Are you the main caretaker for somebody older than 70? There’s a lot to keep in mind. You’re not likely to forget to bring a family member to an oncologist or a heart specialist because those are obvious priorities. What slips through the cracks, though, are the small things, such as the annual checkup with a hearing professional or making sure Dad’s hearing aids are charged. And those things are a bigger priority than you might think.
The Significance of Hearing to Senior Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. What’s more, your hearing is essential in a way that goes further than your ability to listen to music or communicate. Depression and loss of cognitive abilities are a couple of mental health concerns that have been linked to untreated hearing loss.
So you unwittingly raise Mom’s risk of dementia by missing her hearing consultation. Mom might start to isolate herself if she isn’t hearing well these days; she stops going to movies, doesn’t meet with her friends for tea, and has dinner by herself in her room.
When hearing loss sets in, 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 cognitive decline can eventually be the result of that hearing loss (your brain is an organ that has to be exercised or it begins to decline). So identifying the signs of hearing loss, and making sure those signs are managed, is essential when it comes to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
Making Hearing a Priority
Alright, we’ve convinced you. You now accept that untreated hearing loss can lead to several health problems and that you need to take hearing seriously. How can you make certain ear care is a priority? Here are various things you can do:
- And if you notice a senior spending more time at home, backing out on friends, and distancing themselves, the same is true. Any hearing difficulties can be diagnosed by us when you bring them in.
- Don’t forget to monitor how your parents are acting. If you observe the tv getting somewhat louder every week, have a talk with Mom about making an appointment with a hearing professional to see if you can pinpoint a problem.
- Each night before bed, help your parents to put their hearing aids on the charger (at least in cases where their hearing aids are rechargeable).
- 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 operating at their optimal ability, they should be used routinely.
- Anyone over the age of 55 or 60 should be undergoing a hearing screening once per year or so. Be certain that your senior parent has a scheduled consultation for such an examination.
How to Avoid Health Problems in The Future
As a caregiver, you already have a lot to do, especially if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And if hearing issues aren’t causing immediate concerns, they may seem a bit trivial. But the evidence is rather clear: a multitude of significant health concerns in the future can be avoided by managing hearing loss now.
So you could be preventing costly health conditions in the future by bringing your loved one to their hearing consultation. Depression could be prevented before it even starts. You might even be able to lower Mom’s chance of getting dementia in the near-term future.
For the majority of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing professional. And it’s certainly worth a quick reminder to Mom that she should be using her hearing aid more diligently. And that hearing aid will make your conversations with her much easier and more enjoyable.