It’s referred to as the “sandwich generation”. When you’re in your twenties and thirties, your time is spent raising kids. Then, taking care of your senior parent’s healthcare requirements fills your time when you’re in your forties and fifties. The term “sandwich generation” is appropriate because you’re sandwiched between taking care of your kids and taking care of your parents. And it’s becoming increasingly prevalent. This indicates that Mom and Dad’s total care will need to be taken under consideration by caretakers.
You most likely won’t have any difficulty remembering to take Mom or Dad to the cardiologist or oncologist because those appointments feel like a priority. But things like making certain Dad’s hearing aids are recharged or making the yearly hearing assessment can sometimes simply fall through the cracks. And those little things can have a profound impact.
Hearing Health is Important For a Senior’s Overall 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 transcends your ability to listen to music or communicate. Neglected hearing loss has been connected to numerous physical and mental health issues, including depression and loss of cognitive abilities.
So when you skip Mom’s hearing appointment, you might be inadvertently increasing her risk of developing these issues, including dementia. If Mom isn’t hearing as well these days, it will limit her ability to communicate and be very isolating.
When hearing loss first starts, this sort of social isolation can take place very quickly. You might think that mom is having mood issues because she is acting a little bit distant but in reality, that may not be the issue. Her hearing might be the real difficulty. Your brain is an organ that can atrophy if it isn’t used on a regular basis so this kind of social separation can lead to cognitive decline. When it comes to the health of your senior parents, it’s crucial that those signs are identified and treated.
How to Ensure Hearing is a Priority
Alright, you’re convinced. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is important and that neglected hearing loss can snowball into other issues. What can be done to prioritize hearing care?
A couple of things that you can do are as follows:
- Once every year, people over 55 should have a hearing screening. Make sure that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such a test.
- Help your parents to not forget to charge their hearing aids every night before they go to bed (at least in cases where their devices are rechargeable). 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.
- Help your parents to remember to wear their hearing aids every day. Hearing aids work at their maximum capacity when they are worn consistently.
- Pay attention to how your parents are behaving. If you observe the television getting a little louder every week or that they have difficulty hearing you on the phone, talk to Mom about scheduling an appointment with a hearing care specialist to find out if you can identify a problem.
Preventing Future Health Problems
As a caregiver, you already have a lot on your plate, notably if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And if hearing impairment isn’t causing immediate issues, it can seem somewhat trivial. But the evidence is quite clear: managing hearing ailments now can protect against a multitude of serious problems over time.
So when you bring Mom to her hearing exam (or arrange to have her seen), you could be preventing much more costly conditions in the future. You could head off depression before it starts. It’s even feasible that dementia can be prevented or at least slowed down.
For most of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing specialist. And it’s simple to give Mom a quick reminder that she should be conscientious about wearing her hearing aids. Once that hearing aid is in, you might be able to have a nice conversation, too. Maybe over lunch. Maybe over sandwiches.