Are you the primary caretaker for somebody over the age of 70? There’s a lot to keep in mind. You’re not likely to forget to take a loved one to an oncologist or a cardiologist because those are obvious priorities. What slips through the cracks, though, are the small things, such as the annual checkup with a hearing specialist or making sure Mom’s hearing aids are charged up. And those things are a higher priority than you might think.
For The Health of a Senior, Hearing is Important
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. What’s more, your hearing is essential in a way that goes further than your capacity to communicate or listen to music. Depression and loss of cognitive abilities are a couple of mental health problems that have been associated with untreated hearing loss.
So you unwittingly increase Mom’s chance of dementia by missing her hearing consultation. If Mom isn’t capable of hearing as well now, she could start to isolate herself; she has dinner by herself in her room, stops going to see movies, and doesn’t go out with her friends.
When hearing loss sets in, this type of social isolation happens very quickly. So mood may not be the reason for the distant behavior you’ve been observing in Dad or Mom. It could be their hearing. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself ultimately bring about cognitive decline (your brain is an organ that needs to be exercised or it begins to diminish). So identifying the symptoms of hearing loss, and making sure those signs are managed, is essential when it comes to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
Okay, we’ve convinced you. You now accept that neglected hearing loss can lead to several health problems and that you need to take hearing seriously. What steps should you take to make hearing a priority? Here are a few things you can do:
- Anyone over the age of 55 or 60 should be undergoing a hearing screening once per year or so. You should help a senior parent schedule and show up for these appointments.
- Be mindful of your parents’ behavior. If your parent is slowly turning the volume on their television up, you can determine the issue by making an appointment with a hearing specialist.
- And if you find a senior spending more time at home, backing out on friends, and separating themselves, the same applies. A trip to come see us can help shed light on the existence of any hearing problems.
- Help your parents remember to recharge their hearing aids every night before they go to sleep (of course that exclusively applies to rechargeable hearing aids).
- Monitor when your parents are wearing their hearing aids, and see that it’s every day. In order to make sure the hearing aids are operating at their optimum capacity, they should be used consistently.
How to Prevent Health Problems in The Future
Being a caregiver probably isn’t your only job so you likely have a lot on your plate. And hearing concerns can feel somewhat trivial if they aren’t causing immediate friction. But there’s pretty clear evidence: treating hearing ailments now can prevent a wide range of serious issues in the long run.
So when you bring a loved one to their hearing exam, you could be avoiding much more costly health conditions in the future. You could head off depression before it starts. You may even be able to decrease Mom’s chance of developing dementia in the near-term future.
That’s worth a trip to see a hearing specialist for most of us. And it’s definitely worth a quick reminder to Mom that she should be wearing her hearing aid more diligently. And once that hearing aid is in, you might just be able to have a nice conversation, as well.