Support Groups Help Seniors Losing Vision

Head shot of Michelle Miller, LCSW
Michelle Miller, LCSW

I Was the Best Grandma in the World

The silence in the room reverberated through the walls. The words spoken by Mrs. GG left everyone speechless. The silence was apparent, and the raw emotion could be felt with every intake of breath in the room. Older men and women sat around a large round table not knowing what to do with their feelings, thoughts, or the strong reactions felt by the words spoken by Mrs. GG, a new group member. “I was the best grandma in the world, until my vision went south. I know I will never be able to do anything fun with my grand babies again! I’m so sad about this whole thing; I just want my life to end.” I am mindful that these passing thoughts about life ending have been present in most of our minds at one time. But not all of us had been strong or transparent enough to say it aloud to anyone reaching a point of hopelessness.Mrs. GG Wiped the tears from her eyes believing maybe she had expressed too much, but she did not believe there was help or any options. The sudden onset of Macular Degeneration caused her to think the remainder of her life was now over. Life without vision was unimaginable to most of us at one time, but with words of encouragement from the group, time, and consistent training, Mrs. GG’s mindset began to shift. Although each day her vision worsened, slowly the fog of uncertainty and depression began to lift.

Support Groups Help Solve Problems

Our support group met twice a month to have meaningful discussions, and community based activities. Many of our group members were creative knitters, avid readers, and adventurous travelers, –believing these hobbies were no longer an option because of changing vision. Also many had grandchildren and wanted to continue the types of activities they had always done with them. Many of our monthly discussions involved such topics, and how to navigate retirement, and fully participate with children as a grandparent. Providing different ideas and solutions about how to keep enjoyable activities in the forefront of our lives was a frequent topic. In short, the group helped one another solve problems and increased confidence levels in continuing to live a normal life. Sometimes, we just have to get out there and try it to believe it can really happen successfully and safely. Taking on the attitude of a creative problem solver who thinks outside the box will help those who are losing vision later in life remain active and motivated. Whether online or in your local community, support groups offer the opportunity to talk to others, share common concerns, frustrations, and stories, and find solutions to vision-related difficulties. Like Mrs. GG, you too can find a supportive group with whom you can share your frustrations, concerns, and also your triumphs as you learn to live successfully with vision loss. Check out the following for more information on support groups and resources for seniors with vision loss. Peer Support Groups Age-Related Macular Degeneration Handling the News For Seniors Section Coping with Vision Loss Linda Fugate, Vision Rehabilitation Teacher and Peer Advisor Peer Advisors