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Hearing Impairment Takes Toll on Relationships

Hearing Impairment Takes Toll on Relationships

MELBOURNE, May 26/Medianet International-AsiaNet/ -- Hearing impairment has a significant impact on relationships for older couples, with 94 per cent of spouses in a recent study feeling the effects.

``The study found hearing impairment can impact on issues such as the way couples communicate, their physical intimacy and social activities, and can lead to feelings of frustration,’’ said Ms Nerina Scarinci, study author and University of Queensland lecturer in speech pathology.

Ms Scarinci will present the research results at the joint conference of the New Zealand Speech-Language Therapists Association (NZSTA) and Speech Pathology Australia, ‘Reflecting Connections,’ in Auckland this week.

The study of more than 100 older Australian couples that began in 2004 has reinforced the need for speech therapists to work closely with both the hearing impaired partner and their unimpaired spouse.

New Zealand Speech-Language Therapists Association president, Stella Ward, said speech therapists can provide the skills and techniques to help couples communicate more effectively with each other.

``Speech therapists use a range of communication techniques, such as teaching spouses to speak slower instead of louder, encouraging couples to communicate face-to-face and eliminating background noise, such as the television and radio,’’ said Ms Ward.

``The study also found older women were more likely than men to experience difficulty coping with their partner’s hearing impairment. This is perhaps because women tend to place more emphasis on communication,’’ Ms Scarinci said.

``Hearing impairment is an invisible disability, where people are often misinterpreted as being impolite or uninterested. Symptoms of a hearing problem include asking for repeats of what was said, misinterpretation of a conversation or ‘switching off’ during a conversation in a social situation,’’ Ms Scarinci said.

To download a copy of Ms Scarinci’s presentation, visit the New Zealand Speech-Language Therapists Association website:


About the New Zealand Speech-Language Therapists Association
The New Zealand Speech-Language Therapists' Association is the national professional body of speech-language therapists in New Zealand.

New Zealand Speech-Language Therapists Association and Speech Pathology Australia’s joint Conference:
Local and international industry experts will examine topical issues at this year’s joint conference between the New Zealand Speech-Language Therapists Association and Speech Pathology Australia. This year’s conference, ‘Reflecting Connections,’ will be held in Auckland from May 25 to 29 at the SKYCITY Convention Centre.

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