Are you the primary caretaker for somebody older than 70? You have a lot to remember. You aren’t likely to forget to bring a loved one to an oncologist or a cardiologist because those are obvious priorities. What falls through the cracks, though, are the little things, including the yearly appointment with a hearing specialist or making sure Dad’s hearing aids are charged. And those small things can make a big difference.
For The Health of a Senior, Hearing is Crucial
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 an extremely important role. Depression and loss of cognitive abilities are a couple of mental health concerns that have been connected to untreated hearing loss.
So when you skip Mom’s hearing appointment, you might inadvertently be increasing her risk of developing these issues, including dementia. Mom might start to isolate herself if she isn’t hearing well these days; she stops going to see movies, doesn’t meet with her friends for tea, and has dinner alone in her bedroom.
This sort of social isolation can happen very quickly when hearing loss sets in. So if you notice Mom or Dad beginning to get a little distant, it might not be about their mood (yet). It could be their hearing. 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 identifying the signs of hearing loss, and making sure those symptoms are treated, is crucial with regards to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
By now you should be persuaded. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is crucial and that neglected hearing loss can lead to other problems. What measures should you take to make hearing a priority? There are a few things you can do:
- The same is the situation if you find a senior starting to separate themselves, canceling on friends and spending more time in the house. Any hearing challenges can be identified by us when you bring them in.
- Monitor when your parents are using their hearing aids, and see that it’s daily. So that you can make sure the hearing aids are operating at their optimum ability, they should be used routinely.
- Anyone above the age of 55 or 60 should be having a hearing screening every year or so. You should help a senior parent schedule and show up for these appointments.
- Monitor your parents’ habits. If you observe the tv getting a little louder every week, speak with Mom about schedule a consultation with a hearing professional to see if you can identify an issue.
- Each night before bed, remind your parents to put their hearing aids on the charger (at least in cases where their hearing aids are rechargeable).
How to Protect Against Health Problems in The Future
Being a caregiver probably isn’t your only job so you likely have a lot to deal with. And if hearing issues aren’t causing immediate problems, they may seem a bit trivial. But the evidence is quite clear: managing hearing ailments now can prevent a multitude of serious issues down the road.
So you may be preventing costly ailments down the road by bringing your loved one to their hearing consultation. Depression could be eliminated before it even starts. You might even be able to decrease Mom’s chance of developing dementia in the near-term future.
That’s worth a trip to see a hearing specialist for the majority of us. And it’s certainly worth a quick reminder to Mom that she needs to be using her hearing aid more vigilantly. And that hearing aid will make your conversations with her much smoother and more enjoyable.