Spouses are not burdened when their partner suffers vision loss
When a person experiences vision impairment or declining health, caregiving typically falls to a family member, most often a spouse. This increased burden can sometimes cause burnout, stress, and illness in the caregiver.
A study published in the Winter 2011 edition of the journal Insight: Research and Practice in Visual Impairment and Blindness explores levels of burden and depression reported by caregivers. This study focused on people over the age of 65 with blindness, deafness, or both impairments, and the spouse or partner who serves as caregiver.
Twenty-five spouses were recruited for this study. Of the partner with sensory impairment, 6 had vision loss, 8 had hearing loss, 5 had dual-sensory loss, and 6 were control participants with no sensory loss.
The investigators expected that spouses whose partners had sensory loss would report higher levels of both burden and depression compared to the control group. But this was not the case. In fact, the one comparison that did show a significant difference indicated that those in the control group, with no sensory loss, experienced a greater feeling of burden than those in the hearing-impaired group!
The researchers were surprised by this unexpected finding. It suggests that many couples can adjust very well when one partner suffers vision or hearing loss. This is wonderful testimony to the strength of many marriages.