Do you have a senior older than 70 in your care? There’s a lot to keep in mind. You’re not likely to forget to bring a family member to an oncologist or a cardiologist because those are clear priorities. But there are things that are regularly overlooked because they don’t feel like priorities such as the yearly checkup with a hearing professional. 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. What’s more, your hearing is essential in a way that goes beyond your capacity to listen to music or communicate. Depression and loss of cognitive abilities are a couple of mental health problems that have been linked to neglected hearing loss.
So when you skip Mom’s hearing appointment, you might inadvertently be increasing her risk of developing these problems, including dementia. If Mom isn’t capable of hearing as well now, she could begin to isolate herself; she stops going to movies, doesn’t meet with her friends for tea, and has dinner alone in her bedroom.
This type of social isolation can happen very quickly when hearing loss takes hold. So if you notice Mom or Dad beginning to become a little distant, it might not have anything to do with their mood (yet). It might be their hearing. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself eventually lead to cognitive decline (your brain is an organ that needs to be exercised or it begins to decline). So identifying the symptoms of hearing loss, and making sure those symptoms are managed, is crucial when it comes to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
Making Hearing a Priority
Okay, we’ve persuaded you. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is crucial and that neglected hearing loss can snowball into other issues. How can you make sure ear care is a priority? There are a few things you can do:
- Each night before bed, make sure your parents recharge their hearing aids (of course that specifically applies to rechargeable devices).
- Monitor when your parents are using their hearing aids, and see that it’s daily. So that you can make sure the hearing aids are operating at their optimum ability, they need to be used consistently.
- Once a year a hearing screening should be scheduled for anybody over the age of 55. Make sure that your senior parent has a scheduled consultation for such a screening.
- And if you find a senior spending more time at home, canceling out on friends, and distancing themselves, the same is true. Any hearing difficulties can be diagnosed by us when you bring them in.
- Don’t forget to watch how your parents are acting. If your parent is gradually turning the volume on their TV up, you can determine the issue by making an appointment with a hearing professional.
Avoiding Future Health Concerns
As a caregiver, you already have a lot on your plate, especially if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And if hearing concerns aren’t causing immediate issues, they could seem somewhat trivial. But there’s very clear evidence: dealing with hearing ailments now can avoid a multitude of serious issues in the long run.
So when you take a loved one to their hearing consultation, you could be avoiding much more costly illnesses in the future. Depression could be prevented before it even starts. You may even be able to lower Mom’s chance of getting dementia in the near-term future.
That’s worth a trip to see a hearing specialist for most of us. And it’s definitely worth a quick reminder to Mom that she should be wearing her hearing aid more diligently. And that hearing aid will make your conversations with her much easier and more pleasant.