Do you have a senior older than 70 in your care? You have a lot to remember. You’re not likely to forget to bring a family member to an oncologist or a cardiologist because those are clear priorities. But there are things that are often overlooked because they don’t feel like priorities such as the annual checkup with a hearing specialist. And those things are a bigger priority than you might think.
The Significance of Hearing to Senior Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Additionally, your hearing is critical in a way that goes beyond your capacity to listen to music or communicate. Loss of cognitive abilities and depression are a couple of mental health issues that have been associated with untreated hearing loss.
So when you miss Mom’s hearing appointment, you could unintentionally be increasing her chances of developing these issues, including dementia. Mom could start to isolate herself if she isn’t hearing well these days; she stops going to movies, doesn’t meet with her friends for tea, and has dinner alone in her room.
This kind of social separation can occur very quickly when hearing loss takes hold. So mood may not be the reason for the distant behavior you’ve been observing in Mom or Dad. Hearing loss may be the issue. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself ultimately lead to mental decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it kind of organ). So recognizing the signs of hearing loss, and ensuring those signs are addressed, is essential with regards to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
Okay, we’ve convinced you. You now realize that untreated hearing loss can result in several health problems and that you need to take hearing seriously. How can you make certain ear care is a priority? Here are some things you can do:
- Keep track of when your parents are wearing their hearing aids, and see that it’s every day. In order to make sure the hearing aids are operating at their maximum ability, they need to be used consistently.
- Once per year a hearing screening needs to be scheduled for anyone above the age of 55. Make sure that your senior parent has a scheduled consultation for such an examination.
- And if you notice a senior spending more time at home, backing out on friends, and isolating themselves, the same applies. A trip to come see us can help shed light on the occurrence of any hearing difficulties.
- Don’t forget to observe how your parents are behaving. If you notice the tv getting a bit louder every week, speak with Mom about making a consultation with a hearing professional to see if you can identify a problem.
- Help your parents remember to recharge their hearing aids each night before they go to sleep (of course that exclusively applies to rechargeable devices).
Avoiding Future Health Issues
Being a caregiver probably isn’t your only job so you likely have a lot on your plate. And if hearing issues aren’t causing immediate concerns, they might seem a bit trivial. But the evidence is quite clear: a wide range of serious health concerns in the future can be avoided by managing hearing loss now.
So you may be preventing costly health conditions down the road by bringing your loved one to their hearing consultation. You could stop depression before it begins. You may even be able to decrease Mom’s risk of getting dementia in the near-term future.
For most of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing professional. And it’s certainly worth a quick reminder to Mom that she needs to be wearing her hearing aid more vigilantly. And that hearing aid will make your conversations with her much smoother and more pleasant.