They call it the “Sandwich Generation.” In your twenties and thirties, spend your time raising kids. And then when you’re in your forties and fifties you’re coordinating the healthcare of your senior parents. 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 increasingly common. This indicates that Mom and Dad’s general care will need to be considered by caretakers.
You probably won’t have any difficulty remembering to take Mom or Dad to the oncologist or cardiologist because those appointments feel like a priority. What falls through the cracks, though, are things including the yearly checkup with a hearing care professional or making certain Dad’s hearing aids are charged. And those little things can have a profound affect.
The Importance of Hearing to Senior Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Furthermore, beyond your ability to listen to music or communicate, it’s necessary to have healthy hearing. Untreated hearing loss has been connected to several physical and mental health problems, including depression and loss of cognitive abilities.
So when you miss Mom’s hearing appointment, you could be unwittingly increasing her chances of developing these problems, including dementia. If Mom isn’t hearing as well these days, it will limit her ability to communicate and be very isolating.
When hearing loss first sets in, this kind of social isolation can occur very quickly. So if you observe Mom beginning to get a bit distant, it might not even be connected with her mood (yet). It may be her hearing. Your brain is an organ that can atrophy if it’s not used regularly so this type of social solitude can result in cognitive decline. When it comes to the health of your senior parents, it’s crucial that those signs are recognized and addressed.
Alright, you’re convinced. You recognize that hearing loss can snowball into more severe problems and hearing health is significant. How can you make sure hearing care is a priority?
There are a few things you can do:
- Remind your parents to wear their hearing aids every day. Consistent hearing aid use can help ensure that these devices are operating to their maximum capacity.
- 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.
- If your parents have hearing aids that can be recharged help them make certain they charge them when they go to sleep each night. If your parents live in a retirement home, ask their caretakers to watch out for this.
- Once every year, individuals over the age of 55 should have a hearing screening. Make certain that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such a screening.
- Look closely at how your parents are behaving. If you notice the television getting a little louder each week or that they are having trouble hearing you on the phone, talk to Mom about making an appointment with a hearing specialist to find out if you can identify a problem.
Making Sure That Future Health Issues Are Prevented
As a caregiver, you already have plenty to deal with, notably if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And hearing troubles can feel relatively trivial if they aren’t causing immediate friction. But the research demonstrates that a wide variety of more serious future health concerns can be avoided by treating hearing loss now.
So by making certain those hearing tests are scheduled and kept, you’re preventing expensive medical problems in the future. Maybe you will stop depression early. You may even be able to lower Mom’s chance of developing dementia in the near future.
For the majority of us, that’s worth a visit to a hearing specialist. And it’s easy to give Mom a quick reminder that she should be conscientious about wearing her hearing aids. You also may be able to have a nice conversation once that hearing aid is in. Perhaps you’ll get some lunch and have a nice chat.