As older adults age, visual impairment and hearing problems can become an everyday reality. In order to enhance quality of life and live to the fullest, you may need to find ways to cope. We’re here to help with some of the information and resources you may need to navigate hearing and vision loss.
Most often, low vision and vision impairments are caused by eye diseases and conditions. This is very common. People with low vision may experience a range of signs prior to diagnosis. These can include:
- Blurry or hazy vision
- Dark spots in your vision, either centrally or peripherally
- Trouble seeing at night or in low-light conditions
- Sensitivity to light
- Trouble driving or reading
- Issues recognizing people’s faces
Eye diseases and conditions may be able to be corrected or slowed by regular eye appointments and exams, so if you notice changes, schedule a visit with a professional.
Once a diagnosis has been made, learn as much as you can about your particular visual impairment. Some of the most prevalent are cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration. There are plenty more, so doing your research can be helpful to figure out what can be done or what will help you.
Low vision can cause some challenges in your mental health. It’s normal to feel depressed or even frustrated, but these changes are out of your control. Instead of being socially isolated, find ways to enhance the vision you do have. We’ll outline some techniques below.
There are many low-vision aids and devices that can help assist you on your journey with low vision. According to the Cleveland Clinic, some include:
- Special telescopic or magnifying glasses
- Lenses that filter light
- Hand magnifiers
- Reading prisms
- Closed-circuit televisions
The devices you use may be helpful with dealing with low vision, too. According to Harvard Health, you can:
- Enlarge fonts or zoom in on photographs or text
- Have your computer or phone read documents, texts, or emails to you
- Use apps that magnify images
- Try apps that see for you, like Seeing AI or Lookout by Google
- Listen to audiobooks instead of reading
- Use virtual assistant apps or smart devices
Harvard Health shares that it could be helpful to:
- Use high-contrast, large-font labels on anything you need help identifying
- Make smart swaps with large-print phones, remotes, thermometers, computer keyboards, blood pressure cuffs, and more
- Add more lighting with automatic night lights and extra lamps, which can also help with orientation and mobility
- If night driving is difficult, arrange for someone to drive you at night, or, if you can no longer drive, use a ride service
There are many causes of hearing loss. People with hearing loss most often experience it because of prolonged exposure to loud noises, not following proper hearing care, health conditions, medications and genetics, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA). If you begin to notice any of the following signs shared by the NIA, you may be dealing with hearing loss.
- Trouble understanding what people are saying
- Finding it hard to follow conversations
- Asking people to repeat themselves
- Needing to turn up the TV and music volume so loud that others complain
Some types of hearing loss can be managed, so it’s a good idea to do your research. For those that can, your doctor can point you in the direction of support and resources.
It could also be helpful to join a support group so that you can connect with others dealing with the same hearing issues.
The NIA shares that if you have trouble hearing, it can help to communicate what helps you with others. Make sure loved ones know you’re dealing with this issue, ask them to speak clearly, and let them know if you don’t understand.
Hearing devices like hearing aids and cochlear implants can help with hearing loss. If you’re interested in these devices, contact a professional.
We’ve come a long way since using pen and paper to communicate, though it still certainly helps! According to AARP, there are some additional things you can do to combat hearing loss, like:
- Using captioning apps for smartphones
- Bringing assistive listening devices with you when you’re out
- Trying speech-boosting apps
- Using an amplified or captioned landline
AARP also shares that by adapting to your social setting, you may be able to make coping with hearing loss easier.
- Meet somewhere with limited background noise
- Have intimate conversations in a quieter place
- Visit restaurants during off-peak hours
- If you’re at a party or wedding, sit far away from the DJ
- Make sure the lighting is bright enough to see facial expressions
Schedule a visit today to learn more about our premier independent living community designed to enrich life for seniors 62 and over. Waterstone at the Circle offers beautiful rental apartments as well as access to supportive care services on site.