Are you the primary caretaker for somebody over the age of 70? You have a lot to keep track of. You aren’t likely to forget to bring a family member to an oncologist or a cardiologist because those are obvious priorities. What slips through the cracks, though, are the little things, such as the yearly checkup with a hearing specialist or making sure Mom’s hearing aids are charged up. And those things are a higher priority than you might think.
The Significance of Hearing to Senior Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. What’s more, your hearing is critical in a way that goes further than your capacity to listen to music or communicate. Neglected hearing loss has been connected to numerous physical and mental health problems, including depression and loss of cognitive abilities.
So when you skip Mom’s hearing appointment, you could inadvertently be increasing her chances of developing these problems, including dementia. If Mom isn’t capable of hearing as well these days, she could start to separate herself; she stops going to movies, doesn’t meet with her friends for coffee, and has dinner alone in her room.
This sort of social isolation can happen very quickly when hearing loss takes hold. So if you notice Mom or Dad beginning to get a little distant, it might not have anything to do with their mood (yet). Hearing loss may be the problem. And cognitive decline can ultimately be the result of that hearing loss (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it type of organ). So recognizing the symptoms of hearing loss, and making sure those signs are treated, is crucial with regards to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
How to Make Sure Hearing Will be a Priority
By now you should be convinced. You now realize that neglected 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? There are several things you can do:
- Every night before bed, make sure your parents put their hearing aids on the charger (of course that exclusively applies to rechargeable hearing aids).
- Be mindful of your parents’ habits. If your parent is slowly turning the volume on their TV up, you can identify the problem by scheduling an appointment with a hearing professional.
- Advise your parents to wear their hearing aids each day. Routine hearing aid use can help ensure that these devices are functioning to their optimal efficiency.
- The same is the situation if you observe a senior starting to isolate themselves, canceling on friends and spending more time in the house. A trip to come see us can help illuminate the occurrence of any hearing issues.
- Once per year a hearing screening needs to be scheduled for anybody over the age of 55. Make sure that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such a screening.
Avoiding Future Health Issues
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 problems can feel somewhat trivial if they aren’t causing immediate stress. But the evidence is pretty clear: a multitude of significant health problems in the future can be avoided by treating hearing loss now.
So you could be avoiding costly afflictions later on in life by taking your loved one to their hearing exam. Depression could be prevented before it even starts. You might even be able to reduce Mom’s risk of getting dementia in the near-term future.
That’s worth a trip to see a hearing specialist for the majority of us. It’s also really helpful to remind Mom to wear her hearing aid more regularly. And when that hearing aid is in, you might just be able to have a nice conversation, too.