Do you have a senior older than 70 in your care? There’s a lot to keep in mind. Bringing a relative to a heart specialist or setting up an appointment with an oncologist seems like a priority, so you aren’t likely to forget anything like that. What falls through the cracks, though, are the small things, like the annual appointment with a hearing professional or making sure Mom’s hearing aids are charged. And those small things can make a big difference.
The Significance of Hearing to Senior Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. What’s more, your hearing is critical in a way that goes further than your capacity to communicate or listen to music. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to several physical and mental health concerns, like loss of cognitive ability and depression.
So you inadvertently increase Mom’s chance of dementia by missing her hearing consultation. 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.
This kind of social separation can occur very quickly when hearing loss takes hold. So mood may not be the reason for the distant behavior you’ve been noticing in Dad or Mom. Hearing loss may be the problem. 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 diminish). So recognizing the signs of hearing loss, and ensuring those symptoms are treated, is essential with regards to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
How to Ensure Hearing Will be a Priority
By now you should be persuaded. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is significant and that neglected hearing loss can lead to other issues. How can you make sure ear care is a priority? Here are a few things you can do:
- Monitor your parents’ habits. If you observe the tv getting a little louder every week, have a talk with Mom about schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist to see if you can identify an issue.
- Once a year a hearing screening needs to be scheduled for anyone above the age of 55. You should help a senior parent schedule and keep these appointments.
- And if you notice a senior spending more time at home, canceling out on friends, and isolating themselves, the same applies. Any hearing concerns can be diagnosed by us when you bring them in.
- Help your parents remember to recharge their hearing aids each night before they go to bed (of course that exclusively applies to rechargeable devices).
- Advise your parents to use their hearing aids each day. In order to make sure the hearing aids are operating at their optimal capacity, they should be used consistently.
Avoiding Future Health Issues
As a caregiver, you already have a lot to do, particularly if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And if hearing problems aren’t causing immediate concerns, they may seem somewhat trivial. But there’s pretty clear evidence: a wide range of serious health concerns in the future can be avoided by dealing with hearing issues now.
So you may be avoiding costly ailments later on in life by taking your loved one to their hearing exam. You could stop depression before it starts. You might even be able to reduce Mom’s chance of getting dementia in the near-term future.
That’s worth a trip to see a hearing specialist for most of us. And it’s certainly worth a quick reminder to Mom that she should be using her hearing aid more vigilantly. And that hearing aid will make your conversations with her much easier and more enjoyable.