It’s known as the “sandwich generation”. When you’re in your twenties and thirties, spend your time raising kids. And then you spend your 40s and 50s coordinating the care of your senior parents. The name “sandwich generation” is appropriate because you’re sandwiched between taking care of your kids and taking care of your parents. And it’s increasingly common. This indicates that Mom and Dad’s overall care will need to be taken under consideration by caretakers.
You likely won’t have an issue remembering to take Mom or Dad to the cardiologist or oncologist because those appointments feel like a priority. What is sometimes missed, though, are things including the yearly appointment with a hearing care professional or making certain Mom’s hearing aids are charged up. 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. Furthermore, outside of your ability to communicate or listen to music, it’s crucial to have healthy hearing. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and numerous other health concerns have been linked to untreated hearing loss.
So you could be unintentionally increasing the chances that she will develop these issues by skipping her hearing exam. It will be socially isolating if Mom can’t communicate because she can’t hear very well.
When hearing loss first sets in, this sort of social isolation can occur very quickly. So if you notice Mom starting to get a little distant, it may not have anything to do with her mood (yet). It may be her hearing. Your brain is an organ that can atrophy if it isn’t used regularly so this kind of social solitude can result in cognitive decline. When it comes to the health of your senior parents, it’s important that those signs are recognized and addressed.
Okay, we’ve convinced you. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is relevant and that untreated hearing loss can snowball into other problems. How can you make sure hearing care is a priority?
A couple of things that you can do are as follows:
- Anyone over 55 needs to have a hearing screening annually. Be sure that this yearly appointment is scheduled for your parents and kept.
- Help your parents to not forget to charge their hearing aids every night before they go to sleep (at least in cases where their devices are rechargeable). If your parents live in a retirement home, ask their caretakers to do this.
- If you notice Mom avoiding phone conversations and staying away from social situations, the same is true. Any hearing problems she may be having will be identified by her hearing specialist.
- Remind your parents to wear their hearing aids every day. Hearing aids operate at their optimal capacity when they are worn consistently.
- Pay attention to how your parents are behaving. If your parent is having trouble hearing you when you talk to them or seems to be turning the TV up louder and louder, encourage them to make an appointment for a hearing test.
Making Sure That Future Health Issues Are Avoided
As a caregiver, you already have plenty to deal with, especially if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And if hearing impairment isn’t causing immediate problems, it can seem a little insignificant. But the research reveals that a whole variety of more significant future health issues can be prevented by treating hearing loss now.
So by making sure those hearing appointments are scheduled and kept, you’re preventing expensive medical conditions in the future. You could head off depression before it starts. You might even be able to reduce Mom’s risk of developing dementia in the near-term future.
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 needs to be conscientious about wearing her hearing aids. You also may be able to have a nice conversation once that hearing aid is in. Perhaps you’ll get some lunch and have a nice chat.