They call it the “Sandwich Generation.” When you’re in your twenties and thirties, spend your time raising kids. Then, looking after your senior parent’s healthcare needs 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. For caretakers, this means investing a lot of time thinking about Mom or Dad’s total care.
You most likely won’t have an issue remembering to take Mom or Dad to the oncologist or cardiologist because those appointments feel like a priority. But things like making certain Dad’s hearing aids are charged or going to the yearly hearing exam can sometimes just slip through the cracks. And those little things can make a big 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. Moreover, outside of your ability to communicate or listen to music, it’s crucial to have healthy hearing. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and numerous other health issues have been connected to neglected hearing loss.
So when you miss Mom’s hearing exam, you may be unknowingly increasing her risk of developing these issues, including dementia. It will be socially isolating if Mom can’t communicate because she can’t hear very well.
When hearing loss first starts, this type of social isolation can occur very quickly. So if you observe Mom beginning to get a bit distant, it may not have anything to do with her mood (yet). It could be her hearing. Your brain is an organ that can atrophy if it isn’t used on a regular basis so this kind of social isolation can result in cognitive decline. When it comes to the health of your senior parents, it’s crucial that those signs are recognized and treated.
How to Ensure Hearing is a Priority
Alright, you’re convinced. You have no doubt that hearing is relevant and that neglected hearing loss can snowball into other problems. What can you do to prioritize hearing care?
There are a couple of things you can do:
- Every day, remind your parents to wear their hearing aids. Hearing aids function at their greatest capacity when they are used regularly.
- Anyone over 55 needs to have a hearing test yearly. Be certain that this yearly appointment is made for your parents and kept.
- Be mindful of your parents’ behavior. If your parent is having trouble hearing you when you talk to them or seems to be turning the TV up louder and louder, encourage them to make an appointment for a hearing test.
- Help your parents to not forget to charge their hearing aids every night before they go to sleep (at least in scenarios where their devices are rechargeable). If they are living in a retirement home, ask the staff to pay attention to this every night.
- 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.
Making Certain That Future Health Issues Are Prevented
You’re already trying to handle a lot, particularly if you’re a caregiver in that sandwich generation. And hearing troubles can feel relatively insignificant if they aren’t causing direct friction. But the evidence is pretty clear: treating hearing ailments now can prevent a multitude of serious problems in the long run.
So by making certain those hearing tests are scheduled and kept, you’re avoiding expensive medical conditions in the future. You could head off depression before it begins. It’s even feasible that dementia can be avoided or at least slowed.
That would be worth a trip to a hearing specialist for the majority of people. And it’s simple to give Mom a quick reminder that she should be diligent about wearing her hearing aids. Once that hearing aid is in, you might be able to have a nice conversation, too. Maybe over lunch. Perhaps over sandwiches.