Are you the main caretaker for somebody over the age of 70? There’s a lot to keep in mind. You’re not likely to forget to bring a loved one to an oncologist or a heart specialist because those are obvious priorities. But there are things that are regularly forgotten because they don’t seem like priorities such as the annual checkup with a hearing specialist. And those things are a higher priority than you might suspect.
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 significant role. Loss of cognitive abilities and depression are a couple of mental health issues that have been linked to neglected hearing loss.
So when you miss Mom’s hearing appointment, you might unintentionally be increasing her chances of developing these issues, including dementia. Mom might begin to separate herself if she isn’t hearing well these days; she stops going to see movies, doesn’t meet with her friends for coffee, and eats dinner by herself in her bedroom.
When hearing loss sets in, this type of social isolation happens very quickly. So if you observe Mom or Dad starting to become a little distant, it may not have anything to do with their mood (yet). It could be their hearing. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself ultimately lead to cognitive decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it kind of organ). So regarding a senior parents mental and physical health, noticing and managing hearing loss is essential.
Making Hearing a Priority
Alright, we’ve convinced you. You now recognize that untreated hearing loss can lead to 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:
- Each night before bed, help your parents to put their hearing aids on the charger (of course that exclusively applies to rechargeable hearing aids).
- Anyone over the age of 55 or 60 should be having a hearing screening once per year or so. Be sure that your senior parent has a scheduled consultation for such an examination.
- And if you notice a senior spending more time at home, backing out on friends, and distancing themselves, the same is true. Any hearing challenges can be identified by us when you bring them in.
- Keep an eye on your parents’ habits. If you notice the television getting a bit louder every week, speak with Mom about schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist to see if you can pinpoint a problem.
- Advise your parents to use their hearing aids every day. In order to ensure the hearing aids are functioning at their optimum capacity, they should be used consistently.
Protecting Against Future Health Concerns
As a caregiver, you already have a lot to deal with, particularly if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And if hearing concerns aren’t causing immediate issues, they might seem somewhat trivial. But the evidence is pretty clear: a wide range of significant health concerns in the future can be prevented by managing hearing loss now.
So you may be preventing costly afflictions in the future by bringing your loved one to their hearing exam. Depression could be avoided before it even begins. And Mom’s chance of dementia in the near future will also be minimized.
For most of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing specialist. It’s also very helpful to prompt Mom to wear her hearing aid more frequently. And when that hearing aid is in, you might just be able to have a nice conversation, as well.