IF YOUR PATIENT is visually impaired, follow these tips to keep her safe and help her feel secure.
* To determine the severity of your patient's vision impairment, assess her visual acuity and visual fields. Assess her for disorders such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. If she has partial vision, try to stay in her field of vision when you talk to her, and make sure the lighting is adequate.
* Notify staff of her impaired vision with a sign above her bed, in report, and on her medical record.
* Address her directly in a normal tone of voice. Use her name or touch her arm before you start talking to her. Tell her each time you enter or leave her room, and say your name. Always explain what you're going to do before you do it.
* Orient her to her surroundings, including how the furniture is arranged, using specific directions and distances. Keep the area uncluttered and pathways clear.
* Teach her how to use the call bell and keep it within easy reach.
* Keep her bed in a low position. Arrange her personal and self-care items within reach, as she directs you, or orient her to their placement.
* Identify and explain unfamiliar sounds, such as monitor alarms.
* When you help her walk, ask which side she prefers you on. Offer her your arm or elbow for her to grasp.
* Don't shout when you speak.
* Don't be afraid to use words such as "see" or "blind."
* Don't insist on helping if she refuses your offer.
Kozier BJ, et al. (eds). Fundamentals of Nursing: Concepts, Process, and Practice, 7th edition. Upper Saddle River, N.J., Prentice Hall, 2004.
Potter PA, Perry AG (eds). Fundamentals of Nursing, 6th edition. St. Louis, Mo., Mosby, 2005.
Tabloski PA. Gerontological Nursing. Upper Saddle River, N.J., Prentice Hall, 2006.
http://Wisconsin.gov. Department of Health and Family Services. Do's and don'ts when interacting with a person who is blind. http://dhfs.wisconsin.gov/blind/adjustment/dosdonts.htm. Accessed June 5, 2007.