Increasing numbers of older people are developing hearing and vision problems.  Often this hearing and vision loss comes on very gradually.  Older people themselves, and others around them, may not recognise or understand what is happening.  Combined hearing and sight loss can cause problems with communication, getting around and accessing information.  This can cause difficulties with many everyday activities and can make people feel isolated excluded from society.

Indicators of hearing loss in the elderly are:-

  • Complain that others mumble or speak to quickly
  • Ask others to repeat what they have said
  • Ask others to speak louder
  • Repeat words to verify whatís been said
  • Find it difficult to keep up conversations in a noisy environment
  • Have difficulty understanding unfamiliar people or accents
  • Appear confused because they try to respond but havenít understood what was said
  • Get tired in conversations because of the need to concentrate
  • Withdraw from situations where conversation is expected
  • Need TV or radio volume louder than is comfortable for others
  • Find it hard to hear on the telephone or doorbell
  • Use a hearing aid or loop system

Indictors of visual loss in the elderly are:-

  • Find it hard to identify objects or familiar faces
  • Need more light for reading and other activities
  • Find it hard to cope with glare eg. bright sunlight
  • Usually sit close to the TV
  • Have unusual reading habits eg holding a book close to the face
  • Give up reading, watching television and other activites
  • Be unable to locate small objects
  • Spill food or knock over cups
  • Stop eating because they canít see their food
  • Wear mismatched colours or have stained clothing
  • Have difficulty moving around Ė walking slowly or with less confidence
  • Bump into things
  • Have difficulties caused by changes in light levels
  • Have difficulties with unfamiliar routes or places
One of the challenges for older people with deafblindness is finding a way to go where they choose and move around safely.  Simple changes to the enviornment, mobility training and guiding all make a big difference.
Many older people who live in care homes or receive care in their own homes have hearing and vision loss.  Providing good quality care means recognising their needs.