The communication and psychosocial perceptions of older adults with sensory loss: a qualitative study Academic Article uri icon


  • Sensory loss (visual and/or hearing loss) is prevalent in older adults. Decreased vision and/or hearing acuity often result in poor communication and psychosocial functioning. This qualitative study explores the communication and psychosocial perceptions of a group of older adults with single or dual sensory loss. The aims were to identify the communication difficulties and conversational strategies used by the subjects, and to explore their perceptions of their social adjustment, quality of life and physical and mental well-being. The participants were all older adults with sensory loss who attended the Vision Australia Foundation. In-depth interviews revealed that the participants experienced frequent communication difficulties. They identified the personal, situational and environmental triggers responsible for communication breakdown, and they described the compensation and avoidance strategies that they used. The participants acknowledged that frequent communication breakdown resulted in decreased socialisation. The problems of adjusting to sensory loss, depression, anxiety, lethargy and social dissatisfaction were cited as factors that affected their physical and mental well-being, while being optimistic, coping with their sensory loss, and maintaining social contact contributed to an improved quality of life. All participants expressed interest in being involved in further communication intervention programmes.

publication date

  • January 2004