully I think he's coming around to the idea that he needs to accept my help every now and then and is finding it easier to ask. He doesn't like me to deal with the personal hygiene (and can't say I like the idea either but there's going to be a time when my mum wont be there at certain times) but I think we have found a happy medium with the more practical areas.

Luckily my dad is only suffering with cataracts at the moment regarding his eyesight so an operation in due course will help. He's always been into computers and he now can't get upstairs to his PC . To keep his brain active I've managed to get him to buy a laptop instead and have upped the settings for his eyesight at the moment. I've found that keeping an interest in something he loves helps take his mind off the physical side of things. Admittedly he's had to give up a lot of other activities but it's been helpful that finding him lots of new gadgets to help with his disabilities keeps him pretty stimulated.

I think that things will become easier for you in the role reversal from times like the toast incident so you can prevent her from another 'toast disguising as a shaggy long haired bear'!

Oh and I second the idea of audio books if she loves reading. I'd hate to think of missing out on a good story so that would help lesson the loss of eyesight.
posted by floanna at 11:42 AM on December 14, 2004

What a great reason to get that super large, super sharp HDTV you've been wanting. It may be easier for them to see too.

(Sorry, materialist, I know. But it still may be easier for them to see.)
posted by onhazier at 12:21 PM on December 14, 2004

If you can find light volunteer work that doesn't require great eyesight, this can help keep her spirits up. Doing something that helps others out will make it easier to accept declining eyesight, she won't feel like so much of a burden.

Use color-coding when she needs to distinguish between similar-looking items. Make sure things are arranged in a decent order, so it's easier to remember where something is.

Again, definitely find something that will make her feel useful. Preserve her ego, and she'll let you cover for eyesight related matters much more readily.
posted by Saydur at 12:44 PM on December 14, 2004

You should find out how to get her access to your local Radio Reading Service. They read newspapers, periodicals, and books over the radio for print-impaired customers. It's a free service (with a small donation for the radio, but if you can't afford it they'll still give you one) and it'll help bring back a little bit of the independence she's missing right now.
posted by stefanie at 2:16 PM on December 14, 2004 [1 favorite]

Thank you, stefanie. That link is providing me with a lot of info.

Thank you everyone, it's a start. Floanna, my sympathies. My mom's sight problems are also diabetic related.
posted by FunkyHelix at 3:46 PM on December 14, 2004

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