Do you have a senior older than 70 in your care? There’s a lot to take into consideration. You’re not likely to forget to take a family member to an oncologist or a cardiologist because those are obvious priorities. But there are things that are commonly neglected because they don’t seem like priorities such as the yearly checkup with a hearing professional. And those little things can make a big difference.
For The Health of a Senior, Hearing is Crucial
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. In addition, your hearing is essential in a way that goes further than your capacity to listen to music or communicate. Untreated hearing loss has been connected to numerous mental and physical health problems, such as loss of cognitive ability and depression.
So when you skip Mom’s hearing appointment, you might inadvertently be increasing her risk of developing these issues, including dementia. Mom could start to isolate herself if she isn’t hearing well these days; she stops going to movies, doesn’t meet with her friends for coffee, and has dinner alone in her room.
When hearing loss sets in, this type of social separation happens very quickly. So if you observe Mom or Dad beginning to get a little distant, it might not be about their mood (yet). It may be their hearing. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself potentially bring about mental decline (your brain is an organ that needs to be exercised or it begins to diminish). So noticing the signs of hearing loss, and making certain those symptoms are treated, is crucial with regards to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
How to Ensure Hearing Will be a Priority
Okay, we’ve persuaded you. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is important and that neglected hearing loss can lead to other problems. How can you make certain ear care is a priority? There are a few things you can do:
- The same is the situation if you notice a senior starting to separate 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.
- Advise your parents to use their hearing aids each day. Consistent hearing aid use can help guarantee that these devices are performing to their optimal efficiency.
- Don’t forget to monitor how your parents are behaving. If you observe the television getting a little louder every week, talk to Mom about making an appointment with a hearing specialist to see if you can pinpoint a problem.
- 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).
- Once per year a hearing screening should be scheduled for everybody above the age of 55. Make sure that your senior parent has a scheduled consultation for such a screening.
Preventing Future Health Problems
As a caregiver, you already have a lot to deal with, especially if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And if hearing concerns aren’t causing immediate issues, they may seem a bit trivial. But there’s very clear evidence: a multitude of significant health problems in the future can be avoided by dealing with hearing loss now.
So when you bring a loved one to their hearing consultation, you could be preventing much more costly health conditions in the future. You could head off depression before it starts. And Mom’s risk of dementia in the near future will also be reduced.
For most of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing specialist. And it’s definitely worth a quick reminder to Mom that she needs to be wearing her hearing aid more vigilantly. And once that hearing aid is in, you might just be able to have a nice conversation, too.