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Helping a Loved One

Vision loss is a major public health concern in the United States. People who have vision loss commonly experience depression, anxiety, and confusion. The consequences of vision loss however, often extend beyond the person who has low vision. The family members, friends, and caregivers of people experiencing vision loss also are affected.

When a loved one becomes visually impaired, you are likely to feel overwhelmed. You also may experience a range of feelings, from sadness to guilt, and there are many day-to-day adjustments to make. You may find yourself putting aside your feelings and needs to focus on helping your loved one cope. Yet, in many cases, you may feel alone and at a loss about what to do or how to help. It is important to communicate your feelings with others. By sharing your feelings, you are in a better position to be more accepting of yourself and understand that what you and your loved one are experiencing is not isolated and unique.

Answering the following questions may help your express you thoughts and concerns:

  • What feelings have you experienced since your loved one became visually impaired?
  • In what ways has your life changed since your loved one's vision loss? Are there things that you've had to give up? How do you feel about these changes?
  • What feelings are most difficult for you to accept and deal with?
  • What do you do with these feelings? Are you able to share them with your loved one?
  • Has your loved one's vision loss brought you closer together in any way? If yes, how?

When sharing your thoughts and concerns with your loved one, it is important to remember that communication involves both verbal and nonverbal expressions. When we think about communication, what usually comes to mind is the verbal aspect of communication. But communication also involves receiving information through listening. And most communication is nonverbal, which poses challenges when talking to people who are visually impaired, as they may not be able to see gestures, nods, facial expressions, and other visual cues.

Department of Health and Human Services NIH, the National Institutes of Health