Psychological Impact of Visual Impairment
Everyone responds differently. The aging person may have the problem compounded by physical as well as other losses he/she may be experiencing. He/she may feel useless, anxious, fearful, helpless, and angry as a reaction to the visual loss. The person experiencing a sudden vision loss may be in a state of shock and unable to respond or function in his/her usual manner. He/she may be depressed. Depression is a normal and necessary part of adjustment to a visual loss. Support and encouragement are important for this person.
Different reactions to blindness may be:
- Denial. This person will not try to compensate for the loss by developing the remaining senses. It is preferable to avoid confronting this person. Caretakers should continue to give this person encouragement and in tactful ways show him/her ways to make tasks easier without letting him/her know that they are specifically techniques for blind individuals.
- Anger and Resentment. This person may complain about the food or caretakers. They may be helped by a concentration on what they have retained rather than what they have lost.
- Relief. This person may feel that now it is his/her turn to be taken care of. He/she may seem excessively dependent. One way of involving this type of individual is to encourage the person in a favorite activity that he/she has done well in the past.
Visually impaired persons usually go through a period of depression and reaction to the loss. Each individual responds in his/her own ways. A goal is to enable the individual to adjust to the loss as a reality and to be able to recognize his/her remaining interests and capabilities. Adjustment to blindness can be achieved as fears diminish through retraining and redeveloping the person’s remaining potentials.
Reference: “Caring for the Visually Impaired Older Person,” Minneapolis Society for the Blind, Inc., 1976.