Are you the primary caretaker for somebody over the age of 70? You have a lot to remember. You aren’t likely to forget to take a family member to an oncologist or a cardiologist because those are clear priorities. But there are things that are frequently forgotten because they don’t seem like priorities such as the annual checkup with a hearing specialist. And those little things can make a big difference.
The Importance of Hearing to Senior Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Beyond the ability to hear and enjoy music or communicate, your hearing plays a vitally significant role. Loss of cognitive abilities and depression are a couple of mental health problems that have been connected to 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 these days, she could begin to isolate herself; she stops going to see movies, doesn’t meet with her friends for tea, and has dinner alone in her room.
When hearing loss sets in, this type of social isolation occurs very quickly. So if you find Mom or Dad starting to get a little distant, it might not have anything to do with their mood (yet). Hearing loss may be the issue. And cognitive decline can eventually be the consequence of that hearing loss (your brain is an organ that needs to be exercised or it begins to diminish). So noticing the signs of hearing loss, and ensuring those signs are managed, is crucial with regards to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
Making Hearing a Priority
Alright, we’ve convinced you. You now realize that untreated hearing loss can lead to several health issues and that you need to take hearing seriously. What measures should you take to make hearing a priority? Here are some things you can do:
- Anyone above the age of 55 or 60 should be undergoing a hearing screening once per year or so. You should help a senior parent make and show up for these appointments.
- Monitor when your parents are wearing their hearing aids, and see that it’s every day. Consistent hearing aid use can help guarantee that these devices are operating to their maximum capacity.
- Keep an eye on your parents’ behavior. If you observe the television getting a bit louder every week, speak with Mom about making a consultation with a hearing professional to see if you can pinpoint a problem.
- The same is the situation if you find a senior beginning to segregate themselves, canceling on friends and spending more time in the house. Any hearing difficulties can be identified by us when you bring them in.
- Help your parents remember to recharge their hearing aids each night before they go to sleep (at least in situations where their devices are rechargeable).
Avoiding Future Health Issues
Being a caregiver probably isn’t your only job so you most likely have a lot on your plate. And hearing issues can feel a bit trivial if they aren’t causing immediate friction. But there’s pretty clear evidence: managing hearing ailments now can avoid a wide range of serious problems in the long run.
So when you bring a loved one to their hearing appointment, you could be avoiding much more costly health conditions down the road. You could head off depression before it starts. And Mom’s risk of dementia in the near future will also be decreased.
That’s worth a trip to see a hearing professional for the majority of us. It’s also very helpful to prompt Mom to use hear hearing aid more consistently. And that hearing aid will make your conversations with her much smoother and more enjoyable.