In today's world of health care debates and issues of aging in America, I have found myself, like many other seniors, having to deal with unexpected health issues in my "golden years."
We often hear or read arguments on the cost of health care, yet rarely hear about the many community services that can assist us right here in our own back yard. I see it as a type of preventative measure -- prevention of depression, falls or a need for caregiver assistance. All are added costs of health care due to illness that may not be necessary with the proper intervention.
If there is one thing I could share with you, it is that growing old doesn't mean losing sight of your independence, literally. I was diagnosed with macular degeneration some time back and my vision began to decline, along with my independence. So many things I had taken for granted -- like driving my car, reading the daily newspaper or seeing the expressions on faces around me -- all started to fade.
I searched for an answer to be independent again and often heard the same result: There is nothing more that can be done for your macular degeneration. I began to be concerned about my future and my ability to live independently and safely.
My world as I knew it was drastically changing. Each new challenge I was facing brought on new emotions. It was by a chance discussion that I found a resource that gave back to me my independence.
It is not like the typical medical appointment one is rushed through, but a genuine experience that I found life changing. I feel it is important to share with others: "There is hope and help after vision loss."
The specialty service is called low vision, where magnifiers, assistive technology and gadgets are available to compensate for my aging eyes. It is a gem hidden in our city's medical corridor on Main Street. My understanding is that this human service agency, Olmsted Center for Sight, assists people of all ages who are having difficulty with the simple things in life that we often take for granted, like reading the editorials in our local paper. Before I knew it, I was provided with all the bells and whistles to change my life.
I experienced a low-vision examination where the doctor looked at my vision by asking me questions of what I wanted to see again and then patiently showed me magnifiers that allowed me to see and read print again.
I also was provided with a magnifier to watch my favorite television programs again with some success. Before I knew it, someone contacted me and came to my home and provided me with all types of things to make my life easy again.
Simple things like a talking watch, a check guide, a special pan to cook with and a large number telephone, just to name a few, were provided. I was amazed at how simply the Olmsted Center for Sight looked at my limitations and found a way to allow me to actively and safely partake in my daily routines again.
I cannot tell you how important this has been to me and my life. The dim view of my future is now bright and vibrant again. Although I still deal with my macular degeneration as a disease, I now have been given the tools to grasp and enjoy my future.