Do you have a senior over the age of 70 in your care? There’s a lot to take into consideration. Bringing a loved one to a cardiologist or setting up an appointment with an oncologist feels like a priority, so you’re not likely to forget anything like that. What slips through the cracks, however, are the small things, including the annual checkup with a hearing professional or making sure Mom’s hearing aids are charged up. And those small things can make a big difference.
The Importance of Hearing to Senior Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Beyond the ability to communicate or hear and enjoy music, your hearing plays a vitally important role. Neglected hearing loss has been linked to a number of mental and physical health problems, including loss of cognitive ability and depression.
So when you miss Mom’s hearing appointment, you may unintentionally be increasing her risk of developing these problems, including dementia. Mom might start to separate herself if she isn’t hearing well these days; she eats dinner by herself in her room, stops going to movies, and doesn’t go out with her friends.
When hearing loss sets in, this sort of social separation occurs very quickly. So mood may not be the reason for the distant behavior you’ve been noting in Dad or Mom. It might be their hearing. And cognitive decline can eventually be the outcome of that hearing loss (your brain is an organ that needs to be exercised or it begins to decline). So when it comes to a senior parents physical and mental health, recognizing and managing hearing loss is essential.
By now you should be persuaded. You now realize that untreated hearing loss can result in several health problems and that you should take hearing seriously. How can you make sure ear care is a priority? There are a couple of things you can do:
- Anyone over the age of 55 or 60 needs to be undergoing a hearing screening once per year or so. You should help a senior parent schedule and show up for these appointments.
- Advise your parents to wear their hearing aids each day. In order to ensure the hearing aids are operating at their optimal capacity, they need to be used routinely.
- And if you find a senior spending more time at home, backing out on friends, and distancing themselves, the same is true. Any hearing difficulties can be diagnosed by us when you bring them in.
- Every night before bed, remind your parents to put their hearing aids on the charger (of course that particularly applies to rechargeable hearing aids).
- Keep an eye on your parents’ habits. If your parent is gradually turning the volume on their TV up, you can determine the issue by making an appointment with a hearing specialist.
Preventing Future Health Concerns
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 issues aren’t causing immediate problems, they could seem somewhat trivial. But there’s very clear evidence: treating hearing ailments now can avoid a wide range of serious problems in the long run.
So when you take a loved one to their hearing appointment, you could be avoiding much more costly health conditions down the road. You could head off depression before it starts. You may even be able to lower Mom’s risk of getting dementia in the near-term future.
For most of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing professional. And it’s certainly worth a quick reminder to Mom that she needs to be using her hearing aid more diligently. And that hearing aid will make your conversations with her much easier and more enjoyable.