2/19/2018 | Marie Villeza |While making modifications to a home to prepare it for a person with a visual impairment is essential to her safety and comfort, it can become quite costly to do so. The good news is, there are several ways to make your home accessible that won’t force you to get a second mortgage. We share some of the more affordable ways to prepare your home for a visually impaired loved one below.
The visually impaired need natural light
Natural lighting is less harsh than many artificial lighting sources. By providing plenty of light to enter your home, you create a safer environment simply because it is well lit. Place the visually impaired person’s favorite chair near the window with the back facing it so that the light can enter the room and illuminate a book or task over the person’s shoulder. Install adjustable blinds and sheer curtains and window treatments that allow the person to adjust the amount of light entering the room. Arrange large pieces of furniture in such a way that they do not block windows. Place mirrors near windows but not in the path of direct sunlight to reduce glare.
Mark edges of stairs with paint or yape
Most visually impaired people do not want to use devices that are not necessary for their disability. For example, they do not want to use an expensive stair lift if they are capable of walking up and down the stairs. Yet, some loved ones insist on installing stair lifts because they are afraid of falls on stairways. A more affordable and compassionate alternative is to mark the edges of stairs with brightly colored paint or tape. By adding contrast to steps, you help the person with visual impairment locate stair edges so they have an easier time going up and down them independently. The key is to use tape or paint or textured strips that contrast with the stair color to maximize visibility.
Light up working areas
Whether it’s the kitchen or laundry room, work areas must have adequate lighting to accommodate a person with low vision. Install brighter light bulbs in overhead lights in work areas or add a floor lamp or desk lamp with a swivel arm or adjustable neck so the person can direct the light to her tasks. If there are windows in work areas, make sure they are clean to allow more sunlight to enter and ensure you have installed adjustable blinds. Paint ceilings white so they reflect, rather than absorb, light.
Special closet organization for the visually impaired
Closet organizers can cost a pretty penny, but there are some affordable ways to organize a closet to make them more accessible to visually impaired person. One of the first tasks you should complete is hanging clothes by color in closets. Tips are to put similar colors at opposite ends of the closet to avoid confusion; for example, black and navy clothes should be separate.
Other people prefer to organize their closets by outfit so they do not need to worry about locating matching clothing items. It is helpful to hang pants or skirts underneath matching tops, and it helps to put matching socks and accessories near them. One other tip for organizing closets is to use two hampers: one for whites and light colors and one for dark colors.
Grants and other sources of money for home modifications
If you do need to make some major modifications to prepare your home for a loved one who is visually impaired, look into securing grants or other sources of money for the improvements. Various organizations and programs offer grants to make disability accommodations in the home, from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to the American Red Cross. Some contractors and home builders are good resources for more information, as are local housing authorities and government officials.
It is possible to make accommodations to your home for a person with a vision impairment without breaking the bank. In many cases, a few organization tips and inexpensive products can make the home a safer, more comfortable environment for your visually-impaired loved one.
Marie Villeza is passionate about connecting seniors with the resources they need to live happy, healthy lives. So she developed ElderImpact to provide seniors and their caregivers with resources and advice.
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