Are you the main caretaker for somebody over the age of 70? You have a lot to remember. You’re not likely to forget to bring a loved one to an oncologist or a cardiologist because those are clear priorities. What slips through the cracks, though, are the small things, such as the annual examination with a hearing specialist or making sure Mom’s hearing aids are charged up. And those things are a bigger priority than you might suspect.
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 a vitally important role. Neglected hearing loss has been linked to several mental and physical health concerns, such as depression and loss of cognitive abilities.
So you unwittingly raise Mom’s chance of dementia by missing her hearing appointment. If Mom isn’t capable of hearing as well these days, she could begin to separate herself; she has dinner alone in her room, stops going to see movies, and doesn’t meet with her friends.
When hearing loss takes hold, this kind of social isolation happens very quickly. So if you notice Mom or Dad starting to become a little distant, it might not be about their mood (yet). It could be their hearing. And cognitive decline can eventually be the consequence of that hearing loss (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it type of organ). So noticing 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 crucial and that neglected hearing loss can lead to other problems. How can you make sure ear care is a priority? There are several things you can do:
- Once per year a hearing screening needs to be scheduled for anyone above the age of 55. Be certain that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such a screening.
- Advise your parents to wear their hearing aids each day. In order to ensure the hearing aids are functioning at their maximum ability, they should be used routinely.
- Every night before bed, remind your parents to put their hearing aids on the charger (of course that particularly applies to rechargeable devices).
- Be mindful of your parents’ behavior. If you observe the television getting somewhat louder every week, speak with Mom about making an appointment with a hearing professional to see if you can pinpoint an issue.
- The same is true if you notice a senior beginning to segregate themselves, canceling on friends and staying inside more. A consultation with us can help shed light on the occurrence of any hearing concerns.
How to Reduce 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 problems aren’t causing immediate concerns, they could seem a bit trivial. But the evidence is pretty clear: treating hearing ailments 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 health conditions in the future. Depression could be avoided before it even starts. You could even be able to decrease Mom’s risk of getting dementia in the near-term future.
That’s worth a trip to see a hearing professional for most of us. And it’s definitely worth a quick reminder to Mom that she should be using her hearing aid more diligently. And when that hearing aid is in, you might just be able to have a nice conversation, too.