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“Woman

They call it the “Sandwich Generation.” You go through your twenties and thirties raising your kids. Then, looking after your senior parent’s healthcare needs occupies your time when you’re in your forties and fifties. You’re sandwiched between your children and your parents, thus the name. And it’s more and more common. This indicates that Mom and Dad’s total healthcare will need to be considered by caretakers.

You probably won’t have a problem remembering to take Mom or Dad to the cardiologist or oncologist because those appointments feel like a priority. But things like making sure Dad’s hearing aids are recharged or going to the annual hearing assessment can sometimes simply slip through the cracks. And those little things can have a profound affect.

Hearing Health is Essential For a Senior’s General Health

More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Moreover, beyond your ability to communicate or listen to music, it’s necessary to have healthy hearing. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and several other health issues have been connected to neglected hearing loss.

So when you miss Mom’s hearing appointment, you could be unknowingly increasing her chances of developing these issues, including dementia. It will be socially isolating if Mom can’t communicate because she can’t hear very well.

This sort of social separation can happen very quickly when hearing loss sets in. You may think that mom is experiencing mood problems because she is acting a bit distant but in reality, that may not be the issue. Her hearing might be the real problem. And that hearing-induced solitude can itself eventually bring on cognitive decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it type of organ). When it comes to the health of your senior parents, it’s essential that those signs are identified and treated.

How to Ensure Hearing is a Priority

Alright, you’re convinced. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is important and that untreated hearing loss can snowball into other problems. What can be done to prioritize hearing care?

There are a couple of things you can do:

  • Remind your parents to wear their hearing aids daily. Daily hearing aid use can help ensure that these devices are working to their maximum capacity.
  • 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, individuals over the age of 55 should have a hearing screening. Be sure that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such a screening.
  • Be mindful of your parents’ behavior. If you notice the TV getting a little louder every week or that they have trouble hearing you on the phone, speak with Mom about making an appointment with a hearing care specialist to find out if you can identify a problem.
  • Help your parents remember to charge their hearing aids each night before they go to sleep (at least in scenarios where their devices are rechargeable). If your parents live in a retirement home, ask their caretakers to do this.

Preventing Future Health Problems

You’re already trying to handle a lot, specifically if you’re a primary care provider in that sandwich generation. And hearing problems can feel relatively insignificant if they aren’t causing direct friction. But the evidence is pretty clear: managing hearing ailments now can prevent a multitude of serious problems over time.

So by making sure those hearing appointments are scheduled and kept, you’re avoiding expensive medical problems in the future. Perhaps you will stop depression early. It’s even possible that dementia can be stopped or at least slowed down.

That would be worth a visit to a hearing specialist for most people. And it’s easy to give Mom a quick reminder that she needs to be diligent about wearing her hearing aids. You also may be able to have a nice conversation once that hearing aid is in. Maybe over lunch. Perhaps over sandwiches.

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