Are you the primary caretaker for someone over the age of 70? You have a lot to remember. You aren’t likely to forget to bring a family member to an oncologist or a cardiologist because those are clear priorities. What slips through the cracks, however, are the little things, such as the yearly exam with a hearing specialist or making sure Mom’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. Beyond the ability to communicate or hear and enjoy music, your hearing plays an extremely important role. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to several physical and mental health issues, like loss of cognitive ability and depression.
So you unwittingly raise Mom’s chance of dementia by skipping her hearing appointment. Mom might begin to isolate herself if she isn’t hearing well these days; she stops going to movies, doesn’t meet with her friends for coffee, and eats dinner alone in her bedroom.
When hearing loss takes hold, this type of social separation occurs very quickly. So if you observe Mom or Dad beginning to become a little distant, it may not be about their mood (yet). Hearing loss may be the problem. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself ultimately result in cognitive decline (your brain is an organ that needs to be exercised or it begins to decline). So noticing the signs of hearing loss, and ensuring those symptoms are addressed, is essential with regards to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
Making Hearing a Priority
By now you should be persuaded. You now accept that untreated hearing loss can result in several health problems and that you should take hearing seriously. How can you make sure ear care is a priority? Here are various things you can do:
- And if you find a senior spending more time at home, backing out on friends, and distancing themselves, the same is true. Any hearing concerns can be diagnosed by us when you bring them in.
- Anyone over the age of 55 or 60 should be having a hearing screening every year or so. Be certain that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such a screening.
- Remind your parents to use their hearing aids every day. So that you can make sure the hearing aids are functioning at their optimum capacity, they should be used routinely.
- Each night before bed, make sure your parents put their hearing aids on the charger (of course that particularly applies to rechargeable devices).
- Be mindful of your parents’ habits. If you notice the tv getting a bit louder every week, speak with Mom about schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist to see if you can identify a problem.
Preventing Future Health Problems
Being a caregiver probably isn’t your only job so you more than likely have a lot to deal with. And hearing problems can feel somewhat trivial if they aren’t causing immediate stress. But the evidence is pretty clear: a wide range of serious health problems in the future can be avoided by dealing with hearing issues now.
So you may be avoiding costly health conditions down the road by taking your loved one to their hearing exam. You could head off depression before it begins. You could even be able to lower Mom’s risk of getting dementia in the near-term future.
For most of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing specialist. And it’s certainly worth a quick reminder to Mom that she needs to be using her hearing aid more vigilantly. And when that hearing aid is in, you may just be able to have a pleasant conversation, as well.