Are you the main caretaker for somebody older than 70? There’s a lot to take into consideration. Taking a relative to a cardiologist or scheduling an appointment with an oncologist seems like a priority, so you aren’t likely to forget anything like that. But there are things that are regularly forgotten because they don’t feel like priorities such as the annual checkup with a hearing professional. And those things are a bigger priority than you might suspect.
For The Health of a Senior, Hearing is Essential
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. Neglected hearing loss has been connected to a number of mental and physical health problems, like depression and loss of cognitive abilities.
So when you skip Mom’s hearing appointment, you could unintentionally be increasing her risk of developing these problems, including dementia. Mom could start to separate herself if she isn’t hearing well these days; she has dinner alone in her room, stops going to see movies, and doesn’t meet with her friends.
This kind of social separation can occur very quickly when hearing loss takes hold. So mood might not be the reason for the distant behavior you’ve been noticing in Dad or Mom. It might be their hearing. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself eventually result in cognitive decline (your brain is an organ that has to be exercised or it begins to diminish). So when it comes to a senior parents physical and mental health, identifying and managing hearing loss is essential.
How to Ensure Hearing Will be a Priority
Alright, we’ve convinced you. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is significant and that untreated hearing loss can snowball into other issues. How can you make certain ear care is a priority? There are a few things you can do:
- Help your parents remember to charge their hearing aids every night before they go to sleep (at least in situations where their devices are rechargeable).
- Don’t forget to watch how your parents are acting. If your parent is slowly turning the volume on their television up, you can identify the issue by making an appointment with a hearing specialist.
- The same is true if you find a senior beginning to isolate themselves, canceling on friends and staying inside more. Any hearing issues can be diagnosed by us when you bring them in.
- Monitor when your parents are wearing their hearing aids, and see that it’s every day. So that you can make sure the hearing aids are operating at their optimal capacity, they should be used routinely.
- Once per year a hearing screening needs to be scheduled for everybody over the age of 55. You should help a senior parent schedule and show up for these appointments.
Avoiding Future Health Issues
As a caregiver, you already have a lot on your plate, especially if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And if hearing issues aren’t causing immediate issues, they might seem a little trivial. But the evidence is pretty clear: treating hearing conditions now can avoid a multitude of serious issues down the road.
So when you take a loved one to their hearing consultation, you could be avoiding much more costly illnesses down the road. Depression could be eliminated before it even starts. You may even be able to reduce Mom’s chance of getting dementia in the near-term future.
That’s worth a trip to see a hearing professional for the majority of us. It’s also very helpful to remind Mom to use hear hearing aid more frequently. And once that hearing aid is in, you may just be able to have a nice conversation, too.