Are you the main caretaker for someone older than 70? There’s a lot to keep in mind. Bringing a loved one to a heart specialist or setting up an appointment with an oncologist seems like a priority, so you aren’t likely to forget those things. What falls through the cracks, however, are the little things, such as the yearly checkup with a hearing specialist or making sure Dad’s hearing aids are charged up. And those things are a higher priority than you might think.
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 communicate or hear and enjoy music, your hearing plays a vitally important role. Neglected hearing loss has been linked to several physical and mental health problems, like depression and loss of cognitive abilities.
So when you skip Mom’s hearing appointment, you may unintentionally be increasing her risk of developing these issues, including dementia. Mom might begin to isolate herself if she isn’t hearing well these days; she stops going to see movies, doesn’t meet with her friends for coffee, and eats dinner alone in her bedroom.
This type of social separation can occur very quickly when hearing loss takes hold. So if you observe Mom or Dad starting to get a little distant, it might not have anything to do with their mood (yet). Hearing loss may be the problem. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself ultimately bring about mental decline (your brain is an organ that needs to be exercised or it begins to decline). So recognizing the signs of hearing loss, and making sure those signs are managed, is essential with regards to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
By now you should be persuaded. You now accept that untreated hearing loss can result in several health problems 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:
- Don’t forget to observe how your parents are behaving. If your parent is gradually turning the volume on their TV up, you can determine the issue by making an appointment with a hearing specialist.
- Once a year a hearing screening needs to be scheduled for anyone above the age of 55. Be sure that your senior parent has a scheduled consultation for such an examination.
- And if you notice a senior spending more time at home, canceling out on friends, and distancing themselves, the same applies. Any hearing challenges can be identified by us when you bring them in.
- Every night before bed, make sure your parents recharge their hearing aids (at least in situations where their devices are rechargeable).
- Monitor when your parents are using their hearing aids, and see that it’s every day. Routine hearing aid use can help ensure that these devices are performing to their optimal capacity.
How to Reduce Health Problems in The Future
As a caregiver, you already have a lot to do, especially if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And hearing problems can feel somewhat trivial if they aren’t causing immediate friction. But the evidence is quite clear: a wide range of serious health problems in the future can be prevented by dealing with hearing loss now.
So you may be preventing costly illnesses down the road by taking your loved one to their hearing exam. Depression could be prevented before it even begins. You may even be able to lower Mom’s risk of getting dementia in the near-term future.
That’s worth a trip to see a hearing specialist for most of us. And it’s definitely worth a quick reminder to Mom that she should be using her hearing aid more diligently. And that hearing aid will make your conversations with her much smoother and more enjoyable.