How to Help a Person with a Visual Impairment Settle in after a Move

For people with a visual impairment, relocating can be an especially unnerving and stressful time. They rely on familiarity and organization throughout the day, but moving brings unfamiliar territory and items packed in boxes for days, at least. If you are helping a loved one with a visual impairment relocate, you can do a few things to make the big move go more smoothly and help him feel confident and comfortable enough in his new place to regain his independence.

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1. Organize the Kitchen and Bedroom First

People with a visual impairment want to be independent. During the relocation process, they need to rely on family, friends, and even professional movers, to help them pack, move, and unpack. It can be hard for a person with a visual impairment who values his independence to rely on people for so much help, so it’s important that you get him back to being independent by focusing on the kitchen and bedroom first after the move. He will want to cook for himself and relax to tackle the next day, so these areas should be first.

When it comes to organizing the kitchen, respect your loved one’s previous organization system. For instance, even if you think it makes more sense to put frequently-used spices closer to the stove, he may prefer to put them in alphabetical order so he knows where each spice is every time he cooks. It’s also helpful if you store similar items together, such as placing vegetables on one shelf and fruit on another.

If you are helping organize the bedroom, be prepared to spend extra time on the closet and drawers. Some people with visual impairment cannot distinguish one color from another, and your loved one may have a specific clothing organization system to help him match outfits. He may use labels, a safety pin or paperclip system, or a divider system that makes it possible for him to coordinate his clothing. Be sure to ask about the system before you start organizing drawers and closets.

2. Find Local Resources

One of the best ways you can help a loved with a visual impairment settle in after a move is finding contact information and locations of healthcare providers, disability agencies, and public transportation hubs. Having information about local services is crucial for your loved one’s independence in his new location, but many people often forget to obtain it because the chaos of packing, transporting, unpacking, and organizing gets in the way. You also can find these local resources and services ahead of time so you are available to help unpack and organize.

Specifically, you should make sure that your loved one knows where his primary care physician, local hospital, closest urgent care center, and pharmacy are located. You could program new contact information into his smartphone for him, and you could make sure that he has his mail forwarded to his new address. You also should make sure that he has arranged for new utility services and potential state benefits if he has moved out of state.

3. Do a Safety Check

As you unpack boxes and help your loved one get organized, you also should help him do a walk-through of the new home to conduct a safety check. You may need to move furniture to ensure clear walking areas, move electrical cords to the perimeter of the room, or remove or tape down throw rugs that pose a tripping hazard. Preventing falls is very important to the safety and wellbeing of your loved one, so help him navigate his new space once it is organized to make sure that you have not missed potential tripping hazards.

It’s also a good idea to check the lighting in your loved one’s new home. There may be a glare coming in from outside that can be addressed with light-filtering window coverings or not enough lighting in his kitchen work areas that can be addressed with under-the-cabinet lights. The Low Vision Center provides useful information for creating the right lighting conditions for people with visual impairment.

There are many ways to help a loved one with a visual impairment settle in after a move. You can begin by organizing the kitchen and bedroom first, finding local resources, and conducting a safety check of the new home. For more information for those moving with a disability, check out this guide.

Article provided by Jackie Waters for Burnett Builders