The Life Experiences of the Deaf Elderly

농아노인의 생활 경험

  • Park, Ina (The Seoul Support Center of the Old Deaf) ;
  • Hwang, YoungHee (Social Welfare, Seoul Social Welfare Graduate University) ;
  • Kim, Hanho (a study meeting on elderly welfare, Seoul Christian University)
  • 박인아 (동원대학교) ;
  • 황영희 (서울사회복지대학원대학교) ;
  • 김한호 (서울기독대학교 노인복지연구회)
  • Received : 2016.02.29
  • Accepted : 2016.05.02
  • Published : 2016.08.30


The purpose of this study was to investigate what kind of experiences the deaf elderly would have in the course of life. It also aimed to promote the understanding of their living difficulties and culture among people with normal hearing and provide basic data to help them live with others as members of the community. Phenomenological qualitative research was conducted as part of the methodology. The subjects include seven deaf old people. Based on the results of in-depth interview and analysis, the life experiences of the deaf elderly were categorized into "unforgettable wounds," "life in the community," "life with the family," "marriage of the deaf elderly", and "living by adjusting to reality." First, the subcategories of "unforgettable wounds" include "receiving no treatment for fever," "damage by the Korean War," "alienation from the family," and "people's cold eyes." It turned out that the deaf elderly had led a life, suffering from the heart wounds that they could not forget. Second, the subcategories of "life in the community" include "inconvenience in life," "disadvantages in life," and "severed life." The deaf elderly were not only subjected to inconvenience and disadvantages in life, but also suffered loneliness, being cut off from the community. Third, the subcategories of "life with the family" include "not communicating with children," "being abandoned again," "being used by the family," "being lonely even with the family," and "wishing to live independently from the family." The deaf elderly were not supported by their families and were abandoned or used by them, leading a solitary life. Fourth, the subcategories of "marriage of the deaf elderly" include"send as a surrogate mother," "frequent remarriage and divorce," "lean on as a married couple." Deaf elderly form their own culture of the marriage and lean on each other. Finally, the subcategories of "living by adjusting to reality" include "getting help from neighbors," "behaving oneself right in life," "learning Hangul," "living by working," "living freely," "living by missing," and "controlling the impulse to end life," "resorting to religion." The deaf elderly made the most alienated and vulnerable group with no access to benefits due to their limitations as a linguistic and social minority, but they made efforts to form their own culture and adjust to reality for themselves. Based on those findings, the study made the following proposals: first, there is a need for practical approaches to heal the ineffaceable wounds in the hearts of deaf elderly. Second, there is a need for policies to help them experience no inconvenience and disadvantages as members of community and communicate with people with normal hearing. Third, there should be practical approaches to enable them to get recognition and support from their families and share love with them. Finally, there should be practical policy approaches to help people with normal hearing understand the culture of deaf elderly and assist the deaf elderly to receive supports from the community and live with others within the community.