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Advice From Couples Who Are Successfully Managing Sensory Loss

As Valentine’s day approaches, we get ready to shower our loved one with flowers, cards, and candy. It is a particular time for you to tell others how much you love them. However, relationships can be challenging and can pose a tremendous obstacle for couples who face a loss of vision, hearing, or both. Although partners have the best intentions of unconditional acceptance, sensory loss involves a large amount of stress. There are many reasons for the tension between partners including:

  • Frustration
  • Resentment
  • Loneliness
  • A decrease in communication
  • Withdrawal from social interaction
  • A reduction of shared activities

Nerves are frayed, and countless arguments occur because of misunderstandings or the disappointment of being misunderstood. Often, a spouse becomes resentful of being an interpreter and continually having to repeat themselves. The partner with a hearing loss senses this and usually withdrawals to avoid social situations. Hearing loss has a significant effect on the individual as well as their spouse.


A new study is paying attention to couples who are dealing with sensory loss in an attempt to better understand how couples cope with sensory impairment. It seems that peer support promotes the well-being of patients and their caregivers. Simple encouragement and reassurance from a peer help to reduce stress and lessen the feelings of isolation. The researchers have chosen to focus on actual individuals with hearing, vision, or dual sensory loss and their spouses for advice on coping with sensory loss.

Study Approach

Two studies provide the data for the study. The first includes in-person interviews with 12 couples dealing with deafblindness. The second consists of an online survey of 72 adults with sensory loss and 39 spouses. Participants from both studies stated the advice they would give to couples who are living with sensory loss.

Results From Two Studies

Social support from peers, partners, and healthcare professionals is essential according to the first study group. The deafblind participants in this first study feel that support from patient-led organizations is vital for coping with sensory loss. The group lists honesty, cooperation, patience, and understanding as critical for couples to manage sensory loss.

The suggestions from the second study group reflect the findings from the first group. The recommendations from those with the sensory loss as well as the spouses include the importance of communication and mutual support. This group firmly believes in the value of social and professional support including assistance from counselors, peers, healthcare professionals, and rehabilitation specialists. A positive attitude is critical for success.

Couples Can Manage Sensory Loss

Coping with sensory loss is challenging. The feelings of frustration and resentment can feel overwhelming for couples managing sensory loss. It is possible to deal with sensory loss and to do so effectively. Support from spouses, community, peers, and professionals can lessen the challenges of sensory deprivation. Couples can practice honesty, patience, and respect for each other. A professional counselor or healthcare professional can aid couples in learning how to manage the stress that accompanies sensory loss.

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