They call it the “Sandwich Generation.” When you’re in your twenties and thirties, spend your time raising kids. And then you spend your 40s and 50s organizing the healthcare of your senior parents. You’re sandwiched between your children and your parents, thus the name. And it’s becoming increasingly common. This indicates that Mom and Dad’s total care will need to be considered by caretakers.
You likely won’t have any difficulty remembering to take Mom or Dad to the oncologist or cardiologist because those appointments feel like a priority. What is sometimes missed, though, are things like the yearly checkup with a hearing care professional or making certain Dad’s hearing aids are charged. And those little things can make a big difference.
The Importance of Hearing For a Senior’s Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Additionally, your hearing is crucial in a way that goes beyond your ability to listen to music or communicate. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and several other health issues have been connected to neglected hearing loss.
So you could be unintentionally increasing the chances 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 kind of social isolation can happen very quickly. You may think that mom is experiencing mood issues because she is acting a little distant but in actuality, that might not be the issue. Her hearing might be the real issue. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself ultimately lead to cognitive decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it type of organ). When it comes to the health of your senior parents, it’s essential that those signs are recognized and treated.
Okay, we’ve convinced you. You recognize that hearing loss can snowball into more severe issues and hearing health is essential. What can you do to prioritize hearing care?
There are a few things you can do:
- 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.
- Help your parents remember to charge their hearing aids each night before they go to bed (at least in cases where their devices are rechargeable). If they are living in a retirement home, ask the staff to pay attention to this each night.
- Each day, remind your parents to use their hearing aids. Hearing aids work at their maximum capacity when they are worn regularly.
- Anybody over the age of 55 or 60 needs to have a hearing test every year or so. Make certain that this annual appointment is made for your parents and kept.
- Pay attention to how your parents are behaving. If you observe the TV getting a little louder every week or that they have difficulty hearing you on the phone, speak with Mom about scheduling an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if you can pinpoint a problem.
Combating Future Health Issues
You’re already trying to handle a lot, particularly if you’re a caregiver in that sandwich generation. And hearing troubles can feel rather insignificant if they aren’t causing immediate friction. But the research shows that a wide range of more severe future health issues can be avoided by treating hearing loss now.
So by making sure those hearing exams are scheduled and kept, you’re preventing costly medical conditions in the future. You could head off depression before it begins. You might even be able to decrease Mom’s risk of developing dementia in the near-term future.
For most of us, that’s worth a visit to a hearing specialist. And it’s definitely worth a quick heads up to Mom that she needs to be wearing her hearing aid more vigilantly. You also might be capable of having a nice conversation once that hearing aid is in. Maybe you’ll get some lunch and have a nice chat.