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One suggestion is to find out if there are any social groups in your area that focus on macular degeneration and blindness -- maybe these groups have suggestions and /or meetings for people with this disability -- you can narrow in on this by using google and some keyworks like "macular degeneration" in quotes plus your zipcode. There are classes that prepare people for the onset of blindness.
Also -- Have you sat with Earl to find out if he has an interest or hobby that you can help him re-energize? Back in Earl's day Ham radio operation was very popular. It does require passing a test to get his licence. However, there are books and classes for a few nights before taking the test. The test is not too hard for anyone who has an interest. I am a ham.
There are many people on the "air" to talk to, many Earls age that he could form friendships with. I can speak of this first hand because I am a ham operator and my handheld "radio unit is not complex and could be managed quite easily for someone who is losing sight.. He could talk with others around the state, country and across the world. It is a wonderful hobby for someone who might feel isolated by his disability. If his house is near a major hightway he could listen and speak on a CB ( Citizen Band ) radio to truckers without a license.
Earl sound like a nice guy -- make sure as his vision diminishes that he is safe in his home from fire ( cooking) and falls ( clear walking paths in the home, grab bars in the bath and on stair cases) and that you check his refrig for fresh food that is simple to prepare -- Does he have "meals on wheels" ?
Good Luck you are a great friend -- Susan
Thank you so so much for your great ideas. :) I am going to just ask him about ham radio, kind of do a chit chat about it without suggesting anything. With emphysema too, it really is hard, no physical ability and no visual ability. !! I like the warnings you gave for me in checking his house. He is proud, so you know that is hard to overcome. I wish he would take meals on wheels, I think I'll go to our senior services and start checking. thanks, Wendy who is 58 ;)