Discussion Groups Are More Than Just Talk for Mary Andrus

Mary Andrus

Hadley discussion groups have been transformational for Mary Andrus. “They opened my eyes to the possibilities of things that I can do – things I enjoyed before,” she says. “I thought life was over. Now I feel like I’m getting my independence back.”

The What’s Cooking discussion group has reignited Mary’s love for cooking. Hadley Growers is inspiring her to get back to gardening. Resource Roundtable taught her about helpful things she never knew existed. Get Up and Go encouraged her to resume an exercise program. However, Travel Talk may have had the greatest impact because it reawakened her sense of adventure.

Mary stopped driving and retired from her government job in 2018 due to glaucoma. Now 68, she has lived alone since her husband died in 2020.

Before glaucoma, Mary admits, “I never had a clue about vision loss. I didn’t know what people did. I assumed they had to stay home.” Medical professionals were not helpful either. “The eye doctor didn’t tell me about resources for dealing with the day to day, and you need to know about the day to day,” she declares.

So, Mary stayed home. After many months on a waiting list, she was able to get in-person training on how to use a white cane. However, she was still hesitant to go beyond her driveway.

Mary signed up with Hadley in 2023 and started participating in the discussion groups. When listening to Hadley’s Travel Talk, a lightbulb went off. A member talked about traveling from New York to Florida by train and she recalls, “It just floored me. I was thinking, wow, I’d like to eventually travel and do all that.”

She started with shorter outings. “I wanted to be able to get out and use Uber,” she explains. Specifically, she was determined to go to the local gym so she could improve her strength and balance to prevent falls. With tips and inspiration from the discussion groups, she figured it out. It is still scary sometimes, she says, but the gym is now part of her weekly routine, and she is feeling positive results from the exercise. “Never in a million years did I think I could take an Uber. It feels good to know I can accomplish this.” she shares. “I thought I’d be stuck at home.”

With this renewed confidence, Mary recently flew to visit a friend in Las Vegas. Thanks to Travel Talk, she lined up services to help her navigate the airport and plane. Now, she is looking forward to future travels, “Before Hadley, I didn’t know this was possible. I am so very grateful for it all.”