They call it the “Sandwich Generation.” You go through your twenties and thirties bringing up your kids. Then, taking care of your senior parent’s healthcare requirements occupies your time when you’re in your forties and fifties. The label “sandwich generation” is apt because you’re sandwiched between caring for your kids and caring for your parents. And it’s increasingly common. This indicates that Mom and Dad’s total care will need to be considered by caretakers.
Setting up an appointment for Mom to go to an oncologist or a cardiologist feels like a priority, so you aren’t likely to forget anything like that. What falls through the cracks, though, are things including the annual appointment with a hearing care professional or making certain Dad’s hearing aids are charged. And those little things can have a powerful impact.
The Importance of Hearing to Senior Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. In addition, your hearing is crucial in a way that goes beyond your ability to communicate or listen to music. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and several other health issues have been connected to untreated hearing loss.
So you could be unintentionally increasing the chances that she will develop these issues by skipping her hearing exam. If Mom isn’t able to hear as well these days, it will limit her ability to communicate and be very isolating.
When hearing loss first begins, this sort of social isolation can occur very rapidly. You may think that mom is having mood issues because she is acting a little bit distant but in reality, that might not be the problem. Her hearing might be the real problem. 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 recognizing the signs of hearing loss, and ensuring those signs are treated, is essential when dealing with your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
Prioritizing Hearing Health
Alright, you’re convinced. You appreciate that hearing loss can grow out of control into more serious issues and hearing health is essential. What can be done to prioritize hearing care?
A few things that you can do are as follows:
- Anybody over the age of 55 or 60 needs to have a hearing exam annually. Be certain that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such an exam.
- Keep an eye on your parents’ behavior. If you observe the television getting a bit louder each week or that they have trouble hearing you on the phone, talk to Mom about scheduling an appointment with a hearing specialist to find out if you can pinpoint a problem.
- 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.
- Each day, remind your parents to use their hearing aids. Hearing aids operate at their maximum capacity when they are used consistently.
- If your parents have rechargeable hearing aids help them make sure they keep them charged when they go to sleep each night. If they are living in a home, ask the staff to pay attention to this each night.
Making Certain That Future Health Issues Are Avoided
You’re already trying to handle a lot, especially if you’re a caregiver in that sandwich generation. And hearing troubles can feel somewhat insignificant if they aren’t causing immediate friction. But the evidence is fairly clear: managing hearing ailments now can prevent a wide range of serious issues over time.
So by making certain those hearing exams are scheduled and kept, you’re avoiding expensive medical problems in the future. You could block depression before it begins. You might even be able to reduce Mom’s chance of developing dementia in the near-term future.
That would be worth a visit to a hearing specialist for the majority of people. And it’s definitely worth a quick reminder to Mom that she needs to be wearing her hearing aid more vigilantly. You also might be capable of having a nice conversation once that hearing aid is in. Perhaps over lunch. Maybe over sandwiches.