For Seniors

Helping Seniors Live the Life They Want

What is the Mission?

The Mission of the Seniors Issues Division (SID) of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland is to help seniors maintain independence. Our goals are to provide information, support and encouragement to seniors who are losing vision. The SID of Maryland also helps seniors who have been blind or visually impaired for years obtain information and services as they transition to retirement and senior living. The SID conducts special seminars at the Annual Convention of the NFBMD and also holds special activities throughout the year.

SID will help you probe answers to such questions as:

  • Will I still be able to enjoy my grandchildren?
  • How will vision loss affect my relationship with my spouse?
  • How will I manage if I live alone?
  • Can I still enjoy leisure and recreation activities?
  • What if I still want to keep working?

Adjusting to vision loss doesn't happen overnight. You can still live the life you want. SID is here to help. Contact Ruth Sager, President, by phone at 410-602-9030 or by email.

What is Independence?

According to the National Federation of the Blind “Independence means choices, and the power to make those choices stick.” To explore this intriguing definition further read "The Nature of Independence" by Kenneth Jernigan.

The aging process is a series of transitions. Some transitions are liberating because they allow seniors the freedom to pursue hobbies and lifelong interests and dreams. Other transitions are more difficult. The best way to face transitions is head on. Denying that you are losing vision will not improve your eye sight or your quality of life. Asking for and accepting help will reduce your frustration and allow you to continue to manage your own affairs. Asking for and accepting help does not diminish independence if you keep our definition of independence in mind. The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland has many senior members who are leading full, active lives. We have experience and knowledge about how to deal with visual impairment, and we look forward to sharing it with you.

Independence Comes From Within

Developing a positive attitude is essential for seniors who wish to maintain independence. Independence is not achievable unless one believes that he is capable of it. Coming to that belief may take time. The following articles will help you to get started on this journey. Jim Deremeik, a low vision specialist who is the Education and Program Manager at the Johns Hopkins Lions Low Vision Center offers thought-provoking insights on low vision. This Article, "NonVisual Techniques—An Asset for People With Low Vision" encourages people to investigate and learn all they can about nonvisual ways of performing everyday tasks. In his article "Am I Blind?" John Pare, a leader in the National Federation of the Blind, raises thought provoking questions and issues which everyone who is losing vision must face.

Join the Conversation

Members of the SID automatically become members of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) Senior Division. The NFB Senior Division holds special seminars each summer at the National Convention of our parent organization, the National Federation of the Blind. The NFB Senior Division also sponsors an email list called nfb-seniors. Ask questions, share answers and provide encouragement to the fastest growing part of the blind population. Let's show all the computer wizards that we seniors are alive and well in the 21st century. Join the email list! The NFB Senior Division also conducts periodic telephone conferences on issues that affect seniors. To find out more about these teleconferences and to read literature of special interest to seniors, visit the NFB Seniors Division website. The NFB Seniors web page has additional information relevant to seniors.

Training: An Important Step to Independence

You can choose the training provider that best serves your needs. The important thing is to get started.

DORS Services

If you are over 55 and experiencing vision loss, you should contact the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) to receive help through their Independent Living Older Blind Program (ILOB). DORS has offices across the state. Rehabilitation teachers come to an individual's home and customize services according to a person's individual needs. To locate the office nearest you call 1-866-614-4780 or visit DORS website. Services include:

  • Information and referral to other needed support services
  • Evaluation and training in assistive technology, household devices and communication/low vision aids
  • Braille training
  • Orientation and mobility skills training
  • Home arts and activities of daily living training
  • Interpreter services for deaf-blind individuals, readers, and transportation or guide services

Eligibility Requirements:

  1. You are blind or severely visually impaired.
  2. Your ability to function independently with your family or in the community is substantially limited.
  3. Independent Living services would improve your ability to function in the family, community or in employment.
  4. You are age 55 or older.

BISM Services

Blind Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM) offers a program for seniors called SAIL (Seniors Achieving Independent Living). This program is run by blind people (most of whom are seniors). These small group classes are taught in Salisbury, Cumberland and Baltimore. Seniors meet twice weekly for a full day of education and instruction in Braille, computer technology, independent living, cooking, adjustment to vision loss, and cane travel (advanced travelers will learn to use public transportation systems). Seniors enjoy making new friends, peer interaction, off-site training excursions, community activities, and special classes such as gardening, rug making, crafting, and more! Participants benefit not only by learning many basic skills, but from meeting others in similar circumstances. BISM also provides workshops on various topics, monthly support groups, and peer support. For more information call 410-727-2600 or visit the BISM rehabilitation services for seniors web page. To learn more about training and other resources visit our Losing Your Vision: What Now and Blindness Resources pages.

Other Resources of Interest to Seniors

The Maryland Department of Aging

The Maryland Department of Aging has lots of information particularly for seniors. It also contains explanations of senior rights. Each county and Baltimore City also have a department of Aging which contains valuable resources.

Maryland Access Point

The Maryland Access Point (MAP) is the gateway to long term services and supports in Maryland. MAP specialists work with caregivers, professionals, and all individuals with long term care needs to plan, identify, connect, and assist with accessing private and public resources for long term services and supports.

Senior Call Check Program

The Senior Call Check program is the first-in-the-nation, statewide, free program designed to help keep older adults safe while aging in their homes. All Maryland residents, 65 and older, are invited to sign up for a daily call at a time convenient to their lifestyle.

The Senior Call Check participants receive an automated call every day. These calls will take place within a time frame chosen by the participant. If the participant does not answer their first call, they will be called two additional times in the same day. If those calls go unanswered, an alternate person, selected by the participant, will be notified. This alternate could be an adult child, a neighbor, or anyone designated as a reliable contact. The alternate will then be asked to check on the participant. For those who do not have an alternate or whose alternate is unresponsive, the state will call local law enforcement to conduct a wellness check.

For more information and to register, call 1-866-50-CHECK (1-866-502-4325) or visit the Maryland Department of Aging Senior Call Check program web page. Please help spread the word to seniors living alone at home.