Are you the primary caretaker for somebody over the age of 70? You have a lot to remember. Bringing a loved one to a heart specialist or setting up an appointment with an oncologist seems like a priority, so you aren’t likely to forget anything like that. But there are things that are often forgotten because they don’t seem like priorities such as the annual checkup with a hearing specialist. And those things are a higher priority than you might think.
The Importance of Hearing to Senior Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. What’s more, your hearing is critical in a way that goes beyond your ability to communicate or listen to music. Neglected hearing loss has been connected to several physical and mental health problems, such as depression and loss of cognitive abilities.
So when you miss Mom’s hearing appointment, you may unintentionally be increasing her chances of developing these issues, including dementia. If Mom isn’t able to hear as well now, she could begin to separate herself; she eats dinner by herself in her room, stops going to movies, and doesn’t meet with her friends.
When hearing loss sets in, this kind of social isolation occurs very quickly. So if you observe Mom or Dad beginning to get a little distant, it may not have anything to do with their mood (yet). Hearing loss may be the problem. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself potentially lead to mental decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it type of organ). So noticing the signs of hearing loss, and making sure those symptoms are addressed, is essential with regards to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
Alright, we’ve persuaded you. You now realize that neglected hearing loss can lead to several health issues and that you need to take hearing seriously. How can you make sure ear care is a priority? There are a few things you can do:
- The same is true if you notice a senior starting to isolate themselves, canceling on friends and staying inside more. Any hearing challenges can be diagnosed by us when you bring them in.
- Monitor when your parents are using their hearing aids, and see that it’s every day. So that you can make sure the hearing aids are functioning at their optimal capacity, they should be used consistently.
- Once a year a hearing screening should be scheduled for anybody above the age of 55. Make sure that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such a screening.
- Be mindful of your parents’ behavior. If you observe the television getting a bit louder every week, have a talk with Mom about schedule a consultation with a hearing specialist to see if you can pinpoint an issue.
- Help your parents remember to recharge their hearing aids every night before they go to sleep (at least in cases where their devices are rechargeable).
Preventing Future Health Issues
Being a caregiver probably isn’t your only job so you likely have a lot to deal with. And hearing problems can feel rather trivial if they aren’t causing immediate friction. But there’s rather clear evidence: treating hearing ailments now can avoid a multitude of serious problems down the road.
So you may be preventing costly afflictions in the future by taking your loved one to their hearing appointment. Depression could be avoided before it even starts. And Mom’s risk of dementia in the near future will also be reduced.
For the majority of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing professional. It’s also very helpful to prompt Mom to wear her hearing aid more consistently. And that hearing aid will make your conversations with her much smoother and more enjoyable.