Are you the primary caretaker for someone over the age of 70? There’s a lot to keep in mind. Taking a relative to a cardiologist or setting up an appointment with an oncologist seems like a priority, so you aren’t likely to forget those things. But there are things that are commonly forgotten because they don’t seem like priorities such as the yearly checkup with a hearing professional. And those small things can make a big difference.
The Significance of Hearing to Senior Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Beyond the ability to hear and enjoy music or communicate, your hearing plays a vitally important role. Loss of cognitive abilities and depression are a couple of mental health issues that have been associated with neglected hearing loss.
So when you skip Mom’s hearing appointment, you could inadvertently be increasing her chances of developing these problems, including dementia. If Mom isn’t able to hear as well now, she could begin to separate herself; she stops going to see movies, doesn’t meet with her friends for coffee, and eats dinner by herself in her room.
When hearing loss sets in, this type of social isolation occurs very quickly. So if you observe Mom or Dad starting to become a little distant, it might not be about their mood (yet). It could be their hearing. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself ultimately result in mental decline (your brain is an organ that needs to be exercised or it begins to decline). So identifying the symptoms of hearing loss, and making certain those symptoms are treated, is crucial when it comes to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
Making Hearing a Priority
By now you should be persuaded. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is significant and that neglected hearing loss can snowball into other issues. What steps should you take to make hearing a priority? Here are a few things you can do:
- And if you notice a senior spending more time at home, canceling out on friends, and distancing themselves, the same applies. Any hearing difficulties can be diagnosed by us when you bring them in.
- Each night before bed, remind your parents to recharge their hearing aids (at least in cases where their hearing aids are rechargeable).
- Advise your parents to wear their hearing aids every day. Routine hearing aid use can help guarantee that these devices are functioning to their optimum efficiency.
- Don’t forget to observe how your parents are behaving. If you observe the television getting a little louder every week, talk to Mom about making an appointment with a hearing professional to see if you can pinpoint an issue.
- Anyone over the age of 55 or 60 should be undergoing a hearing screening every year or so. Be sure that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such a screening.
How to Reduce 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 issues aren’t causing immediate problems, they could seem a bit trivial. But the evidence is quite clear: a wide range of serious health concerns in the future can be avoided by treating hearing issues now.
So when you take a loved one to their hearing exam, you could be avoiding much more costly health conditions down the road. You could head off depression before it starts. And Mom’s risk of dementia in the near future will also be reduced.
For the majority of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing professional. And it’s definitely worth a quick reminder to Mom that she should be using her hearing aid more diligently. And once that hearing aid is in, you may just be able to have a nice conversation, too.