Agnes served with the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps (QARANC) in the late 1960s. She was diagnosed with dementia when she was 57 years old and has neurological sight loss as a result of the condition.
The veteran says the support she receives from Sight Scotland Veterans has been a huge boost to her confidence, empowering her to reclaim everyday skills that had been made difficult as a result of her sight loss.
Agnes said: “My sight loss is neurological and not physiological. My vision fluctuates depending on the time of day and how well I am. I have issues with depth perception, distortion of what I do see and I get double vision. My peripheral field is very narrowed and I suffer from Charles Bonnet syndrome, so I hallucinate, seeing facial distortion and various other things. This becomes more marked when I’m tired.
“Before I joined Sight Scotland Veterans, I was finding things like crossing the road were a huge challenge. I was always covered in bruises due to having difficulties with spacial awareness. It was causing me distress and I desperately needed rehabilitation to learn how to safely cross the road or go up and down stairs.
“I’ve been getting long cane training from Katrina Campbell, one of the charity’s rehabilitation officers, so that I’m not afraid to use my long cane.
“The rehabilitation team are great at providing training.The team never tell me I can’t do something. Instead, they look at how they can support me to do it safely.”
Agnes also regularly attends the charity’s Hawkhead Centre in Paisley – an experience that she says has been life changing.
“The staff are so flexible, and they understand," she explained. "They give me support specific to me and are happy to do it again and again until I remember. I’ve been re-empowered to use equipment in the kitchen and to travel again through the charity’s training and support.
“Us veterans help each other come to terms with sight loss. I really benefit from seeing others using different bits of equipment or techniques to overcome day-to-day issues.
“Attending the Hawkhead Centre has been transforming. It’s given me confidence and the camaraderie has been life changing. I feel totally accepted as me: not Agnes with dementia, just Agnes.
“It's like family. It will change your whole perspective. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me.”
You may also be interested in
Sam is a National Service veteran with the eye condition macular degeneration. Since joining Sight Scotland Veterans, he has received support from the charity's rehabilitation team and his local outreach worker.