They call it the “Sandwich Generation.” When you’re in your twenties and thirties, spend your time raising kids. And then when you’re in your forties and fifties you’re organizing the care of your senior parents. The name “sandwich generation” is apt because you’re sandwiched between taking care of your kids and taking care of your parents. And it’s becoming increasingly prevalent. This means that Mom and Dad’s total healthcare will need to be taken under consideration by caretakers.
You likely won’t have an issue remembering to take Mom or Dad to the cardiologist or oncologist because those appointments feel like a priority. But things like making sure Mom’s hearing aids are recharged or making the yearly hearing test can sometimes simply slip through the cracks. And those little things can make a huge difference.
The Importance of Hearing For a Senior’s Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Additionally, your hearing is crucial in a way that transcends your ability to listen to music or communicate. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and numerous other health concerns have been connected to untreated hearing loss.
So when you miss Mom’s hearing appointment, you could be unknowingly increasing her chances of developing these issues, including dementia. 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 sets in, this kind of social isolation can take place very quickly. You may think that mom is having mood problems because she is acting a bit distant but in reality, that might not be the problem. Her hearing could be the real difficulty. Your brain is an organ that can atrophy if it’s not used regularly so this kind of social solitude can lead to cognitive decline. So recognizing the signs of hearing loss, and making sure those signs are treated, is essential when it comes to your senior parents’ physical and mental health.
Fine, we’ve convinced you. You have no doubt that hearing is essential and that neglected hearing loss can snowball into other concerns. What can you do to prioritize hearing care?
There are a couple of things you can do:
- 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.
- Help your parents to not forget to charge their hearing aids every night before they go to bed (at least in scenarios where their devices are rechargeable). If they are living in a retirement home, ask the staff to check this every night.
- Once per year, people over the age of 55 should have a hearing exam. Make certain that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such a screening.
- Be mindful of your parents’ behavior. If you notice the television getting a little louder every week or that they have difficulty hearing you on the phone, speak with Mom about scheduling an appointment with a hearing specialist to find out if you can pinpoint a problem.
- Every day, remind your parents to use their hearing aids. Hearing aids function at their optimal capacity when they are used consistently.
Avoiding Future Health Problems
You’re already dealing with a lot, especially if you’re a caregiver in that sandwich generation. And hearing problems can feel somewhat trivial if they aren’t causing immediate friction. But the research reveals that a wide variety of more serious future health concerns can be avoided by treating hearing loss now.
So by making certain those hearing exams are scheduled and kept, you’re preventing expensive medical conditions in the future. Maybe you will stop depression early. It’s even possible that dementia can be avoided or at least slowed down.
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 needs to be diligent about wearing her hearing aids. Once that hearing aid is in, you might be able to have a nice conversation, too. Perhaps over lunch. Perhaps over sandwiches.