Do you have a senior over the age of 70 in your care? You have a lot to remember. You’re not likely to forget to bring a family member to an oncologist or a heart specialist because those are obvious priorities. But there are things that are commonly overlooked because they don’t seem like priorities such as the annual checkup with a hearing professional. 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. Beyond the ability to hear and enjoy music or communicate, your hearing plays an extremely important role. Loss of cognitive abilities and depression are a couple of mental health problems that have been connected to neglected hearing loss.
So when you miss Mom’s hearing appointment, you could unwittingly be increasing her chances of developing these issues, including dementia. Mom could start to separate herself if she isn’t hearing well these days; she has dinner by herself in her room, stops going to see movies, and doesn’t go out with her friends.
When hearing loss sets in, this sort 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 problem. And cognitive decline can ultimately be the outcome of that hearing loss (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, recognizing and managing hearing loss is essential.
How to Make Sure Hearing Will be a Priority
Okay, we’ve convinced you. You now accept that neglected hearing loss can result in several health issues and that you should take hearing seriously. How can you make sure ear care is a priority? Here are a few things you can do:
- And if you find a senior spending more time at home, canceling out on friends, and separating themselves, the same applies. Any hearing concerns can be identified by us when you bring them in.
- Anyone over the age of 55 or 60 should be undergoing a hearing screening every year or so. Be sure that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such an examination.
- Don’t forget to observe how your parents are behaving. If you observe the television getting a bit louder every week, talk to Mom about making an appointment with a hearing specialist to see if you can identify an issue.
- Help your parents remember to recharge their hearing aids every night before they go to sleep (at least in cases where their devices are rechargeable).
- Remind your parents to use their hearing aids each day. Consistent use of hearing aids can help ensure that these devices are functioning to their optimal capacity.
How to Protect Against Health Problems in The Future
Being a caregiver probably isn’t your only job so you most likely have a lot to deal with. And hearing issues can feel a bit trivial if they aren’t causing immediate friction. But the evidence is quite clear: dealing with hearing conditions now can avoid a wide range of serious problems in the long run.
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 lower Mom’s risk of getting dementia in the near-term future.
That’s worth a trip to see a hearing professional for most of us. It’s also really helpful to remind Mom to wear her hearing aid more frequently. And that hearing aid will make your conversations with her much smoother and more enjoyable.