They call it the “Sandwich Generation.” You go through your twenties and thirties bringing up your kids. Then, caring for your senior parent’s healthcare needs occupies your time when you’re in your forties and fifties. The label “sandwich generation” is appropriate because you’re sandwiched between taking care of your kids and caring for your parents. And it’s becoming increasingly prevalent. For caretakers, this means investing a lot of time considering Mom or Dad’s total care.
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. But things like making certain Dad’s hearing aids are charged or making the annual hearing exam can sometimes just slip through the cracks. And those little 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. What’s more, your hearing is crucial in a way that goes beyond your ability to communicate or listen to music. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and several other health problems have been connected to neglected hearing loss.
So you might be unintentionally increasing the chances that she will develop these problems by skipping her hearing exam. If Mom isn’t hearing as well these days, it will limit her ability to communicate and be very isolating.
This type of social isolation can happen very quickly after hearing loss begins. You might think that mom is having mood issues because she is acting a little distant but in reality, that might not be the issue. It may be her hearing. Your brain is an organ that can atrophy if it’s not used regularly so this type of social solitude can result in cognitive decline. When it comes to the health of your senior parents, it’s essential that those signs are recognized and treated.
How to Ensure Hearing is a Priority
Okay, we’ve convinced you. You appreciate that hearing loss can snowball into more severe issues and hearing health is essential. How can you make sure hearing care is a priority?
A couple of things that you can do are as follows:
- 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.
- Pay attention to 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.
- Every day, remind your parents to use their hearing aids. Consistent hearing aid use can help make sure that these devices are working to their highest capacity.
- Once every year, individuals over the age of 55 should have a hearing test. Make sure that this yearly appointment is made for your parents and kept.
- Help your parents remember to charge their hearing aids each night before they go to sleep (at least in situations where they have rechargeable batteries). If your parents live in a retirement home, ask their caretakers to do this.
Combating Future Health Issues
You’re already trying to handle a lot, especially if you’re a caregiver in that sandwich generation. And if hearing impairment isn’t causing immediate issues, it can seem somewhat trivial. But the research demonstrates that a wide variety of more severe future health problems can be avoided by treating hearing loss now.
So when you take Mom to her hearing exam (or arrange to have her seen), you could be preventing much more costly ailments later on. Maybe you will avoid depression early. It’s even feasible that dementia can be stopped or at least slowed down.
That would be worth a visit to a hearing specialist for most people. And it’s easy to give Mom a quick reminder that she should be diligent about wearing her hearing aids. You also may be capable of having a nice conversation once that hearing aid is in. Maybe you’ll get some lunch and have a nice chat.