They call it the “Sandwich Generation.” You go through your twenties and thirties raising your kids. And then when you’re in your forties and fifties you’re arranging the healthcare of your senior parents. The label “sandwich generation” is apt because you’re sandwiched between taking care of your kids and caring for your parents. And it’s more and more common. For caretakers, this means spending a lot of time thinking about Mom or Dad’s overall healthcare.
You probably won’t have an issue remembering to take Mom or Dad to the cardiologist or oncologist because those appointments feel like a priority. What is sometimes missed, though, are things like the annual exam with a hearing specialist or making sure Mom’s hearing aids are charged up. And those little things can have a profound affect.
Hearing Health is Essential For a Senior’s Overall Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. What’s more, your hearing is crucial in a way that goes beyond your ability to listen to music or communicate. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and numerous other health issues have been connected to neglected hearing loss.
So you might be unknowingly increasing the chances that she will develop these issues by skipping her hearing exam. If Mom isn’t able to hear as well these days, it will limit her ability to communicate and be very isolating.
This sort of social separation can take place very quickly after hearing loss starts. You might think that mom is experiencing mood problems because she is acting a little distant but in fact, that may not be the problem. 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 isolation can lead to cognitive decline. So noticing the signs of hearing loss, and making certain those signs are addressed, is crucial when it comes to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
Prioritizing Hearing Health
Fine, we’ve convinced you. You recognize that hearing loss can snowball into more serious issues and hearing health is significant. How can you make sure ear care is a priority?
A couple of things that you can do are as follows:
- If your parents have rechargeable hearing aids help them make sure they keep them charged when they go to sleep each night. If they are living in a home, ask the staff to pay attention to this each night.
- The same is true if you notice Mom starting to isolate herself, canceling phone conversations, and avoiding people. A trip to a hearing specialist can help illuminate the existence of any hearing difficulties.
- Each day, remind your parents to wear their hearing aids. Daily hearing aid use can help make sure that these devices are operating to their highest capacity.
- Once per year, people over the age of 55 should have a hearing screening. Make sure that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such an exam.
- 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.
Avoiding Future Health Problems
As a caregiver, you already have a lot on your plate, notably if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And hearing problems can feel somewhat trivial if they aren’t causing direct friction. But the research reveals that a whole variety of more significant future health concerns can be prevented by dealing with hearing loss now.
So by making sure those hearing appointments are scheduled and kept, you’re avoiding costly medical conditions in the future. You could block depression before it starts. You might even be able to reduce Mom’s risk of developing dementia in the near-term future.
For the majority of us, that’s worth a visit to a hearing specialist. And it’s simple to give Mom a quick reminder that she should be diligent about wearing her hearing aids. You also might be capable of having a nice conversation once that hearing aid is in. Maybe over lunch. Perhaps over sandwiches.