It’s referred to as the “sandwich generation”. You go through your twenties and thirties bringing up your kids. Then, looking after your senior parent’s healthcare needs occupies your time when you’re going through your forties and fifties. The label “sandwich generation” is apt because you’re sandwiched between taking care of your kids and caring for your parents. And it’s becoming increasingly prevalent. For caretakers, this implies spending a lot of time considering Mom or Dad’s all-around healthcare.
You likely won’t have an issue remembering to take Mom or Dad to the oncologist or cardiologist because those appointments feel like a priority. But things like making certain Mom’s hearing aids are charged or going to the yearly hearing exam can sometimes simply slip through the cracks. And those little things can have a powerful impact.
Hearing Health is Crucial For a Senior’s Total Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Furthermore, beyond your ability to communicate or listen to music, it’s crucial to have healthy hearing. Untreated hearing loss has been connected to numerous physical and mental health concerns, like depression and loss of cognitive abilities.
So when you miss Mom’s hearing appointment, you might be unintentionally increasing her chances of developing these issues, including dementia. If Mom isn’t able to hear as well these days, it will limit her ability to communicate and be very isolating.
This sort of social isolation can take place very quickly after hearing loss starts. So if you notice Mom starting to get a little distant, it may not even be connected with her mood (yet). Her hearing may be the real difficulty. Your brain is an organ that can atrophy if it’s not used regularly so this kind of social separation can result in cognitive decline. So recognizing the signs of hearing loss, and making certain those signs are addressed, is crucial when dealing with your senior parents’ physical and mental health.
How to Make Certain Hearing is a Priority
Alright, you’re convinced. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is important and that neglected hearing loss can snowball into other problems. What can you do to prioritize hearing care?
There are a few things you can do:
- Anybody over the age of 55 or 60 should be undergoing a hearing test every year or so. Be sure that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such an exam.
- 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.
- If your parents have rechargeable hearing aids help them make sure they charge them when they go to sleep each night. If your parents live in a retirement home, ask their caretakers to watch out for this.
- Keep an eye on your parents’ behavior. If you notice the television getting a little louder every week or that they have trouble hearing you on the phone, speak with Mom about making an appointment with a hearing specialist to find out if you can pinpoint a problem.
- Each day, remind your parents to use their hearing aids. Consistent hearing aid use can help make sure that these devices are operating to their maximum capacity.
Making Sure That Future Health Issues Are Avoided
You’re already dealing with a lot, specifically if you’re a caregiver in that sandwich generation. And hearing problems can feel somewhat unimportant if they aren’t causing immediate friction. But the research shows that a whole variety of more severe future health concerns can be avoided by managing hearing loss now.
So when you take Mom to her hearing exam (or arrange to have her seen), you could be preventing much more costly afflictions down the road. Maybe you will avoid depression early. You might even be able to reduce Mom’s chance of developing dementia in the near-term future.
That would be worth a visit to a hearing specialist for the majority of people. And it’s simple to give Mom a quick reminder that she needs to be conscientious about wearing her hearing aids. Once that hearing aid is in, you might be able to have a nice conversation, too. Maybe you’ll get some lunch and have a nice chat.