Do you have a senior older than 70 in your care? There’s a lot to keep in mind. You’re not likely to forget to take a family member to an oncologist or a cardiologist because those are clear priorities. What falls through the cracks, though, are the small things, like the annual checkup with a hearing professional or making sure Mom’s hearing aids are charged. And those things are a higher priority than you might suspect.
The Importance of Hearing to Senior Health
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. Depression and loss of cognitive abilities are a couple of mental health issues that have been connected to neglected hearing loss.
So you unintentionally raise Mom’s chance of dementia by missing her hearing consultation. Mom could begin to separate herself if she isn’t hearing well these days; she stops going to movies, doesn’t meet with her friends for tea, and eats dinner by herself in her room.
When hearing loss sets in, this sort of social isolation occurs very quickly. So mood might not be the reason for the distant behavior you’ve been noticing in Mom or Dad. Hearing loss might be the problem. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself eventually bring about mental decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it kind of organ). So with regards to a senior parents physical and mental health, noticing and treating hearing loss is crucial.
Making Hearing a Priority
By now you should be persuaded. You now realize that untreated hearing loss can result in several health issues and that you need to take hearing seriously. What measures should you take to make hearing a priority? Here are various things you can do:
- Help your parents remember to charge their hearing aids each night before they go to bed (at least in cases where their hearing aids are rechargeable).
- The same is true if you find a senior beginning to separate themselves, canceling on friends and spending more time in the house. A consultation with us can help shed light on the occurrence of any hearing problems.
- Advise your parents to use their hearing aids every day. Consistent hearing aid use can help ensure that these devices are operating to their optimal efficiency.
- Once per year a hearing screening should be scheduled for everybody above the age of 55. Make sure that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such an examination.
- Don’t forget to observe how your parents are acting. If you observe the television getting a little louder every week, speak with Mom about making an appointment with a hearing professional to see if you can pinpoint a problem.
How to Avoid 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 concerns aren’t causing immediate issues, they might seem a little trivial. But the evidence is quite clear: a wide range of significant health concerns in the future can be avoided by dealing with hearing issues now.
So when you bring a loved one to their hearing appointment, you could be avoiding much more costly ailments down the road. You could head off depression before it begins. You could even be able to lower Mom’s risk of developing dementia in the near-term future.
That’s worth a trip to see a hearing specialist for the majority of us. And it’s certainly worth a quick reminder to Mom that she needs to be using her hearing aid more diligently. And once that hearing aid is in, you may just be able to have a pleasant conversation, as well.