Are you the primary caretaker for someone older than 70? There’s a lot to take into consideration. You’re not likely to forget to bring a family member to an oncologist or a cardiologist because those are obvious priorities. But there are things that are often neglected because they don’t feel like priorities such as the yearly checkup with a hearing specialist. And those small things can make a big difference.
The Importance of Hearing to Senior Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. What’s more, your hearing is critical in a way that goes further than your ability to listen to music or communicate. Untreated hearing loss has been connected to a number of mental and physical health problems, including depression and loss of cognitive abilities.
So you unwittingly raise Mom’s risk of dementia by skipping her hearing consultation. If Mom isn’t able to hear as well now, she could begin to separate herself; she stops going to movies, doesn’t meet with her friends for coffee, and has dinner by herself in her room.
When hearing loss takes hold, this kind of social isolation occurs very quickly. So mood might not be the reason for the distant behavior you’ve been noting in Mom or Dad. It might be their hearing. And cognitive decline can eventually be the result of that hearing loss (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it kind of organ). So noticing the symptoms of hearing loss, and making sure those signs are addressed, is crucial with regards to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
Making Hearing a Priority
By now you should be convinced. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is important and that untreated hearing loss can snowball into other issues. What steps should you take to make hearing a priority? Here are a few things you can do:
- Keep track of when your parents are using their hearing aids, and see that it’s every day. So that you can ensure the hearing aids are operating at their maximum ability, they should be used routinely.
- Once a year a hearing screening should be scheduled for anybody above the age of 55. You should help a senior parent schedule and keep these appointments.
- Each night before bed, remind your parents to put their hearing aids on the charger (of course that specifically applies to rechargeable hearing aids).
- Monitor your parents’ behavior. If you observe the tv getting a little louder every week, talk to Mom about making a consultation with a hearing specialist to see if you can pinpoint an issue.
- The same is true if you find a senior beginning to isolate themselves, canceling on friends and staying inside more. A consultation with us can help illuminate the existence of any hearing concerns.
How to Prevent Health Problems in The Future
Being a caregiver probably isn’t your only job so you most likely have a lot to deal with. And hearing problems can feel somewhat trivial if they aren’t causing immediate worries. But the evidence is pretty clear: a wide range of serious health problems in the future can be prevented by dealing with hearing loss now.
So you may be avoiding costly ailments in the future by taking your loved one to their hearing appointment. Depression could be avoided before it even begins. You could even be able to lower Mom’s chance of getting dementia in the near-term future.
That’s worth a trip to see a hearing specialist for the majority of us. And it’s certainly worth a quick reminder to Mom that she needs to be using her hearing aid more diligently. And when that hearing aid is in, you might just be able to have a nice conversation, too.