As we age, we endure a number of losses, both physical and psychological. I personally cannot imagine the loss of sight and count myself blessed to have good vision according to my latest exam. Of course my good fortune could change at any time, and if so, I will count myself blessed again to have the support of the programs of Vision Loss Resources.

According to Vision Loss Resources, most people with age-related vision loss will not become completely blind. Instead, they will experience partial or moderate loss of vision. Learning new skills can help an older adult develop the confidence to remain independent.  Vision Loss Resources offers instruction in adaptive living skills by rehabilitation specialists in areas such as keeping organized (from medications to important paperwork); daily grooming (personal hygiene, applying makeup, hair care); and clothing care (including doing laundry, sewing on a button, or ironing safely), as well as food preparation and basic home cleaning.

Thanks to communication devices and technology, people coping with vision loss can stay connected. Home computers can be equipped to handle text-to-speech programs and screen magnification programs help with navigating web browsers, word processing and spreadsheet applications.

If you know anyone who is struggling with vision loss, make them aware of Vision Loss Resources which can come into their home to do an assessment for no charge. They do not require a doctor’s referral, health insurance, or a specific diagnosis. They serve anyone in the 9-county metro area whose vision loss impacts their ability to perform the activities they need or want to do. Call 1-877-567-4944 for more information about this nonprofit organization.

For people seeking emotional support, Vision Loss Resources offers peer mentoring for one-on-one listening from trained volunteers who are visually impaired themselves. They also offer support groups for information and emotional support. According to Sue Bauer, Community Service Specialist, “most people experiencing vision changes feel very alone and can become isolated. Our support groups really help someone realize that they are not alone, and that there are others that can truly relate to them and help them move through their vision changes. Many become friends and do things together outside of the group.”

A participant in the vision loss support group, who has macular degeneration, echoes the value of the group: “I have attended my support group for over 20 years and always learn something new.   But most important to me are the friendships I have formed. The main thing is that you will never be alone with your vision changes and concerns.  So I encourage anyone to join a support group because you will get more out of it than you think”.

A local support group is now offered in Stillwater. The Vision Loss Support Group meets on the 4th Tuesday of every month from 1:30 – 2:30 pm at Community Thread. There is no fee to attend but registration is required by calling 651-439-7434.

People challenged by vision loss don’t have to go it alone. By connecting with others at the local Vision Loss Support Group, and benefitting from the services offered through Vision Loss Resources, they can gain the capacity they need to function as independently as possible.

By Sally Anderson