Do you have a senior older than 70 in your care? You have a lot to remember. You aren’t likely to forget to bring a loved one to an oncologist or a cardiologist because those are clear priorities. What falls through the cracks, though, are the little things, like the annual exam with a hearing professional or making sure Mom’s hearing aids are charged up. And those little things can make a big difference.
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 essential in a way that goes beyond your ability to communicate or listen to music. Neglected hearing loss has been linked to several mental and physical health concerns, such as loss of cognitive ability and depression.
So when you skip Mom’s hearing appointment, you could unwittingly be increasing her chances of developing these problems, including dementia. If Mom isn’t able to hear as well these days, she could start to isolate herself; she has dinner alone in her room, stops going to movies, and doesn’t go out with her friends.
When hearing loss takes hold, this kind of social isolation occurs very quickly. So mood might not be the reason for the distant behavior you’ve been noting in Dad or Mom. Hearing loss might be the issue. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself ultimately bring about cognitive decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it type of organ). So when it comes to a senior parents physical and mental health, noticing and treating hearing loss is crucial.
Making Hearing a Priority
Alright, we’ve persuaded you. You now realize that untreated hearing loss can result in several health problems and that you should take hearing seriously. What measures should you take to make hearing a priority? There are a couple of things you can do:
- Every night before bed, remind your parents to put their hearing aids on the charger (of course that specifically applies to rechargeable devices).
- Advise your parents to use their hearing aids each day. Routine use of hearing aids can help guarantee that these devices are performing to their optimal capacity.
- And if you find a senior spending more time at home, backing out on friends, and distancing themselves, the same is true. Any hearing issues can be diagnosed by us when you bring them in.
- Once per year a hearing screening needs to be scheduled for anybody above the age of 55. Ensure that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such an examination.
- Be mindful of your parents’ habits. If you observe the television getting somewhat louder every week, have a talk with Mom about schedule a consultation with a hearing professional to see if you can identify a problem.
Protecting Against Future Health Concerns
Being a caregiver probably isn’t your only job so you more than likely have a lot on your plate. And if hearing concerns aren’t causing immediate issues, they may seem a bit trivial. But there’s very clear evidence: treating hearing conditions now can avoid a multitude of serious issues down the road.
So when you bring a loved one to their hearing exam, you could be preventing much more costly ailments down the road. Depression could be eliminated before it even starts. You could even be able to reduce Mom’s risk 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 reminder to Mom that she should be using her hearing aid more diligently. And once that hearing aid is in, you may just be able to have a pleasant conversation, as well.