The Hearing Clinic

Dual Sensory Impairment?

Dual sensory impairment?
Recent studies show that when people have both vision and hearing impairment, what’s known as dual sensory impairment (DSI), their risk for dementia increases significantly over having one impairment alone. In fact, a person with DSI has an eight-fold increased risk of dementia, according to a May 2022 study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease Reports.

An unknown link
The cause of the link between sensory impairments and dementia is still unknown. It’s possible that an underlying problem, such as a problem affecting blood flow to both a person’s brain and ears, might lead to sensory and cognitive impairments. It could also be related to cognitive decline, which is common in later life. This can make a person less able to hear in a noisy environment or process a lot of visual information, causing their brain to work harder and impacting their overall cognitive resources.

A study in June this year from Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience looked at more than half a million Brits and found that participants with a visual impairment had a 50% higher risk for developing dementia, while people with a hearing impairment had a 42% higher risk. Highest still was the risk for developing dementia in people with dual sensory impairment: 82%.

Be vigilant about checking your hearing and vision, and if you’re concerned about either your hearing or your sight, or both, please get them checked out. Research also indicates that treating hearing loss, for instance, may decrease cognitive decline.

Get the support you need
If you are diagnosed with dual sensory impairment, don’t panic. Work with your audiologist and your optician to get the support you need.

At The Hearing Clinic we can provide assistive devices and suggest a range of strategies to help you.
It’s important to note that family support is crucial too. We always welcome family members to patient appointments so that your loved ones understand how best to support your hearing health.

The Deafness Support Network, or DSN, is a sensory loss charity that supports deaf and/or blind people in the north west of England. They recently produced a useful guide to help people understand hearing and sight problems and their interplay with dementia. The guide also includes some tips if you’re supporting a loved one who is living with dementia and also has hearing or sight problems.

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