It’s known as the “sandwich generation”. You go through your twenties and thirties raising your kids. Then, taking care of your senior parent’s healthcare needs fills your time when you’re in your forties and fifties. You’re sandwiched between your children and your parents, thus the name. And it’s becoming a lot more common. This indicates that Mom and Dad’s overall care will need to be taken under consideration by caretakers.
Setting up an appointment for Dad to go to an oncologist or a cardiologist feels like a priority, so you most likely won’t forget anything like that. But things like making certain Mom’s hearing aids are charged or making the yearly hearing exam can sometimes just slip through the cracks. And those little things can have a profound affect.
Hearing Health is Important For a Senior’s Overall Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. In addition, your hearing is essential in a way that transcends your ability to communicate or listen to music. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and several other health issues have been connected to neglected hearing loss.
So when you skip Mom’s hearing appointment, you might be unknowingly increasing her risk of developing these problems, including dementia. It will be socially isolating if Mom can’t communicate because she can’t hear very well.
When hearing loss first starts, this kind of social isolation can happen very quickly. You might think that mom is experiencing mood issues because she is acting a bit distant but in fact, that may not be the problem. It may be her hearing. Your brain is an organ that can atrophy if it isn’t used regularly so this type of social separation can lead to cognitive decline. So identifying the signs of hearing loss, and ensuring those signs are treated, is essential when it comes to your senior parents’ physical and mental health.
Alright, you’re convinced. You appreciate that hearing loss can grow out of control into more severe problems and hearing health is essential. How can you be certain hearing care is a priority?
There are a couple of things you can do:
- Every day, remind your parents to wear their hearing aids. Daily hearing aid use can help establish that these devices are operating to their maximum capacity.
- Help your parents to not forget to charge their hearing aids every night before they go to bed (at least in cases where they have rechargeable batteries). If they are living in a home, ask the staff to pay attention to this every night.
- Once every year, people over 55 should have a hearing screening. Be certain that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such an exam.
- Pay attention to how your parents are behaving. If your parent is having trouble hearing you when you talk to them or seems to be turning the TV up louder and louder, encourage them to make an appointment for a hearing test.
- 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.
Making Certain That Future Health Issues Are Prevented
As a caregiver, you already have a lot on your plate, especially if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And hearing problems can feel rather insignificant if they aren’t causing immediate friction. But the evidence is pretty clear: managing hearing ailments now can prevent a multitude of serious issues in the long run.
So when you bring Mom to her hearing appointment (or arrange to have her seen), you could be preventing much more costly ailments later on. Perhaps you will stop depression early. It’s even possible that dementia can be avoided or at least slowed down.
For many of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing specialist. And it’s undoubtedly worth a quick heads up to Mom that she needs to be wearing her hearing aid more vigilantly. You also might be capable of having a nice conversation once that hearing aid is in. Perhaps you’ll get some lunch and have a nice chat.