A senior man sitting alone in a chair at home, staring ahead and contemplating the future. He is holding a cane used for stability and impaired vision recognition.

I’m Scared to Live Alone with Macular Degeneration

“I live alone and worry about what’s going to happen to me.” This is not only a concern for those who have macular degeneration but for many people with perfect vision, especially those of a ‘certain’ age, ie. seniors.

Living alone and being alone

People live alone by choice or by circumstances. Decisions made when we’re young and healthy may become a problem when we’re older and not so healthy. When people in my Facebook group discuss this, if they hear that someone has children, they assume that the person gets help from them. As people often point out, just because you have children doesn’t mean they’ll help you!

How does a person deal with living alone and facing a vision impairment or the possibility of one? I think that there are 3 basic aspects:

  1. Building relationships
  2. Finding services BEFORE they are needed
  3. Deciding if it’s time to move somewhere with more access to what is needed or may be needed

Building relationships

Were you married but now divorced or widowed? Did you depend on your partner or spouse for many things of the things that are now a problem? You are not alone if that applies to you.

With a vision impairment or other health problems, the most important thing you can do is to create and nurture relationships so that you have a circle of friends, especially if you do not have a family or your family isn’t near. Here are some suggestions about where you might find people to create your circle:

  • Church
  • Senior groups: You can search for ‘area agency on aging near me'
  • Face-to-face support groups: Search ‘low vision support group near me’ or ‘macular degeneration support group near me’
  • Groups with shared interests: Check your local library for groups like these. Interests such as crafting, reading, exercising, and other pastimes

The other reason to be social is that there is a lot of research that says that those who remain social are healthier and happier than those who are isolated. Those who are isolated have higher risks of health problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and more! You can search for ‘aging social interaction’ if you want to learn more about this research and what it might mean for you.

Finding transportation

Probably the biggest concern is transportation. You can’t go to church, senior or other groups if you can’t drive and you can’t find a ride. There are services such as Uber and Lyft with apps or phone numbers to call. I recommend that you check out transportation in your area before you need it. It can alleviate some of your anxiety. If your vision is still decent, you might try some of these options now so you know what they are like:

  • Taxi, Uber and Lyft: These vary in price depending on your area and how far you are going. Ask each company how much a ride to the same place would be.
  • Public transportation: Are there buses, trains, or subways near you?
  • Medicaid and some Medicare advantage plans: Medicaid will pay for emergency medical transportation and will pay for some rides to medical appointments. Check with your contact for more about this. Some Medicare advantage plans will pay for transportation to medical appointments. Contact your provider for more information.
  • Local subsidized community transportation: If you search for ‘subsidized transportation near me’, you will get a list of what’s available.
  • Rides in Sight: This is a service where you provide your zip code and you will get a list of what transportation is available in your area. You can phone them or go to their website.

To move or not to move

One of the realities of living alone with or without a visual impairment is there may come a time when moving is the best option to put you where you can take advantage of the social interactions and availability of services. It’s a BIG decision! If at all possible, try to make this decision while your vision and health are in decent shape.

There is help available from organizations like Senior Move Management. There are also care facilities that have services for those with a vision impairment. Some words used are assisted living, residential care homes, independent living facilities, or community residential facilities. If you cannot find one that is specific to vision impairments, make sure you look for a place that is safe, easy to get around, and offers opportunities to get together with other residents.

Your future

Yes, it’s tough to live alone, especially if you’ve become isolated through no fault of your own. I hope that you will think of ways to become more connected to others and to check out the services and resources you need now and in the future. If you can’t find a way to get what you need where you are, perhaps it’s time to think about moving.

Whatever you decide to do, know that there is help for you. All you have to do is to reach out!

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