Are you the primary caretaker for someone older than 70? You have a lot to keep track of. Bringing a loved one to a cardiologist or scheduling an appointment with an oncologist feels like a priority, so you’re not likely to forget anything like that. What slips through the cracks, though, are the little things, such as the annual 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 suspect.
The Significance of Hearing to Senior Health
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 an extremely important role. Neglected hearing loss has been connected to numerous mental and physical health issues, like loss of cognitive ability and depression.
So you unwittingly increase Mom’s risk of dementia by missing her hearing consultation. Mom could begin to isolate herself if she isn’t hearing well these days; she eats dinner alone in her room, stops going to movies, and doesn’t go out with her friends.
When hearing loss takes hold, this kind of social isolation happens very quickly. So mood might not be the reason for the distant behavior you’ve been noting in Dad or Mom. It might be their hearing. And cognitive decline can ultimately be the outcome of that hearing loss (your brain is an organ that needs to be exercised or it begins to decline). So identifying the signs of hearing loss, and ensuring those signs are treated, is crucial with regards to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
Making Hearing a Priority
Okay, we’ve persuaded you. You now realize that untreated hearing loss can lead to several health problems and that you need to take hearing seriously. What measures should you take to make hearing a priority? There are several things you can do:
- 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.
- Anyone above the age of 55 or 60 should be having a hearing screening every year or so. Make sure that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such an examination.
- Each night before bed, remind your parents to put their hearing aids on the charger (at least in situations where their devices are rechargeable).
- Monitor when your parents are wearing their hearing aids, and see that it’s daily. Routine hearing aid use can help ensure that these devices are performing to their optimal capacity.
- Keep an eye on your parents’ habits. If your parent is gradually turning the volume on their TV up, you can pinpoint the issue by making an appointment with a hearing specialist.
How to Reduce Health Problems in The Future
Being a caregiver probably isn’t your only job so you more than likely have a lot on your plate. And if hearing concerns aren’t causing immediate problems, they may seem somewhat trivial. But the evidence is quite clear: treating hearing conditions now can avoid a wide range of serious problems down the road.
So you could be preventing costly illnesses down the road by taking your loved one to their hearing consultation. You could stop depression before it starts. You might even be able to decrease Mom’s chance of getting dementia in the near-term future.
For the majority of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing professional. It’s also really helpful to prompt Mom to wear her hearing aid more frequently. And once that hearing aid is in, you might just be able to have a pleasant conversation, too.