The Consequences of Hearing Impairment on Spousal Mental Health

Jessica West , Duke University

Disablement is a significant health problem and chronic stressor for older adults and is associated with negative mental health outcomes. Although some research has explored how disability extends beyond individuals to influence the mental health of their support networks, less population-based research has assessed the consequences of hearing impairment. The current study builds on stress proliferation, gender, and marriage research using data from the 1998 wave of the Health and Retirement Study to estimate the association between hearing impairment in one spouse and depressive symptoms in the other. The next step is to employ nine waves (1998-2014) and use a fixed effects model to test this relationship. Preliminary analyses using the 1998 wave reveal that female hearing impairment is associated with an increase in male depressive symptoms, but that the relationship between male hearing impairment and female depressive symptoms is explained by male depressive symptoms and poor self-rated health.

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 Presented in Session 9. Marriage, Family, Households, & Unions; Gender, Race, & Ethnicity