Practical Ways You Can Help

Practical Help

This article will give you information on how to help with caregiving. Specific ways to communicate with the hearing impaired, help someone who has vision loss, and understand about sleep patterns, are included in this chapter.

Learn to Communicate with the Hearing Impaired.

Talking to someone who has trouble hearing can be frustrating. Don’t give up! Try these hints and communication may become much easier.

  • Always have the person’s attention before you start talking.
  • Reduce background noise as much as possible. Turn off the stereo or television.
  • Maintain eye contact when talking
  • Speak slightly louder, and a little slowly, and try not to shout.
  • Never cover your mouth, mumble, or eat while speaking.
  • Never speak directly into a person’s ear. This may distort your speech.
  • Speak in short simple sentences.


  • If you can’t get the person to understand you, try writing down what you’re trying to say.
  • Don’t be too disappointed if misunderstandings occur.
  • A person who has impaired hearing needs your extra patience.

You Can Help Someone Who Has Vision Loss.

Learning to live with vision loss is a challenge for the person affected as well as everyone in the household .A visual impairment is difficulty seeing. Cataracts may cause a person to have trouble reading or watching television. You may feel awkward, frustrated or impatient at their ways of doing things. You may also feel guilty about getting angry at the person who is visually impaired. These feelings are normal. It may be helpful to talk about your feelings. Ask your older relative what it’s like to be visually impaired. They may be able to help you understand how much sight they do have, if any, and how you can best help them.

When assisting a blind or visually impaired person, remember:

  • Encourage the person to do as much as they can for themselves.
  • Identify yourself when you enter the person’s room.
  • Say that you are leaving when you are ready to leave.
  • When you are walking with someone, let the vision impaired person take your arm and follow you.
  • Always talk directly to the person, not through his or her companion.
  • Do not move anything around when you are in the person’s room.
  • When eating with a blind or visually impaired person tell them what they have been served. Explain the position of each portion by relating its position on the plate to the numbers on the face of a clock. For example: "Your meat is at 6 o’clock, your peas at 2 o’clock, and your potatoes at 10 o’clock.

Don’t Ignore a Person Confined to Bed.

It is important not to ignore a person just because they are confined to bed. Think of how you feel when you are sick -- it isn’t any different for an older person. Take the extra time it takes to visit with them, even if it’s only for a few minutes. You’ll make them feel better and you can see for yourself how they are doing.

Caregivers should pay special attention to the environment of the bedridden person. Smoking should not be allowed in bed. The room should have good lighting and a system to signal for help. A bell, or a glass and a spoon to signal should be within easy reach. Its also important to make the room as cheerful as possible.

Know what to do in case of a fire. A fire escape route should be familiar to all family members. Smoke detectors should be installed. In some communities, the fire department will install special labels on the windows of the disabled.

Sources: New York State Department on Aging, Administration on Aging

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