When deciding which activities you’ll do with an senior loved one, you have to tailor your choices to their reduced level of energy. When that elderly family member is also blind or has low vision, it limits your list of favorite activities even further. So, what kinds of things can you do together?
Here are some activities for the blind elderly:
- Go outside and spend time in nature
- Listen to audiobooks
- Put on a movie
- Turn on the tunes
- Play a game
- Do crafts activities
If you’re wondering how some of these activities are achievable for seniors with a visual impairment, then you’re definitely going to want to keep reading. In this article, we’ll provide plenty of crafts, sensory activities, and more for older adults who are vision-impaired or blind, including those with dementia.
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What Activities Can You Do With A Blind Person?
As we get older, there is a higher change of getting age-related vision loss. A senior might end up with poor vision due to macular degeneration, glaucoma, or other eye conditions.
Because we rely on our sight for so much day in and day out, a sighted person often assumes that once it’s gone, there’s very little that someone can do in their everyday life.
As your blind elderly loved one can prove, however, that’s far, far from the case. You just need to ensure that the activities you choose can be enjoyed in other ways than by merely seeing.
Here are our suggestions for some fun activities you can do with a blind senior.
Read our article, Alexa For Blind Seniors.
Go Outside And Spend Time In Nature
The beauty of the leaves as they change colors, the sight of the sun as it hits the babbling brook just right. Yes, these are things you can enjoy with your eyes, but nature offers many more gifts outside of those you see.
If you need examples, just go outside and close your eyes.
What do you hear? There’s the crunching of the sticks and gravel beneath your feet, the hum of the bugs in the forest, the movement of the water, and the occasional chirp and other sounds of wildlife. You can also breathe in the fresh air while feeling the sun on your skin, and it probably feels amazing.
These are all experiences elderly blind people or those with low vision deserve to have. To experience them together, professional caregivers can take the senior to a park. Home caregivers can, too, or they can even spend time in their own back yard, drinking in nature in all sorts of ways.
Let’s face it – being in nature is great for your mental wellbeing. There’s no reason why it should be denied to seniors with severe vision loss.
You should consider the setting you take a blind friend. or loved one to, though. Senior citizens with vision problems will likely have very limited mobility on slippery or uneven surfaces, such as a rocky beach.
Listen To Audio Books
If reading was a cherished hobby of your elderly parent, they don’t have to stop reading forever.
For those with limited vision, a great option for rereading favorite classics or picking up a new book is getting it in a large print format. Most e–readers have the ability to change books into a larger font size.
Similarly, a blind senior citizen can read the same books if they have been translated into braille letters. If they cannot read braille books, another great way to keep up with the latest novels is by listening to audio books. In fact, you can make reading an activity for the whole family to enjoy together by playing audio books.
Since they have grown in popularity so much, almost any title you can think of has been made into an audio book. Most of the time, the authors themselves read the book, and if they don’t, it’s often read by another high-profile name, like a celebrity.
You don’t have to buy audio books either, because you can usually get them from local libraries or through a subscription to Audible or something similar.
Put On A Movie
You might assume that watching popular movies or TV shows are off-limits since your senior parent or loved one is blind, but that’s not necessarily the case. If the movie has an audio description, then someone with a vision impairment can “watch” the movie in their own way while you watch it in yours.
Play A Game
You might be stumped on how you can play a game with the blind elderly, but it’s doable. This goes without saying, but you must choose a game that’s easy for a senior to play without sight.
Card games that use braille are one such option. Monopoly and Uno are available in braille and Scrabble has a braille overlay for the tiles.
There are plenty of other popular games that can be played through the sense of touch, too. For example, when playing Dominoes, the senior can feel the domino dots to determine their value. Chess is also tactile, as is checkers.
You can even complete crossword puzzles together. You’d read the clue aloud and then wait for your senior parent to tell you what they think the answer is.
Craft Activities For Visually-Impaired Seniors
If you want to spend a productive afternoon with a visually impaired senior, you can have a great time doing arts and crafts. These activities require thought and creativity, not to mention they’ll keep your senior active without being physically exerting.
If the senior in your life still has some vision, but it’s not what it used to be, the following arts and crafts can accommodate for their dwindling eyesight yet still provide fun and relaxation.
Your senior parent likely has a lot of thoughts and feelings that maybe don’t come out all that often. They can channel their emotions through their paintbrush with expressive painting.
Although their art probably won’t be precise due to their failing vision, they can still paint a unique abstract work of art. Since there’s no wrong way to paint, anything they create will be a masterpiece.
Another craft activity for visually impaired seniors is collage-making. You might have to provide a little extra help to cut out pictures for your senior if they have a hard time handling scissors.
After that, give them the freedom to glue the pieces how they want. Whether they make a collage from an old photobook or even magazines (perhaps even a combo of both!), they’ll certainly be busy enjoying themselves for a while.
You can also introduce your senior to the wonders of sculpting. Sculpting sand feels great to touch, something that seniors with fading vision will appreciate. So too is modeling clay nice to work with. Tell your senior to create whatever comes to mind first, even if that isn’t something that currently exists.
Sensory Activities For Visually-Impaired Adults
The best thing about the above arts and crafts is that they’re all sensory. If the visually impaired adult in your life isn’t quite in the mood to paint or sculpt but you still want to stimulate their senses, here are some activities to do.
The joy of being around an animal is one that we never outgrow. If you have a sociable, friendly cat or dog, you can set up a meeting between your visually impaired loved one and the animal. Petting the cat or dog is a rich experience for those who are blind or visually impaired, as is listening to the soft purrs of a pleased pet.
Although it can make you a little nervous to cook with a visually impaired adult, there’s no need to stress. If they’re supervised the entire time, then this can be a perfectly safe bonding experience.
Perhaps your visually impaired adult reads out the recipe quantities from a braille cookbook or they put together some ingredients for you. You’ll be there the entire time to guide your loved one if they need it.
That said, do make sure that you take care of any cooking over an open flame or in an oven.
Activities For Blind Seniors With Dementia
Perhaps your parent or loved one has not only gone blind but they’ve recently been diagnosed with dementia as well. You probably have no idea what you two can enjoy together now.
Happily, most of the above activities should be viable picks. Yet some activities are better for dementia sufferers than others, including the following.
Turn On The Tunes
One activity that relies on no sight at all is listening to music. Don’t turn on music from your own time, though. Rather, play favorite songs or radio shows from your senior parent or grandparent’s era.
There’s a belief among medical experts that playing music for Alzheimer’s patients can lessen agitation, depression, anxiety, and stress, says Mayo Clinic.
For a senior who has dementia, caring for a plant can be soothing while keeping their hands busy at the same time. Whether you start an indoor garden with your blind senior or you two go outside and dig around in the dirt, the more greenery they’re surrounded by, the better.
There’s a classic study from 2009 published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine that backs this up.
When hospital patients had ornamental plants in their rooms, they experienced less fatigue, anxiety, and pain, as well as lower blood pressure, compared to the patients who were without plants. They also felt better about their environment.
The mood-boosting benefits of a garden can help your blind elderly with Alzheimer’s, regulating their mood for smoother moments ahead.
If your visually impaired loved one needs to keep their hands busy, tactile activities can help. Ask them to do some sorting.
They can sort anything, but make it interesting. For example, you might put a variety of uncooked pasta types in a bag and then ask them to separate the pasta by type. Since pasta comes in so many fun shapes, doing this should be a good challenge.
Make sure you choose the items for sorting carefully. Coins aren’t really a good item to sort, as it can be too difficult to distinguish the different types of coins by feel alone.
When an elderly parent or loved one goes blind, it does not mean that you can’t do anything together. You just have to think of activities that use other senses such as hearing and touching. These activities will help you form more meaningful connections with the blind senior in your life!