It’s referred to as the “sandwich generation”. You spend your twenties and thirties raising your kids. And then when you’re in your forties and fifties you’re arranging the care of your senior parents. You’re sandwiched between your children and your parents, thus the name. And it’s increasingly common. This means that Mom and Dad’s general healthcare will need to be taken under consideration 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. What falls through the cracks, though, are things like the yearly appointment with a hearing care professional or making certain Mom’s hearing aids are charged. And those little things can have a powerful impact.
Hearing Health is Crucial For a Senior’s Overall 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 crucial to have healthy hearing. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to numerous physical and mental health concerns, including depression and loss of cognitive abilities.
So you may be unintentionally increasing the chances that she will develop these issues by missing her hearing appointment. It will be socially isolating if Mom can’t communicate because she can’t hear very well.
When hearing loss first starts, this type of social isolation can occur very quickly. You might think that mom is experiencing mood issues because she is acting a bit distant but in actuality, that might not be the problem. Her hearing could be the real difficulty. And that hearing-induced solitude can itself eventually result in cognitive decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it kind of organ). So identifying the signs of hearing loss, and ensuring those signs are addressed, is crucial when it comes to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
Prioritizing Hearing Health
Alright, you’re convinced. You appreciate that hearing loss can snowball into more serious issues and hearing health is important. What can you do to prioritize hearing care?
A few things that you can do are as follows:
- Each day, remind your parents to use their hearing aids. Hearing aids operate at their maximum capacity when they are worn consistently.
- If your parents have rechargeable hearing aids help them make sure they keep them charged when they go to bed each night. If your parents live in a retirement home, ask their caretakers to do this.
- If you notice Mom avoiding phone conversations and staying away from social situations, the same is true. A trip to a hearing specialist can help illuminate the existence of any hearing difficulties.
- Anybody over 55 should be undergoing a hearing exam annually. Be certain that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such a screening.
- Pay attention to 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.
Combating Future Health Problems
As a caregiver, you already have plenty to deal with, particularly if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And if hearing impairment isn’t causing direct problems, it can seem a little unimportant. But the research is fairly clear: managing hearing ailments now can prevent a wide range of serious issues over time.
So when you take Mom to her hearing test (or arrange to have her seen), you could be preventing much more costly ailments in the future. You could block depression before it begins. You might even be able to reduce Mom’s risk of developing dementia in the near future.
For the majority of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing specialist. And it’s undoubtedly worth a quick heads up to Mom that she should be wearing her hearing aid more vigilantly. Once that hearing aid is in, you might be able to have a nice conversation, also. Maybe you’ll get some lunch and have a nice chat.