'I can’t go out and run a half marathon but I can sit on the phone and talk to people'

Posted: Monday 01 November 2021
Barbara Ferguson smiling

Barbara was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in her right eye more than three years ago, but it was only when the condition started to affect both eyes in lockdown last year that it really started to have an impact on her life.

“Those first two to three months I did feel very much at a loss,” she said.

“I had to stop driving, I was frightened to go out on my own, I couldn’t read anything, everything went and it was pretty grim.”

But thanks to support from rehabilitation officers and the Macular Society the 80 year old has been able to continue to do many of the things she enjoys.

“In my own home I’m fine” she said. “I’m cooking, knitting and listening to audiobooks, so life is good in that way.”

A few months ago Barbara, who has been a member of the Macular Society since her initial diagnosis in 2018, saw an advert asking for befrienders to support others who are living with macular disease.

“There was an article asking for volunteers and I thought ‘I could do that’. I am very immobile with arthritis, I can’t go out and run a half marathon, but I can sit on the phone and talk to people.”

And since signing up she has struck up a lovely bond with her befriendee and says she really looks forward to their regular chats.

She said: “We live in very different situations and I’ve certainly thought that she’s dealing with a worse situation than me and she still goes out on her own, so why am I worried about getting out and crossing the street.

“I certainly feel that our chats help me as I much as they help her. We do lots of laughing together, which is good for both of us. It’s very good for your mood. We exchange recipes, talk about our gardens, talk about books. It does enrich your life.”

She added: “One of the things I found most difficult at the beginning was that I thought my useful life had come to an end. But, that’s not true, as you can get on and do things. And by doing this it means you are contributing and paying back. If she’s been feeling a bit low and she says I’ve cheered her up you know you’ve done something good today.”

This week is National Befriending Week. Our amazing befrienders make a huge difference to lives of people with macular disease. If you’re interested in becoming a befriender, or would like a befriender yourself, contact us on 0300 3030 111.