It’s referred to as the “sandwich generation”. In your twenties and thirties, your time is spent raising kids. And then when you’re in your forties and fifties you’re coordinating the care of your senior parents. You’re sandwiched between your children and your parents, hence the name. And it’s becoming increasingly prevalent. This implies that Mom and Dad’s overall care will need to be taken under consideration by caretakers.
Making an appointment for Dad to go to a cardiologist or an oncologist feels like a priority, so you aren’t likely to forget anything like that. What is sometimes missed, though, are things including the annual exam with a hearing specialist or making certain Mom’s hearing aids are charged. And those little things can make a major difference.
The Value 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 crucial in a way that transcends your ability to communicate or listen to music. Untreated hearing loss has been connected to several mental and physical health concerns, including depression and loss of cognitive abilities.
So you might be unintentionally increasing the chances that she will develop these issues by missing her hearing appointment. If Mom isn’t hearing as well these days, it will limit her ability to communicate and be very isolating.
When hearing loss first starts, this kind of social isolation can occur very quickly. You may think that mom is experiencing mood problems because she is acting a bit distant but in fact, that may not be the problem. Her hearing could be the real issue. Your brain is an organ that can atrophy if it’s not used regularly so this type of social separation can lead to cognitive decline. So recognizing the signs of hearing loss, and making certain those signs are addressed, is essential when dealing with your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
Prioritizing Hearing Health
Fine, we’ve convinced you. You recognize that hearing loss can grow out of control into more serious issues and hearing health is significant. What can you do to prioritize hearing care?
There are a couple of things you can do:
- Pay attention to how your parents are behaving. If you notice the TV getting a little louder each week or that they are having trouble hearing you on the phone, talk to Mom about scheduling an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if you can identify a problem.
- If your parents have hearing aids that can be recharged help them make certain they keep them charged when they go to bed each night. If your parents live in a retirement home, ask their caretakers to do this.
- Each day, remind your parents to wear their hearing aids. Hearing aids function at their maximum capacity when they are worn regularly.
- The same is true if you notice Mom starting to isolate herself, canceling phone conversations, and avoiding people. Any hearing problems she may be having will be identified by her hearing specialist.
- Once every year, people over 55 should have a hearing exam. Make certain that this yearly appointment is scheduled for your parents and kept.
Making Certain That Future Health Issues Are Avoided
As a caregiver, you already have a lot on your plate, notably if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And if hearing impairment isn’t causing direct problems, it can seem slightly insignificant. But the research demonstrates that a whole variety of more significant future health concerns can be avoided by dealing with hearing loss now.
So when you bring Mom to her hearing exam (or arrange to have her seen), you could be avoiding much more costly ailments in the future. You could block depression before it starts. It’s even possible that dementia can be stopped or at least slowed.
For most of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing specialist. And it’s simple to give Mom a quick reminder that she needs to be diligent about wearing her hearing aids. You also may be capable of having a nice conversation once that hearing aid is in. Perhaps you’ll get some lunch and have a nice chat.