It’s known as the “sandwich generation”. When you’re in your twenties and thirties, spend your time raising kids. Then, taking care of your senior parent’s healthcare requirements occupies your time when you’re in your forties and fifties. The name “sandwich generation” is apt because you’re sandwiched between caring for your kids and caring for your parents. And it’s increasingly common. For caretakers, this means investing a lot of time thinking about Mom or Dad’s all-around healthcare.
Scheduling an appointment for Dad to go to an oncologist or a cardiologist feels like a priority, so you aren’t likely to forget anything like that. What is sometimes missed, though, are things including the annual exam with a hearing specialist or making certain Dad’s hearing aids are charged. And those little things can make a huge difference.
Hearing Health is Essential For a Senior’s Total Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Additionally, your hearing is essential in a way that transcends your ability to communicate or listen to music. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and several other health problems have been linked to untreated hearing loss.
So when you miss Mom’s hearing exam, you could be unknowingly increasing her chances of developing these issues, including dementia. If Mom isn’t hearing as well these days, it will limit her ability to communicate and be very isolating.
When hearing loss first starts, this sort of social isolation can happen very rapidly. You might think that mom is having mood issues because she is acting a little distant but in reality, that might not be the problem. It may be her hearing. Your brain is an organ that can atrophy if it isn’t used on a regular basis so this kind of social separation can result in cognitive decline. When it comes to the health of your senior parents, it’s essential that those signs are recognized and treated.
Okay, we’ve convinced you. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is important and that neglected hearing loss can snowball into other problems. How can you make sure ear care is a priority?
A couple of things that you can do are as follows:
- 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.
- Look closely at how your parents are behaving. If you observe the television getting a little louder every week or that they are having difficulty hearing you on the phone, talk to Mom about scheduling an appointment with a hearing specialist to find out if you can identify a problem.
- If your parents have hearing aids that can be recharged help them make certain they keep them charged when they go to bed every night. If your parents live in an assisted living situation, ask their caretakers to watch out for this.
- 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 maximum capacity.
- Anybody over the age of 55 or 60 needs to have a hearing screening yearly. Make certain that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such a test.
Making Sure That Future Health Concerns Are Prevented
As a caregiver, you already have a lot on your plate, notably if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And hearing problems can feel somewhat trivial if they aren’t causing immediate friction. But the research shows that a whole variety of more serious future health concerns can be avoided by dealing with hearing loss now.
So when you bring Mom to her hearing test (or arrange to have her seen), you could be avoiding much more costly afflictions down the road. Perhaps you will avoid depression early. You might even be able to reduce 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 definitely worth a quick reminder to Mom that she should be wearing her hearing aid more diligently. You also may be able to have a nice conversation once that hearing aid is in. Perhaps over lunch. Perhaps over sandwiches.