Are you the primary caretaker for someone older than 70? There’s a lot to keep in mind. Bringing a relative to a heart specialist or scheduling an appointment with an oncologist seems like a priority, so you’re not likely to forget those things. But there are things that are frequently forgotten because they don’t seem like priorities such as the yearly checkup with a hearing professional. And those things are a higher priority than you might suspect.
The Importance of Hearing to Senior Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Additionally, your hearing is critical in a way that goes further than your capacity to communicate or listen to music. Neglected hearing loss has been linked to numerous mental and physical health concerns, like loss of cognitive ability and depression.
So you inadvertently increase Mom’s chance of dementia by skipping her hearing appointment. If Mom isn’t able to hear as well now, she could begin to isolate herself; she has dinner by herself in her room, stops going to movies, and doesn’t meet with her friends.
When hearing loss sets in, this sort of social isolation occurs very quickly. So if you notice Mom or Dad beginning to get a little distant, it may not be about their mood (yet). It could be their hearing. And cognitive decline can eventually be the consequence of that hearing loss (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it kind of organ). So when it comes to a senior parents physical and mental health, recognizing and managing hearing loss is essential.
Making Hearing a Priority
Okay, we’ve persuaded you. You now accept that neglected hearing loss can result in several health issues and that you need to take hearing seriously. How can you make certain ear care is a priority? There are several things you can do:
- Anyone above the age of 55 or 60 needs to be having a hearing screening every year or so. Make sure that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such a screening.
- Keep an eye on your parents’ habits. If your parent is slowly turning the volume on their TV up, you can identify the issue by making a consultation with a hearing professional.
- Advise your parents to use their hearing aids every day. Routine use of hearing aids can help guarantee that these devices are functioning to their optimal efficiency.
- Help your parents remember to charge their hearing aids every night before they go to sleep (of course that exclusively applies to rechargeable hearing aids).
- And if you notice a senior spending more time at home, backing out on friends, and isolating themselves, the same is true. Any hearing challenges can be identified by us when you bring them in.
Avoiding Future Health Concerns
Being a caregiver probably isn’t your only job so you likely have a lot on your plate. And hearing issues can feel a bit trivial if they aren’t causing immediate stress. But the evidence is quite clear: a multitude of serious health concerns in the future can be avoided by managing hearing loss now.
So when you take a loved one to their hearing appointment, you could be preventing much more costly health conditions in the future. Depression could be prevented before it even starts. 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. It’s also very helpful to remind Mom to wear her hearing aid more consistently. And that hearing aid will make your conversations with her much easier and more enjoyable.