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Older adults with sensory loss at greater risk for isolation [SENSELESS]

Survey results from Home Instead, a franchise personal care network, suggest that 83% of US older adults are living with at least one diminished sense. It’s something active-aging organizations need to keep front-of-mind, especially for sensory loss that is not readily apparent by looking at someone.

From touch and balance to vision and smell, even a small deficit can create major challenges in a world that is not generally designed to accommodate people with sensory loss. Older adults experiencing these impairments also find themselves at a greater risk for isolation, particularly during the pandemic. 

The online survey, released on April 21, 2021, included responses from more than 2,000 US and Canadian adults 65 plus. The research indicates that one in three older adults living with sensory loss felt they missed out on social experiences such as hobbies, trips and events before COVID-19; however, according to Home Instead, safety precautions such as stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines further exacerbated their ability to fully connect with the world around them. 

Further, the organization says one in six older adults feel they need to hide sensory loss from family, friends or even strangers. Of those hiding a loss in senses, half reported feeling withdrawn, lonely, or guilty as a result. 

While percentages of sensory loss among older adults may vary from survey to survey, the current results can serve as a red flag to organizations to continuously monitor sensory loss among members and residents. Patient education materials are available for free from Home Instead, as well as instructions on how to create an at-home aging senses kit, to improve knowledge and empathy. It’s worth a look to see what might be helpful for your organization. 

To access the educational material and aging senses kit, click here

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