Are you the primary caretaker for somebody over the age of 70? You have a lot to remember. You’re not likely to forget to take a family member to an oncologist or a heart specialist because those are obvious priorities. What falls through the cracks, though, are the small things, including the yearly exam with a hearing professional or making sure Mom’s hearing aids are charged up. 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. Beyond the ability to communicate or hear and enjoy music, your hearing plays a vitally important role. Neglected hearing loss has been linked to numerous mental and physical health problems, like depression and loss of cognitive abilities.
So when you skip Mom’s hearing appointment, you could unwittingly be increasing her chances of developing these problems, including dementia. If Mom isn’t able to hear as well now, she could start to separate herself; she eats dinner alone in her room, stops going to see movies, and doesn’t go out with her friends.
This kind of social separation can occur very quickly when hearing loss sets in. So if you find Mom or Dad beginning to become a little distant, it might not have anything to do with their mood (yet). It could be their hearing. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself potentially lead to cognitive decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it kind of organ). So recognizing the signs of hearing loss, and making certain those signs are managed, is essential when it comes to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
By now you should be persuaded. You now accept that untreated hearing loss can lead to several health problems and that you should take hearing seriously. What steps should you take to make hearing a priority? There are a few things you can do:
- The same is true if you observe a senior starting to segregate themselves, canceling on friends and staying inside more. A trip to come see us can help illuminate the existence of any hearing concerns.
- Anyone above the age of 55 or 60 should be undergoing a hearing screening every year or so. Be sure that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such a screening.
- Every night before bed, make sure your parents recharge their hearing aids (of course that exclusively applies to rechargeable hearing aids).
- Monitor your parents’ behavior. If you notice the tv getting a bit louder every week, have a talk with Mom about schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist to see if you can identify a problem.
- Remind your parents to use their hearing aids each day. Routine hearing aid use can help ensure that these devices are performing to their optimal capacity.
How to Protect Against Health Problems in The Future
Being a caregiver probably isn’t your only job so you likely have a lot on your plate. And hearing concerns can feel rather trivial if they aren’t causing immediate stress. But there’s very clear evidence: a wide range of significant health concerns in the future can be avoided by dealing with hearing loss now.
So you could be preventing costly afflictions in the future by taking your loved one to their hearing consultation. You could stop depression before it begins. You could even be able to reduce Mom’s chance of getting dementia in the near-term future.
That’s worth a trip to see a hearing specialist for most of us. It’s also very helpful to remind Mom to use hear hearing aid more consistently. And that hearing aid will make your conversations with her much smoother and more enjoyable.