Do you have a senior over the age of 70 in your care? There’s a lot to take into consideration. You aren’t likely to forget to take a loved one to an oncologist or a heart specialist because those are clear priorities. What falls through the cracks, however, are the little things, like the annual appointment with a hearing specialist or making sure Dad’s hearing aids are charged. And those little 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 significant role. Depression and loss of cognitive abilities are a couple of mental health issues that have been associated with neglected hearing loss.
So when you skip Mom’s hearing appointment, you may inadvertently be increasing her chances of developing these problems, including dementia. If Mom isn’t capable of hearing as well now, she could begin to separate herself; she has dinner alone in her room, stops going to movies, and doesn’t go out with her friends.
This kind of social separation can happen very quickly when hearing loss sets in. So mood might not be the reason for the distant behavior you’ve been noticing in Dad or Mom. Hearing loss may be the issue. And cognitive decline can ultimately be the consequence of that hearing loss (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it type of organ). So regarding a senior parents mental and physical health, noticing and dealing with hearing loss is essential.
By now you should be convinced. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is crucial and that untreated hearing loss can snowball into other problems. How can you make certain ear care is a priority? There are a couple of things you can do:
- Advise your parents to use their hearing aids each day. In order to ensure the hearing aids are operating at their optimum capacity, they should be used consistently.
- Anyone over the age of 55 or 60 should be having a hearing screening once per year or so. Ensure that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such an examination.
- Every night before bed, help your parents to put their hearing aids on the charger (at least in cases where their devices are rechargeable).
- Don’t forget to monitor how your parents are behaving. If your parent is gradually turning the volume on their TV up, you can determine the problem by making an appointment with a hearing professional.
- The same is true if you observe a senior beginning to segregate themselves, canceling on friends and spending more time in the house. Any hearing difficulties can be diagnosed by us when you bring them in.
Preventing Future Health Concerns
As a caregiver, you already have a lot to do, particularly if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And hearing issues can feel somewhat trivial if they aren’t causing immediate friction. But the evidence is rather clear: a multitude of significant health problems in the future can be prevented by dealing with hearing loss now.
So when you bring a loved one to their hearing consultation, you could be avoiding much more costly ailments down the road. You could stop depression before it begins. And Mom’s risk of dementia in the near future will also be lessened.
That’s worth a trip to see a hearing professional for most of us. And it’s definitely worth a quick reminder to Mom that she should be using her hearing aid more vigilantly. And once that hearing aid is in, you may just be able to have a nice conversation, as well.