Caring for a Loved one at Home with a Sensory Loss
What are the different types of sensory loss?
Sensory loss refers to the partial or complete loss of any of the senses: vision, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. Here are the different types of sensory loss:
- Visual impairment or blindness refers to a partial or complete loss of vision or visual perception
- Hearing loss or deafness is the partial or complete loss of hearing
- Tactile or touch loss is the partial or complete loss of the sense of touch, which includes pressure, temperature, pain, and texture
- Gustatory or taste loss is the partial or complete loss of the sense of taste
- Olfactory or smell loss is the partial or complete loss of the sense of smell
- Vestibular loss is the partial or complete loss of the sense of balance, which can lead to dizziness, vertigo, and other symptoms
What are the different types of visual impairment?
There are several different types of visual impairment, which vary in severity and cause. Here are the most common types of visual impairment:
- Myopia or nearsightedness is a condition whereby people can see nearby objects clearly, but objects that are farther away appear blurry
- Hyperopia or farsightedness: is a condition in which people can see objects that are far away clearly, but objects that are nearby appear blurry
- Astigmatism is when the cornea of the eye is not round, causing images to appear distorted
- Presbyopia occurs as people age, the eye's lens loses flexibility and makes it difficult to focus on objects that are nearby
- Cataracts occur when the eye's lens becomes cloudy, leading to blurred or hazy vision
- Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that can cause damage to the optic nerve and result in vision loss or blindness
- Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that can cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina, leading to vision loss or blindness
- Macular degeneration is a condition in which the central part of the retina (the macula) deteriorates, leading to vision loss or blindness
What are the different types of hearing loss or deafness?
- Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is a problem with the outer or middle ear, which can prevent sound from being conducted properly to the inner ear. This type of hearing loss is often temporary and can be treated with medication or surgery
- Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the inner ear or the auditory nerve. It can be caused by aging, noise exposure, infections, genetics, or other factors. This type of hearing loss is permanent and can be managed with hearing aids or cochlear implants
- Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, which means there is damage to both the outer/middle ear and inner ear
- Central hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the central nervous system, which can affect the brain's ability to process sound. It can be caused by injury, disease, or genetics
- Auditory processing disorder is not technically a hearing loss, but it is a disorder that affects the brain's ability to process and understand sound. People with this disorder may have difficulty distinguishing between similar sounds or following conversations in noisy environments.
How can I support a relative with visual impairment?
Supporting a relative with visual impairment can involve a variety of strategies and techniques to help them navigate their environment and perform daily tasks. Here are some ways to support a relative with visual impairment:
- Encourage regular eye exams: Encourage your relative to have regular eye exams to monitor their condition and identify any changes or potential problems
- Help with mobility: Assist your relative with getting around safely by providing sighted guide assistance when walking or traveling. You can also help by labeling objects, such as doors or staircases, to make them easier to navigate
- Provide assistive devices: Provide your relative with assistive devices such as magnifiers, talking watches, or other specialised equipment to help them read, communicate, and perform other tasks
- Offer emotional support: Listen to your relative and provide emotional support. Adjusting to vision loss can be challenging, and your support and encouragement can make a big difference
- Educate yourself: Learn about your relative's condition and how it affects their daily life. This can help you understand their needs and find ways to support them better
- Help with household tasks: Offer to help with household tasks, such as cooking or cleaning, to make their daily routine easier or request help from a home care provider
- Connect them with resources: Connect your relative with resources in their community, such as support groups, rehabilitation services, or transportation services that specialise in assisting people with visual impairment
What organisations can help a person with sensory loss?
- RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) offers information, advice, and support for people with visual impairment and services including education, employment, technology, and eye health
- Action on Hearing Loss provide information and resources, hearing aid support, communication support, and employment services
- Deafblind UK: provides information and support for people who are deafblind and offer services such as befriending, communication support, technology support, and advocacy
- Sense: gives information, advice, and support to people who are deafblind or have sensory impairments and have services available to support communication, education, and advocacy
- Hearing Link: has information, advice, and support for people with hearing loss and their families. They offer a range of services including communication support, technology support, and support for tinnitus
- The British Tinnitus Association: provides information, advice, and support for people with tinnitus. They offer a range of services including information and resources, support groups, and research funding
For more information about caring for a loved one at home join our discussion in our Facebook group Care Begins at Home for ongoing advice and support from our care experts.