Seniors Living With Sensory Loss Experience Higher Risk of Isolation

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Home Instead Senior Care offers tips on how to identify sensory loss in a loved one.

As people age, senses such as taste, touch, hearing, smell and sight tend to fade, changing the way older adults interact with the rest of the world. In fact, a study by researchers at The University of Chicago estimates nearly 94 percent of older adults in the United States are living with at least one diminished sense. Another study by The National Council on Aging found that hearing loss impacts more than 9 million Americans over the age of 65.

While sensory issues like hearing or vision loss can cause minor annoyances, they are also linked to much more serious problems like depression and feelings of isolation. Researchers at the University of British Columbia examined the impact of undiagnosed or untreated 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.

“Sensory loss is common among older adults, but it can also cause difficult and lasting side effects, including feelings of depression and isolation,” said Lakelyn Hogan, gerontologist at Home Instead Senior Care. “Understanding and identifying early warning signs can make all the difference for an older adult who might be experiencing these changes.”

Home Instead Senior Care encourages families to be mindful of signs that an older adult is experiencing diminished senses, including:

  • Hearing: Signs of hearing loss include difficulty following conversations, increased exhaustion following social interactions, trouble maintaining balance, feeling like there is a buildup of wax or fluid in the ears, or continually increasing volume on television and radio programs.
  • Sight: Visual impairment affects almost three million older adults in the United States. Warning signs include hesitance with stairs, blurry or discolored vision, difficulty identifying familiar faces or objects, and loss of interest in reading mail, newspapers or books.
  • Touch: Weakened sensitivity to touch can also pose a hazard to seniors. A decreased reaction time to very hot or very cold surfaces can be a sign that the sense of touch is beginning to decline, and can lead to accidental injuries.
  • Taste/Smell: A diminished sense of taste and smell can also occur as we age. According to The University of Chicago, 74 percent of aging adults will suffer from impairment to the sense of taste, which works simultaneously with the sense of smell. Individuals may experience a lack of appetite, loss of interest in food all together, or complete loss of taste or smell.

While sensory loss is largely unpreventable, it is possible to reduce side effects by detecting symptoms early. Staying up to date with yearly check-ups and participating in hearing and vision screenings could help identify early signs of sensory loss and provide insight on meaningful solutions.

Home Instead Senior Care provides specialized training for its CAREGivers℠ to help them better understand the aging process, identify the signs of sensory loss and deliver the best care for seniors experiencing the impacts of sensory loss, such as loneliness and isolation.

To learn more about how Home Instead Senior Care can assist with the difficulty of sensory loss, visit

Founded in 1994 in Omaha, Nebraska, the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise network provides personalized care, support and education to enhance the lives of aging adults and their families. Today, the network is the world's leading provider of in-home care services for seniors, with more than 1,200 independently owned and operated franchises that provide more than 70 million hours of care annually throughout the United States and 11 other countries. Local Home Instead Senior Care offices employ approximately 80,000 CAREGivers℠ worldwide who provide basic support services that enable seniors to live safely and comfortably in their own homes for as long as possible. Home Instead Senior Care franchise owners partner with clients and their family members to help meet varied individual needs. Services span the care continuum – from providing personal care to specialized Alzheimer’s care and hospice support. Also available are family caregiver education and support resources.

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Dan Wieberg
Home Instead Senior Care
+1 (402) 575-5970
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