They call it the “Sandwich Generation.” You go through your twenties and thirties raising your kids. Then, looking after your senior parent’s healthcare requirements occupies your time when you’re in your forties and fifties. The label “sandwich generation” is appropriate because you’re sandwiched between caring for your kids and caring for your parents. And it’s more and more common. This implies that Mom and Dad’s general care will need to be taken under consideration by caretakers.
Scheduling an appointment for Mom to go to an oncologist or a cardiologist feels like a priority, so you most likely won’t forget anything like that. But things like making sure Dad’s hearing aids are charged or making the annual hearing test can sometimes just fall through the cracks. And those little things can have a profound impact.
Hearing Health is Crucial For a Senior’s Total Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Additionally, your hearing is essential in a way that goes beyond your ability to communicate or listen to music. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and numerous other health issues have been connected to neglected hearing loss.
So when you miss Mom’s hearing exam, you may be unwittingly increasing her chances of developing these issues, including dementia. If Mom isn’t hearing as well these days, it will limit her ability to communicate and be very isolating.
This sort of social separation can happen very quickly after hearing loss begins. You may think that mom is experiencing mood problems because she is acting a little distant but in fact, that may not be the issue. Her hearing might be the real problem. And that hearing-induced solitude can itself ultimately lead to 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 addressed.
How to Ensure Hearing is a Priority
Fine, we’ve convinced you. You have no doubt that hearing is important and that untreated hearing loss can snowball into other problems. How can you be certain hearing care is a priority?
A couple of things that you can do are as follows:
- Remind your parents to wear their hearing aids every day. Daily hearing aid use can help make sure that these devices are working to their highest capacity.
- Help your parents to not forget to charge their hearing aids every night before they go to sleep (at least in situations where their devices are rechargeable). If they are living in a retirement home, ask the staff to pay attention to this every night.
- The same is true if you notice Mom starting to isolate herself, canceling phone conversations, and avoiding people. A trip to a hearing specialist can help illuminate the existence of any hearing difficulties.
- Keep an eye on your parents’ behavior. If you observe the television getting a little louder each week or that they are having trouble hearing you on the phone, speak with Mom about scheduling an appointment with a hearing specialist to see if you can identify a problem.
- Once every year, individuals over 55 should have a hearing test. Be certain that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such an exam.
Preventing Future Health Issues
You’re already trying to handle a lot, particularly if you’re a caregiver in that sandwich generation. And hearing problems can feel relatively trivial if they aren’t causing direct friction. But the research is pretty clear: treating hearing ailments now can prevent a wide range of serious issues over time.
So by making certain those hearing tests are scheduled and kept, you’re preventing costly medical problems later. Perhaps you will avoid depression early. You may even be able to reduce Mom’s risk of developing dementia in the near future.
That would be worth a trip to a hearing specialist for most people. And it’s definitely worth a quick heads up to Mom that she should be wearing her hearing aid more diligently. Once that hearing aid is in, you may be able to have a nice conversation, also. Maybe over lunch. Maybe over sandwiches.