How we are making a difference

Mental, cognitive, vision and hearing problems in older adults are amongst the top public health challenges in Europe.

Sense-Cog aims to address this negative impact and to promote mental well-being by understanding the inter-relationship of sensory impairments and cognitive and mental health function, identifying novel means of screening and detection for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes, and translating this knowledge into clinical applications to improve the mental well-being of EU citizens.

A multidisciplinary collaborative approach will address the following themes:

  • exploration: an epidemiological analysis of five large EU longitudinal databases to establish risk profiles for good and poor mental health outcomes
  • assessment: the adaptation/validation of assessment tools for cognition and sensory impairment for vulnerable populations, including the development of a composite e-screen for sensory, cognitive and mental functioning
  • intervention: a clinical trial of a newly developed “sensory support” intervention
  • participation: an EU “patient and public voice” and innovative public engagement network to inform project research and communicate finding
  • valuation: health economic and cost effectiveness analyses
  • management, governance and ethical issues

Check out our results so far!

The problem

Mental ill health is estimated to cost the EU around €277 billion/year and yet less than one third of affected people receive any treatment, with marked age, gender, socio-economic and ethnicity inequalities amongst those who do. Studies point strongly to the need for a significantly greater understanding of the factors that drive mental ill-health in the EU, particularly in the seniors. Amongst the most neglected and under-recognised of these are factors related to hearing and vision (“sensory”) impairment. Around seven in ten Europeans over the age of 65 live with either sight or hearing loss and over two-thirds live with depression and other mental illnesses.

Dementia and cognitive impairment steadily rise in prevalence over the age of 65 to the point where almost one-third of Europeans at the age of 90 are affected. The overlap between sensory, cognitive and mental ill-health is substantial and all three impact significantly on each other.

All are considered to be amongst the highest contributory factors in reducing the quality of life for older adults and can also have a significant impact on the lives of carers.

The solution


To solve these important challenges SENSE-Cog will contribute solutions through an ambitious programme of collaborative research across six Workpackages (WPs) with the following key aims:

Exploration (WP1): to understand the links between hearing, vision, cognitive and emotional systems amongst older Europeans in different communities in order to promote early diagnosis and plan health services and interventions;

Assessment (WP2): to improve the early detection and diagnosis of sensory, cognitive and emotional problems in older people through specially adapted assessment and ehealth check tools;

Intervention (WP3): to determine the effectiveness of newly developed vision and hearing support interventions in improving quality of life and functional ability in people with dementia, and supporting their caregivers;

Valuation (WP4):, to provide new information about the economic impact of sensory impairment on mental health and use of health services for older Europeans, and on the cost effectiveness of sensory support to improve mental well-being, quality of life and provision of services.

Participation, dissemination, and communication (WP5): to raise awareness and communicate the message that sensory health (hearing and vision) is a key feature of mental well-being that can be addressed to support patients and their carers, health professionals and policymakers.

Management, governance and ethics (WP6): to ensure timely delivery of results in line with the highest standards of ethical conduct and governance.

SENSE-Cog has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 668648.