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Posted 26 Mar 2001   For week ended March 09, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 08Mar01

By Kent Larsen

Blind 82-year-old LDS Woman Starts Over

MODESTO, CALIFORNIA -- After a lifetime of serving others, 82-year-old Maxine Varley has increasingly had to depend on others as she lost her eyesight to macular degeneration. But last month she started learning to be independent again.

At 57, Varley retired from a career as a medical secretary and begin working a small ranch near her home in Modesto. Then she discovered what seemed at the time like her life's calling -- hospice work. She cared for many people as they came to the end of their lives. She also stayed active in the LDS Church, working as a volunteer at the local Family History Center.

But at age 70, Varley's condition first appeared. An incurable progressive malady that slowly steals the vision of the elderly, macular degeneration is one of the most common causes of blindness. It has no cure.

At first Varley struggled through with the vision that she had, but as the malady became worse, she was forced to depend more and more on others. She eventually was forced to stop her hospice work because she could no longer read the names of the medications for her patients, She also had to stop her work at the local LDS Family History Center.

The loss of her eyesight even led Varley to become depressed, until a friend told her about the Orientation Center for the Blind in the San Francisco bay area. Hoping to learn independence again, Varley has now moved to the center for a six-to-nine month course in which she will learn to do things for herself again. "I use to let people decide things for me, but not anymore. I'm going to learn to handle my own affairs," Varley said.

Although she can't see, Varley's goals extend beyond caring for herself again. She says both her eyes and heart are fixed on a goal. "I set as a goal to be able to take care of people again, babies or the elderly, people who don't have much of anything."


Senior takes control of her future
Walnut Creek CA Contra Costa Times 4Mar01 P2


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