They call it the “Sandwich Generation.” You spend your twenties and thirties raising your kids. Then, looking after your senior parent’s healthcare requirements occupies your time when you’re going through your forties and fifties. The term “sandwich generation” is appropriate because you’re sandwiched between caring for your kids and caring for your parents. And it’s increasingly common. For caretakers, this means spending a lot of time contemplating Mom or Dad’s overall healthcare.
You probably won’t have a problem remembering to take Mom or Dad to the oncologist or cardiologist because those appointments feel like a priority. What falls through the cracks, though, are things including the annual exam with a hearing care professional or making sure Dad’s hearing aids are charged. And those little things can make a huge difference.
The Importance of Hearing For a Senior’s Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Moreover, outside of your ability to listen to music or communicate, it’s crucial to have healthy hearing. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and numerous other health problems have been connected to neglected hearing loss.
So when you miss Mom’s hearing exam, you might be inadvertently increasing her chances of developing these problems, including dementia. If Mom isn’t able to hear as well these days, it will limit her ability to communicate and be very isolating.
When hearing loss first begins, this type of social isolation can take place very rapidly. So if you observe Mom starting to get a little distant, it might not even be connected with her mood (yet). Her hearing may be the real issue. Your brain is an organ that can atrophy if it’s not used on a regular basis so this kind of social solitude can result in cognitive decline. So noticing the signs of hearing loss, and ensuring those signs are treated, is crucial when dealing with your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
Fine, we’ve convinced you. You have no doubt 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:
- If your parents have rechargeable hearing aids help them make certain they keep them charged when they go to bed every night. If your parents live in a retirement home, ask their caretakers to watch out for this.
- If you notice Mom avoiding phone conversations and staying away from social situations, the same is true. A trip to a hearing specialist can help illuminate the existence of any hearing difficulties.
- Once every year, people over 55 should have a hearing exam. Be certain that this annual appointment is made for your parents and kept.
- Help your parents to remember to wear their hearing aids every day. Consistent hearing aid use can help ensure that these devices are operating to their maximum capacity.
- Be mindful of your parents’ behavior. If you observe the TV getting a little louder every week or that they are having difficulty hearing you on the phone, speak with Mom about scheduling an appointment with a hearing care specialist to find out if you can identify a problem.
Making Certain That Future Health Issues Are Prevented
You’re already dealing with a lot, particularly if you’re a primary care provider in that sandwich generation. And if hearing loss isn’t causing immediate issues, it can seem somewhat insignificant. But the research demonstrates that a whole range of more severe future health issues can be prevented by dealing with hearing loss now.
So by making sure those hearing exams are scheduled and kept, you’re avoiding expensive medical problems later. Perhaps you will avoid depression early. It’s even feasible that dementia can be prevented or at least slowed.
That would be worth a visit to a hearing specialist for the majority of people. And it’s definitely worth a quick reminder to Mom that she needs to be wearing her hearing aid more diligently. Once that hearing aid is in, you may be able to have a nice conversation, also. Maybe you’ll get some lunch and have a nice chat.