Assisted Care at Pillsbury Manor South
We offer our residents a wide array of social activities and events. We recognize how important it is to our residents and our community to have a variety of options for socialization and recreation. A sampling includes: card games, exercise classes, manicures, bocce ball, excursions, movies, and more. We also schedule regular outings to local events and attractions, all transportation is included.
In January 2015, a resident group was formed at Pillsbury Manor South and they call themselves “The Round Table Discussion Group”. The group consists of approximately 10 residents and is facilitated by the building’s Activity Director, Anika Crosby. Each week the group meets and explores topics such as ethics, poetry, government, personal growth and spirituality.
Throughout this past year the group has developed an intimacy and rapport that nurtures peer support. As the group continues to grow in closeness so does the depth of their discussions, which are often therapeutic and cathartic in nature. In one recent meeting, the group explored the topic of “Self-Imposed Limiting Beliefs” in which the participants shared their own limiting beliefs and what they felt kept them from attempting and achieving. One of these participants was Sahra Aschenbach.
Sahra has been a resident at Pillsbury since early 2014. She was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration in 1996. At age 81, Sahra is now legally blind and is continuing to lose her eyesight. Sahra worked as a psychologist for the majority of her life and only retired in 2012 due to her failing eyesight. Sahra enjoyed the socialization and mental stimulation that the group allowed her but she would often express feelings of hopelessness and despair about her dwindling eyesight. As her eyesight diminished her world began to feel smaller as well. During the discussion around “Limiting Beliefs” Sahra described herself as feeling “useless” and “stymied” in regard to this unexpected “curve ball” that life had thrown her. She further shared that aside from being a psychologist she also used to be a photographer. She had loved her photography, particularly taking pictures of people and nature. Now, with only a small percentage of her eyesight remaining, she feels that this was yet another part of herself she had to let go of; another part of herself lost to this disease. As the group tried to help her discover a way to find meaning and purpose in her life again, a light bulb went on for her, and she unveiled her own solution. She had heard of a visually-impaired photographer in Vermont, Ira Chomsky, and resolved to find him by contacting the Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (VABVI). Sahra was hopeful that Ira would be willing to work with her and teach her how to operate as a visually-impaired photographer herself. The discussion group cheered her on and hoped her aspirations wouldn’t fall by the wayside.
Two months later, Sahra's progress was an inspiration to the entire group. She had called the VABVI and to her delight, Ira Chomsky answered the phone. Ira was happy to help Sahra get started and helped her find an appropriate camera to begin her newly- awakened endeavor. Sahra took her camera on her daily walks and snapped photos of her two favorite subjects - nature and people. Her children helped her upload them to her computer, sort through them, and choose their favorites to develop. She now has an album of pictures that she proudly shares with others. “I’m ecstatically happy that I can go out and take pictures like I used to; being a photographer was one of the happiest periods of my life”, Sahra excitedly explains. She remembers how she felt isolated and disabled by her impairment, “and now I am alive and excited with this life, and what I can do with this,” she eagerly adds. She is able to view her own photos through a high-powered magnifying lens in her room and then to identify colors and images in her pictures that she is unable to see in her everyday surroundings. “I look at the world totally differently now – there was a period of time where I wasn’t seeing anything, but now I’m seeing everything,” she joyfully recounts.
Recently, Sahra was contacted by another Vermont resident of the same age who is beginning to lose her eyesight. She had heard about Sahra, felt touched by her story, and reached out to her – and Sahra reached back. Sahra warmly shares that a friendship is developing between them. She is using her experience to connect with others and to offer support and friendship along the way. With her rekindled passion for photography, Sahra has an avenue for self-expression and a proud milestone in her journey to overcoming an obstacle that had felt insurmountable. Sahra’s story is a powerful testament for those who choose to pursue possibility beyond the perceived limitations of disability. In her own words, “I want to be able to share these photos because it feels like a triumph over this diagnosis!”
The Pillsbury Manor South Round Table Discussion Group continues to meet each week and encourage existing and new residents to explore their possibilities!
Photos by Sahra:
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