As you get older, you might have more difficulty seeing. Some changes in vision can be caused by age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The good news is that there are many helpful strategies for living with AMD. With a few simple changes in routine, most people with AMD can continue to have fulfilling and independent lives.
How Does AMD Affect Your Sight?
You might notice changes like:
- Difficulty seeing things in the center of your vision
- Difficulty seeing details
- Straight lines seeming bumpy
AMD causes more vision loss over time. Getting used to these changes now can make it easier to cope with future vision loss.
How Can I Stay Organized With AMD?
Declutter. Getting rid of things you don’t use often can save space and make it easier to find what you need. Fix broken items, put things you rarely use into storage, and donate or sell items you don’t want or need.
Have a space for everything. After you’ve finished using it, put it back where it belongs. This way, you can easily find it next time. Keep small items organized with containers, dividers, trays, and zip-top bags.
Keep the items you use most often in an easy-to-reach place. If possible, store them between hip height and eye level. This makes them easier to spot and can help you avoid falls.
Store things together. Keep similar items in the same place. For example, put all your cleaning items in a single bucket or basket.
Get creative with labels. Low vision can make it difficult to tell similar items apart. Create a labeling system that works for you. Use colored tape or stickers. AMD doesn’t affect your ability to see color. Bright or contrasting colors can help you mark different types of things. For example, you can put a red sticker on top of canned soup and a blue sticker on top of canned vegetables. Stickers also can help you mark important buttons or settings on dials.
Use the power of touch. If you have several similarly shaped bottles, mark the most important with a rubber band. You also can use puffy craft paint, dried drops of glue or nail polish, or different textures to identify things. If you label something with multiple dots, arrange them in braille or patterns you can easily recognize.
Put all of your mail in one place. Once a week, ask a trusted person to help you read everything. Sort different types of main into colored folders, a filing cabinet with large-print tabs, or another organizing system that works for you. Make a voice reminder about any tasks you need to complete, like calling customer service or contacting insurance. Set bills to auto-pay.
Have a backup plan. Give copies of important documents, credit cards, and keys to someone you trust who lives nearby. You can also leave copies in a safe deposit box at a bank.
How Can I Make My House Safer?
Keep walkways clear. Avoid clutter, low furniture, rugs, and electrical cords. If you have area rugs, make sure they are held securely in place with double-sided tape. Check that floors are even or that uneven surfaces are smoothed and marked with bright colors.
Install handrails on the stairs. Mark the edges of stairs with brightly colored tape. Make special markings on the top and bottom steps.
Keep all doors, windows, and drawers fully opened or closed. This helps you avoid bumping into unexpected obstacles. To avoid confusion, use the same types of locks and coverings for each window.
Choose solid colors. Single-colored tablecloths, walls, and floors without patterns make it easier to identify backgrounds and edges.
Minimize glare. Face your television, clocks, or other electronics away from bright lights.
Buy furniture with soft edges. Choose items that have rounded instead of sharp corners. Avoid tables with clear glass. These simple design choices can help prevent accidents.
Use bright tape to mark electrical outlets. When plugging in an electric cord, use one hand to touch the wall plate and help guide the other hand in the right direction.
Safety Tips for the Kitchen and Bathroom
Consider different ways of cooking. For example, an air fryer or slow cooker might be easier and safer to use than an oven. Store these heavy items on the countertop.
Use color. In the kitchen, choose a cutting board, plate, and cutlery set that has a color you can easily see. Mark knives or other sharp objects with brightly colored tape. In the bathroom, buy toilet seats, faucet handles, bathmats, and towels in bright or contrasting colors.
Put grab bars in the bathtub or shower. These help you avoid slips as you get in and out of the shower. Cover the floor outside the shower with a no-skid bath mat.
Mark the edge of the tub with brightly colored tape. If possible, choose a shower with a low barrier instead of a large bathtub.
Use pre-measured liquids. To avoid spills, try using packets or pods of detergent, softener, and dish washer soap. Buy shampoos and lotions with pump dispensers.
Get Support From Your Team
Talk with your doctor for personal recommendations about how you can stay organized and live safely with AMD. You also can talk to a vision rehabilitation specialist, who is an expert on adapting to changes in vision. They can teach you how to better use your side (peripheral) vision and other senses.
If you live with someone else, it’s important that you talk about changes to your home and routine. It’s important that those who live with you are on board with the systems you put in place. Family and friends can help you adapt to your new routine and support you through your journey with AMD.