Senior Vision & Hearing Problems

As we age, just about everyone experiences alterations in their vision. The auditory and visual mechanisms of individuals aged sixty-five and above are commonly affected. In fact, dual sensory loss is becoming a serious case for thousands of seniors.

Vision Loss

This is another sensory impairment that is very common in the older population. Approximately 65% of individuals suffering from vision loss are aged fifty and above. The most common visual disorders among seniors are:

  • Diabetic retinopathy; common in people diagnosed with type two diabetes. The patient may experience visual sharpness, misty vision, decrease in contrast sensitivity and poor in color differentiation.
  • Presbyopia; normal age related visual changes like reduction in the pupil size, brightness sensitivity, reduced marginal visual fields and loss of depth observation
  • Glaucoma; results from an increased intraocular pressure in the eye hence degeneration of the optic nerve. If left untreated, it may lead to total loss of sight.
  • Cataract; symptoms include blurry visual sharpness and can affect all features of vision depending on the stage of the optical disease.
  • Age-related degeneration; results in a loss of vision in the central fields of vision and has significant effects on speech reading and sign language because fine details might not be visible.

Hearing Loss

Different factors can cause hearing loss, and some of them can be treated effectively depending on the disease process.

Types of Hearing Loss

Age Related Changes in the Ear

While you grow older, the outer ear canal thins and the earwax gets stickier and drier. The eardrum may also thicken. However, the great change takes place in the cochlea. For instance, loss of sensory cells, and progressive changes in the nerve fibers, which convey information from the sensory cells to the brain.

Conductive Hearing Loss

This is hearing loss due to problems with the ear drum, ear canal or middle ear and its tiny bones.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

This is a hearing problem related to the inner ear, also called nerve associated hearing loss.

Impacts of Hearing Loss in Seniors

  • Depression
  • Social separation
  • Communication problems
  • Anger and frustration
  • Little confidence in a social setting
  • Anxiety and stress

Diagnosis and Treatment of Dual Sensory Loss

Older adults with dual sensory loss need help with activities in their daily lives. If an older adult shows signs of hearing loss, you should arrange an appointment with their GP. They will check for any underlying causes of the problem that can be treated easily.

Signs of Hearing Loss

  • Playing TV or radio loudly
  • Not hearing what is said by a person you cannot see
  • Having difficulties communicating during parties

Caring for Older People with Hearing Loss

  • Use of hearing assistive devices
  • Auditory rehabilitation
  • Use body language to transfer information
  • Create a comfortable environment
  • Make lip-reading easier
  • Visual assistive devices
  • Lighting
  • Printed materials like braille
  • Ensuring general visual and hearing access

There are many deaf and blind assisted living facilities that accommodate seniors with dual sensory loss and help them live independently through in-home help or allow them to live in a community.