Do you have a senior older than 70 in your care? You have a lot to keep track of. You’re not likely to forget to take a family member to an oncologist or a heart specialist because those are obvious priorities. But there are things that are often forgotten because they don’t feel like priorities such as the annual checkup with a hearing professional. And those little things can make a big difference.
For The Health of a Senior, Hearing is Important
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Additionally, your hearing is critical in a way that goes beyond your ability to listen to music or communicate. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to numerous mental and physical health problems, such as loss of cognitive ability and depression.
So you unintentionally increase Mom’s risk of dementia by missing her hearing appointment. Mom might begin to separate herself if she isn’t hearing well these days; she stops going to movies, doesn’t meet with her friends for coffee, and has dinner by herself in her room.
This kind of social isolation can happen very quickly when hearing loss sets in. So if you notice Mom or Dad beginning to become a little distant, it may not be about their mood (yet). It could be their hearing. And cognitive decline can eventually be the outcome of that hearing loss (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it type of organ). So noticing the signs of hearing loss, and ensuring those signs are addressed, is essential when it comes to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
Making Hearing a Priority
Alright, we’ve convinced you. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is significant and that untreated hearing loss can snowball into other problems. What measures should you take to make hearing a priority? There are a couple of things you can do:
- Every night before bed, make sure your parents put their hearing aids on the charger (at least in situations where their hearing aids are rechargeable).
- And if you notice a senior spending more time at home, backing out on friends, and distancing themselves, the same applies. A trip to come see us can help shed light on the occurrence of any hearing concerns.
- Monitor when your parents are using their hearing aids, and see that it’s every day. Consistent hearing aid use can help guarantee that these devices are performing to their optimal efficiency.
- Monitor your parents’ habits. If your parent is gradually turning the volume on their TV up, you can determine the problem by scheduling an appointment with a hearing professional.
- Anyone over the age of 55 or 60 should be having a hearing screening once per year or so. You should help a senior parent schedule and keep these appointments.
How to Avoid Health Problems in The Future
Being a caregiver probably isn’t your only job so you likely have a lot on your plate. And if hearing concerns aren’t causing immediate problems, they might seem a little trivial. But the evidence is rather clear: dealing with hearing ailments now can avoid a wide range of serious problems in the long run.
So you may be avoiding costly ailments later on in life by bringing your loved one to their hearing consultation. You could head off depression before it begins. You may even be able to lower Mom’s chance of developing dementia in the near-term future.
For the majority of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing specialist. It’s also extremely helpful to prompt Mom to wear her hearing aid more frequently. And once that hearing aid is in, you may just be able to have a nice conversation, too.