Are you the primary caretaker for somebody over the age of 70? There’s a lot to take into consideration. You aren’t likely to forget to bring a loved one to an oncologist or a heart specialist because those are obvious priorities. What slips through the cracks, though, are the small things, like the yearly appointment with a hearing professional or making sure Mom’s hearing aids are charged. And those things are a higher priority than you might think.
The Significance of Hearing to Senior Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Additionally, your hearing is critical in a way that goes further than your capacity to listen to music or communicate. Loss of cognitive abilities and depression are a couple of mental health issues that have been associated with untreated hearing loss.
So when you skip Mom’s hearing appointment, you might unintentionally be increasing her chances of developing these issues, including dementia. Mom might start to separate herself if she isn’t hearing well these days; she stops going to see movies, doesn’t meet with her friends for tea, and eats dinner by herself in her room.
This type of social isolation can happen very quickly when hearing loss sets in. So if you observe Mom or Dad beginning to get a little distant, it may not be about their mood (yet). Hearing loss may be the problem. And cognitive decline can eventually be the consequence of that hearing loss (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it kind of organ). So recognizing the symptoms of hearing loss, and ensuring those symptoms are treated, is crucial with regards to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
By now you should be persuaded. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is crucial and that neglected hearing loss can snowball into other problems. What steps should you take to make hearing a priority? Here are a few things you can do:
- Keep track of when your parents are wearing their hearing aids, and see that it’s daily. Consistent hearing aid use can help guarantee that these devices are performing to their maximum efficiency.
- Anyone above the age of 55 or 60 needs to be undergoing a hearing screening once per year or so. You should help a senior parent schedule and keep these appointments.
- The same is the situation if you observe a senior starting to separate themselves, canceling on friends and spending more time in the house. Any hearing concerns can be identified by us when you bring them in.
- Monitor your parents’ behavior. If your parent is slowly turning the volume on their TV up, you can identify the problem by making an appointment with a hearing professional.
- Help your parents remember to charge their hearing aids every night before they go to sleep (at least in cases where their devices are rechargeable).
Preventing Future Health Problems
Being a caregiver probably isn’t your only job so you likely have a lot on your plate. And if hearing concerns aren’t causing immediate problems, they may seem a bit trivial. But the evidence is pretty clear: dealing with hearing ailments now can avoid a wide range of serious issues in the long run.
So when you take a loved one to their hearing exam, you could be avoiding much more costly health conditions in the future. You could stop depression before it begins. You might even be able to decrease Mom’s chance of developing dementia in the near-term future.
For the majority of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing professional. It’s also extremely helpful to prompt Mom to use hear hearing aid more consistently. And that hearing aid will make your conversations with her much easier and more pleasant.