It’s known as the “sandwich generation”. You go through your twenties and thirties raising your kids. Then, taking care of your senior parent’s healthcare requirements fills 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 more and more common. For caretakers, this implies investing a lot of time considering Mom or Dad’s all-around healthcare.
You most likely won’t have an issue remembering to take Mom or Dad to the oncologist or cardiologist because those appointments feel like a priority. What is sometimes missed, though, are things such as the yearly exam with a hearing care professional or making certain Dad’s hearing aids are charged. And those little things can have a powerful 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. What’s more, your hearing is crucial in a way that goes beyond your ability to listen to music or communicate. Neglected hearing loss has been linked to several mental and physical health concerns, such as depression and loss of cognitive abilities.
So you may be unknowingly increasing the risk that she will develop these issues by skipping her hearing appointment. It will be socially isolating if Mom can’t communicate because she can’t hear very well.
When hearing loss first begins, this kind of social isolation can take place very rapidly. You may think that mom is experiencing mood problems because she is acting a little bit distant but in fact, that may not be the problem. It might be her hearing. Your brain is an organ that can atrophy if it’s not used on a regular basis so this kind of social solitude can result in cognitive decline. So identifying the signs of hearing loss, and making certain those signs are treated, is crucial when it comes to your senior parents’ physical and mental health.
Okay, we’ve convinced you. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is relevant and that neglected hearing loss can snowball into other issues. How can you be certain hearing care is a priority?
There are a couple of things you can do:
- 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.
- Help your parents to remember to wear their hearing aids daily. Consistent hearing aid use can help ensure that these devices are operating to their maximum capacity.
- Help your parents remember to charge their hearing aids every night before they go to sleep (at least in cases where they have rechargeable batteries). If they are living in a retirement home, ask the staff to pay attention to this every night.
- Once every year, individuals over 55 should have a hearing exam. Be sure that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such an exam.
- 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.
Making Sure That Future Health Issues Are Prevented
You’re already trying to handle a lot, especially if you’re a primary care provider in that sandwich generation. And if hearing impairment isn’t causing immediate issues, it can seem slightly insignificant. But the research reveals that a whole range of more significant future health problems can be prevented by managing hearing loss now.
So by making certain those hearing appointments are scheduled and kept, you’re preventing costly medical conditions in the future. You could head off depression before it starts. You may even be able to decrease Mom’s chance of developing dementia in the near future.
That would be worth a visit to a hearing specialist for the majority of people. And it’s definitely worth a quick heads up to Mom that she needs to be wearing her hearing aid more vigilantly. You also may be able to have a nice conversation once that hearing aid is in. Perhaps over lunch. Perhaps over sandwiches.