It’s known as the “sandwich generation”. When you’re in your twenties and thirties, spend your time raising kids. Then, looking after your senior parent’s healthcare requirements occupies your time when you’re in your forties and fifties. The term “sandwich generation” is appropriate because you’re sandwiched between caring for your kids and taking care of your parents. And it’s increasingly common. For caretakers, this implies investing a lot of time thinking about Mom or Dad’s all-around care.
You likely won’t have any difficulty remembering to take Mom or Dad to the cardiologist or oncologist because those appointments feel like a priority. But things like making certain Mom’s hearing aids are charged or making the yearly hearing assessment can sometimes simply slip through the cracks. And those little things can make a big difference.
Hearing Health is Important For a Senior’s General Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. In addition, your hearing is crucial in a way that goes beyond your ability to communicate or listen to music. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and several other health concerns have been connected to neglected hearing loss.
So when you miss Mom’s hearing appointment, you may be unintentionally increasing her chances of developing these problems, including dementia. It will be socially isolating if Mom can’t communicate because she can’t hear very well.
This type of social separation can occur very quickly when hearing loss begins. You may think that mom is having mood issues because she is acting a bit distant but in actuality, that might not be the problem. It might be her hearing. Your brain is an organ that can atrophy if it isn’t used on a regular basis so this kind of social separation can lead to cognitive decline. When it comes to the health of your senior parents, it’s crucial that those signs are recognized and treated.
How to Make Sure Hearing is a Priority
Alright, you’re convinced. You have no doubt that hearing is essential and that neglected hearing loss can snowball into other concerns. What can be done to prioritize hearing care?
A couple of things that you can do are as follows:
- Remind your parents to wear their hearing aids every day. Consistent hearing aid use can help make sure that these devices are working to their highest capacity.
- Anyone over 55 needs to have a hearing exam every year or so. Make certain that this yearly appointment is scheduled for your parents and kept.
- Help your parents remember to charge their hearing aids each 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 watch out for this.
- Be mindful of your parents’ behavior. 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.
- 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.
Preventing Future Health Issues
You’re already dealing with a lot, especially if you’re a caregiver in that sandwich generation. And if hearing impairment isn’t causing immediate issues, it can seem slightly insignificant. But the evidence is fairly clear: managing hearing ailments now can prevent a multitude of serious issues over time.
So when you take Mom to her hearing appointment (or arrange to have her seen), you could be avoiding much more costly afflictions down the road. You could block depression before it begins. It’s even possible that dementia can be stopped or at least slowed.
That would be worth a visit to a hearing specialist for most people. And it’s definitely worth a quick reminder to Mom that she should be wearing her hearing aid more diligently. You also might be capable of having a nice conversation once that hearing aid is in. Maybe over lunch. Maybe over sandwiches.