It’s known as the “sandwich generation”. You spend your twenties and thirties raising your kids. And then you spend your 40s and 50s arranging the care of your senior parents. You’re sandwiched between your children and your parents, hence the name. And it’s becoming a lot more common. For caretakers, this means spending a lot of time contemplating Mom or Dad’s all-around care.
You likely won’t have an issue remembering to take Mom or Dad to the cardiologist or oncologist because those appointments feel like a priority. But things like making sure Mom’s hearing aids are charged or making the yearly hearing test can sometimes simply fall through the cracks. And those little things can make a huge difference.
Hearing Health is Important For a Senior’s Total Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. In addition, your hearing is crucial in a way that transcends your ability to communicate or listen to music. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to several physical and mental health problems, such as depression and loss of cognitive abilities.
So when you skip Mom’s hearing exam, you might be unintentionally increasing her risk of developing these issues, including dementia. It will be socially isolating if Mom can’t communicate because she can’t hear very well.
This kind of social separation can take place very quickly after hearing loss sets in. So if you notice Mom beginning to get a bit distant, it may not even be connected with her mood (yet). It could be her hearing. And that hearing-induced solitude can itself ultimately 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 essential that those signs are identified and treated.
How to Ensure Hearing is a Priority
Alright, you’re convinced. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is important and that untreated hearing loss can snowball into other concerns. How can you be certain ear care is a priority?
A few things that you can do are as follows:
- If you notice Mom avoiding phone conversations and staying away from social situations, the same is true. Any hearing problems she may be having will be identified by her hearing specialist.
- Look closely at how your parents are behaving. If your parent is having trouble hearing you when you talk to them or seems to be turning the TV up louder and louder, encourage them to make an appointment for a hearing test.
- Every day, remind your parents to use their hearing aids. Hearing aids work at their optimal capacity when they are used consistently.
- Help your parents remember to charge their hearing aids each night before they go to sleep (at least in scenarios where their devices are rechargeable). If your parents live in an assisted living situation, ask their caretakers to do this.
- Anybody over 55 should be undergoing a hearing exam annually. Make certain that this annual appointment is scheduled for your parents and kept.
Preventing Future Health Issues
You’re already dealing with a lot, especially if you’re a caregiver in that sandwich generation. And hearing troubles can feel relatively trivial if they aren’t causing immediate friction. But the research reveals that a wide range of more severe future health concerns can be avoided by treating hearing loss now.
So when you take Mom to her hearing appointment (or arrange to have her seen), you could be preventing much more costly afflictions down the road. You could block depression before it starts. You may even be able to reduce Mom’s risk of developing dementia in the near future.
For most of us, that’s worth a visit to a hearing specialist. And it’s simple to give Mom a quick reminder that she should be diligent about wearing her hearing aids. Once that hearing aid is in, you may be able to have a nice conversation, too. Maybe you’ll get some lunch and have a nice chat.