Are you the main caretaker for somebody older than 70? There’s a lot to keep in mind. Bringing a relative to a cardiologist or setting up an appointment with an oncologist seems like a priority, so you aren’t likely to forget anything like that. But there are things that are regularly forgotten because they don’t feel like priorities such as the annual checkup with a hearing specialist. And those things are a higher priority than you might think.
For The Health of a Senior, Hearing is Important
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. What’s more, your hearing is critical in a way that goes beyond your ability to communicate or listen to music. Untreated hearing loss has been connected to several mental and physical health concerns, like loss of cognitive ability and depression.
So when you skip Mom’s hearing appointment, you might unwittingly be increasing her risk of developing these problems, including dementia. Mom could begin to separate herself if she isn’t hearing well these days; she stops going to movies, doesn’t meet with her friends for coffee, and eats dinner by herself in her room.
When hearing loss sets in, this type of social separation happens very quickly. So mood might not be the reason for the distant behavior you’ve been observing in Mom or Dad. It may be their hearing. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself ultimately bring about mental decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it kind of organ). So with regards to a senior parents physical and mental health, recognizing and managing hearing loss is essential.
How to Ensure Hearing Will be a Priority
By now you should be convinced. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is important and that untreated hearing loss can snowball into other issues. What steps should you take to make hearing a priority? There are several things you can do:
- Keep track of when your parents are wearing their hearing aids, and see that it’s daily. In order to ensure the hearing aids are functioning at their optimal capacity, they should be used consistently.
- Each night before bed, remind your parents to put their hearing aids on the charger (of course that exclusively applies to rechargeable devices).
- And if you find a senior spending more time at home, backing out on friends, and isolating themselves, the same is true. A trip to come see us can help illuminate the existence of any hearing difficulties.
- Don’t forget to observe how your parents are behaving. If your parent is gradually turning the volume on their TV up, you can identify the problem by making an appointment with a hearing professional.
- Anyone above the age of 55 or 60 needs to be undergoing a hearing screening every year or so. Ensure that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such a screening.
How to Prevent Health Problems in The Future
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 problems aren’t causing immediate issues, they might seem a little trivial. But there’s pretty clear evidence: a wide range of significant health problems in the future can be avoided by treating hearing loss now.
So you could be avoiding costly health conditions later on in life by taking your loved one to their hearing exam. You could head off depression before it begins. And Mom’s chance of dementia in the near future will also be decreased.
For most of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing professional. And it’s certainly worth a quick reminder to Mom that she needs to be wearing her hearing aid more vigilantly. And that hearing aid will make your conversations with her much easier and more enjoyable.