Do you have a senior older than 70 in your care? You have a lot to keep track of. You aren’t likely to forget to take a loved one to an oncologist or a heart specialist because those are clear priorities. What falls through the cracks, though, are the small things, such as the yearly appointment with a hearing specialist or making sure Mom’s hearing aids are charged. And those things are a higher priority than you might suspect.
The Importance of Hearing to Senior Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. What’s more, your hearing is critical in a way that goes further than your ability to listen to music or communicate. Depression and loss of cognitive abilities are a couple of mental health problems that have been linked to neglected hearing loss.
So you inadvertently increase Mom’s chance of dementia by skipping her hearing appointment. Mom might begin to separate herself if she isn’t hearing well these days; she stops going to movies, doesn’t meet with her friends for tea, and has dinner alone in her bedroom.
When hearing loss sets in, this type of social separation occurs very quickly. So if you find Mom or Dad starting to become a little distant, it might not be about their mood (yet). It may be their hearing. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself potentially result in cognitive decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it kind of organ). So noticing the signs of hearing loss, and making sure those signs are addressed, is crucial when it comes to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
By now you should be persuaded. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is important and that untreated hearing loss can lead to other problems. How can you make sure ear care is a priority? There are a few things you can do:
- Help your parents remember to recharge their hearing aids each night before they go to bed (at least in cases where their hearing aids are rechargeable).
- Anyone above the age of 55 or 60 needs to be undergoing a hearing screening once per year or so. Make sure that your senior parent has a scheduled consultation for such a screening.
- Keep track of when your parents are wearing their hearing aids, and see that it’s daily. In order to ensure the hearing aids are operating at their optimal capacity, they need to be used consistently.
- The same is the situation if you find a senior starting to segregate themselves, canceling on friends and spending more time in the house. Any hearing issues can be diagnosed by us when you bring them in.
- Don’t forget to watch how your parents are acting. If you observe the television getting a little louder every week, talk to Mom about making a consultation with a hearing professional to see if you can identify a problem.
How to Reduce Health Problems in The Future
Being a caregiver probably isn’t your only job so you likely have a lot on your plate. And if hearing issues aren’t causing immediate issues, they may seem a bit trivial. But the evidence is quite clear: a multitude of serious health concerns in the future can be avoided by treating hearing issues now.
So you may be avoiding costly health conditions later on in life by bringing your loved one to their hearing appointment. Depression could be eliminated before it even begins. You may even be able to decrease Mom’s chance of developing dementia in the near-term future.
That’s worth a trip to see a hearing specialist for the majority of us. It’s also very helpful to prompt Mom to use hear hearing aid more regularly. And that hearing aid will make your conversations with her much smoother and more pleasant.