They call it the “Sandwich Generation.” In your twenties and thirties, spend your time raising kids. Then, taking care of your senior parent’s healthcare needs fills your time when you’re going through your forties and fifties. You’re sandwiched between your children and your parents, thus the name. And it’s increasingly common. This indicates that Mom and Dad’s general healthcare will need to be considered by caretakers.
You likely won’t have a problem remembering to take Mom or Dad to the cardiologist or oncologist because those appointments feel like a priority. But things like making certain Mom’s hearing aids are recharged or going to the annual hearing assessment can sometimes just fall through the cracks. And those little things can have a powerful affect.
The Importance of Hearing For a Senior’s 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 essential to have healthy hearing. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and several other health issues have been linked to neglected hearing loss.
So when you miss Mom’s hearing appointment, you could be unknowingly increasing her chances 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 begins, this type of social isolation can happen very rapidly. You may think that mom is experiencing mood problems because she is acting a bit distant but in reality, that might not be the problem. It could be her hearing. Your brain is an organ that can atrophy if it’s not used regularly so this kind of social isolation can result in cognitive decline. When it comes to the health of your senior parents, it’s crucial that those signs are identified and addressed.
Prioritizing Hearing Health
Alright, you’re convinced. You recognize that hearing loss can grow out of control into more serious problems and hearing health is significant. How can you be certain hearing care is a priority?
A few things that you can do are as follows:
- Once per year, individuals over the age of 55 should have a hearing screening. Be sure that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such a test.
- Help your parents remember to charge their hearing aids every night before they go to bed (at least in scenarios where they have rechargeable batteries). If your parents live in a retirement home, ask their caretakers to watch out for this.
- The same is true if you notice Mom starting to isolate herself, canceling phone conversations, and avoiding people. A trip to a hearing specialist can help illuminate the existence of any hearing difficulties.
- Look closely at how your parents are behaving. If you notice the TV getting a bit louder every week or that they are having trouble hearing you on the phone, talk to Mom about scheduling an appointment with a hearing care specialist to find out if you can identify a problem.
- Every day, remind your parents to use their hearing aids. Consistent hearing aid use can help establish that these devices are working to their highest capacity.
Avoiding Future Health Issues
As a caregiver, you already have plenty to deal with, notably if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And hearing problems can feel relatively insignificant if they aren’t causing immediate friction. But the evidence is quite clear: treating hearing ailments now can prevent a multitude of serious issues in the long run.
So by making certain those hearing tests are scheduled and kept, you’re avoiding expensive medical conditions in the future. You could head off depression before it begins. You might even be able to lower Mom’s chance of developing dementia in the near future.
For many of us, that’s worth a visit to a hearing specialist. And it’s simple to give Mom a quick reminder that she should be diligent about wearing her hearing aids. Once that hearing aid is in, you may be able to have a nice conversation, too. Perhaps you’ll get some lunch and have a nice chat.