Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Elder Vision

In the last few years of her life, my mother in law was having trouble with her eyesight. Reading was downright difficult, almost impossible for her. Before Pesach, one of my bils did some scouting around and found for her a haggadah in extra large type. That haggadah somehow came to us after her petirah and this year found a good home with my mom. Reading the tiny print in the haggadah is getting difficult for her, but with the large type she can follow along perfectly. In one of those duh moments it occurred to me that if the small print in the hagaddah is giving her problems, the small print in her siddurim and chumashim is also giving her problems. I'm now in the midst of ordering a large print siddur for her. Until she saw the large print haggadah it never even occurred to my mom that such a thing was available, never having seen it elsewhere.

Some of you might want to give some thought to the older members of your family and how hard it might be for them to read the small print that most seforim and books and periodicals come in. Not only are there some seforim that come in the larger print, but there are also many books and periodicals that can be gotten in large type. The gift of "sight" would make a wonderful present.

Here's another thought that can help those whose vision is not quite what it used to be. There are any number of written pieces available online, including daily newspapers and online editions of monthly magazines. Using your computer, it is quite easy to print those pieces using a much larger font size. Printing up some of those articles and stories would be a welcome gift for those vision is not quite what it used to be. And while you're sitting there at the computer anyway, how about printing up some extra copies to be dropped off at a nursing home or senior citizen center or with the elderly neighbor down the block?

And for those in shuls that have some elderly members, how about making sure that the shul has some large type seforim available for their use. As I mentioned, most people are not aware that such works are even available.

We are the people "of the book." More than time that we make that "book" available to all the members of Klal, not just those whose vision is 20/20.


Anonymous said...

Excellent suggestions. Many libraries also have books in large print. There is often a waiting list to borrow them, but if you get on a cycle -- i.e. each time you borrow a few books get on the wait list for some more, it works out ok. Books on tape/CD are also good for elders with eye troubles.

Anonymous said...

Even for someone who still, thank g-d, has decent eye sight with reading glasses, I find the font style, size and layout of many sidurs to be very user unfriendly.

qsman said...

I just wanted to point out that someone requiring large type probably has other vision issues and may have other difficulties as well. There are OT's that specialize in low vision (my DW :) that can help with adaptations and ensuring these folks have a safe enviroment. Check with your opthamologist, these visits are usually covered by insurance. Here in MD the State covers certain cases as well.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:03 here. I meant to say "not" very user friendly.

Anonymous said...

When my grandfather was alive (his 10th yahrtzeit was a couple of months ago), he suffered from glaucoma and cataracts. Yet he loved to read the newspaper, including the miniscule printed sections of the stock pages. One of the things that really helped him was a small magnifying glass (very high quality) that we used to keep handy for him when he'd visit, and he had one at his home, as well. Before the cataracts were removed, he also needed extremely bright light to see the text, so my parents gave him their kitchen chandelier (it had a pull down feature so he could bring it closer to the table) and we always kept a flashlight nearby when he'd visit (not so helpful on shabbos, but good for during the week). These small things helped him maintain his independence and dignity. A large font haggadah also allowed him to participate in our seder.

These are not big things, but they can make all of the difference to someone who needs them.

qsman, that's pretty cool - I didn't know there was a sub-specialty in OT that dealt with that.