Marteny: Facing declining vision

Seniors who are single and have vision impairment may be hesitant about moving into supportive housing. 

Seniors who are single and have visio Often it helps to live in a small suite that does not require as much maneuvering around furniture or is as far a distance from other areas within the suite.

When seniors who have vision impairment are living in supportive housing, they have additional people to assist them with activities.

These people would not necessarily be available when living in a condominium. And as well, seniors truly look out for each other.

Most supportive housing residences will make the effort to accommodate seniors who have vision impairments by assigning a seat in the dining room that can be easily accessed by feeling the wall beside them.

A colorful placemat can be put on the table or on top of the tablecloth.

This assists the seniors to know the space in which their meals and drinks will be served.

Contrasting coloured plates, glasses and cups will also assist the seniors to see them.

Some places that include restaurant service use a white table cloth with white dishes. Seniors then do not want to go out for meals as they feel dependent on others to ask where things are placed in front of them.

In supportive housing residences, the same one or two employees could be assigned to serve vision impaired seniors.

In these unique cases, the servers can make sure that the food is consistently placed in the same position on the plate or the servers could tell the person where the food is positioned.

If requested, certain food items could be cut up before the food is served—all done discreetly.

When touring the supportive housing residences ask if these requests would be possible.

• The cleaning staff could be trained to make sure that all of the furniture and items are put back in the exact same place after the suite is cleaned, including their laundry.

• It is best for the seniors to live in a suite on the main floor or close to the elevator, allowing them to walk around the building on their own. If these suites are not available, the next best thing is to know how many doors a senior is away from the closest emergency exit.  This gives them the ability to get out of the building when required.


It would be a shame if any seniors missed out on the benefits of living in supportive housing

because they thought that their vision impairment would hold them back, as in fact their independence could be greatly increased.

Sharen Marteny is a services consultant for

seniors in Kelowna.



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