It’s known as the “sandwich generation”. You spend your twenties and thirties bringing up your kids. And then when you’re in your forties and fifties you’re coordinating the care of your senior parents. You’re sandwiched between your children and your parents, thus the name. And it’s more and more common. This indicates that Mom and Dad’s general care will need to be considered by caretakers.
You probably won’t have any difficulty remembering to take Mom or Dad to the cardiologist or oncologist because those appointments feel like a priority. What is sometimes missed, though, are things including the yearly appointment with a hearing specialist or making certain Dad’s hearing aids are charged up. And those little things can make a major difference.
Hearing Health is Crucial For a Senior’s General Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. What’s more, your hearing is crucial in a way that transcends your ability to communicate or listen to music. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and numerous other health issues have been connected to neglected hearing loss.
So when you miss Mom’s hearing appointment, you could be unwittingly increasing her chances of developing these issues, including dementia. It will be socially isolating if Mom can’t communicate because she can’t hear very well.
This sort of social separation can take place very quickly when hearing loss begins. So if you observe Mom starting to get a bit distant, it may not even be connected with her mood (yet). Her hearing might be the real difficulty. 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 essential when it comes to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
How to Ensure Hearing is a Priority
Fine, we’ve convinced you. You acknowledge that hearing loss can grow out of control into more severe issues and hearing health is significant. How can you make sure hearing care is a priority?
There are a few things you can do:
- Help your parents remember to charge their hearing aids every night before they go to sleep (at least in scenarios where they have rechargeable batteries). If they are living in a home, ask the staff to check this every night.
- Look closely at how your parents are behaving. If you observe the TV getting a little louder every week or that they have trouble 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.
- The same is true if you notice Mom starting to isolate herself, canceling phone conversations, and avoiding people. Any hearing problems she may be having will be identified by her hearing specialist.
- Remind your parents to wear their hearing aids daily. Hearing aids work at their optimal capacity when they are worn consistently.
- Anybody over the age of 55 or 60 should be undergoing a hearing exam yearly. Make sure that this yearly appointment is made for your parents and kept.
Combating Future Health Issues
You’re already dealing with a lot, specifically if you’re a caregiver in that sandwich generation. And if hearing impairment isn’t causing immediate problems, it can seem somewhat trivial. But the research reveals that a wide range of more significant future health concerns can be avoided by dealing with hearing loss now.
So when you take Mom to her hearing exam (or arrange to have her seen), you could be preventing much more costly ailments later on. Maybe you will avoid depression early. You may even be able to reduce Mom’s risk of developing dementia in the near-term future.
That would be worth a visit to a hearing specialist for most people. And it’s undoubtedly worth a quick reminder to Mom that she should be wearing her hearing aid more vigilantly. Once that hearing aid is in, you might be able to have a nice conversation, also. Perhaps you’ll get some lunch and have a nice chat.