Donna Gallagher: A Caregiver's Story: Creative Thinking

January 1, 2012

With a few adjustments around their home, Donna Gallagher makes life easier for her mother, who has been a glaucoma patient for more than 40 years.


Donna Gallagher:

My mom has had glaucoma for nearly forty years.

Mom's vision can be so bad at times that even some of the devices are not helpful for her.

We purchased a wristwatch that's a talking watch, so that she doesn't have to read the numbers on the dial. We've tried, of course, the large reading magnifiers. Those used to help, but not so much anymore. I've actually come up with a list of tips and tricks that have been helpful-just kind of invented as a result of necessity. 

Mom would often accidentally tip over a water glass because most glasses are clear and she would reach for it and not see it. I recalled that red is the first color that babies see. So we purchased a red plastic water glass and that's what she uses and she tends to be able to see that. So that's been very helpful. She can't cook any longer. So a lot of times if I'm at work, she'll have to warm something up-make a sandwich. But even on the microwave there are days where she can't always read the buttons to press. So I found a black rubber washer that you can buy at a Home Depot, cut out a big hole in it, superglued it to the "one-minute" button on the microwave so she can feel the rubber washer and just repeatedly press "one minute" until she feels like her meal is warm enough. 

A couple of other tricks that we've kind of invented-a lot of times she can't actually read her phone book to dial a friend's number if she hasn't heard from them in a while and doesn't have the number in memory. So there are recordable books, I think Hallmark makes them and you typically buy them and read the story for your children and record them. But you can also say anything you want. So you can record a list of phone numbers or you could record a list of family's birthdates, because she can't read the calendar. And as she turns the pages, she can hear the information, instead of having to read it. 

I also think that devices such as voice-activated telephone phone systems, where you can dial by voice command as well as retrieve your voice mail by voice command, are very helpful. So those are some of the things that we've researched and are using.

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