alt=a woman adjusts a dimmer switch and looks at a hanging lamp over her shoulder.

Aging in Place

About 7 or 8 years ago, I knew it was time to begin searching for a place to call home where I could “age in place,” as they say. I was lucky enough to find one in the perfect location for someone with early-stage macular degeneration. It is on a bus route, within walking distance to stores, parks, doctors, everything I might need if I lost my ability to drive. It is also a condo, so I have no outside chores or maintenance, although I do still miss my garden.

Diagnosis and giving up night driving

Then came the diagnosis. Advanced macular degeneration. Wet. But only the left eye. Thank goodness I had already moved here. It has been easy to get to my retinal specialist downtown on the bus so I don’t have to drive after an injection. Night driving is in the past now as well. My vision is still quite good, but there are a few little puffs of smoke showing in my dry right eye, and several little distorted spots in the left.

Problems with glare

Now, after being here for a few years, the location is still perfect, but it’s become time to gradually make some changes in my unit itself due to the progression of my macular degeneration. My big south-facing windows allow me a wonderful view on a cloudy day but cause too much glare on a sunny one. One of the symptoms of macular degeneration, glare is a problem for many of us in the AMD community. The new solar film will soon take care of that, as well as helping to reduce the heat on hot summer days.

Problems with low light

Then there’s what seems like the opposite problem; the difficulty in seeing in low light. One of my first small improvements was installing dimmable LED light fixtures. The one above the dining table where I work has been a godsend! I didn’t touch the ceiling light in my spare room, or should I say my sewing room, instead, buying adjustable magnifying lamps.

Dark adaptation is another result of AMD, where our eyes don’t adjust quickly enough to changes in the level of light. I’ve found small motion sensor lights placed inside the doorways help a bit.

Some upgrades needed

I had bought a slightly larger TV when I moved here, but recently I’ve noticed I can’t read a lot of the information on the screen. Now I’m waiting for a good sale on an even larger TV. This 'getting old with vision problems' is expensive!

One big expense on my wish list is replacing the kitchen countertops. It’s not really a necessity but should reduce some of the aggravation when trying to clean up. Who decided that mottled black was a good countertop colour anyway? I can’t see my glasses if I’ve put them down there, or the crumbs I might have missed. Even the green leafy top of a tomato disappears on it. But that’s definitely not in this year’s budget.

Have you had to make adjustments in your living space to accommodate the changes in your vision? Do you have any suggestions to share? Some things that might help the rest of us? Please let us know in the comments.

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