Living well with macular degeneration is largely about maintaining quality of life and independence. But as vision deteriorates, patients often find themselves unable to enjoy the hobbies they once did and feelings of depression or monotony are common. However, finding new and engaging activities that don’t necessarily require sight can help low vision patients regain a sense of control and normality in their lives. The following are fun, stimulating activities that the blind or partially sighted can enjoy whilst adapting to new circumstances:
Audio activities: Any game or activity that focuses on hearing rather than sight is great for keeping the visually impaired engaged, social and mentally fit. Word and trivia games such as Jeopardy! and Trivial Pursuit are fun, inexpensive options.
Music: Listening to music is an activity that can be enjoyed alone or in a group. Sing-alongs to familiar tunes can prove to be a pleasurable- even cathartic activity for individuals with low vision. Additionally, many towns host free family-friendly concerts in local parks during summer and fall which is another inexpensive way to enjoy a change of pace.
Crafts: Those who have previously enjoyed activities like knitting or crocheting prior to AMD can usually still do so with little assistance. It may be beneficial, however, to buy larger crocheting needles and thicker yarn.
Tactual activities like pottery and ceramics pose another good opportunity to use sense of touch to its fullest extent. Try enrolling in a pottery class or purchase some self hardening clay at a craft store that can be dried in your oven.
Read: Many libraries have large-print and Braille books for the visually impaired. It’s also possible to purchase books on tape or download them from the internet- often for free!
Swim/Exercise: Sports can be somewhat intimidating for those who can’t see well. However, aerobic activities like rowing, swimming and recumbent bike are safe, effective cardiovascular workout options.
All too often patients give up exercise altogether over fear of falling, when in reality, exercise can lower the risk of falling by improving balance and core strength. Simple weight training can be done in the home, garage, back yard or gym. Purchase some light hand weights (2.5-10 lbs) and start by doing seated right angle bicep curls (3 sets of 10, twice per day!)
If you’re unsure how to get started at the gym, ask a friend or relative to join you. Moreover, most gyms have personal trainers and staff who can assist members if necessary.
Seek support groups: Continuing social interaction is extremely important for those with deteriorating vision. Social contact and discussion with others can help ward off the depression and anxiety commonly found in AMD patients. Try asking a friend for help looking online or in the local phone book for low vision support groups in your area.
Garden: Many people think that a visual impairment will prevent them from enjoying gardening. Not so! In fact, with some planning, care and a readiness to ask for help (should you need it) you can have a garden for more than just an aesthetic appeal. Gardens can appeal and be therapeutic to all senses. Continue to enjoy gardening by using raised beds and containers, which make it easy to reach the soil and plants, plus they’re stable and heavy enough for you to lean on for support. As for choosing the right garden tools, buy products that are durable and lightweight. When it comes to watering, try using a small sprinkler- and be careful not to leave the hose in walking paths.
The end of sharp vision does not mean the end of life. After all, there is still so much life left to live! Need some more motivation? It’s been proven that AMD patients who maintain a social life and stay active have lower rates of depression, improved confidence, better memory and even a reduction in joint and muscle pain.
So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and take up a new hobby!
Have another fun activity idea for the visually impaired? Share it in the comment section below!