Things to Think About When Choosing a Retirement or Assisted Living Community for a Person with Vision Loss

Below you’ll find a list of items that should be considered when choosing a retirement or assisted living community for someone experiencing vision loss.

Accessibility of community in general:

  • Is it easy and safe to get around?
  • Do hallways intersect at odd angles?
  • Are there large open spaces with few landmarks?
  • Are there multiple sets of elevators that could be easily confused?
  • Are there color and/or texture contrast in their flooring and baseboard choices?
  • Are curbs and the edges of steps well marked?
  • Are hallways well lit with even lighting?
  • Is there a way to control glare in community areas?
  • Are signs in large print with high contrast as well as in braille?
  • Did they use contrasting light switches, door way trim, hand rails?
  • Did they limit the use of patterned carpets?
  • Are there throw rugs, waxed or slippery floors that could present a tripping hazard?
  • Are mail boxes marked with large print, in a well lit area?

Staff knowledge:

  • Does the staff have knowledge of vision loss and local rehabilitation services?
  • Do staff members provide sighted guide; if not, is the administration committed to providing training to the staff on an ongoing basis?

Dining Area/Services:

  • Are residents encouraged to eat in the community setting?
  • Will food be delivered to the room, if desired?
  • Will they provide assistance to the dining room, if needed?
  • Is glare control possible?
  • Do the tables and chairs contrast with the flooring?
  • Do the dishes and tables contrast with each other?
  • Is food served cafeteria style or restaurant style?
  • Do they have readable menus or someone to read the menu aloud?
  • Is the wait staff trained to assist individuals with vision loss?
  • Do they identify what is being served and describe the location of each food on the plate?
  • Do they place glasses, bowls, etc. in the same place each time?

Vision Services:

  • Do they have talking books, electronic magnifiers, accessible computers, large print books or games specifically for residents with vision loss?
  • Are they able to assist with assistive devices or products the resident already owns?
  • Will they provide a large print activity schedule on paper with good contrast?
  • Do they have a low vision support group?
  • Is their recreation equipment marked with tactile dots so that someone with vision loss can use it?
  • Are volunteers or a reading service available to help with bills, important correspondence and shopping?

Individual Living Areas:

  • Do the floors, walls and furniture contrast with each other?
  • Are the refrigerator, thermostat, microwave, or stove marked with high contrast or tactile dots?
  • Are call bells easily accessible and marked for visibility and ease of use?
  • Is it possible to control glare with blinds or rheostats on lights?
  • Are there enough lighting options to allow for reading in desirable areas?
  • Is there good color contrast between the floor, the walls and the fixtures in the bathroom?
  • Can reflected glare be minimized on shiny surfaces?
  • Do the grab bars contrast with the background in the tub/shower?
  • Are washers and dryers marked for ease of use?

Transportation services:

  • Are accessible vehicles provided for medical appointments, shopping and/or other destinations?
  • Is accessible public transportation available?

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