It’s referred to as the “sandwich generation”. When you’re in your twenties and thirties, your time is spent raising kids. Then, looking after your senior parent’s healthcare requirements fills your time when you’re going through your forties and fifties. The name “sandwich generation” is appropriate because you’re sandwiched between taking care of your kids and taking care of your parents. And it’s becoming more and more prevalent. For caretakers, this means spending a lot of time thinking about Mom or Dad’s overall care.
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 certain Dad’s hearing aids are charged or going to the yearly hearing test can sometimes just slip through the cracks. And those little things can make a major difference.
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 several other health concerns have been linked to neglected hearing loss.
So you may be inadvertently increasing the risk that she will develop these problems by missing her hearing exam. 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 having mood issues because she is acting a little bit distant but in fact, that might not be the problem. It could be her hearing. Your brain is an organ that can atrophy if it isn’t used regularly so this type of social isolation can lead to cognitive decline. When it comes to the health of your senior parents, it’s crucial that those signs are identified and treated.
Prioritizing Hearing Health
Okay, we’ve convinced you. You acknowledge that hearing loss can snowball into more serious issues and hearing health is significant. How can you make sure hearing care is a priority?
A few things that you can do are as follows:
- The same is true if you notice Mom starting to isolate herself, canceling phone conversations, and avoiding people. Any hearing problems she may be having will be identified by her hearing specialist.
- Anyone over the age of 55 or 60 should be undergoing a hearing test annually. Make sure that this annual appointment is scheduled for your parents and kept.
- Pay attention to how your parents are behaving. If you observe the TV getting a little louder every week or that they have trouble hearing you on the phone, speak with Mom about scheduling an appointment with a hearing specialist to see if you can pinpoint a problem.
- Help your parents to not forget to charge their hearing aids each night before they go to bed (at least in situations where they have rechargeable batteries). If they are living in a retirement home, ask the staff to check this every night.
- Help your parents to remember to wear their hearing aids every day. Hearing aids work at their greatest capacity when they are used consistently.
Avoiding Future Health Problems
As a caregiver, you already have plenty to deal with, especially if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And if hearing loss isn’t causing direct issues, it can seem slightly insignificant. But the research reveals that a whole range of more severe future health problems can be prevented by treating hearing loss now.
So when you take Mom to her hearing exam (or arrange to have her seen), you could be avoiding much more costly ailments in the future. Perhaps you will stop depression early. You might even be able to reduce Mom’s chance of developing dementia in the near future.
That would be worth a trip to a hearing specialist for most people. And it’s simple to give Mom a quick reminder that she should be conscientious about wearing her hearing aids. You also might be able to have a nice conversation once that hearing aid is in. Maybe over lunch. Maybe over sandwiches.