It’s referred to as the “sandwich generation”. You go through your twenties and thirties bringing up 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, hence the name. And it’s more and more common. For caretakers, this means investing a lot of time contemplating Mom or Dad’s all-around care.
Making an appointment for Dad to go to a cardiologist or an oncologist feels like a priority, so you aren’t likely to forget anything like that. But things like making certain Mom’s hearing aids are recharged or making the annual hearing test can sometimes simply fall through the cracks. And those little things can have a powerful 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. Moreover, outside of your ability to listen to music or communicate, it’s necessary to have healthy hearing. Untreated hearing loss has been connected to several physical and mental health issues, including depression and loss of cognitive abilities.
So when you miss Mom’s hearing appointment, you may be unwittingly 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 take place very quickly. So if you observe Mom beginning to get a little distant, it might not have anything to do with her mood (yet). It could be her hearing. Your brain is an organ that can atrophy if it isn’t used on a regular basis so this type of social separation can lead to cognitive decline. When it comes to the health of your senior parents, it’s crucial that those signs are identified and treated.
How to Make Certain Hearing is a Priority
Alright, you’re convinced. You have no doubt that hearing is relevant and that neglected hearing loss can snowball into other issues. What can you do to prioritize hearing care?
A few things that you can do are as follows:
- Remind your parents to wear their hearing aids every day. Consistent hearing aid use can help make sure that these devices are working to their maximum capacity.
- Keep an eye on your parents’ behavior. If you notice the TV getting a little louder each week or that they are having difficulty hearing you on the phone, speak with Mom about making an appointment with a hearing specialist to find out if you can pinpoint 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.
- Once every year, individuals over 55 should have a hearing test. Be sure that this yearly appointment is scheduled for your parents and kept.
- If your parents have rechargeable hearing aids help them make certain they charge them when they go to bed each night. If they are living in a retirement home, ask the staff to check this each night.
Making Certain That Future Health Concerns Are Prevented
You’re already dealing with a lot, especially if you’re a primary care provider in that sandwich generation. And hearing troubles can feel somewhat trivial if they aren’t causing immediate friction. But the research reveals that a whole variety of more significant future health concerns can be avoided by treating hearing loss now.
So by making certain those hearing exams are scheduled and kept, you’re avoiding costly medical conditions in the future. Perhaps you will avoid depression early. You might even be able to reduce Mom’s chance of developing dementia in the near-term future.
For most of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing specialist. And it’s definitely worth a quick reminder to Mom that she should be wearing her hearing aid more diligently. You also might be able to have a nice conversation once that hearing aid is in. Maybe you’ll get some lunch and have a nice chat.