It’s known as the “sandwich generation”. You spend your twenties and thirties bringing up your 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 more and more common. This means that Mom and Dad’s general healthcare will need to be considered by caretakers.
You probably won’t have a problem remembering to take Mom or Dad to the cardiologist or oncologist because those appointments feel like a priority. What falls through the cracks, though, are things including the yearly checkup with a hearing care professional or making sure Dad’s hearing aids are charged up. And those little things can make a big difference.
Hearing Health is Essential For a Senior’s General 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 connected to neglected hearing loss.
So when you skip Mom’s hearing exam, you may be unintentionally increasing her risk 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 take place very rapidly. So if you notice Mom starting to get a bit distant, it may not have anything to do with her mood (yet). Her hearing could be the real problem. Your brain is an organ that can atrophy if it isn’t used on a regular basis so this kind of social isolation can result in cognitive decline. When it comes to the health of your senior parents, it’s essential that those signs are identified and treated.
How to Ensure Hearing is a Priority
Alright, you’re convinced. You acknowledge that hearing loss can snowball into more severe problems and hearing health is significant. What can you do to prioritize hearing care?
There are a few things you can do:
- 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 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 your parents live in a retirement home, ask their caretakers to do this.
- Once every year, people over 55 should have a hearing screening. Be sure that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such a screening.
- Help your parents to remember to wear their hearing aids every day. Daily hearing aid use can help make sure that these devices are operating to their maximum capacity.
Making Sure That Future Health Issues Are Prevented
You’re already trying to handle a lot, especially if you’re a caregiver in that sandwich generation. And hearing issues can feel somewhat insignificant if they aren’t causing direct friction. But the research demonstrates that a wide variety of more serious future health concerns can be prevented by treating hearing loss now.
So when you bring Mom to her hearing appointment (or arrange to have her seen), you could be preventing much more costly conditions later on. You could block depression before it begins. It’s even feasible that dementia can be avoided or at least slowed down.
For the majority 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 over lunch. Perhaps over sandwiches.