They call it the “Sandwich Generation.” In your twenties and thirties, your time is spent raising kids. And then you spend your 40s and 50s arranging the care of your senior parents. You’re sandwiched between your children and your parents, thus the name. And it’s becoming more and more prevalent. This means that Mom and Dad’s total healthcare will need to be taken under consideration by caretakers.
Setting up an appointment for Mom to go to an oncologist or a cardiologist 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 checkup with a hearing care professional or making certain Mom’s hearing aids are charged up. And those little things can make a big difference.
The Importance of Hearing For a Senior’s Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Moreover, outside of your ability to listen to music or communicate, it’s necessary to have healthy hearing. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and several other health issues have been linked to untreated hearing loss.
So you may be unintentionally increasing the chances that she will develop these issues by skipping her hearing exam. It will be socially isolating if Mom can’t communicate because she can’t hear very well.
When hearing loss first starts, this sort of social isolation can occur very quickly. So if you notice Mom starting to get a bit distant, it may not have anything to do with her mood (yet). It might be her hearing. And that hearing-induced solitude can itself ultimately lead to cognitive decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it kind of organ). So identifying the signs of hearing loss, and making sure those signs are treated, is essential when dealing with your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
How to Ensure Hearing is a Priority
Okay, we’ve convinced you. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is relevant and that neglected hearing loss can snowball into other concerns. How can you be certain hearing care is a priority?
There are a few things you can do:
- Help your parents to remember to wear their hearing aids daily. Hearing aids operate at their optimal capacity when they are used consistently.
- If your parents have hearing aids that can be recharged help them make sure they keep them charged when they go to sleep each night. If your parents live in a retirement home, ask their caretakers to do this.
- Once every year, individuals over the age of 55 should have a hearing test. Be 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.
- Be mindful of your parents’ behavior. If your parent is having trouble hearing you when you talk to them or seems to be turning the TV up louder and louder, encourage them to make an appointment for a hearing test.
Combating Future Health Problems
You’re already trying to handle a lot, especially if you’re a primary care provider in that sandwich generation. And hearing troubles can feel rather unimportant if they aren’t causing immediate friction. But the research shows that a whole variety of more serious future health concerns can be prevented by treating hearing loss now.
So by making certain those hearing appointments are scheduled and kept, you’re avoiding costly medical problems later. You could block depression before it begins. It’s even feasible that dementia can be prevented or at least slowed down.
That would be worth a trip to a hearing specialist for the majority of people. And it’s easy to give Mom a quick reminder that she needs to be diligent about wearing her hearing aids. You also may be capable of having a nice conversation once that hearing aid is in. Perhaps you’ll get some lunch and have a nice chat.