Are you the main caretaker for somebody older than 70? There’s a lot to take into consideration. You aren’t likely to forget to bring a loved one to an oncologist or a heart specialist because those are obvious priorities. What falls through the cracks, however, are the small things, such as the annual exam with a hearing professional or making sure Dad’s hearing aids are charged. And those things are a bigger 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. Beyond the ability to communicate or hear and enjoy music, your hearing plays an extremely important role. Loss of cognitive abilities and depression are a couple of mental health issues that have been associated with untreated hearing loss.
So you unwittingly increase Mom’s chance of dementia by skipping her hearing consultation. If Mom isn’t able to hear as well these days, she could begin to isolate herself; she eats dinner alone in her room, stops going to movies, and doesn’t go out with her friends.
This kind of social separation can occur very quickly when hearing loss sets in. So if you find Mom or Dad beginning to get a little distant, it may not have anything to do with their mood (yet). It could be their hearing. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself eventually result in mental decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it kind of organ). So recognizing the signs of hearing loss, and making certain those symptoms are managed, is crucial when it comes to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
How to Ensure Hearing Will be a Priority
Okay, we’ve persuaded you. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is important and that untreated hearing loss can snowball into other issues. How can you make certain ear care is a priority? Here are a few things you can do:
- Each night before bed, help your parents to recharge their hearing aids (at least in situations where their devices are rechargeable).
- Anyone above the age of 55 or 60 should be undergoing a hearing screening once per year or so. You should help a senior parent schedule and show up for these appointments.
- The same is the situation if you observe a senior beginning to isolate themselves, canceling on friends and spending more time in the house. Any hearing issues can be diagnosed by us when you bring them in.
- Remind your parents to use their hearing aids each day. Consistent hearing aid use can help guarantee that these devices are performing to their maximum efficiency.
- Keep an eye on your parents’ habits. If your parent is slowly turning the volume on their TV up, you can identify the issue by making an appointment with a hearing specialist.
How to Reduce Health Problems in The Future
As a caregiver, you already have a lot to deal with, especially if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And if hearing problems aren’t causing immediate issues, they could seem a bit trivial. But there’s pretty clear evidence: managing hearing ailments now can avoid a wide range of serious issues in the long run.
So when you bring a loved one to their hearing exam, you could be avoiding much more costly illnesses in the future. Depression could be avoided before it even begins. And Mom’s risk of dementia in the near future will also be minimized.
For most of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing professional. It’s also really helpful to prompt Mom to use hear hearing aid more regularly. And when that hearing aid is in, you may just be able to have a nice conversation, too.