Seniors independent with center's help

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Grace Dubendorf, who turned 80 Sunday, is slowly losing her sight. She has macular degeneration, but she has found a way to help.

Dubendorf made friends with several people who have the same or similar vision problems at a "VizAbilities" support group for people with age-related vision loss held at the Oak Creek Community Center.

"It helps all who attend," Dubendorf said. "Merely bringing together people with a common difficulty helps. When we talk to one another, there is an understanding."

The VizAbilities support group is one of the many facets of the Independent Life Center.

Since 1997, the Independent Life Center has been a part of the Craig community, helping seniors and disabled residents try to live independently. It began as a volunteer organization, until it began to receive government funding.

The center has grown since 1997, extending its services across Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties. Just recently, it further extended its services to Routt County by opening a satellite office in the Oak Creek Community Center.

Sponsored chiefly by the United Way and with help from the Visiting Nurse Association, the Independent Life Center works with people who have any type of physical or mental disability or handicap.

South Routt Office Coordinator and Service Provider Cathie Voorhees works with many Routt County residents every day, often visiting the homes of those in need to see if she can help.

Some things, Voorhees said, can be changed or implemented easily to make someone's life easier. On some of Voorhees' visits, she has noticed the vital need for a wheelchair ramp. On other visits, Voorhees has made simple changes such as adding larger silverware grips to assist people with arthritis. Sometimes, she simply takes people to the grocery store or the doctor's office.

"It's a matter of making a phone call," Voorhees said.

"Cathie has special training for people with vision problems, so she's very valuable to us," said Loid Luscomb, office manager for the Independent Life Center.

Voorhees has worked with the blind in Craig. She uses her knowledge to research solutions to specific problems people have described and passes the information along at meetings.

"It gives them a chance to talk out their frustrations," Voorhees said.

Dubendorf said the meetings make the group more aware of information that is available and lets them know about any advancements in eye care.

For more information about the South Routt Independent Life Center, call Coordinator Cathy Voorhees at 826-0833.

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