Do you have a senior over the age of 70 in your care? You have a lot to keep track of. Taking a relative to a cardiologist or setting up an appointment with an oncologist seems like a priority, so you aren’t likely to forget those things. What falls through the cracks, though, are the little things, including the yearly checkup with a hearing specialist or making sure Mom’s hearing aids are charged up. And those things are a higher priority than you might suspect.
The Significance of Hearing to Senior 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 listen to music or communicate. Untreated hearing loss has been connected to several physical and mental health problems, such as loss of cognitive ability and depression.
So you inadvertently increase Mom’s risk of dementia by missing her hearing appointment. If Mom isn’t capable of hearing as well these days, she could begin to isolate herself; she has dinner by herself in her room, stops going to movies, and doesn’t go out with her friends.
This sort of social isolation can happen very quickly when hearing loss sets in. So mood might not be the reason for the distant behavior you’ve been noting in Dad or Mom. Hearing loss might be the issue. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself eventually bring about cognitive decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it kind of organ). So with regards to a senior parents physical and mental health, identifying and treating hearing loss is essential.
How to Make Sure Hearing Will be a Priority
By now you should be persuaded. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is crucial and that untreated hearing loss can lead to other problems. What measures should you take to make hearing a priority? There are a couple of things you can do:
- Don’t forget to observe how your parents are behaving. If you notice the tv getting somewhat louder every week, talk to Mom about schedule an appointment with a hearing professional to see if you can identify an issue.
- Once per year a hearing screening should be scheduled for everybody above the age of 55. Be certain that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such a screening.
- The same is true if you find a senior starting to isolate themselves, canceling on friends and staying inside more. Any hearing concerns can be identified by us when you bring them in.
- Each night before bed, help your parents to put their hearing aids on the charger (at least in cases where their devices are rechargeable).
- Keep track of when your parents are wearing their hearing aids, and see that it’s every day. Consistent hearing aid use can help ensure that these devices are performing to their maximum capacity.
How to Prevent Health Problems in The Future
As a caregiver, you already have a lot to do, especially if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And if hearing concerns aren’t causing immediate issues, they might seem a bit trivial. But there’s very clear evidence: managing hearing conditions now can avoid a multitude of serious issues in the long run.
So when you bring a loved one to their hearing consultation, you could be preventing much more costly health conditions down the road. Depression could be prevented before it even begins. And Mom’s chance of dementia in the near future will also be reduced.
For the majority of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing professional. And it’s definitely worth a quick reminder to Mom that she should be wearing her hearing aid more vigilantly. And that hearing aid will make your conversations with her much easier and more enjoyable.