Safety First: Preparing Your New Home for the Visually Impaired: An article written by Jackie Waters.
One of the major causes of accidents in the home is lack of preparation. If you are experiencing loss of vision or low vision, there are certain steps you need to implement in your home to maintain safety and functionality. Have a family member or close friend assist you in making the changes necessary in your home and give yourself time to get familiar with your new surroundings. Ensuring your safety and that of others is the best way to navigate and adapt to living with a visual impairment.
If you have been a resident in your current home for quite some time, chances are you have accumulated a lot of belongings. While you have the help, sort through everything and rid of anything that is no longer of use or deemed to be potentially hazardous. This one step alone can lessen your chances of an accident tremendously. Store clothing in the proper dresser or bin, and allow yourself to get acquainted with your sense of texture and touch. Use your hands to locate identifying factors on your clothing such as buttons and zippers. Mark your dressers with bump dots to help you locate your clothes with ease.
When it comes to your entertainment areas, you will want to make sure a clear walkway is in place. Eliminate bulky furniture and move tables and chairs closer to the wall. Keep all plugs and cords out of the floor as well. Check your stairs for loose or raised carpeting and have it replaced immediately. Be sure to place non-slip rugs or tape in your tub or shower and install grab bars where needed. Riding of clutter and creating space guarantees you the ability to be able to move about freely and comfortably without the stress of slipping or falling.
Your kitchen will be the next area of concentration, as it houses the most hazardous equipment in the home. Use a tactile pin to place raised marks on all appliances that have settings. Mark your coffee maker, oven, stove settings as well as your microwave. You want to prevent the chance of burns, fires and accidents.
Your pantry and refrigerator should be stocked in an order that will be easy for you to reach in and grab exactly what it is that you want. Store all your items on designated shelves and label each shelf. Get in the habit of putting things away right after use, as repetition will aid you in becoming more comfortable around the home. If you have guests, make them aware of the labels and ask that they place everything the use back where it belongs. This eliminates stress and confusion and creates habit, which is a key element in asserting your independence.
You will also need to have a landline phone installed in your home as well. There are several options available for the visually impaired, some with a cord and others without, depending on your preference. It is wise to invest in a phone with a large keypad to enable you to see the numbers as you are dialing.
Having a vision impairment does not have to be a burden on you or your loved ones. In fact, your quality of life can remain the same if not better as you adapt. Adjusting to your circumstances will take patience and effort on your end —but it can be done. Should you find yourself feeling alone, or frustrated, there are several support groups for those who are visually impaired. As always remember to be kind to yourself as you embark on this new phase of your life.