Mum loosing her sight - advice?(8 Posts)
What do I need to be considering? What help can I get?
Mum is 78 and is suffering from various chronic illnesses (COPD, IBS, fibromyalgia) and has had a couple of acute illnesses over the past few years (lung cancer and Stage four Breast cancer - unrelated and both still in remission). However she is fiercely independent and living alone. Doesn't have a great support group (one neighbour who is supportive and helpful will lifts - which is great - but that is it). I live about an hour away (worse with traffic). Have posted before about her chronic illness and lack of willingness to accept/organise help. She is either "completely fine" or "needs an ambulance" with little in between. She will accept help from me, but I want her to accept regular practical help independent of me (she has money - so that isn't an issue).
Anyway, recently she has noticed problems with her eyesight. She saw an option about 6 weeks ago. He told her that she was no longer safe to drive and refered her for further assessment (cataracts). I went to a (private) cataract specialist with her about 2 weeks ago. He said that it isn't just cataracts - probably wet macular degeneration - and has refered her to a retinal specialist. That specialist has been ill, but we hope to see him next Thursday. During this past 6 weeks her eyesight has deteriorated very quickly and she now struggles to even read things with a magnifying glass. I have read up about wet macular degeneration and it is rather scary! It appears as though she might not recover a lot of the lost sight and the chances of driving again are slim to none (not sure if she realises that yet!).
Based on her current eyesight (assuming it doesn't improve much with treatment and possibly worsens) and assuming she can't drive again, the it means a lot for her independence wise.
What can I do to help her remain independent? So far my thoughts are:
- getting her to get in touch with the RNiB helpline - for practical and emotional support.
- getting her an occupational therapist assessment (how do I do that, through her GP?) to see what practical aids can help her with the sight that she has.
- getting some form of in-home help. She does have a cleaner already, but I am thinking of someone who could go in initially a couple of times a week to maybe take her out supermarket shopping and running errands and for company and to do any jobs around the flat that she struggles with (including reading things). Is this something Social Services can/will help with? Not sure she will be keen about this, but I hope it might help her feel less isolated and I am concerned that I can't go regularly enough.
What other things should I be aware of? What help is available?
Ask for an OT assessment. There's a lot of stuff she can get which will be able to help her in day to day tasks.
That would be via Adult Social Services
Do I contact them directly or through the GP?
You could do either but you might as well contact them yourself. I'm my part of the country there's quite a wait though so may be similar for you.
I felt moved to answer this thread because my grandmother was in a very similar position. However, this was many years ago, and I was much younger and not involved with the practical side of things, so unfortunately I can't be of much use.
One minor thing - my grandmother loved reading and really missed it when her eyesight became too bad. Audio books were a huge comfort to her. Try introducing your mum to them if she's a reader (or if her existing pastimes rely on sight and she needs to find a replacement).
So sorry to hear your mum is going through this, my nan had muscular degeneration in her eyes to and in the end had very little sight, she use to attend groups with our local blind association which she really use to enjoy, they use to have transport to which sounds like it would be helpful for your mum! My Nan use to have monthly injections in her eyes to help slow down the process of her losing her sight!
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