European Research to Tackle the Triple Challenge of Dementia, Hearing and Vision Impairment

European University Cyprus Speech Therapy program is a partner in the Sense-Cog research project to investigate the combined impact of dementia, age-related hearing and vision impairment.

Seven in ten Europeans over the age of 65 suffer from either sight or hearing problems and over two thirds suffer from depression or dementia.  When combined together the cumulative impact of these dual or triple impairments is far greater than the individual conditions. The scale of combined sensory and cognitive problems is substantial but poorly understood.

The five year “Ears, Eyes and Mind: The ‘SENSE-Cog Project’ to improve mental well-being for elderly Europeans with sensory impairment” led by the University of Manchester, has been funded with €6.5m from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research programme. The project aims to investigate the combined impact of sensory and cognitive loss, and develop new tools that could improve quality of life and optimise health and social care budgets across Europe. The research team spans 8 countries and 17 partners, led by the University of Manchester’s Drs Iracema Leroy and Piers Dawes.  Cyprus is represented by European University Cyprus led by Dr. Chryssoula Thodi, and the University of Cyprus led by Professor Fofi Constandinidou.  The Sense-Cog program will:

  • Study the combined effects of hearing, vision, and memory loss
  • Modify and adapt evaluation instruments
  • Investigate intervention methods to improve health and quality of life
  • Recommend best practices and social intervention to health authorities

 

Dr. Chryssoula Thodi, Associate Professor of Audiology at European University Cyprus will contribute to patient recruitment and coordinate SENSE-Cog activity.  Dr. Thodi said “professionals who evaluate or support patients with memory, hearing, or vision loss can relate to the challenges imposed by the combination of these conditions.  Dementia hinders communication of people with vision or hearing loss; memory deteriorates further because of untreated hearing or vision loss.  Evaluation of vision or hearing is hindered by dementia, and memory tests are affected by vision or hearing problems.  Intervention efficiency depends on assessment accuracy and reliability, as well as the capacity to face the entire spectrum of challenges presented to patients and families”.    

The project seeks to define the scale of the challenges so that authorities across the continent can allocate resources more optimally. At the same time, researchers will also develop online tests, guides and multi-lingual training manuals to help medical professionals diagnose and treat the combined problems more effectively.

The SENSE-Cog programme will trial an intervention of at-home support for people with dual- and triple-impairments. This will be supported by specialist sensory therapists based at European University Cyprus and the University of Cyprus.  Intervention and will focus around pragmatic solutions to support both the affected person and their carer.

Dr Thodi indicated “as the population ages, there is a growing need for efficient interventions to improve quality of life of patients and families with dementia and sensory loss: the SENSE-Cog program responds to this need by combining psychiatry, neuroscience, optometry, audiology, and occupational therapy.  This multidisciplinary approach to patient care encompasses all areas of difficulty; it remains to be seen if memory loss progress can decelerate through sensory and individualized intervention”.

 

The consortium for SENSE-Cog:

  1. The University of Manchester (UK, Coordinator)
  2. European University Cyprus (Cyprus)
  3. The Manchester Metropolitan University (UK) 
  4. Ethniko kai Kapodistriako Panepistimio Athinon (Greece)
  5. Universite de Nice Sophia Antipolis (France)
  6. Universite de Bordeaux (France)
  7. Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam (Netherlands)
  8. Universitetet i Tromsoe (Norway)
  9. Katholische Hochschule Freiburg gGmbH (Germany)
  10. Dementia Pal Ltd (UK industrial partner)
  11. IXICO Technologies Limited (UK industrial partner)
  12. Starkey Laboratories (US industrial partner)
  13. HORTECH GGMBH (Germany)
  14. ESSILOR International SA (Industrial partner)
  15. ARTTIC  International Management Services, (project management partner, SME)
  16. Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Nice (France)
  17. University of Cyprus (Cyprus)

More information:

Dr. Chryssoula Thodi
c.thodi@euc.ac.cy

The project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 668648