It’s known as the “sandwich generation”. You spend your twenties and thirties bringing up your kids. Then, caring for your senior parent’s healthcare requirements fills your time when you’re going through your forties and fifties. You’re sandwiched between your children and your parents, thus the name. And it’s increasingly common. For caretakers, this means spending a lot of time thinking about Mom or Dad’s all-around care.
Making an appointment for Dad to go to an oncologist or a cardiologist feels like a priority, so you aren’t likely to forget anything like that. But things like making certain Dad’s hearing aids are charged or going to the annual hearing assessment can sometimes simply slip through the cracks. And those little things can make a huge difference.
Hearing Health is Important For a Senior’s Total Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Moreover, beyond your ability to communicate or listen to music, it’s necessary to have healthy hearing. Neglected hearing loss has been connected to numerous mental and physical health issues, including depression and loss of cognitive abilities.
So you could be unknowingly increasing the chances that she will develop these issues by skipping her hearing exam. If Mom isn’t able to hear as well these days, it will limit her ability to communicate and be very isolating.
This kind of social isolation can take place very quickly after hearing loss sets in. So if you observe Mom starting to get a little distant, it may not even be connected with her mood (yet). Her hearing may be the real issue. And that hearing-induced solitude can itself ultimately bring on cognitive decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it type of organ). So recognizing the signs of hearing loss, and ensuring those signs are treated, is crucial when it comes to your senior parents’ physical and mental health.
How to Make Sure Hearing is a Priority
Okay, we’ve convinced you. You acknowledge that hearing loss can grow out of control into more serious problems and hearing health is significant. How can you make sure hearing care is a priority?
There are a couple of things you can do:
- Every day, remind your parents to use their hearing aids. Hearing aids function at their greatest capacity when they are used regularly.
- If you notice Mom avoiding phone conversations and staying away from social situations, the same is true. A trip to a hearing specialist can help illuminate the existence of any hearing difficulties.
- Once every year, individuals over the age of 55 should have a hearing exam. Make sure that this yearly appointment is made for your parents and kept.
- Be mindful of your parents’ behavior. If your parent is having trouble hearing you when you talk to them or seems to be turning the TV up louder and louder, encourage them to make an appointment for a hearing test.
- If your parents have rechargeable hearing aids help them make sure they keep them charged when they go to sleep each night. If they are living in a home, ask the staff to check this each night.
Making Sure That Future Health Concerns Are Prevented
You’re already trying to handle a lot, especially if you’re a caregiver in that sandwich generation. And if hearing impairment isn’t causing direct problems, it can seem a little unimportant. But the research demonstrates that a whole range of more serious future health issues can be prevented by dealing with hearing loss now.
So when you take Mom to her hearing test (or arrange to have her seen), you could be avoiding much more costly ailments down the road. You could block depression before it begins. You might even be able to lower Mom’s risk of developing dementia in the near future.
For most of us, that’s worth a visit to a hearing specialist. And it’s undoubtedly worth a quick heads up to Mom that she needs to be wearing her hearing aid more diligently. You also might be able to have a nice conversation once that hearing aid is in. Perhaps you’ll get some lunch and have a nice chat.