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  • Ann Hollander

Coping with vision loss


It's common for those newly diagnosed with a vision-loss condition to feel anxious and depressed. Understandably so! They worry about losing their independence. Also, that they will need help with many activities of life. This in turn suggests a loss of privacy. Many newly diagnosed persons report a sudden lack of confidence and feelings of worthlessness.

If this describes your loved one, allow them time to grieve. Time to mentally and emotionally adjust. They might even benefit from the assistance of a counselor or therapist.

And take heart. There is good reason to believe that your loved one's attitude will come around. A survey of older adults who are living with significant vision loss revealed that 84% report feeling more positive and confident now than they did when they were first diagnosed.

Those respondents who expressed a willingness to adapt continued to lead full and rewarding lives. They felt they were still in control. Paradoxically, such resilience was best achieved by those who reached out for help.

Here's what those with vision loss recommended for people newly diagnosed:

  • Join a low-vision support group. Learn that you are not alone. At the least, find a person with the same vision-loss condition to share concerns and solutions.

  • Learn about the condition and advocate for your needs.

  • Ask the doctor for a referral to a low-vision specialist for adjustment classes. For instance, adaptive living skills to learn how to prepare meals and modify the house for independence. Or orientation and mobility classes to learn balance and navigation.

  • Be open to new devices and technology.

  • Find out about local vision support services.

  • Be patient. Take one day at a time.

As a family caregiver, you will have your own emotional response to the diagnosis. It's natural to want to "help." Rather than do things for your loved one, help them stay independent and in control of their life. Doubtless they will experience frustration and challenges. You will need to be patient and encourage them to figure out how to do things anew. Demonstrating your belief in their ability to overcome problems will be the greatest service of all.

Is your relative facing a low-vision diagnosis?

As the North Shore and Chicago experts in family caregiving, we at Options for Aging understand that this is a condition that affects the entire family. You don't have to go through this on your own. Give us a call at 847-868-1445.

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