They call it the “Sandwich Generation.” You spend your twenties and thirties raising your kids. Then, caring for your senior parent’s healthcare requirements occupies 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 more and more common. This means that Mom and Dad’s general care will need to be taken under consideration by caretakers.
Making an appointment for Mom to go to an oncologist or a cardiologist feels like a priority, so you most likely won’t forget anything like that. What is sometimes missed, though, are things including the annual checkup with a hearing care professional or making certain Dad’s hearing aids are charged up. And those little things can make a big difference.
Hearing Health is Crucial For a Senior’s Overall Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Additionally, your hearing is crucial 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 linked to neglected hearing loss.
So you may be unintentionally increasing the risk that she will develop these issues by skipping her hearing appointment. It will be socially isolating if Mom can’t communicate because she can’t hear very well.
This sort of social separation can occur very quickly after hearing loss begins. You might think that mom is experiencing mood issues because she is acting a bit distant but in actuality, that may not be the problem. Her hearing might be the real issue. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself eventually lead to cognitive decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it kind of organ). When it comes to the health of your senior parents, it’s crucial that those signs are identified and addressed.
How to Make Sure Hearing is a Priority
Fine, we’ve convinced you. You recognize that hearing loss can grow out of control into more serious issues and hearing health is important. What can you do to prioritize hearing care?
A few things that you can do are as follows:
- Help your parents to remember to wear their hearing aids every day. Consistent hearing aid use can help ensure that these devices are operating to their highest capacity.
- 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.
- If you notice Mom avoiding phone conversations and staying away from social situations, the same is true. Any hearing problems she may be having will be identified by her hearing specialist.
- Help your parents remember to charge their hearing aids every night before they go to sleep (at least in cases where they have rechargeable batteries). If they are living in a home, ask the staff to check this each night.
- Once per year, people over the age of 55 should have a hearing exam. Make sure that this yearly appointment is scheduled for your parents and kept.
Avoiding Future Health Issues
As a caregiver, you already have plenty to deal with, notably if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And hearing troubles can feel rather trivial if they aren’t causing direct friction. But the research demonstrates that a wide variety of more significant future health issues can be avoided by managing hearing loss now.
So by making certain those hearing appointments are scheduled and kept, you’re avoiding costly medical problems later. Perhaps you will stop depression early. You may even be able to lower Mom’s chance of developing dementia in the near-term future.
That would be worth a visit to a hearing specialist for most people. And it’s easy to give Mom a quick reminder that she needs to be conscientious about wearing her hearing aids. Once that hearing aid is in, you might be able to have a nice conversation, too. Perhaps you’ll get some lunch and have a nice chat.