A sensory impairment is when senses such as sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste or spatial awareness are affected and not operating as well as they should be and therefore impacting someone’s ability to use that sense properly, or at all.
The most common, familiar and impactful types of sensory impairment are related to sight loss or hearing loss. These can affect people of any age from birth to old age, but can particularly develop or become obstructive during older age.
There are different levels of hearing, ranging from someone who is deaf and therefore profoundly hearing impaired and uses British Sign Language to communicate, to deaf for someone who is profoundly to moderately deaf or hearing impaired for someone who is moderately to mildly hearing impaired. It is usually up to the individual as to how they wish to identify themselves.
Age-related hearing loss is the largest cause of hearing loss in the UK and someone might notice their hearing becoming worse over time. This might be due to cell degeneration or to exposure to loud noises or illness over their lifetime.
For example, some people may become deaf or have hearing impairment due to an illness such as mumps or rubella, injury or infection, an accident, medication they are taking, a burst eardrum or exposure to loud noises such as music, machinery or a sudden explosion.
Some hearing loss can be treated with a hearing aid or implant depending on its severity, others may rely on lip reading or sign language to communicate.
Some people may not realise their hearing is deteriorating but others may notice things such as them listening to the TV loudly, not always noticing when someone is talking to them, not hearing a knock at the door or asking people to speak loudly or repeat themselves.
To some people there is still a stigma to wearing hearing aids or they may not want to admit their hearing has deteriorated, but getting them the right care and a hearing aid if it is appropriate can make a huge difference.
Blindness and Sight Loss
Like deafness and hearing impairment, blindness can occur from birth or later on in life. There are two million people in the UK living with sight loss and there are different levels of blindness such as sight loss that affects your central vision, your ability to see detail within your visual field or how much you can see around the edge of your vision when looking straight ahead.
Again, there are many different causes of sight loss which can range from a genetic or age-related degeneration, injury or infection or illness such as cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa, glaucoma or detached retinas.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is another common cause which affects the middle part of the vision and will usually begin to affect people in their 50s or 60s. While the exact cause is unknown, it can be linked to smoking, high blood pressure, being overweight or genetics.
Deaf blindness or dual-sensory loss is when someone experiences both hearing and sight loss and therefore one sense can’t compensate for the other. It is most common in older people and can sometimes be mis-diagnosed as Dementia due to the confusion it can cause.
Symptoms can include listening to the TV or radio more loudly, difficulty following a conversation, not hearing background noises, reading very close to the face or sitting close to the television or having increasing difficulty getting around unfamiliar environments. Usually in their own home, they are familiar enough in their surroundings to cope.
Caring For Someone With Sensory Impairment
Someone living with a sight or hearing impairment from birth or a young age is likely to adapt and find ways to cope with their disability. For someone older this can be difficult to get used to and mean losing part of their independence.
Whether you’re a family carer or looking to hire a carer, it is important to allow someone dealing with reduced sensory ability to be able to attempt what they can and offer help tactfully. This not only allows them to maintain some of their independence and get used to their sensory impairment, but also helps them adapt to this change.
Sensory Impairment Care From Fambridge Care
We have many carers available who are experienced in working with people with sensory impairment, some with British Sign Language or Braille experience.
Whether you need care for someone with a long-term sensory impairment or someone who is getting used to it, we have experienced, kind and understanding carers on hand to help around the home, with everyday tasks and socialising for anything from a few hours a day to live-in care.
For more information, please get in touch with Fambridge Care today.