It’s known as the “sandwich generation”. You go through your twenties and thirties raising your kids. Then, looking after your senior parent’s healthcare requirements occupies your time when you’re going through your forties and fifties. The name “sandwich generation” is appropriate because you’re sandwiched between caring for your kids and caring for your parents. And it’s more and more common. This indicates that Mom and Dad’s total healthcare will need to be considered by caretakers.
You most likely won’t have an issue remembering to take Mom or Dad to the oncologist or cardiologist because those appointments feel like a priority. But things like making certain Dad’s hearing aids are charged or making the annual hearing test can sometimes just fall through the cracks. And those little things can make a major difference.
Hearing Health is Crucial For a Senior’s Overall Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Furthermore, beyond your ability to communicate or listen to music, it’s essential to have healthy hearing. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and numerous other health problems have been linked to untreated hearing loss.
So you may be inadvertently increasing the chances that she will develop these problems by skipping her hearing exam. It will be socially isolating if Mom can’t communicate because she can’t hear very well.
When hearing loss first sets in, this type of social isolation can occur very quickly. So if you observe Mom starting to get a bit distant, it might not have anything to do with her mood (yet). Her hearing could be the real issue. And that hearing-induced separation can itself eventually result in cognitive decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it kind of organ). When it comes to the health of your senior parents, it’s crucial that those signs are recognized and addressed.
How to Make Sure Hearing is a Priority
Alright, you’re convinced. You acknowledge that hearing loss can grow out of control into more severe problems and hearing health is significant. How can you make sure ear care is a priority?
A few things that you can do are as follows:
- Once every year, individuals over the age of 55 should have a hearing test. Be sure that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such an exam.
- The same is true if you notice Mom starting to isolate herself, canceling phone conversations, and avoiding people. Any hearing problems she may be having will be identified by her hearing specialist.
- Every day, remind your parents to wear their hearing aids. Daily hearing aid use can help ensure that these devices are working to their maximum capacity.
- Pay attention to how your parents are behaving. If you notice the television getting a little louder every week or that they are having trouble hearing you on the phone, talk to Mom about making an appointment with a hearing specialist to see if you can identify a problem.
- If your parents have hearing aids that can be recharged help them make certain they keep them charged when they go to bed every night. If they are living in a retirement home, ask the staff to check this each night.
Preventing Future Health Issues
You’re already trying to handle a lot, specifically if you’re a primary care provider in that sandwich generation. And hearing troubles can feel rather unimportant if they aren’t causing direct friction. But the evidence is pretty clear: treating hearing ailments now can protect against a multitude of serious problems in the long run.
So when you take Mom to her hearing exam (or arrange to have her seen), you could be avoiding much more costly afflictions later on. You could block depression before it starts. You may even be able to reduce Mom’s chance of developing dementia in the near future.
That would be worth a trip to a hearing specialist for the majority of people. And it’s undoubtedly worth a quick heads up to Mom that she needs to be wearing her hearing aid more diligently. Once that hearing aid is in, you may be able to have a nice conversation, also. Maybe you’ll get some lunch and have a nice chat.