Vision & Hearing Loss or Dementia?


The symptoms of vision and hearing loss can be similar to some of the early signs of dementia. For instance, your senior loved one may often struggle to follow a conversation or be confused about what’s happening around them. This can make diagnosing dementia in someone with vision or hearing loss more difficult. Not to mention, living with a combination of these conditions can present its own challenges. However, there are many techniques to help people live abundantly with dementia, vision and/or hearing loss. In this article, our memory care team in Collingswood, NJ will discuss the differences between dementia and vision/hearing loss and how to cope with all three.

Symptoms of vision & hearing loss

Having trouble with any of the following may suggest a person is having problems with their vision rather than dementia.

  • Recognizing people around them
  • Low lights, bright lights or both
  • Finding things like food on their plate or keys in their purse
  • Avoiding tripping hazards
  • Reading text near or far away
  • Seeing, even with glasses on

If your loved one shows any or all of the following symptoms, it may suggest they have problems with their hearing rather than dementia.

  • Trouble understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd
  • Muffled speech and difficulty hearing consonants
  • Often asking others to talk more slowly, clearly and loudly
  • Frequently having to turn up the volume on devices like phones, TVs, laptops, etc.
  • Withdrawal from conversations and avoiding social interactions

Please note: Hearing loss symptoms can be trickier to separate from dementia symptoms. This is because a major symptom of both is not being able to follow a conversation. Not to mention, oftentimes dementia and hearing loss go hand in hand. That’s why regular audiology (or hearing) tests are critical in diagnosing both conditions.

Early symptoms of dementia

There are many symptoms to consider when diagnosing dementia. However, the symptoms listed below are the early symptoms that are often similar to vision or hearing loss.

  • Difficulty recalling memories, especially short term
  • Having trouble concentrating or following a conversation
  • Difficulty completing everyday tasks, such as reading signs or confusing product prices
  • Generally being confused about time, place and setting
  • Withdrawing socially

Ways to cope with vision & hearing loss

Coping with vision loss. First, your loved one should maintain good eye care by having regular vision tests and making sure lenses are clean and correct. You could also make adjustments to your senior parent’s living space, such as updating the lighting and keeping all areas free of clutter and fall hazards. Coping with this condition is all about focusing on what your loved one can do and then brainstorm and enforce techniques to help them. For example, you can learn to communicate better with them by getting their attention first and then letting them know every so often what is happening nearby.

Coping with hearing loss. Similar to the first step to coping with vision loss, your loved one should maintain good ear care by having regular hearing checks. Your senior parent could also make the most out of the hearing they do have by using hearing aids. We recommend they see a professional audiologist first to determine what type of hearing aids will be the most effective for their condition. Establishing a new way of communicating with your loved one could also help. Some examples are lip reading, using visual clues, gestures or familiar expressions, and letting your loved one see your face when speaking.

Coping with dementia in Camden County, NJ

One of the best ways your loved one can cope with dementia and maintain an abundant life is through professional memory care. At Collingswood, Tapestries memory care residents have the opportunity to live in a nurturing, homelike environment where they can be safe, enjoy their hobbies and have meaningful experiences each and every day. We have medical professionals on site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide specialized care for memory care residents who may also have hearing and/or visual impairments.

If your loved one shows symptoms of the early stages of dementia, please call 856-369-3092 to find out how our memory care advisors can meet the needs of your senior parent. To learn more about Tapestries memory care in Camden County, please contact United Methodist Communities at Collingswood or visit our website at:

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