If you have an aging parent who has been diagnosed with macular degeneration, you may have already witnessed the fright your parent is experiencing at the thought of possibly becoming blind. Someone with macular degeneration may become angry or depressed when faced with the potential loss of independence, but there are many things that can be done to allow that person to live at home and maintain a great deal of independence.
What is macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration is a disease that causes deterioration in the part of the eye called the macula, which is in the center of the retina. Macular degeneration impacts vision with blind spots or distortion in the center of the field of vision. There are two types of macular degeneration: wet and dry. Wet macular degeneration is much more aggressive and results in the majority of blindness in people over the age of 50. Dry macular degeneration progresses much more slowly, but may still interfere with things like driving, reading, and working.
You can help your aging parent live at home with macular degeneration by making adjustments to the home and lifestyle. While it is likely that your parent will eventually have to stop driving, there are many other activities he or she will be able to keep enjoying. Living at home with macular degeneration is not only possible, but highly encouraged; there are support groups and resources available to help in nearly every community.
Help your aging parent take an active role in maintaining health and prolonging vision as long as possible. Encourage your parent to eat plenty of foods with vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, and beta carotene. Make sure he or she has strong, UV-protective sunglasses to shield the eyes from the sun whenever going outside. Motivate your aging parent to stay active, exercise, and maintain body weight. By remaining healthy physically and mentally, your parent is more likely to be able to live at home with macular degeneration.
You can enable your parent to live at home by encouraging development of the other senses. Buy books on CD; help organize closets and clothes so that he or she can associate the texture of the fabric with the clothing; encourage strengthening peripheral vision by practicing with it as often as possible.
Help explore technological options like optical devices that make it easier to see the TV, the computer screen, and even a restaurant menu. Help anticipate the changes in vision by making adjustments to your parent’s home. Install additional lighting in hallways and closets, and safety rails in hallways; make sure stairways are well lit and safe; move furniture out of the middle of rooms or reduce the amount of furniture altogether.
Your aging parent’s ability to remain independent and at home will help overcome the distress he or she may feel at facing such a devastating disease. Everything you do to help maintain that independence and learn to cope will improve your parent’s quality of life and level of contentment.