Are you the main caretaker for someone older than 70? You have a lot to remember. Bringing a senior to a cardiologist or setting up an appointment with an oncologist seems like a priority, so you aren’t likely to forget anything like that. What falls through the cracks, though, are the small things, such as the yearly checkup with a hearing professional or making sure Dad’s hearing aids are charged up. And those little things can make a big difference.
For The Health of a Senior, Hearing is Crucial
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 significant role. Loss of cognitive abilities and depression are a couple of mental health concerns that have been connected to neglected hearing loss.
So when you miss Mom’s hearing appointment, you could inadvertently be increasing her risk of developing these issues, including dementia. If Mom isn’t capable of hearing as well now, she could begin to separate herself; she eats dinner by herself in her room, stops going to movies, and doesn’t meet with her friends.
When hearing loss takes hold, this kind of social isolation happens very quickly. So mood may not be the reason for the distant behavior you’ve been noting in Dad or Mom. Hearing loss might be the problem. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself potentially result in cognitive decline (your brain is an organ that needs to be exercised or it begins to diminish). So recognizing the symptoms of hearing loss, and ensuring those symptoms are managed, is crucial with regards 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 important and that untreated hearing loss can snowball into other problems. How can you make certain ear care is a priority? Here are a few things you can do:
- Remind your parents to wear their hearing aids each day. Routine hearing aid use can help guarantee that these devices are functioning to their maximum capacity.
- Anyone above the age of 55 or 60 should be having a hearing screening every year or so. You should help a senior parent make and keep these appointments.
- Don’t forget to monitor how your parents are behaving. If your parent is slowly turning the volume on their TV up, you can pinpoint the problem by scheduling a consultation with a hearing specialist.
- Every night before bed, make sure your parents recharge their hearing aids (at least in situations where their devices are rechargeable).
- The same is the situation if you notice a senior beginning to isolate themselves, canceling on friends and spending more time in the house. A trip to come see us can help shed light on the existence of any hearing concerns.
How to Prevent Health Problems in The Future
As a caregiver, you already have a lot to do, particularly if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And if hearing issues aren’t causing immediate concerns, they could seem a bit trivial. But the evidence is rather clear: a wide range of significant health concerns in the future can be prevented by managing hearing loss now.
So when you take a loved one to their hearing exam, you could be preventing much more costly ailments down the road. Depression could be prevented before it even begins. And Mom’s risk of dementia in the near future will also be decreased.
That’s worth a trip to see a hearing specialist for most of us. And it’s certainly worth a quick reminder to Mom that she should be using her hearing aid more vigilantly. And when that hearing aid is in, you might just be able to have a pleasant conversation, too.