They call it the “Sandwich Generation.” You spend your twenties and thirties raising your kids. And then when you’re in your forties and fifties you’re arranging the healthcare of your senior parents. You’re sandwiched between your children and your parents, thus the name. And it’s increasingly common. For caretakers, this means spending a lot of time considering Mom or Dad’s total healthcare.
You most likely won’t have a problem remembering to take Mom or Dad to the oncologist or cardiologist because those appointments feel like a priority. What falls through the cracks, though, are things like the yearly exam with a hearing specialist or making sure Dad’s hearing aids are charged up. And those little things can have a profound impact.
Hearing Health is Crucial For a Senior’s General Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Moreover, outside of your ability to listen to music or communicate, it’s crucial to have healthy hearing. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and numerous other health concerns have been linked to neglected hearing loss.
So you could be unknowingly increasing the chances that she will develop these problems by missing her hearing appointment. If Mom isn’t able to hear as well these days, it will limit her ability to communicate and be very isolating.
When hearing loss first begins, this kind of social isolation can happen very rapidly. So if you observe Mom starting to get a little distant, it might not have anything to do with her mood (yet). It might be her hearing. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself ultimately 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.
How to Make Sure Hearing is a Priority
Alright, you’re convinced. You recognize that hearing loss can grow out of control into more severe problems and hearing health is important. How can you make sure hearing care is a priority?
There are a few things you can do:
- Once per year, people over the age of 55 should have a hearing test. Make certain that this yearly appointment is scheduled for your parents and kept.
- 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.
- If your parents have rechargeable hearing aids help them make certain they charge them when they go to bed every night. If your parents live in an assisted living situation, ask their caretakers to watch out for this.
- Help your parents to remember to wear their hearing aids every day. Hearing aids function at their optimal capacity when they are used consistently.
- Look closely at how your parents are behaving. 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.
Preventing Future Health Issues
You’re already dealing with a lot, specifically if you’re a caregiver in that sandwich generation. And hearing problems can feel somewhat unimportant if they aren’t causing direct friction. But the research shows that a wide range of more serious future health issues can be avoided by treating hearing loss now.
So by making certain those hearing exams are scheduled and kept, you’re preventing expensive medical problems later. You could block depression before it begins. You may even be able to reduce Mom’s risk of developing dementia in the near future.
That would be worth a visit to a hearing specialist for the majority of people. And it’s easy to give Mom a quick reminder that she should be diligent about wearing her hearing aids. You also might be capable of having a nice conversation once that hearing aid is in. Maybe over lunch. Perhaps over sandwiches.