It’s known as the “sandwich generation”. You spend your twenties and thirties raising your kids. Then, caring for your senior parent’s healthcare requirements occupies your time when you’re in your forties and fifties. You’re sandwiched between your children and your parents, hence the name. And it’s becoming a lot more common. For caretakers, this means investing a lot of time contemplating Mom or Dad’s overall healthcare.
You probably won’t have a problem remembering to take Mom or Dad to the cardiologist or oncologist because those appointments feel like a priority. What falls through the cracks, though, are things such as the yearly exam with a hearing specialist or making sure Mom’s hearing aids are charged. And those little things can have a powerful impact.
Hearing Health is Important For a Senior’s General Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. In addition, your hearing is essential in a way that goes beyond your ability to communicate or listen to music. Neglected hearing loss has been connected to numerous mental and physical health problems, such as depression and loss of cognitive abilities.
So you may be inadvertently increasing the risk that she will develop these problems by missing her hearing exam. If Mom isn’t hearing as well these days, it will limit her ability to communicate and be very isolating.
When hearing loss first begins, this sort of social isolation can take place very quickly. So if you observe Mom beginning to get a little distant, it might not have anything to do with her mood (yet). It might be her hearing. Your brain is an organ that can atrophy if it’s not used on a regular basis so this kind of social solitude can result in cognitive decline. So identifying the signs of hearing loss, and making certain those signs are treated, is essential when dealing with your senior parents’ physical and mental health.
Alright, you’re convinced. You recognize that hearing loss can snowball into more serious problems and hearing health is essential. What can be done to prioritize hearing care?
A couple of things that you can do are as follows:
- Anybody over the age of 55 or 60 should be undergoing a hearing exam yearly. Be certain that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such a screening.
- Look closely at how your parents are behaving. If you notice the TV getting a little louder every week or that they are having trouble hearing you on the phone, talk to Mom about scheduling an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if you can identify a problem.
- Each day, remind your parents to wear their hearing aids. Hearing aids function at their maximum capacity when they are worn regularly.
- If your parents have hearing aids that can be recharged help them make certain they keep them charged when they go to sleep every night. If they are living in a retirement home, ask the staff to pay attention to this every night.
- If you notice Mom avoiding phone conversations and staying away from social situations, the same is true. A trip to a hearing specialist can help illuminate the existence of any hearing difficulties.
Combating 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 hearing problems can feel rather insignificant if they aren’t causing immediate friction. But the evidence is quite clear: dealing with hearing ailments now can protect against a wide range of serious problems in the long run.
So by making sure those hearing exams are scheduled and kept, you’re preventing costly medical conditions in the future. You could block depression before it begins. It’s even possible that dementia can be prevented or at least slowed down.
For many of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing specialist. And it’s easy to give Mom a quick reminder that she needs to be diligent about wearing her hearing aids. You also might be able to have a nice conversation once that hearing aid is in. Maybe over lunch. Perhaps over sandwiches.