Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name





Barbara E. Weinstein

Committee Members

Barbara E. Weinstein

Brett A. Martin

Subject Categories

Counseling | Diagnosis | Health Communication


Hearing loss, Vision loss, Dual-Sensory Impairment, Rehabilitation, Audiology


The elderly population (ages 65 years and older) in the United States is estimated to double between 2000 and 2030 to approximately 72 million people. Among this population, sensory impairment is a chronic disability. The combination of both hearing and vision impairment, referred to as dual-sensory impairment (DSI) is a chronic condition on the rise. The prevalence of DSI ranges from a low of 1.6% to as high as 22.5% depending on the population (Appollonio et al., 1995). Higher prevalence rates tend to emerge in populations receiving rehabilitative and hospital care. DSI impacts independent physical function and verbal communication, along with social and emotion well being (Schneider, Gopinath, McMahon, Leeder, Mitchell, & Wang, 2011). Persons with DSI have difficulty independently performing activities of daily living and are at increased risk for cognitive decline, depression, social disengagement, falls, comorbid chronic conditions, and mortality.

This systematic review focuses on the literature examining mental and physical risks of hearing loss, visual acuity loss, and dual-sensory deficits. The literature supports the hypothesis that persons with DSI are at greater risk for cognitive and physical decline, as well as for increased difficulty participating in social and functional activities. The greater the severity of the loss, especially vision, the faster the rate of decline and/or appearance of symptoms. The literature also supports potential benefit of identifying and rehabilitating older adults with DSI utilizing self-report measures, such as the MOS 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey, the Hearing Handicap Inventory for the Elderly, and the Dizziness Handicap Inventory. These questionnaires will help clinical audiologists provide long-term patient-centered aural rehabilitation for disabilities emanating from DSI.