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MARILYN HAGERTY: Margo, Kristen help seniors see, hear

And then she met Margo. My friend, Laura Jane Paulson, had been struggling with macular degeneration. She had trouble telling time, reading the Herald and even worse -- she couldn't see well enough to play bridge. LJ, as I call her, checked in wi...

Marilyn Hagerty

And then she met Margo.

My friend, Laura Jane Paulson, had been struggling with macular degeneration. She had trouble telling time, reading the Herald and even worse -- she couldn't see well enough to play bridge.

LJ, as I call her, checked in with eye doctors and eventually found there was nothing more they could do for her. It seemed she was out in left field.

But LJ isn't one to take "no" for an answer. After all, she was director of food services for the Grand Forks schools and a home economics teacher here for 26 years.

So she began asking questions. And she learned there is help out there. All you have to do is ask. She found out about Margo Lentz Berg, a vision specialist for the North Dakota Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. She's right here in Grand Forks at telephone number (701) 795-3022.

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She found out about North Dakota Vision Services located with the School for the Blind, also right here in Grand Forks. The phone number is (701) 795-2700. The services fall under a Title 2 of the Older Americans Act.

On her quest for help, LJ would say, "I'm asking questions. I want answers."

All too often, it seems, people struggle along not seeing and not realizing there is help out there.

Margo, who helps people over 55, arrived at the home of LJ recently with a bundle of helps. She gave her a calendar with great big numbers on it. She gave her a lamp she can use to augment her reading ability.

She discussed video magnifiers that can be purchased for $2,500 to $3,800.

Without the help, LJ was finding it impossible to handle her bills or tell the time of day. From Margo, she learned about clocks that talk and big, bold print calendars.

Margo makes herself available with a card in big, black print. And along with Margo, there is more help available from North Dakota Vision Services.

Ken Dockter, a vision teacher there, says people call or just walk in. There is help in this non-profit facility including playing cards with large numbers or in Braille. There is a variety of magnifiers.

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Periodically the school holds an adult week and brings in eight people at a time to teach skills that help those with low vision.

Dockter said the state has programs with help from North Dakota Lions Clubs, the School for the Blind, Vocational Rehabilitation and the Association for the Blind.

Just as there is help with poor vision, there is help for people with hearing problems. Often, the hearing program also helps people with problems of eyesight.

Margo works with Kristen Vetter who works in outreach here for the School for the Deaf in Devils Lake. Vetter's local phone number is (701) 795-2792 or (800) 887-2980.

Reach Hagerty at mhagerty@gra.midco.net or (701) 772-1055.

Related Topics: HEALTH
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