CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — As we get older most of us give up some of the benefits we had—such as the ability to walk, hear or see well enough to function.
Let’s say you are losing your sight, and don’t know where to turn for help in dealing with that. So..you end up at home where you may not have family or friends to help you do necessary things like shopping or running errands.
Signal Centers in Chattanooga is a non-profit organization with many functions..one of which is providing what’s called Assistive Technology. Larisa DeZayas is a specialist who works with those with low vision or blindness.
“My profession is called orientation and mobility which is often shortened to O and M…so I’m an O and M’er and the walking companion program is just a way of re-packageing O and M so that people who need the service won’t shy away from it,” said Larisa Dezayas, with Signal Centers.
Larisa has more than 20 years experience as an orientation and mobility specialist. Her goal with every patient is to get them back into mainstream life.
“I’ve had people come to me, to their appointments, sitting in a wheel chair…and the firsr thing I’ll ask them is, ‘Why are you sitting in that wheel chair?’…and if the answer is because they can’t see..then I show them how to walk without the wheel chair..to get up and walk with either holding on to my elbow…using the sighted guide technique, or we can start talking about how they can use a cane,” said Ms. Dezayas.
Older adults with even mild vision loss…can be overly cautious about losing their balance and being at risk for a fall. Sometimes they stop walking altogether. The staff at the Assistive Technology center can work with people at their homes….like the patients in this video done by the center.
They can get up to 10 free half hour coaching sessions.
“They can call Signal Centers and ask for the cane lady…or the walking companion coach program,” said Ms. Dezayas.
Again, the goal of these highly trained specialists is to get people out of their homes and active again..despite the loss of sight.