It’s referred to as the “sandwich generation”. You go through your twenties and thirties bringing up your kids. And then when you’re in your forties and fifties you’re organizing the care of your senior parents. You’re sandwiched between your children and your parents, hence the name. And it’s becoming more and more common. This implies that Mom and Dad’s general healthcare will need to be considered by caretakers.
Making an appointment for Dad to go to an oncologist or a cardiologist feels like a priority, so you aren’t likely to forget anything like that. But things like making certain Mom’s hearing aids are charged or making the yearly hearing test can sometimes just slip through the cracks. And those little things can make a huge difference.
The Value of Hearing For a Senior’s Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. In addition, your hearing is essential in a way that transcends your ability to communicate or listen to music. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and several other health concerns have been linked to neglected hearing loss.
So you may be unintentionally increasing the risk that she will develop these issues by missing her hearing appointment. If Mom isn’t hearing as well these days, it will limit her ability to communicate and be very isolating.
When hearing loss first sets in, this kind of social isolation can happen very rapidly. You might think that mom is experiencing mood problems because she is acting a little distant but in fact, that may not be the problem. Her hearing may be the real problem. And that hearing-induced solitude can itself ultimately result in cognitive decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it kind of organ). When it comes to the health of your senior parents, it’s important that those signs are identified and addressed.
Prioritizing Hearing Health
Alright, you’re convinced. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is important and that untreated hearing loss can snowball into other concerns. 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 notice Mom starting to isolate herself, canceling phone conversations, and avoiding people. Any hearing problems she may be having will be identified by her hearing specialist.
- Anyone over 55 needs to have a hearing screening annually. Be sure that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such an exam.
- Help your parents to remember to wear their hearing aids daily. Hearing aids operate at their maximum capacity when they are worn regularly.
- Be mindful of your parents’ behavior. If you notice the television getting a bit louder each week or that they are having difficulty hearing you on the phone, talk to Mom about scheduling an appointment with a hearing specialist to find out if you can pinpoint a problem.
- If your parents have rechargeable hearing aids help them make sure they charge them when they go to bed each night. If your parents live in an assisted living situation, ask their caretakers to watch out for this.
Avoiding Future Health Issues
You’re already trying to handle a lot, specifically if you’re a caregiver in that sandwich generation. And if hearing impairment isn’t causing immediate problems, it can seem slightly insignificant. But the evidence is quite clear: managing hearing ailments now can protect against a multitude of serious issues over time.
So when you take Mom to her hearing test (or arrange to have her seen), you could be preventing much more costly afflictions down the road. You could head off depression before it begins. It’s even feasible that dementia can be avoided or at least slowed down.
For most of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing specialist. And it’s easy to give Mom a quick reminder that she needs to be conscientious about wearing her hearing aids. Once that hearing aid is in, you might be able to have a nice conversation, also. Maybe you’ll get some lunch and have a nice chat.