The effects of hearing loss on the lives of two groups of older women are described: those provocationally deaf (n = 27) and those who experienced a later onset of hearing loss with aging (n = 39). The women, aged 54-96 years, were interviewed in their homes using their preferred mode of communication; open-ended questions and the Hearing Handicap Inventory of the Elderly were used to assess social and emotional aspects of hearing loss and perceived handicap. Data were analyzed descriptively and the two groups compared on several variables. Both groups of women experienced a high degree of handicap, but expressed their problems differently. Later onset subjects emphasized emotional and situational problems while prevocationally deaf subjects expressed communication difficulty.