Are you the primary caretaker for someone older than 70? There’s a lot to keep in mind. Bringing a loved one to a cardiologist or setting up an appointment with an oncologist seems like a priority, so you’re not likely to forget anything like that. What falls through the cracks, however, are the small things, including the yearly appointment with a hearing professional or making sure Mom’s hearing aids are charged. And those things are a bigger 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. In addition, your hearing is critical in a way that goes beyond your capacity to listen to music or communicate. Loss of cognitive abilities and depression are a couple of mental health concerns that have been associated with neglected hearing loss.
So when you skip Mom’s hearing appointment, you may inadvertently be increasing her risk of developing these problems, including dementia. Mom might start to isolate herself if she isn’t hearing well these days; she eats dinner alone in her room, stops going to see movies, and doesn’t meet with her friends.
When hearing loss sets in, this type of social isolation occurs very quickly. So if you notice Mom or Dad beginning to get a little distant, it might not have anything to do with their mood (yet). It may be their hearing. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself eventually bring about cognitive decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it type of organ). So identifying the signs of hearing loss, and ensuring those signs are treated, is crucial when it comes to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
How to Make Sure Hearing Will be a Priority
By now you should be convinced. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is important and that untreated hearing loss can snowball into other issues. What steps should you take to make hearing a priority? Here are some things you can do:
- Monitor your parents’ habits. If you observe the television getting a little louder every week, talk to Mom about schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist to see if you can identify a problem.
- The same is the situation if you find a senior starting to separate themselves, canceling on friends and staying inside more. A consultation with us can help shed light on the occurrence of any hearing concerns.
- Keep track of when your parents are using their hearing aids, and see that it’s daily. In order to ensure the hearing aids are operating at their optimal capacity, they need to be used consistently.
- Help your parents remember to recharge their hearing aids each night before they go to bed (at least in situations where their hearing aids are rechargeable).
- Once per year a hearing screening should be scheduled for anyone above the age of 55. Ensure that your senior parent has a scheduled consultation for such an examination.
How to Protect Against Health Problems in The Future
As a caregiver, you already have a lot on your plate, especially if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And if hearing problems aren’t causing immediate problems, they may seem somewhat trivial. But the evidence is pretty clear: a wide range of serious health concerns in the future can be prevented by treating hearing issues now.
So you may be avoiding costly health conditions in the future by taking your loved one to their hearing consultation. You could head off depression before it begins. You could even be able to decrease Mom’s chance of getting dementia in the near-term future.
For most of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing professional. It’s also very helpful to prompt Mom to wear her hearing aid more frequently. And when that hearing aid is in, you might just be able to have a nice conversation, as well.