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New program encourages community to create inclusive environment for seniors with sensory loss

Approximately 83 percent of older adults in the United States are living with at least one diminished sense, according to a new survey by Home Instead, Inc. While a sensory loss is remarkably common, the world is not designed to accommodate those living with challenges such as impaired vision, hearing and mobility. This harsh reality is no more apparent than on the demographic with the highest rate of sensory loss: seniors.

Left untreated, the loss of one or more senses can lead to feelings of isolation, depression and diminished quality of life, which can be especially debilitating for older adults. In fact, researchers at the University of British Columbia examined the impact of undiagnosed hearing issues in seniors ages 60 to 69 and found that for every 10-decibel drop in hearing sensitivity, the odds of social isolation increase by 52 percent.

Losing the ability to fully connect or interact with those around us cannot only cause seniors to retreat from social situations, but it can even lead to depression and declining physical health. Early detection of sensory loss in seniors can increase their ability to manage the loss and make necessary changes at home and with loved ones.

“Declining senses can cause a wide variety of challenges for older adults impacting happiness, safety and even overall health,” said Home Instead Senior Care Gerontologist and Caregiver Advocate Lakelyn Hogan. “It’s important for family members, caregivers and the community as a whole to recognize the signs of sensory loss and create a supportive environment that allows these individuals to continue living a normal, fulfilling life.”

Becoming familiar with the signs and symptoms of sensory loss can be challenging. Sensory impairments present themselves in many different ways, ranging in severity from a mild irritation to life-altering. For some, this may mean they can no longer read their favorite book or smell fresh cut grass on a summer’s day. For others, it may impact their ability to participate in conversations with loved ones or live independently.

“Sadly, our world isn’t always designed to support older adults living with diminished senses,” said Rich Berube, owner of Home Instead Senior Care in Lexington. “As a community, it’s up to us to find simple ways to be more inclusive and empathetic to make a difference in the lives of those around us.”

To help increase awareness and create broader understanding around the daily challenges faced by someone with sensory impairments, Home Instead Senior Care is unveiling “Aging Senses”, a free program offering a wealth of resources and tools to the community, including an online sensory loss simulation and instructions on how to create an at-home Aging Senses Kit.

“We hope this program will encourage people at every age to do their part to reverse the stigma associated with sensory loss,” added Berube.

For more information and to experience what it’s like to lose one of your five senses visit www.agingsenses.com or contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office.

From Home Instead Senior Care

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