Objective: To determine the number of older people with acquired dual sensory impairment (DSI) in The Netherlands.
Design: Combination of studies in the general population and in relevant subpopulations.
Method: Eight databases derived from recent studies on older persons with vision and hearing data on Dutch subjects aged 55 years or over were selected for further analysis. The measurement methods included self-reports, clinical measurements and observations. The prevalences of DSI were calculated for the general population, the non-institutionalised population, and subgroups such as older people in nursing homes and homes for the elderly. The calculated prevalences were extrapolated to the overall Dutch population.
Results: For the non-institutionalised population of 55 years and older, the prevalences of acquired DSI in two different data sets were 0.4% (95% CI: 0.2-0.6) and 0.6% (95% CI: 0.3-0.8), respectively. Among the inhabitants of homes for the elderly these percentages were 5.4% (95% CI: 0.9-9.9) and 5.5% (95% CI: 3.8-7.2), and in nursing homes they were 12.7% (95% CI: 9.7-15.7) and 16.7% (95% CI: 14.6-18.8). Acquired DSI was most common in persons 85 years of age and older. It was estimated that the number of people aged 55 years and over with acquired DSI in The Netherlands is 30,000 to 35,000.
Conclusion: DSI is particularly a problem of the oldest old. An integrated approach to the visual and hearing problems of these subjects is essential.