Deafblind people missing out on help
Published on 24 June 2013 11:00 AM
A large number of older people who can neither see nor hear are missing out on 'vital support' that could improve the way they live.
Sense, the charity for people who are both deaf and blind, claims that many sufferers could become lonely and depressed due to a lack of support.
Its research, conducted with Birmingham University, reveals a lack of awareness regarding specialist help.
Of the 88 deaf and blind care home residents surveyed, none were aware of expert services that offer support for people affected by both conditions.
Around 220,000 people across the UK suffer from deafblindness, which heightens the effects of both impairments.
The condition is a combination of sight and hearing loss that affects a person's ability to communicate, to access all kinds of information, and to get around.
'Many hearing and sight problems develop gradually as people age, so there is a common view that this is a normal, inevitable part of life and that nothing can be done about it,' said Richard Kramer, Sense deputy chief executive.
'We fear because of this many people are missing out on vital help and support, often leading to loneliness and isolation.'
Help is available
Despite what people may think, there are support and services available to help older people and their families deal with sight and hearing difficulties.
Such networks can help deafblindness sufferers and their loved ones make informed choices about how they wish to live.
Mr Kramer called on local authorities to do their part, claiming they have a duty of care towards older people with both sight and hearing difficulties.
He wants them to invest in services that can guide older people to live independently and enjoy life rather than leaving them isolated in their own homes.
The research even revealed that some care home staff are unaware that the people they look after have hearing or sight problems.
It also found that 'very few' carers have received the relevant training needed to deal with people who suffer from deafblindness.
Copyright Press Association 2013