Are you the primary caretaker for someone older than 70? There’s a lot to keep in mind. You’re not likely to forget to take a loved one to an oncologist or a cardiologist because those are clear priorities. What falls through the cracks, however, are the little things, such as the yearly examination with a hearing specialist or making sure Dad’s hearing aids are charged. And those small things can make a big difference.
The Significance 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 essential in a way that goes beyond your ability to listen to music or communicate. Loss of cognitive abilities and depression are a couple of mental health problems that have been linked to untreated hearing loss.
So you unwittingly raise Mom’s risk of dementia by skipping her hearing appointment. Mom could start to isolate herself if she isn’t hearing well these days; she eats dinner alone in her room, stops going to movies, and doesn’t meet with her friends.
When hearing loss sets in, this type of social isolation happens very quickly. So if you notice Mom or Dad starting to become a little distant, it may not have anything to do with their mood (yet). Hearing loss may be the problem. And cognitive decline can ultimately be the outcome of that hearing loss (your brain is an organ that needs to be exercised or it begins to diminish). So recognizing the signs of hearing loss, and making certain those signs are addressed, is essential with regards to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
Making Hearing a Priority
Alright, we’ve persuaded you. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is significant and that untreated hearing loss can snowball into other problems. How can you make sure ear care is a priority? There are several things you can do:
- Help your parents remember to recharge their hearing aids every night before they go to bed (at least in cases where their hearing aids are rechargeable).
- Keep an eye on your parents’ habits. If you notice the tv getting a little louder every week, speak with Mom about schedule a consultation with a hearing specialist to see if you can identify a problem.
- Monitor when your parents are using their hearing aids, and see that it’s daily. Consistent hearing aid use can help ensure that these devices are operating to their maximum efficiency.
- And if you find a senior spending more time at home, canceling out on friends, and isolating themselves, the same applies. Any hearing concerns can be identified by us when you bring them in.
- Once a year a hearing screening should be scheduled for everybody over the age of 55. You should help a senior parent make and keep these appointments.
Protecting Against Future Health Concerns
Being a caregiver probably isn’t your only job so you likely have a lot to deal with. And if hearing problems aren’t causing immediate problems, they could seem a bit trivial. But the evidence is pretty clear: treating hearing conditions now can avoid a wide range of serious issues down the road.
So you may be avoiding costly ailments later on in life by bringing your loved one to their hearing appointment. Depression could be eliminated before it even starts. And Mom’s risk of dementia in the near future will also be reduced.
For most of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing professional. It’s also very helpful to remind Mom to use hear hearing aid more frequently. And that hearing aid will make your conversations with her much smoother and more pleasant.