Caregivers are a critical element in successfully coping with vision loss.
Losing your sight is a traumatic experience, especially if it occurs suddenly. Even with a dedicated caregiver, the world becomes a very frightening place with the simplest of tasks morphing into complicated activities, which must be planned well in advance.
At least two paths are now possible. In both cases, I strongly recommend connecting with a local association for the blind. The highly trained staff has the knowledge and experience to help both the person who has lost his or her sight and the caregiver as they navigate the challenges.
The path I hope most will take is to choose to take the steps necessary to restore as much of his or her previous life as possible. I emphasized choose as it is a choice, as with so many things in life. Even with someone committed to overcome the vision loss challenge, it is natural at the beginning to seek help from family and friends. As time passes, the person who is now visually-impaired develops new routines, and it becomes progressively easier to return to a new normal of living. There is no set timetable for how long it takes to get back to the new normal. You need to proceed at your own pace and set short, intermediate, and long term goals to remain focused on progress.
There is at least one other path. Fear, anger, or a host of other emotions may cause the visually-impaired person to isolate him or herself, just continuing a routine existence and depending entirely on a caretaker. This type of person often falls into a way of thinking that says, “I can’t”.
Assuming (and hoping) that the person chooses positivity; the two previous terms should be referenced again. At the outset, a lot of help and encouragement will probably be required. The person rendering the care will typically be required to take charge of the situation. There will be a tendency to try to wrap the person who lost their sight in a protective bubble so nothing untoward can happen to them. This is really no different than how a parent handles a first child.
For the person trying to re-capture his or her previous independence, comforting care will eventually become smothering. Even if the person doesn’t react that way, he or she should be influenced to become independent again. This transition may also clarify the shifting role from caretaker to caregiver. The caregiver should no longer be responsible for every step the person takes. It can be hard to let go, but it’s essential to survival.