Older Adults with Dual Sensory Loss : Prevalence, Diagnoses & Rehabilitation Services

Abstract: Introduction: Globally, the population aged 65 years and older are predicted to double within 30 years. The risk of developing vision loss in combination with hearing loss – dual sensory loss (DSL) increases with age. DSL affects older adults within several aspects, and the main areas are communication, information, participation and orientation and mobility. Aim: The overall aim was to describe older adults with DSL regardingprevalence, diagnoses, rehabilitation and experiences with rehabilitation services in the Swedish context.Methods: Quantitative and qualitative methods were used. Data were collected by using register data, mainly medical records (Study I), and by individual interviews with older adults with DSL (Study II). In the first study, data were analysed using descriptive statistics and chi square tests, and in the second study inductive qualitative content analysis was used. Results: Study I showed that the national prevalence of severe DSL was estimated to approximately 0.08%. The result also showed statisticallysignificant differences in prevalence of severe DSL between age groups and the prevalence of severe DSL increased with age. No statistically significant difference were found between women and men regarding prevalence. Older adults with DSL had been provided with several rehabilitation services and the focus of the services were mainly on one of the senses, not on the combination of sensory losses. Sensorineural hearing loss in combination with cataracts and age-related macular degeneration were the most common diagnoses. Study II presented older adults experiences of rehabilitation services and they described that several of the rehabilitation services were significant for them to be able to communicate, participate in social events and independently perform day-to-day activities.Conclusion: It is important that rehabilitation services provided to older adults with DSL are person-centred to promote healthy aging.

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