Helping grandmother cope with loss of sight due to aging

My grandmother lives alone in an independent living senior apartment complex and, like so many older adults, is suffering from isolation and boredom due to COVID. Unfortunately also her eyesight has worsened over the past few months so she is not able to do many of the things she likes to do, like drive to errands, read books, and play cards with friends at the apartment complex. (She lives in out of state in a place where that kind of congregation is allowed.) 

I would like to do what I can to help reduce her isolation and boredom. It might help if I could suggest some objects that could help her do activities she likes to do. Is there anything you could suggest that would help with the cards or books? Larger print cards? Is there a thing about what color contrast is easier to see? She's pretty good with technology but I don't think she could manage loading audiobooks at this point — it would probably have to be a separate and easy to use device. Or if there are suggestions for other new activities for someone with poor eyesight that could be good too. 

Parent Replies

Parents, want to reply to this question? Sign in to post.

My dad is legally blind due to glaucoma and macular degeneration. He can see a little, but not enough to read, which is a passion. He used a doc's note to sign up for the Braille and Talking Book Library [btbl [at]], which gave him an extremely easy to use cassette-style player, and loans him all the books he wants. One book on one cassette. The folks who work at the library [Sacto is the Northern CA base] are kind and helpful. There's also BARD [] which has allowed me to download books onto blank versions of these special cassettes.  

Contact me if you have questions. I am a true fan of that program!


If she likes watching TV/movies, platforms like Netflix offer audio description tracks on some of the programming. This might enhance the experience for her, especially if she can't see the details on the screen like she used to. 

I gave my grandparents a large magnifying glass that also lit up like a flashlight. They use it all the time.

My family is dealing with a similar issue with my grandmother. She is tech averse so we haven’t set this up yet, but one thing we’ve been contemplating is getting Amazon Echo devices set up in her home. The Echo Show is supposed to be good for video calls, and since Alexa can play books from Audible (plus a bunch of other things) we thought it might be a good way for her to access content like books and podcasts. She stayed with us during the Sonoma County fires two years ago and loved listening to a book on our Echo device. 

Hope you find some good solutions. I’m looking forward to seeing what others suggest. 

Try and get him some occupational therapy. This is a really common problem and trained professionals do this for a living. My grandma has macular degeneration and they taught her all kinds of techniques for dealing with it. I was impressed.

Hello! First, I will assume she's had a recent eye exam and the reasons for the losing of vision have been addressed. Major changes in vision are not a normal function of age. Assuming that it is true that she is under good care and this loss of vision is permanent, I'd recommend contacting the UC Berkeley School of Optometry Low Vision clinic. They will be able to evaluate her vision, prescribe the most appropriate devices (magnifiers, telescopes) and also have a person who will help with Orientation and Mobility and inform on access to special programs that might be available to her based on her vision like books on tape or others. 510-642-2020. Be persistent in calling for an appointment, they can be very busy in the scheduling department. 

Have you looked in to Lighthouse for the Blind in S.F.? I have no personal knowledge of them, but they were featured on a TV news show (60 Minutes?) a couple years ago & seemed impressive. Might be a great resource for your Grandma.

My mother-in-law lives in Utah and has diminishing eyesight. We use the state's Library for the Blind. She gets CD copies of audio books, and it's been a lifesaver for her. You might check if there is an option like that for your grandmother.