It’s referred to as the “sandwich generation”. In your twenties and thirties, your time is spent raising kids. Then, caring for your senior parent’s healthcare requirements fills your time when you’re going through your forties and fifties. You’re sandwiched between your children and your parents, thus the name. And it’s more and more common. For caretakers, this implies spending a lot of time contemplating Mom or Dad’s total care.
Making an appointment for Mom to go to a cardiologist or an oncologist feels like a priority, so you most likely won’t forget anything like that. But things like making certain Dad’s hearing aids are recharged or going to the yearly hearing assessment can sometimes just fall through the cracks. And those little things can have a powerful affect.
Hearing Health is Important For a Senior’s Total Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Moreover, beyond your ability to communicate or listen to music, it’s necessary to have healthy hearing. Neglected hearing loss has been linked to several physical and mental health problems, including depression and loss of cognitive abilities.
So when you miss Mom’s hearing appointment, you may be inadvertently increasing her risk of developing these issues, including dementia. It will be socially isolating if Mom can’t communicate because she can’t hear very well.
This kind of social isolation can occur very quickly when hearing loss sets in. You might think that mom is experiencing mood problems because she is acting a little distant but in actuality, that may not be the issue. It could be her hearing. And that hearing-induced solitude can itself ultimately lead to cognitive decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it type of organ). When it comes to the health of your senior parents, it’s essential that those signs are identified and addressed.
How to Make Sure Hearing is a Priority
Alright, you’re convinced. You acknowledge that hearing loss can snowball into more severe problems and hearing health is significant. How can you make sure hearing care is a priority?
There are a couple of things you can do:
- Remind your parents to wear their hearing aids daily. Hearing aids operate at their optimal capacity when they are worn regularly.
- Look closely at how your parents are behaving. If your parent is having trouble hearing you when you talk to them or seems to be turning the TV up louder and louder, encourage them to make an appointment for a hearing test.
- Anybody over 55 needs to have a hearing screening yearly. Make certain that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such a test.
- If your parents have hearing aids that can be recharged help them make certain they charge them when they go to sleep every night. If they are living in a retirement home, ask the staff to check this each night.
- If you notice Mom avoiding phone conversations and staying away from social situations, the same is true. Any hearing problems she may be having will be identified by her hearing specialist.
Avoiding Future Health Problems
As a caregiver, you already have plenty to deal with, particularly if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And if hearing loss isn’t causing immediate problems, it can seem a little insignificant. But the research is quite clear: treating hearing ailments now can prevent a wide range of serious issues over time.
So when you bring Mom to her hearing test (or arrange to have her seen), you could be avoiding much more costly afflictions down the road. You could head off depression before it starts. You might even be able to reduce Mom’s risk of developing dementia in the near future.
For many of us, that’s worth a visit to a hearing specialist. And it’s certainly worth a quick heads up to Mom that she needs to be wearing her hearing aid more vigilantly. Once that hearing aid is in, you might be able to have a nice conversation, also. Maybe over lunch. Maybe over sandwiches.