It’s known as the “sandwich generation”. When you’re in your twenties and thirties, your time is spent raising kids. And then you spend your 40s and 50s setting up the care of your senior parents. You’re sandwiched between your children and your parents, thus the name. And it’s becoming more and more common. This means that Mom and Dad’s overall care will need to be taken under consideration by caretakers.
Setting up an appointment for Mom to go to an oncologist or a cardiologist 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 going to the annual hearing assessment can sometimes simply slip through the cracks. And those little things can make a major difference.
Hearing Health is Crucial For a Senior’s Total Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Moreover, beyond your ability to listen to music or communicate, it’s necessary to have healthy hearing. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and numerous other health issues have been linked to neglected hearing loss.
So you might be inadvertently increasing the chances that she will develop these issues by skipping her hearing exam. If Mom isn’t able to hear as well these days, it will limit her ability to communicate and be very isolating.
This type of social isolation can happen very quickly when hearing loss starts. You may think that mom is having mood issues because she is acting a little bit distant but in reality, that may not be the problem. It could be her hearing. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself eventually lead to cognitive decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it type of organ). So recognizing the signs of hearing loss, and ensuring those signs are addressed, is crucial when it comes to your senior parents’ physical and mental health.
How to Make Sure Hearing is a Priority
Fine, we’ve convinced you. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is essential and that neglected hearing loss can snowball into other issues. How can you be certain hearing care is a priority?
There are a couple of things you can do:
- Be mindful of your parents’ behavior. 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.
- Once every year, individuals over 55 should have a hearing screening. Make sure that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such an exam.
- Help your parents remember to charge their hearing aids every night before they go to bed (at least in situations where they have rechargeable batteries). If they are living in a home, ask the staff to check this each night.
- If you notice Mom avoiding phone conversations and staying away from social situations, the same is true. A trip to a hearing specialist can help illuminate the existence of any hearing difficulties.
- Each day, remind your parents to wear their hearing aids. Consistent hearing aid use can help establish that these devices are working to their maximum capacity.
Preventing Future Health Issues
You’re already dealing with a lot, particularly if you’re a primary care provider in that sandwich generation. And if hearing loss isn’t causing immediate problems, it can seem slightly trivial. But the research shows that a whole variety of more significant future health issues can be prevented by treating hearing loss now.
So when you take Mom to her hearing exam (or arrange to have her seen), you could be preventing much more costly afflictions later on. You could head off depression before it begins. It’s even possible that dementia can be stopped or at least slowed down.
That would be worth a trip to a hearing specialist for the majority of people. And it’s easy to give Mom a quick reminder that she should be diligent about wearing her hearing aids. You also may be able to have a nice conversation once that hearing aid is in. Perhaps over lunch. Maybe over sandwiches.