Are you the primary caretaker for somebody over the age of 70? There’s a lot to keep in mind. You aren’t likely to forget to take a family member to an oncologist or a heart specialist because those are obvious priorities. But there are things that are often neglected because they don’t seem like priorities such as the annual checkup with a hearing specialist. And those small things can make a big difference.
The Importance 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 an extremely significant role. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to numerous physical and mental health problems, such as depression and loss of cognitive abilities.
So when you skip Mom’s hearing appointment, you may inadvertently be increasing her chances of developing these problems, including dementia. Mom could begin to separate herself if she isn’t hearing well these days; she has dinner alone in her room, stops going to movies, and doesn’t meet with her friends.
This sort of social isolation can happen very quickly when hearing loss sets in. So if you notice Mom or Dad starting to get a little distant, it might not have anything to do with their mood (yet). It may be their hearing. And cognitive decline can eventually be the consequence of that hearing loss (your brain is an organ that has to be exercised or it begins to decline). So with regards to a senior parents mental and physical health, identifying and treating hearing loss is essential.
Making Hearing a Priority
Okay, we’ve convinced you. You now recognize that untreated hearing loss can result in several health issues and that you need to take hearing seriously. What measures should you take to make hearing a priority? There are several things you can do:
- Once a year a hearing screening should be scheduled for anybody over the age of 55. You should help a senior parent make and keep these appointments.
- The same is the situation if you notice a senior starting to isolate themselves, canceling on friends and staying inside more. A consultation with us can help shed light on the existence of any hearing issues.
- Don’t forget to watch how your parents are behaving. If you notice the tv getting a bit louder every week, talk to Mom about schedule a consultation with a hearing professional to see if you can pinpoint a problem.
- Each night before bed, make sure your parents recharge their hearing aids (at least in cases where their devices are rechargeable).
- Remind your parents to wear their hearing aids every day. In order to make sure the hearing aids are operating at their maximum capacity, they should be used routinely.
Avoiding Future Health Issues
As a caregiver, you already have a lot on your plate, especially if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And hearing concerns can feel somewhat trivial if they aren’t causing immediate stress. But there’s very clear evidence: a multitude of serious health problems in the future can be avoided by treating hearing issues now.
So you could be preventing costly health conditions later on in life by taking your loved one to their hearing exam. Depression could be prevented before it even starts. You might even be able to decrease Mom’s risk of getting dementia in the near-term future.
That’s worth a trip to see a hearing professional for most of us. It’s also really helpful to prompt Mom to wear her hearing aid more frequently. And once that hearing aid is in, you may just be able to have a pleasant conversation, too.