7 Tips For Adjusting to Legal Blindness in the Family

When my husband was declared legally blind in 1988, we immediately began searching out ways to cope and organize our home. His attitude has always been “it could be something worse.” His positive approach to his disability has been an inspiration to us all. He has always had fun and laughed often — and he has continued in that same spirit.

Here are a few quick tips for you:

1. The knobs and drawer pulls on your kitchen cabinets should be significantly darker or lighter than the cabinets themselves. Repaint the hardware until your legally blind family member can easily make that distinction.

2. Discard all socks and start over. Buy one color of socks and buy about 7 pair of that one color. Do not purchase other colors of socks. You want your family member to be as self-sufficient as possible. Same color socks will help — no matching required.

3. Buy printed or striped tops and solid pants or skirts. Coordinate all clothing so that no matter which item is chosen, it will match any other top or bottom. This is very simple with men. We buy navy and khaki pants. My husband has golf shirts of all colors. And all will match the navy and khaki, so he is able to dress himself and always looks coordinated.

4. Purchase “bubbles” to use on the remote control, microwave and telephone. These clear plastic bubbles are very inexpensive and are available from merchants who specialize in items to assist the handicapped. The bubbles are self-sticking. Simply add bubbles to areas your patient deems convenient.

5. You will also want to paint stairways in bright colors, especially the edges of stair steps. A strip of reflective tape might be helpful also. As with any of these ideas, you will need to adjust them to your patient’s particular visual acuity.

6. It is best not to rearrange furniture. However, if moving furniture becomes necessary, be sure your legally blind family member knows exactly what has been moved.

7. When serving food, inform the patient of the location of the food by use of a clock face. For example, “Your chicken is at 2:00 and your beans are at 5:00.” After a few weeks, you will automatically do this quickly and quietly.

I hope these 7 tips will be helpful. You will discover new ways of adjusting as you live with this situation. Never hesitate to ask questions or to seek support.

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