My Family of Choice

When we were small our very survival depended upon our being around, and being cared for by,  others.  Now that we are older, our very survival depends upon our being around, and being care for by, others.

A 2013 study done in Britain showed that socially isolated people die prematurely regardless of their underlying health issues. Lack of social supports is linked to increased depression and decreased cognitive functioning. Yikes. Not much of an advertisement for becoming a hermit; is it?

It does not take a rocket scientist to guess what happens to people when they develop visual impairment. I suspect everyone out there has had some curtailment in his social network.

A little or a lot, we became more socially isolated. Not a good thing.

A little autobiographical data here: I have no children and I am an only child. In fact, on one family tree line I am an only child, an only grandchild and an only great grandchild. I like to say they believed in quality, not quantity?.

In any case, blood relatives are in short supply for me. But do I have family? Sure enough. I have been assembling my family for the last 50 years or so.

The really nice thing about my family is every single one has been hand-picked by yours ever-lovin’ truly. There is not a bad apple in the barrel.

When I had my vision loss in February, I put out the SOS. I got by and kept my sanity – OK, enough with the smart comments, already! – by leaning on my friends/family. Lin and I talked every morning for weeks. People have driven 80 miles to visit. Like I said before, for awhile I thought I had a new career. It was called going out to lunch! People volunteered to get me out; bless them. I went.  [Lin/Linda again: if you haven’t read Sue’s Out to Lunch page, you really should!]

Besides my close friends, I reached out to more casual friends and acquaintances as well. I have made the comment a half a dozen times or more: people are great! They generally want to help. Give them the opportunity and they will be there for you.

And the nice thing about asking people who are not really close friends to help? You end up with more close friends!

If you do not already have a strong support system, it remains possible to build one. Churches (temples, mosques, etc) are usually receptive to requests for help attending services and social events. Although I hate to admit it, most AMD patients qualify for services and events held for the elderly. Animal rescue organizations and other charities will generally get you a ride if you want to volunteer.

The problem is, these people are not going door to door looking for isolated, visually impaired folks. It is up to you to reach out.

There you go. One more thing I did to cope. I did not let myself become isolated.

Oh, and remember opposite to emotion. You remember? Even if you are feeling like something the ‘cat drug in’ emotionally and want to stay home and cry, reach out anyway. That downward spiral needs to be broken and you are the only one who can do it. If you need it, I still have a blue, tulle tutu I could loan you.

Next: Busy, Busy, Busy

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