Are you the main caretaker for someone over the age of 70? You have a lot to keep track of. Bringing a relative to a cardiologist or setting up an appointment with an oncologist seems like a priority, so you aren’t likely to forget anything like that. But there are things that are frequently forgotten because they don’t seem like priorities such as the annual checkup with a hearing specialist. And those things are a bigger priority than you might think.
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 ability to listen to music or communicate. Untreated hearing loss has been connected to several mental and physical health problems, including loss of cognitive ability and depression.
So you unwittingly increase Mom’s chance of dementia by missing her hearing appointment. If Mom isn’t able to hear as well now, she could begin to separate herself; she stops going to movies, doesn’t meet with her friends for tea, and eats dinner alone in her room.
When hearing loss takes hold, this type of social isolation happens very quickly. So if you notice Mom or Dad beginning to become a little distant, it might not have anything to do with their mood (yet). Hearing loss might be the problem. And cognitive decline can ultimately be the result of that hearing loss (your brain is an organ that has to be exercised or it begins to diminish). So recognizing the signs of hearing loss, and making sure those signs are addressed, is crucial with regards to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
How to Make Sure Hearing Will be a Priority
Okay, we’ve convinced you. You now realize that untreated hearing loss can lead to several health problems and that you need to take hearing seriously. What measures should you take to make hearing a priority? There are several things you can do:
- Help your parents remember to charge their hearing aids every night before they go to sleep (at least in cases where their hearing aids are rechargeable).
- Advise your parents to wear their hearing aids each day. Routine use of hearing aids can help ensure that these devices are functioning to their optimum capacity.
- Once a year a hearing screening should be scheduled for anyone above the age of 55. Ensure that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such an examination.
- Don’t forget to monitor how your parents are behaving. If your parent is slowly turning the volume on their television up, you can pinpoint the problem by making an appointment with a hearing professional.
- The same is the situation if you observe a senior beginning to isolate themselves, canceling on friends and staying inside more. A trip to come see us can help shed light on the occurrence of any hearing concerns.
Avoiding Future Health Problems
As a caregiver, you already have a lot on your plate, especially if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And hearing problems can feel rather trivial if they aren’t causing immediate worries. But the evidence is quite clear: a wide range of serious health problems in the future can be avoided by managing hearing loss now.
So when you take a loved one to their hearing consultation, you could be avoiding much more costly illnesses down the road. You could head off depression before it starts. And Mom’s risk of dementia in the near future will also be minimized.
For the majority of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing specialist. And it’s certainly worth a quick reminder to Mom that she needs to be wearing her hearing aid more vigilantly. And that hearing aid will make your conversations with her much smoother and more enjoyable.