The effects of vision and hearing loss



By Cheryl Wilkinson
PREVIEW Columnist

Vision and hearing loss affect our brains. When these changes go untreated, it becomes harder for us to comprehend what our eyes are seeing and our ears are hearing. This impact takes an unfortunate toll on cognitive function and our emotional and physical well-being. The loss does not have to be profound to make a significant impact.

The additional work the brain has to do to process information in a new way is taking a real toll:

• Untreated hearing and vision loss can increase the risk of dementia, as well as reduction in attention, language use, memory, and the ability to identify and locate objects in space.

• Depth perception and the capacity to distinguish contrast (light/dark) make it harder to accomplish daily tasks.

• These factors increase the risk of falls.

• Declining cognitive function in turn leads to less awareness of whether hearing aids or glasses are effectively correcting the loss.

Conversely, correcting or supporting vision and hearing loss is good for our brains and by extension our long-term well-being. Moderators are new cues that we can use in our daily environment to improve how we live our lives and better manage with our changing eyes and ears. Steps you can take include simple solutions, such as:

• Regular vision and hearing exams — every year is best — or more often if your doctor recommends it due to a specific risk factor, such as glaucoma or diabetes.

• High-contrast strips on stairs, dark-colored toilet seats that improve contrast and use of mugs that are in high contrast to the liquid being served.

• Low-vision rehabilitation, which is like physical therapy with the purpose of developing “strategies to maximize or substitute for diminished sight in order to maintain independence and a sense of self-worth.”

• Access to audiobooks for those who become unable to read the written word.

• Speak face-to-face with people and reduce background noise whenever possible.

Think bigger as well — when someone falls due to poor vision and has a major health impact, the medical and social costs to that individual and their family far outstrip the effort needed to make smaller accommodations before an accident occurs.

Our website provides a wide variety of resources on aging, active engagement, provider and caregiver education, and information about ASI programs in Archuleta County, as well as contact information for making reservations at The Community Café for takeout and for Meals on Wheels at:


The Community Café in the Pagosa Springs Senior Center is requesting volunteers to help with the lunch desk. Please call (970) 264-2167 to volunteer or for more information.

Meals on Wheels
volunteers needed

The Senior Center Meals on Wheels program delivers approximately 3,000 fresh and frozen meals a year. We deliver fresh Meals on Wheels five days a week (and provide frozen Meals on Wheels for weekends) to homebound Archuleta County residents to help them stay healthy and independent in their own homes. 

This program is vitally important because many seniors have little to no access to nutritious meals. They are often too frail or have health complications that prevent them from preparing meals for themselves or from using the Senior Center’s Community Café drive-thru meals pick-up site Monday though Friday. 

The Senior Center needs volunteer Meals on Wheels Drivers for one day a week (or become part of our substitute driver team). Please join us as part of our driver team and build wonderful relationships with the seniors in our community. Call (970) 264-2167.

Dishes and china

Have old dishes or china that you no longer want to use or store? The Community Café is accepting donations of old dishes or china. Please call (970) 264-2167 for more information or to donate.

Take-out meals continue at Senior Center

In order to continue providing meals, the Senior Center is offering take-out hot meals and a salad with a drive-up option under the portico at the Ross Aragon Community Center. 

These meals will be available Monday through Friday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. There is a $4 suggested donation for lunch for those age 60 and better. If you need to have your meal delivered, please call (970) 264-2167 to see if this option is available in your area. 

The cost per meal for the public age 59 and under is $8.50. The meals include a salad, hot meal, drink and dessert or bread. 

Please call (970) 264-2167 to make a reservation for pickup. We are also continuing our Meals on Wheels program. 

There will be no games, classes or presentations during this time. The staff will be available by phone. If you need to speak to a staff member, please call (970) 264-2167.

Community Café menu

Thursday, Sept. 16 — Vegetarian Moroccan stew, roasted cauliflower, naan bread, milk and salad.

Friday, Sept. 17 — Roasted chicken with herbes de Provence, zucchini, tomatoes and onions, milk, salad and chocolate croissant.

Monday, Sept. 20 — Baked salmon with lemon butter sauce, wilted spinach, milk, salad and strawberries Romanoff. 

Tuesday, Sept. 21 — Beef meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, dinner roll with butter, milk and salad.

Wednesday, Sept. 22 — Vegetarian rigatoni with pumpkin cream sauce, yellow squash casserole, focaccia bread with butter, milk and salad.

Thursday, Sept. 23 — Chicken crepes, green peas, milk, salad and chocolate cake.

For your convenience, you can make your reservations in advance or have a standing reservation on days you know you will always pick up. Please cancel if you cannot attend on your standing reservation days. We want to thank everyone for their support by observing our reservation policy. This helps ensure that everyone with reservations receives a meal and enables us to provide additional and healthier meals.

Due to COVID-19, food supplies have been affected. Substitutions will be made accordingly.