Vision Loss and Solving Problems, Part Two

Photo of Linda Fugate, EdD, CVRT

Editor’s note: Vision Rehabilitation Therapist and new Peer Advisor Linda Fugate, EdD, brings a practical approach to finding solutions for living with vision loss. Read Part One. Part Two focuses on three examples of applying the ADAPT method for problem solving.

Solving the Challenges—Applying the ADAPT Method


Example: Mary has macular degeneration. She is concerned that she can no longer find anything; nothing is where it belongs. She does not want to mark items; she does not want to have her family help her arrange things; she wants to complain. For Mary, vision loss is not one of life’s challenges, it is impossible. Mary is not able to not finish the first step — attitude— and therefore, is unable to find a solution. Once she decides that she is willing to try, she is ready for the next step.


In using the ADAPT method, Mary must identify the problem. Is the problem finding the cayenne, measuring it, or not burning yourself or the food?


When Mary has decided that she is willing to try (her attitude is set) and has identified the problem, it is time for her to brainstorm possible solutions to the problem. The solutions don’t have to be good — that is the next step.


Mary should review her list of possible solutions. Some of the ideas can be crossed off, others might work. She then should predict which are the best for solving the problem.


Mary should then choose what seems to be the best solution for her under her circumstances. Someone else may do it differently but that’s fine. She should pick a solution that she thinks will work for her. The next step is to try it to determine if it will work. If it doesn’t, Mary should try the next solution.


So, let’s put this to a test with John. John is 73, has glaucoma, and still walks every day. John and his friends have been meeting at the coffee shop down the street since they retired. Here they sit, drink coffee and solve, or at least comment, on the problems of the world. This is something that John enjoys and looks forward to each day. Last week on his way John stepped off the curb and was almost hit by a car. He told his friends it was “some crazy woman driver,” but he knows better; he didn’t see the car. Now he is afraid to cross the street and has missed the last two mornings at the coffee shop with his friends.

John might use the five steps this way:

  • A (attitude): He wants to join his friends; this is a life challenges for him.
  • D (define): Is the problem his inability to cross the street, or his fear of the unknown (the car that almost hit him)? Or is it both?
  • A (alternative): John could have a friend pick him up, he could cross in a safer spot, or he could ask for training in orientation and mobility.
  • P (predict): If he asked a friend to take him, he would have to be ready to leave when his friend left. Also, he would need to find another way if his friend was not going for coffee that morning. If he crossed at a safer spot, he would have to use an unfamiliar route and walk further. If he requested mobility training through an orientation and mobility specialist, he would have to also accept that his vision is getting worse.
  • T (try): Here is an interesting twist; sometimes the best solution is more than one of the alternatives! John has decided the solution to the problem is a combination of all three! So he scheduled an appointment with the mobility instructor to learn safer travel skills; he planned a new route that let him cross at a light. When he does not feel like walking, he decides he will call a friend. Now John can continue to work on the world’s problems with his friends at his favorite coffee shop.

Now Back to Mary

  • A (attitude): Perhaps she does not know what the problem really is. Maybe it isn’t just not finding the cayenne.
  • D (define): Is the problem not finding the item or is the issue lack of confidence in her own ability?
  • A (alternative): Mary may need some training in everyday living skills; she may need to talk to her family about putting items where they belong or she may need some time to talk about her vision loss.
  • P (predict): Training will help her learn how to identify items and also give her the confidence to continue the things she enjoys. Talking to her family might help them understand the importance of replacing items in the same place; however, she isn’t sure how to explain it to them.
  • T (try): Mary isn’t sure if talking to her family about her vision will make a difference, but she decides that is where she is going to start. This is the first step in helping her see the problem as a challenge and not an impossibility.


Rose and her husband have been married for 52 years. Recently Rose has been having more trouble with handling hers and her husband’s medication. Today she found herself holding three pills and not knowing what they were.

Here are some suggestions for Rose using the ADAPT method:

  • A (attitude): For Rose, solving this problem is a necessity. She is willing to overcome any challenge to ensure the health and safety of her husband and herself.
  • D (define): Is the problem that Rose cannot identify the pills or that she cannot remember what they are.
  • A (alternative): Rose may need assistance sorting the medication every week. She could label the medication bottles to help her identify their medicine. Rose also could use her magnifier to look at the pills.
  • P (predict): Asking someone to help sort the medicine would make it easier for Rose to keep track of each dose. However, she would have to find someone to come each week to help her sort the pills. Learning to mark the bottles and other items in the house would help, but Rose finds it difficult sometimes to remember how she marked the pill containers.
  • T (try): Rose decided that because she had trouble remembering things the best solution was to ask someone help her sort the pills each week. Her niece was willing to come and help her organize her medications. Her niece made a large print chart for Rose to help her identify the medicine with her magnifier. Rose found she enjoys her niece’s visits and looks forward to them.


Each of the problems and the solutions above can be used in many different situations. While Mary took the first step toward being able to solve any problem and demonstrated the willingness to try, John and Rose used their skills to continue a valued activity. The ADAPT method can be used to solve long-term challenges such as managing finances or medications. It is also effective for those that need an immediate solution as when filling a cup or mending a blouse.