Are you the main caretaker for somebody over the age of 70? You have a lot to remember. You aren’t likely to forget to take a loved one to an oncologist or a heart specialist because those are clear priorities. But there are things that are often overlooked because they don’t feel like priorities such as the annual checkup with a hearing specialist. And those small things can make a big difference.
For The Health of a Senior, Hearing is Crucial
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. In addition, your hearing is critical in a way that goes further than your capacity to listen to music or communicate. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to numerous mental and physical health issues, such as loss of cognitive ability and depression.
So when you miss Mom’s hearing appointment, you might inadvertently be increasing her chances of developing these issues, including dementia. If Mom isn’t able to hear as well now, she could begin to separate herself; she stops going to movies, doesn’t meet with her friends for coffee, and has dinner by herself in her bedroom.
When hearing loss sets in, this sort of social isolation happens very quickly. So mood may not be the reason for the distant behavior you’ve been noticing in Dad or Mom. It could be their hearing. And cognitive decline can eventually be the result of that hearing loss (your brain is an organ that needs to be exercised or it begins to diminish). So recognizing the symptoms of hearing loss, and making sure those signs are managed, is crucial when it comes to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
By now you should be convinced. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is crucial and that untreated hearing loss can snowball into other issues. How can you make certain ear care is a priority? Here are a few things you can do:
- Anyone above the age of 55 or 60 needs to be having a hearing screening once per year or so. You should help a senior parent schedule and show up for these appointments.
- Every night before bed, remind your parents to put their hearing aids on the charger (at least in situations where their devices are rechargeable).
- The same is true if you notice a senior starting to segregate themselves, canceling on friends and spending more time in the house. A trip to come see us can help illuminate the existence of any hearing problems.
- Keep track of when your parents are using their hearing aids, and see that it’s every day. Routine hearing aid use can help guarantee that these devices are operating to their optimal capacity.
- Be mindful of your parents’ behavior. If your parent is slowly turning the volume on their TV up, you can pinpoint the problem by making an appointment with a hearing professional.
How to Avoid Health Problems in The Future
As a caregiver, you already have a lot to deal with, especially if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And hearing concerns can feel a bit trivial if they aren’t causing immediate friction. But the evidence is rather clear: managing hearing ailments now can prevent a wide range of serious issues in the long run.
So when you take a loved one to their hearing appointment, you could be preventing much more costly illnesses 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 should be wearing her hearing aid more vigilantly. And that hearing aid will make your conversations with her much easier and more enjoyable.