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Building Your Own Support System

Last updated: January 2023

A frequent topic of conversation in the macular degeneration (MD) community is the need for the support of family and friends.  It always saddens me when our members have no close friends or family to help them as their vision worsens.

Major fears with MD

A major fear is the loss of our driver's licenses. When we can no longer drive, how can we grocery shop or visit our doctor? Even if we still drive we may need help with transportation or shopping. If you live in a city you have access to public transportation as well as Uber.

But what about those living in rural America? I live 15 miles from the nearest small town. To grocery shop at Walmart, I must travel 60 miles one way. Visits to my retinal specialist are 115 miles away.

I cannot safely drive in cities or any unfamiliar area. I am blessed with family members to drive me anytime I need them. There are many people living with MD without any support system in place; hampered by lack of transportation.

I am writing this article with those people in mind. It takes effort, but it is possible to build your own support system.

Places to find community and support

Church or Synagogue

Your local congregation can be a valuable resource. A close friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer. All her family lives out of state and couldn’t help with trips for chemo. In addition to her friends, our church stepped up with meals and offers of transportation anytime it was needed.

I am attending a party for our ladies' group next week. It is being hosted in the home of one of our congregants that I am unfamiliar with. A member will meet me so I can follow her to the party. The same member offered to pick me up at home 40 miles away.

I have no doubt if my family member couldn’t drive me to the doctor that someone in my church would gladly provide transportation.

Community Centers

Most communities, even in rural areas, have community centers that serve meals each day. The community center I visit is very close-knit. Over time, we have become “family”.  We check on each other in case of absence. Several in our group have major health problems.  Someone is always offering to grocery shop or provide a drive to the doctor.

Don’t worry if you don’t know anyone there. Newcomers are welcomed and quickly become part of the group.

Civic Groups

Local civic groups such as the Lions Club, Rotary Club, and others welcome new members. Especially in small communities, friendships among the members develop quickly. I have found people that volunteer in civic groups to be incredibly generous with their time.

If you don’t belong to any local clubs find what is available in your area and join one that interests you. Need a ride? Make your need known and someone is sure to offer transportation.

These are just a few ways I know to build a support system. Please share in a comment if you have found support outside of family.

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