Older adults with sensory loss face increased risk of feeling isolated

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Over 80% of older adults living with sensory loss in the United States experience not being able to see well enough to drive, hear what someone says or taste/smell their favorite meal. With the pandemic, these individuals face an increased risk of feeling isolated.

“Over the last year, we have grown increasingly more aware of the negative effects of social  isolation,” said Lakelyn Hogan, Ph.D., gerontologist, and caregiver advocate at Home Instead, Inc.  “Older adults living with limited or diminished senses are faced with the added stress and difficulties brought on by prolonged isolation from their loved ones. And it’s especially important to consider their needs, as they may have an especially difficult time staying connected.” 

Each of the five senses plays a role in keeping us connected to the world around us. When they are weakened, Home Instead said it can become difficult and frightening to navigate an environment that is not designed to accommodate impaired vision, hearing, mobility and more.  

“Some older adults have been able to use video chats and phone calls to stay in touch with family during the pandemic,” said Jim Sullivan, owner of the Fort Wayne Home Instead®. “In fact, according to a recent study by Home Instead, Inc., one in four – 28% – feel more comfortable using new technology than they did one year ago. But that technology may not work for seniors with failing eyesight or hearing. For them, isolation remains a threat.” 

Home Instead said all of us can play a role in ensuring the aging population feels supported and connected during these times. Sullivan shared these tips from Home Instead to help connect with loved ones: 

  • Contact older loved ones or neighbors regularly and create meaningful interactions to ensure they feel valued.  
  • During phone calls, be sure to speak up and enunciate your words clearly.  
  • When possible, visit in-person from a socially safe distance. 
  • Consider using a clear mask to help those with hearing loss read your lips. 

For more information, including an interactive experience so you may see firsthand the challenges of sensory loss, visit www.AgingSenses.com or contact your nearest Home Instead office at 888-331-1023. 

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