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Coping in Social Settings

Hi there! I am a case worker and I am currently supporting a client who has macular degeneration. She asked if I could help her identify some ways to cope with her vision loss when she is out in public. I hope that your shared experiences may be able to support my client in finding new coping skills to use.

My client shared with me that she is struggling to manage feelings of embarrassment, anxiety, and overall disappointment when she is out in public and faces this one scenario. She has many friends in her building, and is an active member of the community, but has a hard time recognizing people in passing. She shared, "I know who these people are, but when they say hi to me quickly as they walk by, I sometimes don't say hi back because I cannot see who it is right away. By the time I get a good enough look, or figure out who it was by their voice, it's too late because they've already walked away. It's hard for me because I don't want people to think that I'm being unfriendly or not saying hi to them on purpose. I just don't have enough time to figure out who it is and respond appropriately." She explained that she isn't looking for solutions to this issue, but rather ways to cope with the feelings that come along with the issue in the moment internally. She identifies that she isn't able to change anything to stop this issue from happening, and knows that it most likely will continue to worsen as her MD progresses. Any shared experiences, coping skills, advice, are welcome and appreciated. Thank you!

  1. I feel for your client, because my mother was in a similar situation, in that she couldn't recognize faces, not even mine. She lived in her own house, though, so she didn't have the issue of many different people walking past her. What she did to cope was to quietly ask people, if she got the opportunity, to say who they were as they approached her. Then they could do this the next time they saw her. She didn't do it to everyone, just when it was easy and appropriate. She especially explained this to people at the social club she attended. They learnt to say "Hello, it's so-and-so here." Another step she took at the club was to try to sit at the same place each time, facing the entrance or at least facing the way people would approach. This had a double effect. People would come up to her, rather than Mum having to approach people to talk. Secondly, she had more time to work out who was approaching if she could see them for longer. This was much better than someone coming up behind her. She had no idea who they were then. I hope these suggestions are of some help to your client. Please give her our best wishes, Wendy, Patient Leader.

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