They call it the “Sandwich Generation.” You go through your twenties and thirties bringing up your kids. And then when you’re in your forties and fifties you’re setting up the healthcare of your senior parents. You’re sandwiched between your children and your parents, thus the name. And it’s more and more common. This implies that Mom and Dad’s overall healthcare will need to be taken under consideration by caretakers.
Setting up an appointment for Mom to go to an oncologist or a cardiologist feels like a priority, so you most likely won’t forget anything like that. But things like making certain Dad’s hearing aids are recharged or making the yearly hearing test can sometimes simply slip through the cracks. And those little things can make a major difference.
Hearing Health is Essential For a Senior’s Overall Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Additionally, your hearing is crucial in a way that transcends your ability to communicate or listen to music. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and several other health problems have been linked to neglected hearing loss.
So when you miss Mom’s hearing exam, you could be unknowingly increasing her risk of developing these problems, including dementia. It will be socially isolating if Mom can’t communicate because she can’t hear very well.
This sort of social separation can occur very quickly after hearing loss sets in. You might think that mom is having mood issues because she is acting a little distant but in actuality, that may not be the issue. Her hearing may be the real difficulty. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself eventually bring on 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 treated, is crucial when dealing with your senior parents’ physical and mental health.
How to Ensure Hearing is a Priority
Alright, you’re convinced. You acknowledge that hearing loss can snowball into more severe problems and hearing health is important. What can be done to prioritize hearing care?
There are a few things you can do:
- 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.
- Keep an eye on your parents’ behavior. 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.
- Once per year, people over the age of 55 should have a hearing test. Be certain that this annual appointment is made for your parents and kept.
- Help your parents remember to charge their hearing aids every night before they go to sleep (at least in cases where they have rechargeable batteries). If your parents live in a retirement home, ask their caretakers to watch out for this.
- Help your parents to remember to wear their hearing aids daily. Hearing aids work at their maximum capacity when they are worn regularly.
Making Certain That Future Health Concerns Are Prevented
You’re already dealing with a lot, specifically if you’re a caregiver in that sandwich generation. And hearing issues can feel somewhat unimportant if they aren’t causing immediate friction. But the research shows that a whole variety of more severe future health concerns can be prevented by treating hearing loss now.
So when you take Mom to her hearing exam (or arrange to have her seen), you could be avoiding much more costly conditions later on. You could block depression before it starts. It’s even possible that dementia can be avoided or at least slowed.
For most of us, that’s worth a visit to a hearing specialist. And it’s easy to give Mom a quick reminder that she should be diligent about wearing her hearing aids. 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.