Are you the primary caretaker for somebody older than 70? You have a lot to remember. You’re not likely to forget to bring a loved one to an oncologist or a heart specialist because those are clear priorities. What slips through the cracks, though, are the small things, such as the annual exam with a hearing specialist or making sure Dad’s hearing aids are charged. And those little things can make a big difference.
The Significance of Hearing to Senior Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Additionally, your hearing is essential in a way that goes beyond your ability to communicate or listen to music. Loss of cognitive abilities and depression are a couple of mental health concerns that have been linked to neglected hearing loss.
So you unwittingly raise Mom’s chance of dementia by missing her hearing appointment. Mom might start to isolate herself if she isn’t hearing well these days; she has dinner alone in her room, stops going to see movies, and doesn’t go out with her friends.
This sort of social isolation can occur very quickly when hearing loss takes hold. So mood might not be the reason for the distant behavior you’ve been noting in Dad or Mom. It could be their hearing. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself ultimately result in cognitive decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it kind of organ). So identifying the signs of hearing loss, and making sure those symptoms are treated, is essential when it comes to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
Making Hearing a Priority
Alright, we’ve convinced you. You now realize that neglected hearing loss can lead to several health problems and that you should take hearing seriously. How can you make sure ear care is a priority? There are a couple of things you can do:
- The same is true if you observe a senior starting to segregate themselves, canceling on friends and staying inside more. Any hearing challenges can be diagnosed by us when you bring them in.
- Monitor your parents’ behavior. If you observe the television getting a bit louder every week, have a talk with Mom about schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist to see if you can pinpoint an issue.
- Remind your parents to wear their hearing aids every day. Routine hearing aid use can help ensure that these devices are operating to their maximum capacity.
- Help your parents remember to charge their hearing aids every night before they go to bed (of course that particularly applies to rechargeable hearing aids).
- Once per year a hearing screening needs to be scheduled for anybody above the age of 55. Make sure that your senior parent has a scheduled consultation for such a screening.
Protecting Against Future Health Issues
Being a caregiver probably isn’t your only job so you more than likely have a lot to deal with. And if hearing problems aren’t causing immediate concerns, they might seem a bit trivial. But the evidence is rather clear: a wide range of significant health problems in the future can be prevented by managing hearing issues now.
So you could be avoiding costly afflictions in the future by bringing your loved one to their hearing exam. You could head off depression before it begins. You might even be able to lower Mom’s chance of developing dementia in the near-term future.
For most of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing professional. And it’s certainly worth a quick reminder to Mom that she needs to be using her hearing aid more vigilantly. And that hearing aid will make your conversations with her much easier and more enjoyable.