Launch Event – 11th June 2014 – Supporting and Enabling People with Dementia and Sight Loss

An event to launch a series of research-based outputs from a project funded by the Thomas Pocklington Trust will be hosted in the Iris Murdoch Building at the University of Stirling on Wednesday 11th June 2014.

Research Fellow, Dr. Alison Dawson, has provided the following information:

“Supporting and enabling people with dementia and sight loss –

As with dementia, sight loss is an umbrella term. In the UK, the leading causes of sight loss are uncorrected refractive error, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataract, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. These produce a range of very different symptoms. For example, AMD affects both eyes and blurs, distorts or causes loss of central vision. The experiences of a person with AMD will therefore be very different to those of a person with chronic glaucoma, which leads to increasing loss of peripheral vision in both eyes. Their experiences will in turn be different from those of someone with cataracts, who may increasingly feel as though they are trying to see through a dense fog or heavy net curtain.

Researchers working in dementia-related fields may be aware of recent statistics which suggest that in the UK one in three people aged over 65 will develop dementia and that one in six people aged 80 or more has dementia[1]. They may be less familiar with statistics which suggest that one out of nine people aged 60 or over and one in three people aged 85 or over in the UK is living with sight loss[2], that is to say with partial or complete loss of vision which has a significant impact on their daily lives.

Faced with such facts, a mental image of the two overlapping circles of a ‘Venn diagram’ comes almost unbidden to mind. It seems glaringly obvious when you think about it that the number of people with both dementia and sight loss must be quite significant and that the proportion of the population that has both must increase with age. So it came as something of a surprise to us when in a recent research project funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust we found that there are relatively few published studies that provide evidence on how best to support people with dementia and sight loss and little in the way of accessible information to guide family or professional carers striving to support people’s independence.

When thinking through all the possible combinations of different forms of dementia and different causes of sight loss, it becomes clear that this is a far from homogeneous group. This is why the guidelines on ‘Good practice in the design of homes and living spaces for people with dementia and sight loss’ that we developed in our project stress the need to understand their needs and capabilities and to work with people to create the most supportive and enabling environment for them.

If you would like to find out more about the project you would be most welcome to join us at the forthcoming launch event for the guidelines, which will take place in the Iris Murdoch Centre at the University of Stirling on Wednesday 11 June 2014. The event is free and lunch is provided – all you have to do is register for the event by following this link:

If you cannot join us for the launch event or if you are reading this blog after 11 June 2014, do not despair! I am afraid that you have missed out on a delicious lunch, but the guidelines will be available for download in PDF and audio formats. Go to the DSDC website at after the launch date and there you will find a project ‘web resource’ which includes download links and further details on the research evidence which underpins the guidelines”.

[1] Alzheimer’s Society (2013) Dementia 2013 infographic.

[2] RNIB (2013) Sight loss UK 2013: The latest evidence.