St. George Village resident Breda Kosakowski has been living with macular deneration for the past 12 years. The disease, which causes loss of vision in the center of the visual field and leaves only peripheral vision, is a major cause of visual impairment in older adults.
Undaunted by her diagnosis, Breda still lives independently and has found many aids to help her cope with her vision loss, such as a talking watch, a magnifying screen for reading books and magazines, and a magnifying glass for reading menus in restaurants. But some things were a little trickier to figure out, such as food preparation.
“When I’d make a salad, I used to tease my husband about what he might find in it!” she laughs. “I couldn’t see the food I was chopping on my white cutting board. But using a black cutting board solved the problem.”
In addition, Breda, who enjoys participating in fitness classes at SGV, was concerned that her disability would affect her ability to participate in physical activities. “I particuarly love line dancing, but worried that my impaired vision would keep me from being able to follow the steps,” she explains. “But we practice the steps before we try the dance and the instructor counts for us. I found my vision loss didn’t really affect me. I can still dance!”
Breda adds that her fitness activities have contributed to her overall good health. “When I went for my most recent annual physical, I told my doctor about all of the exercise I get here at St. George Village,” she says. “I said that I do line dancing, yoga, tai chi, strength training, cardio and stretching. She was very impressed.”
Breda has also revived her poker playing skills since coming to live at SGV four years ago. “I love poker! Some friends found ‘jumbo’ poker cards for me and the other players call out the cards as they’re dealt,” she explains. “I just have to remember everything they say!”
Although Breda continues to visit her eye doctor on a regular basis, her eyes have been stable for quite a while. She considers herself fortunate. “As long as I’m stable, I’m good,” she says.
Best of all, Breda says she’s never let her visual impairment interfere with her zest for life: “I’m busy every day of the week!”