Article Title

Older people's experiences of living with, responding to and managing sensory loss


Background: Ageing is associated with a decline in sensory function (sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell), which play an important role in the maintenance of an older person’s health, independence and well-being.

Methods: This qualitative study obtained data through face-to-face semi-structured interviews with a convenience sample of thirteen community-dwelling adults 65 years and older. Themes were derived inductively, guided by semi-structured interviews.

Results: Twelve participants had two or more sensory impairments, mainly concurrent hearing and vision, which became apparent when a situation/individual alerted them to change/s occurring. They were less aware of impaired smell, taste and touch. Sensory changes impacted on important life functions, prompting many participants to take measured risks in maintaining their independence. Half (seven) of the participants lacked motivation to manage sensory function through goal-directed behaviour, taking remedial actions only when this was relevant to lifestyle preferences.

Conclusions: Internal and/or external triggers of sensory changes did not generally motivate remedial action. Health professionals can help to improve older people’s attention to sensory impairment by routinely discussing sensory function with them, screening for sensory changes and facilitating early intervention and support.


older age, senses, sensory change, qualitative analysis

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