Are you the main caretaker for someone over the age of 70? You have a lot to keep track of. Bringing a loved one to a cardiologist or setting up an appointment with an oncologist seems like a priority, so you aren’t likely to forget anything like that. What falls through the cracks, though, are the small things, including the yearly examination with a hearing professional or making sure Mom’s hearing aids are charged. And those things are a higher priority than you might suspect.
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 essential in a way that goes beyond your ability to communicate or listen to music. Neglected hearing loss has been connected to a number of physical and mental health concerns, such as loss of cognitive ability and depression.
So when you skip Mom’s hearing appointment, you may unwittingly be increasing her risk of developing these problems, including dementia. If Mom isn’t capable of hearing as well now, she could start to separate herself; she stops going to see movies, doesn’t meet with her friends for coffee, and eats dinner by herself in her bedroom.
This kind of social separation can occur very quickly when hearing loss sets in. So mood may not be the reason for the distant behavior you’ve been observing in Mom or Dad. It may be their hearing. And cognitive decline can eventually be the result of that hearing loss (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it type of organ). So when it comes to a senior parents mental and physical health, identifying and treating hearing loss is crucial.
By now you should be persuaded. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is crucial and that neglected hearing loss can lead to other issues. How can you make sure ear care is a priority? Here are a few things you can do:
- Remind your parents to wear their hearing aids each day. In order to ensure the hearing aids are functioning at their optimum capacity, they should be used consistently.
- Once a year a hearing screening needs to be scheduled for everybody above the age of 55. You should help a senior parent schedule and keep these appointments.
- Be mindful of your parents’ behavior. If your parent is gradually turning the volume on their television up, you can identify the problem by scheduling a consultation with a hearing specialist.
- Help your parents remember to charge their hearing aids each night before they go to bed (at least in situations where their devices are rechargeable).
- The same is the situation if you observe a senior starting to isolate themselves, canceling on friends and spending more time in the house. A consultation with us can help shed light on the existence of any hearing issues.
Preventing Future Health Concerns
Being a caregiver probably isn’t your only job so you more than likely have a lot to deal with. And hearing issues can feel a bit trivial if they aren’t causing immediate worries. But there’s very clear evidence: treating hearing conditions now can avoid a multitude of serious problems down the road.
So when you bring a loved one to their hearing appointment, you could be preventing much more costly illnesses in the future. Depression could be avoided before it even begins. You could 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 specialist. And it’s definitely worth a quick reminder to Mom that she needs to be using her hearing aid more vigilantly. And when that hearing aid is in, you may just be able to have a nice conversation, too.