It’s referred to as the “sandwich generation”. You spend your twenties and thirties bringing up your kids. And then when you’re in your forties and fifties you’re arranging the healthcare of your senior parents. The label “sandwich generation” is appropriate because you’re sandwiched between taking care of your kids and taking care of your parents. And it’s becoming more and more prevalent. This indicates that Mom and Dad’s total healthcare 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 is sometimes missed, though, are things including the annual exam with a hearing specialist or making sure Mom’s hearing aids are charged up. And those little things can make a big difference.
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 goes beyond your ability to listen to music or communicate. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and several other health problems have been connected to neglected hearing loss.
So you could be unknowingly increasing the risk that she will develop these issues by skipping her hearing exam. It will be socially isolating if Mom can’t communicate because she can’t hear very well.
When hearing loss first starts, this sort of social isolation can happen very quickly. You might think that mom is experiencing mood problems because she is acting a bit distant but in reality, that might not be the problem. Her hearing could be the real difficulty. Your brain is an organ that can atrophy if it isn’t used on a regular basis so this type of social separation can result in cognitive decline. So identifying the signs of hearing loss, and ensuring those signs are addressed, is crucial when dealing with your senior parents’ physical and mental health.
How to Make Sure Hearing is a Priority
Alright, you’re convinced. You recognize that hearing loss can snowball into more severe problems and hearing health is important. What can be done to prioritize hearing care?
A few things that you can do are as follows:
- Each day, remind your parents to use their hearing aids. Hearing aids operate at their greatest capacity when they are used consistently.
- Be mindful of your parents’ behavior. If you notice the TV getting a bit louder every week or that they are having difficulty hearing you on the phone, speak with Mom about making an appointment with a hearing specialist to find out if you can pinpoint a problem.
- If your parents have rechargeable hearing aids help them make sure they keep them charged when they go to sleep each night. If your parents live in a retirement home, ask their caretakers to do this.
- The same is true if you notice Mom starting to isolate herself, canceling phone conversations, and avoiding people. A trip to a hearing specialist can help illuminate the existence of any hearing difficulties.
- 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 an exam.
Making Certain That Future Health Issues Are Avoided
You’re already trying to handle a lot, particularly if you’re a primary care provider in that sandwich generation. And hearing problems can feel relatively unimportant if they aren’t causing immediate friction. But the research is quite clear: treating hearing ailments now can protect against a wide range of serious problems in the long run.
So by making sure those hearing tests are scheduled and kept, you’re preventing expensive medical problems in the future. Maybe you will stop depression early. You may even be able to decrease Mom’s risk of developing dementia in the near future.
For the majority of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing specialist. And it’s undoubtedly worth a quick reminder to Mom that she should be wearing her hearing aid more vigilantly. Once that hearing aid is in, you might be able to have a nice conversation, also. Maybe you’ll get some lunch and have a nice chat.