They call it the “Sandwich Generation.” You go through your twenties and thirties raising your kids. Then, taking care of your senior parent’s healthcare requirements occupies your time when you’re in your forties and fifties. You’re sandwiched between your children and your parents, hence the name. And it’s increasingly common. This implies that Mom and Dad’s overall care will need to be considered by caretakers.
Making an appointment for Mom to go to a cardiologist or an oncologist feels like a priority, so you most likely won’t forget anything like that. But things like making sure Mom’s hearing aids are recharged or going to the annual hearing assessment can sometimes simply fall through the cracks. And those little things can make a major difference.
Hearing Health is Important For a Senior’s Total Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Furthermore, beyond your ability to communicate or listen to music, it’s crucial to have healthy hearing. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and numerous other health concerns have been connected to neglected hearing loss.
So you could be unknowingly increasing the risk that she will develop these problems by skipping her hearing appointment. It will be socially isolating if Mom can’t communicate because she can’t hear very well.
This kind of social separation can take place very quickly when hearing loss begins. You may think that mom is having mood problems because she is acting a little distant but in actuality, that might not be the issue. Her hearing could be the real issue. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself eventually bring on cognitive decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it kind of organ). When it comes to the health of your senior parents, it’s important that those signs are recognized and addressed.
Okay, we’ve convinced you. You acknowledge that hearing loss can snowball into more serious problems and hearing health is significant. How can you be certain ear care is a priority?
There are a couple of things you can do:
- Each day, remind your parents to use their hearing aids. Consistent hearing aid use can help establish that these devices are working to their maximum capacity.
- Keep an eye on your parents’ behavior. If you notice the television 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 identify a problem.
- 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.
- Help your parents to not forget to charge their hearing aids each night before they go to sleep (at least in cases where they have rechargeable batteries). If your parents live in a retirement home, ask their caretakers to do this.
- Anybody over 55 should be undergoing a hearing exam every year or so. Be certain that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such a screening.
Making Sure That Future Health Issues Are Prevented
You’re already dealing with a lot, specifically if you’re a primary care provider in that sandwich generation. And hearing issues can feel rather insignificant if they aren’t causing immediate friction. But the research is pretty clear: dealing with hearing ailments now can protect against a multitude of serious issues over time.
So when you bring Mom to her hearing appointment (or arrange to have her seen), you could be avoiding much more costly conditions later on. You could head off depression before it begins. You might even be able to reduce Mom’s chance of developing dementia in the near-term future.
For most of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing specialist. And it’s definitely worth a quick heads up to Mom that she should be wearing her hearing aid more diligently. You also might be able to have a nice conversation once that hearing aid is in. Maybe you’ll get some lunch and have a nice chat.