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Losing Your Vision Doesn't Have to Mean Losing Your Confidence
Throughout your life, your vision has likely been your primary sense. Some researchers estimate that the sense of sight provides approximately 80% of all the information we receive about the world. You've probably been using your vision - unconsciously for the most part - to double-check the accuracy of your other senses.
For example, when you hear a siren from a fire engine, your tendency is to confirm that it is indeed a fire engine by turning to look at it. Because of this tendency, you may feel less confident about your other senses when you can't depend upon vision in the way you're used to.
In time, and with training, you can learn to make maximum use of all your senses: touch, hearing, smell, and any remaining vision ? as well as improve your visual memory. Gradually, with practice and successful new experiences, you will begin to trust your other senses and rebuild your confidence.
In the past, it's likely that you've used your vision to confirm information coming from your other senses. Sensory exercises can help increase your overall sensitivity and abilities and help you gain trust in the information you receive from your remaining senses.
Visualization, or using your visual memory, is a process that can help you consciously form accurate mental pictures of people, places, and everyday objects. You can learn to do this by using and recalling the vast storehouse of visual memories and information you've accumulated throughout your lifetime.
For example, it's likely that you have the ability to create an accurate mental picture of every room in your home, as well as the individual items - furniture, appliances, and decorative objects - within each of those rooms.
By continuously creating this type of detailed mental picture, you'll be able to more accurately recall the location of doors, windows, major pieces of furniture, and potential hazards and obstacles in your home.
Try to use whatever remaining vision you have to the maximum extent possible. Despite what you may have read, using your remaining vision will not harm your eyes or cause your vision to decrease.
Also, remember to check the lighting in your home. Different types of lighting in certain areas may help you move about more safely and efficiently. Remember that it's possible to support your reduced vision with information that can be gained by learning to trust and rely on your other senses.
Hearing often decreases with age, although the type and amount of loss can differ from one person to the next. If you are having difficulty with your hearing, consider being tested by an audiologist. Regardless of how much remaining hearing you have, continue to use it to the maximum. If you concentrate on what you are hearing, and where sounds are coming from, you will be able to gain more information about your surroundings and begin to feel safer and more comfortable.
For example, try this exercise to help you locate an open doorway in your home:
It will take time and practice before you are able to sense these changes. Be patient with yourself, but also celebrate the fact that you're learning new skills and increasing your sensory awareness.
If you're not comfortable walking alone, ask a family member or friend to practice with you, or use techniques that protect your upper and lower body (see Indoor & Outdoor Travel) as you walk inside your home.
Smell and taste can be affected by a variety of medications; nevertheless, you should continue to use your senses of smell and taste as best you can. Be aware that if a family member or friend tells you that something smells pungent, but you believe it smells fragrant, you can both be correct. Being consistent in what you can identify is the most important factor.
In your home, you are surrounded by many sensory "clues" that can help you understand your environment. For example, your sense of hearing can provide much information about your home, both inside and outside.
Sounds such as the television or radio, a dripping faucet, a ticking clock, and motors turning on and off can help you form a picture of the interior of your home. Any sounds coming from the outside, such as birds or traffic or children playing, will also help you build a mental image of your surroundings.
Other sensory "clues" can include:
As you approach your front door, especially if it is located in a foyer, you may experience a "closed in" feeling or sensation. This occurs because sounds are reflected from three very close walls. In a living room or larger space, you'll notice that sounds suddenly "fall away" because they take longer to reflect (or bounce) from wall to wall. The area around you will now feel more spacious and open.
The information you gather from this exercise can stimulate your visual memory and help you build a clear mental picture of every room in your home. Repeat these visualization exercises until they become natural and automatic ways to better understand your environment. Gradually, you will begin to feel much more in control, more comfortable and secure, and more confident.
The sensory exercises in the Related Topics section below can help you maximize the use of all your senses. These sensory exercises will increase your sensory awareness and gradually build your confidence and ability to continue doing many day-to-day activities.
These exercises will help stimulate your visual memory and will help you build a clear mental picture of every room in your home. They will also give you useful clues so you are able to more confidently move around your home and locate different areas and items.
Repeat these exercises until they become natural and automatic ways to better understand your environment. Gradually, you will begin to feel much more in control, more comfortable and secure, and more confident.