It’s referred to as the “sandwich generation”. You go through your twenties and thirties raising your kids. And then you spend your 40s and 50s setting up the healthcare of your senior parents. You’re sandwiched between your children and your parents, hence the name. And it’s increasingly common. This indicates that Mom and Dad’s total healthcare will need to be considered by caretakers.
Making 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 like the yearly exam with a hearing specialist or making certain Mom’s hearing aids are charged up. And those little things can have a profound affect.
The Value of Hearing For a Senior’s Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. In addition, your hearing is crucial in a way that goes beyond your ability to listen to music or communicate. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and numerous other health issues have been connected to untreated hearing loss.
So when you skip Mom’s hearing appointment, you may be unwittingly increasing her chances of developing these problems, including dementia. If Mom isn’t able to hear as well these days, it will limit her ability to communicate and be very isolating.
When hearing loss first starts, this kind of social isolation can occur very quickly. You may think that mom is having mood problems because she is acting a little bit distant but in actuality, that may not be the issue. It may be her hearing. And that hearing-induced solitude can itself eventually lead to cognitive decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it type of organ). When it comes to the health of your senior parents, it’s crucial that those signs are recognized and addressed.
Prioritizing Hearing Health
Alright, you’re convinced. You have no doubt that hearing is relevant and that neglected hearing loss can snowball into other problems. How can you be certain ear care is a priority?
There are a few things you can do:
- Help your parents remember to charge their hearing aids each night before they go to bed (at least in scenarios where they have rechargeable batteries). If your parents live in an assisted living situation, ask their caretakers to do this.
- Look closely at how your parents are behaving. 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.
- Anybody over the age of 55 or 60 needs to have a hearing test yearly. Be sure that this yearly appointment is scheduled for your parents and kept.
- Remind your parents to wear their hearing aids every day. Daily hearing aid use can help make sure that these devices are operating to their highest capacity.
- 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.
Preventing Future Health Problems
As a caregiver, you already have a lot on your plate, particularly if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And if hearing loss isn’t causing direct problems, it can seem somewhat insignificant. But the research reveals that a whole variety of more significant future health concerns can be prevented by treating hearing loss now.
So by making certain those hearing tests are scheduled and kept, you’re preventing expensive medical conditions later. Perhaps you will stop depression early. You might even be able to decrease Mom’s chance of developing dementia in the near future.
For many of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing specialist. And it’s simple to give Mom a quick reminder that she needs to be conscientious about wearing her hearing aids. You also might be capable of having a nice conversation once that hearing aid is in. Perhaps over lunch. Maybe over sandwiches.