It’s known 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 more and more common. This means that Mom and Dad’s total healthcare will need to be taken under consideration by caretakers.
Scheduling an appointment for Mom to go to a cardiologist or an oncologist feels like a priority, so you aren’t likely to forget anything like that. What falls through the cracks, though, are things such as the yearly appointment with a hearing care professional or making certain Dad’s hearing aids are charged up. And those little things can have a profound impact.
Hearing Health is Crucial For a Senior’s General Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. What’s more, your hearing is crucial in a way that transcends your ability to listen to music or communicate. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and several other health problems have been linked to neglected hearing loss.
So when you miss Mom’s hearing exam, you could be unwittingly increasing her chances of developing these problems, including dementia. It will be socially isolating if Mom can’t communicate because she can’t hear very well.
This sort of social isolation can take place very quickly when hearing loss sets in. So if you observe Mom beginning to get a little distant, it might not even be connected with her mood (yet). It may be her hearing. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself ultimately lead to cognitive decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it kind of organ). When it comes to the health of your senior parents, it’s important that those signs are identified and addressed.
How to Make Certain Hearing is a Priority
Okay, we’ve convinced you. You recognize that hearing loss can grow out of control into more serious problems and hearing health is essential. What can be done to prioritize hearing care?
There are a few things you can do:
- Help your parents to remember to wear their hearing aids daily. Consistent hearing aid use can help make sure that these devices are working to their maximum capacity.
- Anyone over 55 needs to have a hearing screening yearly. Make sure that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such a screening.
- If you notice Mom avoiding phone conversations and staying away from social situations, the same is true. A trip to a hearing specialist can help illuminate the existence of any hearing difficulties.
- Look closely at how your parents are behaving. If you notice the television getting a bit louder each week or that they have difficulty hearing you on the phone, speak with Mom about scheduling an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if you can pinpoint a problem.
- Help your parents to not forget to charge their hearing aids each night before they go to sleep (at least in cases where their devices are rechargeable). If your parents live in an assisted living situation, ask their caretakers to do this.
Making Sure That Future Health Issues Are Prevented
You’re already trying to handle a lot, especially if you’re a primary care provider in that sandwich generation. And hearing problems can feel somewhat insignificant if they aren’t causing direct friction. But the research demonstrates that a wide range of more significant future health concerns can be prevented by dealing with hearing loss now.
So by making sure those hearing exams are scheduled and kept, you’re preventing expensive medical problems in the future. You could head off depression before it begins. You might even be able to decrease Mom’s risk of developing dementia in the near-term future.
That would be worth a trip to a hearing specialist for the majority of people. And it’s definitely worth a quick heads up to Mom that she should be wearing her hearing aid more vigilantly. Once that hearing aid is in, you might be able to have a nice conversation, also. Maybe you’ll get some lunch and have a nice chat.