It’s referred to as the “sandwich generation”. You spend your twenties and thirties raising your kids. And then when you’re in your forties and fifties you’re setting up the healthcare of your senior parents. The name “sandwich generation” is appropriate because you’re sandwiched between caring for your kids and caring for your parents. And it’s increasingly common. This implies that Mom and Dad’s overall healthcare will need to be taken under consideration by caretakers.
Setting up an appointment for Dad to go to an oncologist or a cardiologist feels like a priority, so you most likely won’t forget anything like that. But things like making certain Dad’s hearing aids are recharged or making the annual hearing assessment can sometimes just slip through the cracks. And those little things can have a powerful affect.
The Significance of Hearing For a Senior’s Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Additionally, your hearing is crucial in a way that transcends your ability to listen to music or communicate. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and several other health concerns have been linked to neglected hearing loss.
So when you skip Mom’s hearing exam, you could be inadvertently increasing her risk 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.
This kind of social isolation can occur very quickly when hearing loss sets in. So if you observe Mom starting to get a little distant, it might not even be connected with her mood (yet). Her hearing may be the real issue. Your brain is an organ that can atrophy if it isn’t used regularly so this kind of social separation can lead to cognitive decline. So identifying the signs of hearing loss, and making certain those signs are addressed, is essential when it comes to your senior parents’ physical and mental health.
Fine, we’ve convinced you. You recognize that hearing loss can grow out of control into more serious problems and hearing health is important. What can you do to prioritize hearing care?
A few things that you can do are as follows:
- Each day, remind your parents to wear their hearing aids. Consistent hearing aid use can help make sure that these devices are operating to their highest capacity.
- Anybody over the age of 55 or 60 needs to have a hearing exam yearly. Make sure that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such a screening.
- Pay attention to 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.
- If your parents have rechargeable hearing aids help them make certain they keep them charged when they go to bed every night. If they are living in a home, ask the staff to check this every night.
- 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.
Making Sure That Future Health Issues Are Avoided
As a caregiver, you already have a lot on your plate, especially if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And if hearing impairment isn’t causing direct problems, it can seem somewhat insignificant. But the research shows that a wide variety of more significant future health concerns can be prevented by managing hearing loss now.
So by making certain those hearing exams are scheduled and kept, you’re preventing costly medical problems in the future. Maybe you will stop depression early. You might even be able to reduce Mom’s chance of developing dementia in the near-term future.
That would be worth a trip to a hearing specialist for most people. And it’s simple to give Mom a quick reminder that she should be diligent about wearing her hearing aids. You also may be capable of having a nice conversation once that hearing aid is in. Perhaps over lunch. Maybe over sandwiches.