Are you the primary caretaker for somebody older than 70? You have a lot to remember. You aren’t likely to forget to bring a family member to an oncologist or a heart specialist because those are clear priorities. What falls through the cracks, though, are the little things, like the yearly exam with a hearing professional or making sure Mom’s hearing aids are charged. And those small things can make a big difference.
For The Health of a Senior, Hearing is Essential
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Beyond the ability to hear and enjoy music or communicate, your hearing plays a vitally significant role. Loss of cognitive abilities and depression are a couple of mental health problems that have been linked to neglected hearing loss.
So when you skip Mom’s hearing appointment, you could unwittingly be increasing her risk of developing these problems, including dementia. If Mom isn’t able to hear as well now, she could start to separate herself; she has dinner alone in her room, stops going to movies, and doesn’t go out with her friends.
When hearing loss takes hold, this sort of social separation occurs very quickly. So if you find Mom or Dad beginning to get a little distant, it might not be about their mood (yet). It might be their hearing. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself ultimately bring about cognitive decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it kind of organ). So recognizing the signs of hearing loss, and ensuring those signs are addressed, is crucial when it comes to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
How to Ensure Hearing Will be a Priority
By now you should be convinced. You now recognize that untreated hearing loss can result in several health issues and that you need to take hearing seriously. How can you make sure ear care is a priority? Here are a few things you can do:
- Each night before bed, help your parents to put their hearing aids on the charger (at least in situations where their hearing aids are rechargeable).
- Remind your parents to wear their hearing aids every day. In order to make sure the hearing aids are operating at their optimum ability, they should be used consistently.
- The same is the situation if you notice a senior starting to separate themselves, canceling on friends and staying inside more. Any hearing challenges can be diagnosed by us when you bring them in.
- Once per year a hearing screening needs to be scheduled for anybody over the age of 55. You should help a senior parent schedule and keep these appointments.
- Be mindful of your parents’ habits. If you notice the tv getting somewhat louder every week, have a talk with Mom about making a consultation with a hearing specialist to see if you can identify a problem.
How to Reduce 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 hearing concerns can feel rather trivial if they aren’t causing immediate friction. But the evidence is rather clear: a multitude of significant health problems in the future can be prevented by managing hearing loss now.
So when you bring a loved one to their hearing exam, you could be preventing much more costly health conditions down the road. Depression could be avoided before it even begins. And Mom’s risk of dementia in the near future will also be minimized.
That’s worth a trip to see a hearing professional for most of us. And it’s definitely worth a quick reminder to Mom that she needs to be using her hearing aid more diligently. And that hearing aid will make your conversations with her much easier and more pleasant.