It’s known as the “sandwich generation”. You go through your twenties and thirties bringing up your kids. And then you spend your 40s and 50s organizing the healthcare of your senior parents. You’re sandwiched between your children and your parents, thus the name. And it’s more and more common. For caretakers, this implies investing a lot of time thinking about Mom or Dad’s total healthcare.
You most likely won’t have an issue remembering to take Mom or Dad to the oncologist or cardiologist because those appointments feel like a priority. What falls through the cracks, though, are things such as the annual appointment with a hearing specialist or making certain Dad’s hearing aids are charged up. And those little things can have a powerful affect.
The Value of Hearing For a Senior’s Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Moreover, outside of your ability to communicate or listen to music, it’s necessary to have healthy hearing. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and numerous other health concerns have been linked to neglected hearing loss.
So when you skip Mom’s hearing exam, you could be unwittingly increasing her risk of developing these issues, including dementia. It will be socially isolating if Mom can’t communicate because she can’t hear very well.
When hearing loss first begins, this sort of social isolation can take place very rapidly. You may think that mom is having mood problems because she is acting a little bit distant but in fact, that may not be the issue. Her hearing could be the real difficulty. And that hearing-induced separation can itself eventually lead to cognitive decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it type of organ). When it comes to the health of your senior parents, it’s important that those signs are recognized and addressed.
How to Ensure Hearing is a Priority
Okay, we’ve convinced you. You acknowledge that hearing loss can grow out of control into more serious issues and hearing health is significant. How can you be certain ear care is a priority?
There are a few things you can do:
- Once every year, people over 55 should have a hearing screening. Make certain that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such a test.
- Remind your parents to wear their hearing aids daily. Daily hearing aid use can help establish that these devices are working to their maximum capacity.
- The same is true if you notice Mom starting to isolate herself, canceling phone conversations, and avoiding people. A trip to a hearing specialist can help illuminate the existence of any hearing difficulties.
- Help your parents remember to charge their hearing aids each night before they go to sleep (at least in cases where they have rechargeable batteries). If they are living in a retirement home, ask the staff to check this every night.
- Be mindful of your parents’ behavior. If you observe the television getting a little louder every week or that they are having difficulty hearing you on the phone, speak with Mom about making an appointment with a hearing care specialist to find out if you can identify a problem.
Making Sure That Future Health Issues Are Avoided
As a caregiver, you already have plenty to deal with, notably if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And hearing problems can feel relatively trivial if they aren’t causing direct friction. But the evidence is quite clear: managing hearing ailments now can protect against a multitude of serious problems in the long run.
So when you bring Mom to her hearing exam (or arrange to have her seen), you could be avoiding much more costly ailments later on. You could block depression before it begins. It’s even feasible that dementia can be avoided or at least slowed down.
For the majority of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing specialist. And it’s easy to give Mom a quick reminder that she should be conscientious about wearing her hearing aids. Once that hearing aid is in, you may be able to have a nice conversation, also. Perhaps you’ll get some lunch and have a nice chat.