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Handbook of Social Work in Health and Aging$
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Barbara Berkman and Sarah D'Ambruoso

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195173727

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195173727.001.0001

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Older Adults With Age-Related Sensory Loss

Older Adults With Age-Related Sensory Loss

(p.65) 6 Older Adults With Age-Related Sensory Loss
Handbook of Social Work in Health and Aging

Cynthia Stuen

Oxford University Press

Sensory impairment has a profound impact on older persons, affecting their health, mental health, and quality of life status. Recognition of and attention to age-related sensory loss, particularly vision and hearing, are important in providing social work services to older adults. Knowing the difference between the normal changes in sensory systems and those that are caused by age-related disorders should be basic knowledge for gerontological social workers. It is also important to recognize that for many older adults, sensory losses occur in the context of other comorbid health conditions. This chapter focuses on the continuum of sensory loss of vision and hearing, although some brief attention will be given to the chemosensory areas of taste and smell. The focus is on older adults who acquire an age-related sensory loss in later life, not on the population of older persons who are aging with an early-onset sensory loss. It first discusses normal changes and disease-related sensory impairments and their prevalence. It then presents an overview of the specialized service-systems of vision rehabilitation and aural rehabilitation, and the functional and psychosocial consequences of sensory losses, followed by the implications for social work practice and policy issues. How social work has dealt with people with disabilities concludes the chapter.

Keywords:   sensory impairment, aging, elderly, social work practice

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