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Deafblindness "just not noticed"

A UK charity has said that not enough elderly people with deafblindness are given the support they need.

The group "Sense" supports adults and children who find it difficult to communicate due to sight and hearing problems.

In a London conference yesterday, Sense said that healthcare staff should learn how many people are affected by deafblindness and what specific support is needed.

Deafblind people, they add, can benefit from innovative communiation methods such as blocking out letters on the palm of their hands or using wooden letter shapes to spell out words.

It also important to use "clear speech" such as facing the person you are taking to, taking your time and not obstructing your face during the conversation.

The "Fill in the Gaps" campaign aims to educate health staff across the country of these simple methods.

Director of Community Support and Information at Sense Malcolm Matthews commented that older people services do not often realize that a patient has deafblindness but view their difficulties as a natural step in the aging process.

Sue Brown, head of campaigns and public policy at Sense  added: "Without the right support, patients are merely existing, with the right support they can live full lives."


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