Living with dementia and sensory loss

Having sight or hearing loss makes things more difficult for the person with dementia who is already working hard to make sense of the world around them.  Regular hearing and sight tests, technological aids, environmental improvements, and accessible information and communications can all make a big difference for people with dementia and sensory loss.


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Introduction - living with dementia and sensory loss


Living with both dementia and sensory loss presents challenges and compounds the problems of each condition. Living with dementia may make it hard to recognise sensory loss as it develops, and living with sensory loss may also make it harder to recognise the onset and progression of dementia. Dementia can cause problems with vision and hearing, without an eye or ear condition causing this.

sight loss

Sight loss

Sight loss is very common among older people, and yet it can be missed as the symptoms may be misinterpreted as resulting from dementia. It is important to understand the signs and symptoms of sight loss and ensure that older people have regular eye examinations. There are many ways in which communication can be improved with people with sight loss and dementia.

Services and support for younger people

Hearing loss

Some research has shown that people with hearing loss are more likely to develop dementia, but the exact reasons for this are unclear. Both hearing loss and dementia can make communication more difficult. If a person's hearing loss is managed well, this can help them cope better with their dementia too.

living with young onset dementia


We are learning more about the particular issues faced by deaf people with dementia, but still there is no real concept of what 'living well with dementia' means for deaf people nor what appropriate services might consist of. The early signs of dementia are often missed in deaf people, because of problems with communication. Awareness of dementia in the deaf community is low and poor access to information in accessible languages and media reinforces this problem.

living with young onset dementia


'Dual sensory loss' or 'deafblindness' refers to having a combination of significant visual and hearing problems. Signs and symptoms of dementia and deafblindness can be quite similar. As both dementia and deafblindness are conditions that involve deterioration in functioning over time, a person's whole needs should be reviewed regularly in order to support them properly.

Find out more about Dementia


All SCIE resources are free to download, however to access the following download you will need a free MySCIE account:

Available downloads:

  • What the research says: Sensory loss