When Rose Codeglia, 81, began losing her vision in 1992, she lost hope and sank into a deep depression.
In April, she found new hope by attending the newly formed sight impaired support group at the Douglas County Senior Center.
"The meetings gave me a new hope. I thought there are other people who live independently, why can't I? I came away thinking I can do a lot of stuff myself," she said. "Not everybody wants to talk about losing their vision. To me, it's very helpful. I'm very thankful."
The support group meets 10:30 a.m. the first Thursday of the month with different topics discussed each meeting.
Group President Nancy Andrews was diagnosed with macular degeneration in 1987, and was declared legally blind five years later.
"It lets people know what's out there. It took me years to get going. I didn't know what resources were out there," she said. "I'm trying to introduce help to people who need it. This is to keep you alive and going and active in the community."
Andrews introduces the group to helpful equipment such as handheld electronic magnifiers, video magnifiers and Braille label guns. She also discusses tips such as using Velcro on certain keys on her keyboard to keep her place, or how to successfully use public transportation.
"If you are legally blind where can you get this help? The doctors don't help you. Someone like me in my 60s, I'm looking for help to live independently," Andrews said. "If you have a problem maybe we can help you with a shortcut. I'm just trying to make people aware even if you have a disability you can still do things."
Gardnerville resident Bob Schenzel, 86, has struggled with macular degeneration for 10 years. He has been attending the meetings from the beginning.
"I wanted to exchange ideas and opinions with people who share my vision problem," he said. "It raises confidence and opens new portholes to knowledge and what can be done."
Schenzel has adjusted to his impairment by using strips of Velcro on his microwave and radio to help him identify them. He also listens to Readers Digest on CD, uses a computer with magnification and watches closed captioned TV.
"In a sense I'm blessed with low vision, he said. "I don't require an attendant to help me out."
For DiAnna, the support group has helped her maintain a sense of independence. The Gardnerville resident has slowly been losing her vision due to diabetes.
"I'm learning to maneuver through life better with my low vision problem," she said. "People can learn to be more independent, and feel better in the world if they can take care of themselves."
For more information about the sight impaired support group, call 783-6455.
What: Sight impaired support group
When: 10:30 a.m. the first Thursday of the month
Where: Douglas County Senior Center, 2300 Meadow Lane, Gardnerville
Douglas Area Rural Transit: 783-6456
UPCOMING GROUP TOPICS
Aug. 2 - ADA accessible sidewalks, parking lots and wheel chairs. Cosswalk sound alerts and crossing features for the sight impaired
Sept. 6 - Technology resources for sight impaired
Oct. 4 - Purchasing sight impaired equipment with grants, veteran services
Nov. 1 - Other nonprofit organizations to serve the blind
Dec. 6 - Tools available for sight impaired