The effect of hearing impairment in older people on the spouse

Int J Audiol. 2008 Mar;47(3):141-51. doi: 10.1080/14992020701689696.


The prevalence of hearing impairment (HI) in older people and its detrimental effects on their quality of life and well-being is well known. To date however, there have been few studies investigating the impact on the person's spouse. To investigate this topic, a qualitative study consisting of in-depth interviews was conducted with five female and five male spouses of older people with HI. The aims of the study were: (1) to describe the spouses' experiences of living with someone with a HI; (2) to describe the effect of HI on the couples' communication and relationship; and (3) to identify coping strategies adopted by spouses. An interpretive analysis revealed four themes that described the experience of spouses of older people with HI: (1) the broad ranging effects of the HI on the spouses' everyday lives; (2) the spouses' need to constantly adapt to their partners' HI; (3) the effect of acceptance of the HI on the spouse; and (4) the impact of ageing and retirement. Spouses in this study experienced a wide range of effects as a result of their partners' HI. Implications for audiological rehabilitation are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Communication*
  • Female
  • Hearing Loss / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Adjustment
  • Spouses / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological