Are you the primary caretaker for somebody over the age of 70? There’s a lot to take into consideration. Taking a relative to a heart specialist or setting up an appointment with an oncologist seems like a priority, so you aren’t likely to forget those things. What falls through the cracks, however, are the little things, such as the annual checkup with a hearing professional or making sure Mom’s hearing aids are charged up. And those small things can make a big difference.
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 communicate or hear and enjoy music, your hearing plays a vitally significant role. Neglected hearing loss has been linked to a number of mental and physical health concerns, like loss of cognitive ability and depression.
So when you miss Mom’s hearing appointment, you may unwittingly be increasing her risk of developing these problems, including dementia. If Mom isn’t able to hear as well now, she could start to separate herself; she eats dinner alone in her room, stops going to movies, and doesn’t go out with her friends.
This type of social isolation can happen very quickly when hearing loss sets in. So mood may not be the reason for the distant behavior you’ve been observing in Dad or Mom. Hearing loss might be the issue. And cognitive decline can ultimately be the consequence of that hearing loss (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it kind of organ). So identifying the signs of hearing loss, and making sure those symptoms are managed, is essential with regards to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
Making Hearing a Priority
Alright, we’ve persuaded you. You now accept that untreated hearing loss can result in several health problems and that you should take hearing seriously. How can you make sure ear care is a priority? There are a couple of things you can do:
- Don’t forget to watch how your parents are acting. If you observe the television getting a little louder every week, speak with Mom about making a consultation with a hearing specialist to see if you can pinpoint a problem.
- Help your parents remember to charge their hearing aids each night before they go to bed (of course that exclusively applies to rechargeable devices).
- 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 existence of any hearing difficulties.
- Advise your parents to wear their hearing aids every day. Routine use of hearing aids can help ensure that these devices are performing to their optimum efficiency.
- Anyone over the age of 55 or 60 needs to be having a hearing screening once per year or so. You should help a senior parent make and keep these appointments.
Avoiding Future Health Problems
As a caregiver, you already have a lot to deal with, particularly if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And hearing issues can feel rather trivial if they aren’t causing immediate worries. But there’s very clear evidence: a wide range of serious health problems in the future can be prevented by managing hearing loss now.
So you could be preventing costly afflictions in the future by bringing your loved one to their hearing consultation. Depression could be avoided before it even starts. You may even be able to lower Mom’s risk of getting dementia in the near-term future.
That’s worth a trip to see a hearing professional for the majority of us. And it’s definitely 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 smoother and more enjoyable.