It’s referred to as the “sandwich generation”. When you’re in your twenties and thirties, spend your time raising kids. Then, looking after your senior parent’s healthcare needs fills your time when you’re in your forties and fifties. You’re sandwiched between your children and your parents, thus the name. And it’s becoming more and more prevalent. This indicates that Mom and Dad’s overall healthcare will need to be taken under consideration by caretakers.
You most likely won’t have an issue remembering to take Mom or Dad to the oncologist or cardiologist because those appointments feel like a priority. What is sometimes missed, though, are things including the annual exam with a hearing care professional or making sure Dad’s hearing aids are charged. And those little things can have a powerful impact.
Hearing Health is Essential For a Senior’s General 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 transcends your ability to communicate or listen to music. Untreated hearing loss has been connected to several mental and physical health problems, like depression and loss of cognitive abilities.
So you could be unintentionally increasing the chances that she will develop these problems by missing her hearing appointment. 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 kind of social isolation can take place very quickly. 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. Her hearing may be the real issue. Your brain is an organ that can atrophy if it’s not used regularly so this type of social isolation can lead to cognitive decline. When it comes to the health of your senior parents, it’s essential that those signs are recognized and addressed.
How to Make Certain Hearing is a Priority
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 concerns. What can be done to prioritize hearing care?
There are a couple of things you can do:
- 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.
- If your parents have rechargeable hearing aids help them make certain they charge them when they go to sleep every night. If they are living in a home, ask the staff to pay attention to this every night.
- Keep an eye on your parents’ behavior. 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.
- Every day, remind your parents to use their hearing aids. Consistent hearing aid use can help establish that these devices are working to their highest capacity.
- Once per year, people over the age of 55 should have a hearing exam. Make certain that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such a screening.
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 if hearing impairment isn’t causing immediate issues, it can seem somewhat unimportant. But the evidence is pretty clear: managing hearing ailments now can prevent a wide range of serious issues in the long run.
So when you take Mom to her hearing appointment (or arrange to have her seen), you could be avoiding much more costly afflictions in the future. Maybe you will avoid depression early. You may even be able to decrease Mom’s chance of developing dementia in the near-term future.
For many of us, that’s worth a visit to a hearing specialist. And it’s easy to give Mom a quick reminder that she needs to be diligent about wearing her hearing aids. Once that hearing aid is in, you might be able to have a nice conversation, too. Maybe over lunch. Maybe over sandwiches.