Hearing loss is a prevalent chronic stressor among older adults and is associated with numerous adverse health outcomes. The life course principle of linked lives highlights that an individual's stressors can impact the health and well-being of others; however, there are limited large-scale studies examining hearing loss within marital dyads. Using 11 waves (1998-2018) of the Health and Retirement Study (n = 4881 couples), we estimate age-based mixed models to examine how 1) one's own hearing, 2) one's spouse's hearing, or 3) both spouses' hearing influence changes in depressive symptoms. For men, their wives' hearing loss, their own hearing loss, and both spouses having hearing loss are associated with increased depressive symptoms. For women, their own hearing loss and both spouses having hearing loss are associated with increased depressive symptoms, but their husbands' hearing loss is not. The connections between hearing loss and depressive symptoms within couples are a dynamic process that unfolds differently by gender over time.
Keywords: Depressive symptoms; Health and Retirement Study; Hearing loss; Life course; Linked lives; Spouses.
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