Do you have a senior older than 70 in your care? You have a lot to remember. You aren’t likely to forget to take a family member to an oncologist or a heart specialist because those are clear priorities. What falls through the cracks, though, are the little things, like the annual exam with a hearing specialist or making sure Dad’s hearing aids are charged up. And those things are a higher priority than you might think.
For The Health of a Senior, Hearing is Crucial
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Beyond the ability to hear and enjoy music or communicate, your hearing plays an extremely important role. Depression and loss of cognitive abilities are a couple of mental health concerns that have been connected to untreated hearing loss.
So you unwittingly increase Mom’s chance of dementia by skipping her hearing appointment. Mom could start to separate herself if she isn’t hearing well these days; she has dinner alone in her room, stops going to see movies, and doesn’t go out with her friends.
This type of social separation can happen very quickly when hearing loss takes hold. So mood may not be the reason for the distant behavior you’ve been observing in Dad or Mom. Hearing loss may be the issue. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself eventually bring about cognitive decline (your brain is an organ that needs to be exercised or it begins to diminish). So identifying the signs of hearing loss, and making sure those signs are addressed, is essential when it comes to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
Making Hearing a Priority
Alright, we’ve convinced you. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is significant and that neglected hearing loss can lead to other problems. How can you make sure ear care is a priority? There are several things you can do:
- Each night before bed, remind your parents to recharge their hearing aids (of course that particularly applies to rechargeable devices).
- Monitor your parents’ behavior. If your parent is gradually turning the volume on their TV up, you can identify the problem by scheduling a consultation with a hearing specialist.
- Remind your parents to wear their hearing aids every day. Routine use of hearing aids can help guarantee that these devices are functioning to their optimum capacity.
- Anyone over the age of 55 or 60 should be undergoing a hearing screening once per year or so. You should help a senior parent make and keep these appointments.
- And if you find a senior spending more time at home, canceling out on friends, and separating themselves, the same applies. Any hearing issues can be identified by us when you bring them in.
Preventing Future Health Issues
Being a caregiver probably isn’t your only job so you likely have a lot to deal with. And hearing problems can feel rather trivial if they aren’t causing immediate friction. But the evidence is rather clear: a multitude of serious health problems in the future can be avoided by dealing with hearing loss now.
So you may be preventing costly health conditions later on in life by bringing your loved one to their hearing appointment. Depression could be avoided before it even begins. And Mom’s chance of dementia in the near future will also be lessened.
For the majority of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing specialist. It’s also very helpful to remind Mom to use hear hearing aid more regularly. And that hearing aid will make your conversations with her much smoother and more pleasant.