Do you have a senior over the age of 70 in your care? There’s a lot to take into consideration. You’re not likely to forget to bring a loved one to an oncologist or a cardiologist because those are clear priorities. But there are things that are frequently forgotten because they don’t feel like priorities such as the yearly checkup with a hearing professional. And those things are a higher priority than you might suspect.
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 hear and enjoy music or communicate, your hearing plays an extremely significant role. Loss of cognitive abilities and depression are a couple of mental health concerns that have been connected to neglected hearing loss.
So you unwittingly raise Mom’s risk of dementia by missing her hearing consultation. If Mom isn’t capable of hearing as well these days, she could begin to isolate herself; she stops going to movies, doesn’t meet with her friends for tea, and has dinner by herself in her bedroom.
This sort of social separation can occur very quickly when hearing loss sets in. So mood may not be the reason for the distant behavior you’ve been observing in Dad or Mom. It could be their hearing. And cognitive decline can ultimately be the result of that hearing loss (your brain is an organ that needs to be exercised or it begins to diminish). So with regards to a senior parents physical and mental health, noticing and dealing with hearing loss is crucial.
Making Hearing a Priority
By now you should be persuaded. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is important and that neglected hearing loss can lead to other issues. How can you make certain ear care is a priority? There are several things you can do:
- Every night before bed, make sure your parents put their hearing aids on the charger (of course that particularly applies to rechargeable hearing aids).
- Keep an eye on your parents’ habits. If you observe the tv getting a bit louder every week, speak with Mom about schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist to see if you can identify a problem.
- Once a year a hearing screening should be scheduled for anybody above the age of 55. You should help a senior parent make and show up for these appointments.
- 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 identified by us when you bring them in.
- Keep track of when your parents are using their hearing aids, and see that it’s every day. So that you can make sure the hearing aids are operating at their optimum capacity, they need to be used consistently.
How to Protect Against Health Problems in The Future
As a caregiver, you already have a lot to do, especially if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And if hearing issues aren’t causing immediate problems, they might seem a little trivial. But there’s rather clear evidence: a wide range of serious health problems in the future can be avoided by dealing with hearing issues now.
So you may be avoiding costly ailments down the road by bringing your loved one to their hearing exam. You could stop depression before it starts. You may even be able to decrease Mom’s chance of developing dementia in the near-term future.
For the majority of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing specialist. And it’s certainly worth a quick reminder to Mom that she should be wearing her hearing aid more vigilantly. And once that hearing aid is in, you might just be able to have a nice conversation, too.