It’s known as the “sandwich generation”. You go through your twenties and thirties raising your kids. And then when you’re in your forties and fifties you’re setting up the healthcare of your senior parents. You’re sandwiched between your children and your parents, thus the name. And it’s increasingly common. For caretakers, this implies investing a lot of time contemplating Mom or Dad’s all-around care.
You probably 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 yearly exam with a hearing care professional or making certain Mom’s hearing aids are charged up. And those little things can have a profound affect.
Hearing Health is Essential 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 essential in a way that goes beyond your ability to communicate or listen to music. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and several other health issues have been connected to untreated hearing loss.
So you might be unknowingly increasing the risk that she will develop these problems by skipping her hearing appointment. It will be socially isolating if Mom can’t communicate because she can’t hear very well.
When hearing loss first begins, this type of social isolation can happen very rapidly. So if you observe Mom starting to get a little distant, it may not have anything to do with her mood (yet). It may be her hearing. Your brain is an organ that can atrophy if it isn’t used on a regular basis so this kind of social isolation can result in cognitive decline. 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 Make Certain Hearing is a Priority
Alright, you’re convinced. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is essential and that untreated hearing loss can snowball into other problems. How can you make sure ear care is a priority?
There are a few things you can do:
- If your parents have rechargeable hearing aids help them make sure they keep them charged when they go to sleep each night. If your parents live in an assisted living situation, ask their caretakers to do this.
- Look closely at how your parents are behaving. If you observe the television getting a bit louder each week or that they have trouble hearing you on the phone, talk to Mom about scheduling an appointment with a hearing specialist to find out if you can identify a problem.
- Anyone over 55 should be undergoing a hearing screening every year or so. Be certain that this yearly appointment is made for your parents and kept.
- 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 to remember to wear their hearing aids daily. Hearing aids operate at their maximum capacity when they are worn regularly.
Making Sure That Future Health Issues Are Avoided
As a caregiver, you already have a lot on your plate, especially if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And if hearing impairment isn’t causing direct problems, it can seem slightly trivial. But the research is pretty clear: managing hearing ailments now can protect against a wide range of serious problems in the long run.
So by making sure those hearing exams are scheduled and kept, you’re preventing costly medical problems later. Maybe you will stop depression early. You may even be able to decrease Mom’s risk of developing dementia in the near-term future.
That would be worth a trip to a hearing specialist for most people. And it’s simple to give Mom a quick reminder that she should be conscientious about wearing her hearing aids. You also might be capable of having a nice conversation once that hearing aid is in. Maybe you’ll get some lunch and have a nice chat.