It’s referred to as the “sandwich generation”. You go through your twenties and thirties raising your kids. Then, looking after your senior parent’s healthcare needs fills your time when you’re in your forties and fifties. The name “sandwich generation” is appropriate because you’re sandwiched between caring for your kids and caring for your parents. And it’s becoming more and more common. This means that Mom and Dad’s overall healthcare will need to be considered by caretakers.
You probably won’t have any difficulty remembering to take Mom or Dad to the oncologist or cardiologist because those appointments feel like a priority. But things like making sure Mom’s hearing aids are recharged or making the yearly hearing test can sometimes simply slip through the cracks. And those little things can have a profound impact.
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. Moreover, outside of your ability to communicate or listen to music, it’s crucial to have healthy hearing. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and numerous other health concerns have been connected to neglected hearing loss.
So you may be unintentionally increasing the chances that she will develop these problems 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.
When hearing loss first sets in, this type of social isolation can happen very quickly. So if you notice Mom starting to get a bit distant, it may not even be connected with her mood (yet). Her hearing might be the real issue. Your brain is an organ that can atrophy if it isn’t used regularly so this type of social separation can result in cognitive decline. So noticing the signs of hearing loss, and making certain those signs are addressed, is essential when it comes to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
Alright, you’re convinced. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is important and that neglected hearing loss can snowball into other problems. How can you be certain ear care is a priority?
There are a couple of things you can do:
- 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.
- Every day, remind your parents to use their hearing aids. Hearing aids function at their maximum capacity when they are used consistently.
- 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 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 pay attention to this every night.
- Anybody over 55 should be undergoing a hearing exam yearly. Make certain that this annual appointment is made for your parents and kept.
Making Certain That Future Health Concerns Are Prevented
You’re already dealing with a lot, particularly if you’re a primary care provider in that sandwich generation. And hearing problems can feel rather insignificant if they aren’t causing direct friction. But the research shows that a whole range of more significant future health concerns can be avoided by dealing with hearing loss now.
So when you bring Mom to her hearing test (or arrange to have her seen), you could be preventing much more costly conditions in the future. You could head off depression before it starts. You might even be able to reduce Mom’s chance of developing dementia in the near-term future.
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 conscientious about wearing her hearing aids. You also may be able to have a nice conversation once that hearing aid is in. Perhaps you’ll get some lunch and have a nice chat.