Are you the main caretaker for somebody older than 70? You have a lot to keep track of. You’re not likely to forget to take a loved one to an oncologist or a heart specialist because those are obvious priorities. What falls through the cracks, though, are the little things, like the annual examination with a hearing professional or making sure Dad’s hearing aids are charged. And those things are a higher priority than you might think.
For The Health of a Senior, Hearing is Important
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Beyond the ability to hear and enjoy music or communicate, your hearing plays an extremely important role. Loss of cognitive abilities and depression are a couple of mental health issues that have been linked to neglected hearing loss.
So when you miss Mom’s hearing appointment, you could unintentionally be increasing her risk of developing these issues, including dementia. If Mom isn’t capable of hearing as well these days, she could start to separate herself; she eats dinner alone in her room, stops going to see movies, and doesn’t go out with her friends.
When hearing loss takes hold, this kind of social separation occurs very quickly. So mood might not be the reason for the distant behavior you’ve been noticing in Dad or Mom. Hearing loss may be the problem. 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 symptoms of hearing loss, and making certain those signs are managed, is crucial when it comes to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
How to Ensure Hearing Will be a Priority
By now you should be convinced. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is crucial and that untreated hearing loss can lead to other issues. How can you make sure ear care is a priority? Here are various things you can do:
- Keep track of when your parents are using their hearing aids, and see that it’s daily. So that you can make sure the hearing aids are functioning at their optimal ability, they need to be used routinely.
- And if you notice a senior spending more time at home, backing out on friends, and isolating themselves, the same applies. A consultation with us can help illuminate the occurrence of any hearing issues.
- Anyone over the age of 55 or 60 needs to be undergoing a hearing screening every year or so. Be sure that your senior parent has a scheduled consultation for such a screening.
- Every night before bed, make sure your parents recharge their hearing aids (of course that exclusively applies to rechargeable devices).
- Keep an eye on your parents’ habits. If your parent is gradually turning the volume on their television up, you can identify the problem by scheduling an appointment with a hearing professional.
Avoiding Future Health Problems
As a caregiver, you already have a lot on your plate, particularly if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And if hearing problems aren’t causing immediate concerns, they could seem a bit trivial. But there’s rather clear evidence: dealing with hearing conditions now can avoid a multitude of serious problems in the long run.
So when you bring a loved one to their hearing exam, you could be avoiding much more costly ailments down the road. Depression could be avoided before it even begins. And Mom’s chance of dementia in the near future will also be lessened.
For most of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing specialist. And it’s certainly worth a quick reminder to Mom that she needs to be using her hearing aid more diligently. And that hearing aid will make your conversations with her much easier and more pleasant.