Helping a loved one with a vision impairment

13 October 2017

Helping a loved one with a vision impairment

Is your loved one experiencing vision problems that are affecting his or her independence? As part of Vision Health Month, we asked Julie-Anne Roy, Programs and Services Manager, Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), Quebec Division, a few questions.

13 October 2017
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What is the reality faced by caregivers who call on your services?

Caregivers often have to perform tasks for their loved one, to prevent damage, injuries or simply to speed things along. They also tend to take ownership of their loved one's problems and often experience anxiety. Some say that they have trouble talking about their difficulties with the person receiving help, even if this is their spouse, because they do not want to offend their loved one, thinking that this person is already experiencing a difficult situation due to the vision loss. Most of the caregivers who use our services are looking for resources and strategies to maintain their loved one’s independence, keep a good relationship and avoid exhausting themselves.


What are the resources available for people with a vision impairment and their loved ones?

The rehabilitation centres provide orientation and mobility services, daily living assistance, adapted computers and individual follow-up by social workers and psychologists. The services offered by CNIB Quebec complement those of the health care system: psychosocial services (self-help and support groups, individual interventions), training in adapted technologies, adapted library and volunteer services.  Finally, various associations provide advocacy services and adapted sports and recreation activities throughout Quebec.


What is the “ Les yeux du cœur ” program?

The Les yeux du coeur program is a support group designed especially for caregivers of people with vision loss. The group, which meets for six to eight weeks, aims to break the isolation of caregivers by giving them a chance to talk with other people going through a similar situation, prevent exhaustion, teach caregivers tips and tricks for taking care of themselves while fostering the independence of the person with a vision impairment, exchange information on vision impairments and the various resources available, build a support network, and help caregivers manage stress more effectively and communicate better with the person receiving care. Moreover, the person receiving care is invited to join the first meeting.


What advice would you give to caregivers who provide support to someone with a vision impairment?

  • Do not assume that your loved one needs your help for every task; ask your loved one for what tasks your help is needed.
  • Provide guidance and explain the environment as needed, but let the person be independent.
  • Try to let go and accept that performing certain tasks is going to take longer.
  • Allow yourself to experience your emotions and talk to your loved one about them.
  • Find out about resources available for you and loved one. The person receiving care may benefit from taking part in a CNIB self-help or support group; this will help the person adapt better to his or her condition and build a larger support network.

To learn more about the CNIB and its services or for tips and tricks for a better quality of life with vision loss, visit www.cnib.ca or call 1-800-563-2642.

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