Here is What Happens when a Person with Low Vision Goes into the Bathroom

Tactile Identification of Bathroom Items
Harry WIlliamson/Springstudio

Have you wondered how a person who is blind or visually-impaired manages to retain their independence when living in a household with family members who are sighted?

Going into the bathroom poses the first major challenge of the day.

You may not even have given it a second thought – until now, when you or a loved one are experiencing vision loss and in need of some helpful tips in managing daily life with low vision.

For instance, without full sight, how do you detect the difference between shampoo and conditioner bottles? Or try finding your own toothbrush in among a jar of several brushes?

Perhaps more perplexing for sighted people to understand is how their loved one with low vision can even apply make-up without using a mirror!

So what’s the answer?

Micro-management. People who are blind or have low vision rely completely on being highly organized and survive on attention to detail.

We devise specific techniques that work effectively in locating where all our personal belongings live. We keep to a system from sunrise to sunset that works just fine…until a sighted person accidentally forgets to leave the bathroom in the order in which we can access shared items.

Whoops. No one is perfect. But, we can aim for perfect harmony.

It is about being mindful, vigilant and sticking to a system. So, when you develop strategies which you can all agree on easily, you help your loved one to retain their independence by keeping some sort of control over the chaos.

Believe me, it's not much fun groping around in the bathroom trying to find things that have been moved.

To help you avoid deep frustration here are some easy ways in which to identify shared items.

Tactile Markers are a Brilliant Solution

Rubber bands may be the next best thing ever invented after sliced bread!

They solve a myriad of problems by using them in specific ways.

  • Take your shampoo and conditioner bottle, for example: use 1 rubber band on the shampoo and 2 rubber bands on the conditioner to differentiate between identically shaped containers.
  • Another smart method is to purchase these items from different brands as the shape will vary, which makes it so much easier to find with eyes closed in the shower.
  •  To identify your own toothbrush in among a set of brushes, either put a rubber band on it or use thick tape on the brush you want to locate quickly.
  • Better still is to keep the brush in a separate container – with your own toothpaste as well.
  • The same system works beautifully on other personal cosmetics in the restroom. Your facial cleanser, toner and moisturizer can also be kept in a small basket or ‘tactile’ bag to locate easily.

At home, I use a bright ceramic bowl that holds all my ‘girlie’ things so the sighted males in my family stay well away from using them. I have designated yellow towels for personal use as I can partially see this color so beware anyone if I find my towel somewhere else!

Applying Make-Up

Some may ask, ‘Why bother to apply make-up if you can’t see it anyway?’

The simple answer is, being visually-impaired doesn’t mean you have to give up being fashionable or enjoying feminine pleasures like applying make-up if you choose to.

What is required is practice to develop light touch techniques and of course, confidence to persist. Your organizational skills are particularly required so that you keep track of your favorite cosmetics.

For example, I wrap a thin hair-tie around the pinkish shades of lipsticks while some other marker identifies orange or copper shades. I also keep lipsticks in jewellery bags to store them separately. In this tactile way, I feel confident knowing the color choice of the day.

For a variety of adaptive tips on the application of make-up with low vision, and other fashion-related techniques, the ‘Bold, Blind Blogger’ Stephanae V. McCoy shares her style concepts for the visually-impaired.

One of her articles, makeup Application After Vision Loss is well worth a read if you want to know more about tips of the trade: from storing cosmetics to applying them easily.

One final word of practical advice. Remember:- never keep medicinal goods like antiseptic creams or other strong products on the same shelf as your personal cosmetics. You don’t really want to discover the  shaving cream is not actually the toothpaste tube after all…been there, done that too!

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