Helping Loved Ones with Sight Loss at Christmas

Grandparents sitting with a grandchild and holding a white package that’s about to be opened. They are all wearing holiday themed red and green outfits and the little boy is wearing a santa hat.

Now that the holiday season is here, family gatherings are taking place everywhere. For those who have older parents or grandparents coming over for visits, ensuring a welcoming and accessible environment is important.

Here are some ways to help loved ones with sight loss and age-related needs feel comfortable and included during their holiday visit at your home. 


Preparing the Whole Family 

Adult children of older parents have to be mindful of the whole family, both their older parents and younger children. When grandparents or older family members are coming over it’s important to help little ones be sensitive to their needs. It’s one thing for children to enjoy a quick visit to Nanny and Grandad’s, it’s quite another thing for them to live in the same space for a few days. 

Little ones may need to be reminded that their grandparents need quiet and restful moments during some parts of the day. It’s also important for them to be respectful of the room and areas of the home that their grandparents will be staying in. Older children can be reminded to be helpful. You can give them specific tasks they can be responsible for or certain situations to be especially mindful during their grandparents visit. 

If you don’t see your parents or in-laws throughout the year, you may also need to prepare yourself to face age-related changes when they come over. It’s not always easy to see older parents needing help when they’ve always been independent. Keep in mind that change is natural and there are many ways to spend time with loved ones at every stage of life. 

Preparing the Home 

Along with cleaning and making arrangements, here are a few things in the home that would be helpful to older parents or blind and visually impaired loved ones coming to visit. 

Assign them to a room that is accessible. Many older adults struggle with stairs and if there’s a way, make them comfortable on the first floor. Likewise, make sure they can easily get to the bathroom. For loved ones with low vision provide adequate lighting, especially during the night. They may need to go to the bathroom or the kitchen and need the light to navigate an unfamiliar environment. 

For loved ones who are severely sight impaired, be sure to eliminate any obstacles or clutter that they can easily bump into or trip over. And when they arrive take the time to really familiarise them with where everything is and how things work in the house. They may or may pick up the layout of the home in one go, or it may take several go-arounds for them to become confident. Start by making sure they can easily navigate their room. 

Make Them Feel Welcomed, Loved and Included 

During all the festivities, it’s easy for older individuals or people with sight loss to feel isolated and depressed. They may feel left out because they aren’t able to participate in all the activities the way they used to. Many aren’t as mobile and can’t be out and about. Receiving Christmas cards could be a bittersweet reminder of friends that are no longer around. Some may feel like their visual impairment keeps them from contributing to holiday preparations. Worst of all, they may even feel that they are being a burden or an inconvenience to the family. 

When you’re having loved ones over for the holiday, these are some of the feelings and situations you’re mitigating. Family and friends can make such a big difference in helping someone feel a sense of belonging. Little ones can really make grandparents smile, helping them to focus less on age-related difficulties. 

Help them feel welcome when you take the time to prepare for their visit and make your home comfortable and accessible for them. Ward off feelings of isolation by including them in preparations and family activities. Even if they just have a cup of tea and talk while you prepare meals in the kitchen or just sit comfortably and listen as the children decorate the Christmas tree. Let them have a voice in the family by listening to their stories and experiences. Avoid overloading the family with festivities that are too tiring. If they aren’t able to see, don’t forget to always take a moment to describe to them what you see and what’s going on so they can fully participate. 

By taking some time to address your loved one’s needs and comforts, the family can be less stressed and more focused on the joy of being together. After all, Christmas is the season for giving and family, so it’s especially important for everyone to feel loved and included no matter what. 

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