It’s referred to as the “sandwich generation”. When you’re in your twenties and thirties, spend your time raising kids. And then you spend your 40s and 50s arranging the healthcare of your senior parents. You’re sandwiched between your children and your parents, hence the name. And it’s becoming increasingly common. This indicates that Mom and Dad’s total care will need to be taken under consideration by caretakers.
You probably won’t have any difficulty remembering to take Mom or Dad to the oncologist or cardiologist because those appointments feel like a priority. What falls through the cracks, though, are things including the annual exam with a hearing specialist or making certain Mom’s hearing aids are charged up. And those little things can have a profound impact.
Hearing Health is Essential For a Senior’s Overall Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Furthermore, beyond your ability to communicate or listen to music, it’s essential to have healthy hearing. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and numerous other health issues have been linked to untreated hearing loss.
So you could be inadvertently increasing the chances that she will develop these issues by skipping her hearing exam. It will be socially isolating if Mom can’t communicate because she can’t hear very well.
When hearing loss first begins, this type of social isolation can take place very rapidly. So if you notice Mom starting to get a little distant, it might not have anything to do with her mood (yet). It may be her hearing. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself ultimately bring on cognitive decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it kind of organ). When it comes to the health of your senior parents, it’s crucial that those signs are recognized and treated.
Prioritizing Hearing Health
Okay, we’ve convinced you. You appreciate that hearing loss can snowball into more serious problems and hearing health is important. What can you do to prioritize hearing care?
There are a few things you can do:
- Every day, remind your parents to wear their hearing aids. Daily hearing aid use can help establish that these devices are operating to their highest capacity.
- 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.
- The same is true if you notice Mom starting to isolate herself, canceling phone conversations, and avoiding people. Any hearing problems she may be having will be identified by her hearing specialist.
- Help your parents to not forget to charge their hearing aids every night before they go to sleep (at least in situations where their devices are rechargeable). If your parents live in an assisted living situation, ask their caretakers to do this.
- Once every year, people over the age of 55 should have a hearing screening. Be certain that this yearly appointment is scheduled for your parents and kept.
Making Certain That Future Health Concerns Are Avoided
You’re already trying to handle a lot, especially if you’re a caregiver in that sandwich generation. And if hearing loss isn’t causing immediate problems, it can seem slightly unimportant. But the research is quite clear: managing hearing ailments now can prevent a wide range of serious problems in the long run.
So by making sure those hearing exams are scheduled and kept, you’re preventing costly medical problems in the future. You could block depression before it starts. You may even be able to lower Mom’s risk of developing dementia in the near future.
That would be worth a trip to a hearing specialist for the majority of people. And it’s simple to give Mom a quick reminder that she should be conscientious about wearing her hearing aids. Once that hearing aid is in, you may be able to have a nice conversation, too. Maybe you’ll get some lunch and have a nice chat.