Do you have a senior older than 70 in your care? There’s a lot to take into consideration. You’re not likely to forget to take a loved one to an oncologist or a heart specialist because those are clear priorities. But there are things that are commonly neglected because they don’t seem like priorities such as the annual checkup with a hearing specialist. 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 a vitally significant role. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to several physical and mental health problems, such as loss of cognitive ability and depression.
So you unwittingly raise Mom’s risk of dementia by missing her hearing appointment. If Mom isn’t able to hear as well now, she could start to isolate herself; she stops going to see movies, doesn’t meet with her friends for tea, and has dinner by herself in her bedroom.
This sort of social isolation can happen very quickly when hearing loss sets in. So if you find Mom or Dad beginning to become a little distant, it might not be about their mood (yet). It could be their hearing. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself eventually result in cognitive decline (your brain is an organ that needs to be exercised or it begins to diminish). So regarding a senior parents mental and physical health, noticing and managing hearing loss is essential.
Making Hearing a Priority
Okay, we’ve persuaded you. You now realize that neglected hearing loss can lead to several health problems and that you need to take hearing seriously. How can you make certain ear care is a priority? Here are some things you can do:
- Every night before bed, make sure your parents recharge their hearing aids (of course that specifically applies to rechargeable devices).
- The same is the situation if you observe a senior beginning to separate themselves, canceling on friends and staying inside more. Any hearing difficulties can be diagnosed by us when you bring them in.
- Anyone above the age of 55 or 60 should be having a hearing screening every year or so. Ensure that your senior parent has a scheduled consultation for such a screening.
- Advise your parents to use their hearing aids each day. In order to ensure the hearing aids are operating at their maximum ability, they need to be used routinely.
- Don’t forget to observe how your parents are behaving. If your parent is gradually turning the volume on their TV up, you can determine the problem by making a consultation with a hearing specialist.
Preventing Future Health Problems
Being a caregiver probably isn’t your only job so you likely have a lot on your plate. And if hearing issues aren’t causing immediate concerns, they could seem a bit trivial. But the evidence is pretty clear: managing hearing ailments now can prevent a wide range of serious problems in the long run.
So when you take a loved one to their hearing exam, you could be avoiding much more costly health conditions down the road. Depression could be prevented before it even begins. And Mom’s chance of dementia in the near future will also be reduced.
That’s worth a trip to see a hearing professional for the majority of us. And it’s certainly worth a quick reminder to Mom that she needs to be wearing her hearing aid more vigilantly. And once that hearing aid is in, you may just be able to have a nice conversation, as well.