Ask an Angel: October 19, 2017

Our Ask An Angel correspondent is Arlene Petersen, Life Care Navigation Specialist in the area of senior home care.

Q. I’ve noticed my mom’s vision is getting worse over time. She is a proud person and has never wanted help around the house. However, her home is not kept up in the way she typically keeps it up. It seems like she is letting things go, but I think it is because she can’t see well. How can I help without overstepping?

A. I completely understand how frustrating it is when our vision declines. I have readers in strategic places in my home to help my visual challenges! In any case, when our vision declines, we do “miss” things. It is important to keep tabs on your mom’s vision loss because it can lead to safety issues that are very critical. Our vision affects how we read our medications, how to follow instructions on packages, and how we drive, just to name a few. Most importantly, consult an eye doctor to discuss her eye health. Personally, take time to notice how she is handling other activities of daily living, and put things in place to help her remain safe at home. For example, examine what type of lighting she has in her home, specifically in work areas. Ensuring that proper lighting is in place can be a good first step to help her see what is around her. When a home is dark, a fall risk could be at hand. Has her handwriting changed? How is she doing with laundry? Are there stains on her clothing that she cannot see? Is she handling her finances without trouble? These are just a few signs that she may need assistance with activities of daily living. While you mentioned she is very proud, it might be time for a gentle conversation about getting a helping hand at home. This conversation should be one that promotes her dignity and sense of purpose. You can step in and help her, or you can also enlist the help of a professional. A simple first step may be a cleaning service. If she needs more help, a professional caregiver might be an option. In a nutshell, a caregiver simply helps with the goal of independence and success in the home. If she understands your desire is to promote her independence, she may be open to exploring various ideas.

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