It’s referred to as the “sandwich generation”. You go through your twenties and thirties raising your kids. Then, caring for your senior parent’s healthcare requirements occupies your time when you’re going through your forties and fifties. 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 more and more common. This indicates that Mom and Dad’s overall care will need to be taken under consideration by caretakers.
You likely won’t have a problem remembering to take Mom or Dad to the cardiologist or oncologist because those appointments feel like a priority. What is sometimes missed, though, are things like the yearly appointment with a hearing care professional or making certain Dad’s hearing aids are charged. And those little things can have a powerful affect.
The Value of Hearing For a Senior’s 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 transcends your ability to listen to music or communicate. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and several other health problems have been linked to untreated hearing loss.
So you may be unknowingly increasing the chances that she will develop these issues by missing her hearing appointment. It will be socially isolating if Mom can’t communicate because she can’t hear very well.
When hearing loss first starts, this sort of social isolation can take place very quickly. So if you observe Mom beginning to get a little distant, it may not even be connected with her mood (yet). Her hearing might be the real problem. Your brain is an organ that can atrophy if it isn’t used on a regular basis so this type of social isolation can result in cognitive decline. When it comes to the health of your senior parents, it’s important that those signs are recognized and treated.
Fine, we’ve convinced you. You recognize that hearing loss can grow out of control into more severe issues and hearing health is essential. What can you do to prioritize hearing care?
There are a couple of things you can do:
- If your parents have rechargeable hearing aids help them make sure they keep them charged when they go to bed each night. If your parents live in an assisted living situation, ask their caretakers to watch out for this.
- 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.
- Anyone over the age of 55 or 60 should be undergoing a hearing test annually. Make certain that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such an exam.
- Keep an eye on your parents’ behavior. If you observe the TV getting a bit louder each week or that they have difficulty hearing you on the phone, speak with Mom about scheduling an appointment with a hearing specialist to see if you can pinpoint a problem.
- Each day, remind your parents to wear their hearing aids. Consistent hearing aid use can help ensure that these devices are working to their maximum capacity.
Preventing Future Health Issues
You’re already trying to handle a lot, especially if you’re a primary care provider in that sandwich generation. And hearing troubles can feel rather insignificant if they aren’t causing direct friction. But the research demonstrates that a whole variety of more serious future health problems can be prevented by managing hearing loss now.
So when you bring Mom to her hearing test (or arrange to have her seen), you could be preventing much more costly afflictions in the future. Maybe you will avoid depression early. You might 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 undoubtedly worth a quick reminder to Mom that she should be wearing her hearing aid more vigilantly. Once that hearing aid is in, you might be able to have a nice conversation, too. Perhaps over lunch. Maybe over sandwiches.