Do you have a senior over the age of 70 in your care? You have a lot to keep track of. You aren’t likely to forget to take a loved one to an oncologist or a heart specialist because those are obvious priorities. What falls through the cracks, though, are the small things, including the yearly examination with a hearing professional or making sure Mom’s hearing aids are charged up. And those small things can make a big difference.
The Significance 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 an extremely important role. Neglected hearing loss has been linked to a number of physical and mental health problems, like loss of cognitive ability and depression.
So you inadvertently increase Mom’s chance of dementia by skipping her hearing appointment. Mom could begin to isolate herself if she isn’t hearing well these days; she eats dinner by herself in her room, stops going to see movies, and doesn’t go out with her friends.
This kind of social isolation can happen very quickly when hearing loss takes hold. So mood might not be the reason for the distant behavior you’ve been noting in Dad or Mom. Hearing loss might be the problem. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself ultimately result in mental decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it kind of organ). So with regards to a senior parents mental and physical health, noticing and dealing with hearing loss is essential.
How to Make Sure Hearing Will be a Priority
Alright, we’ve convinced you. You now realize that neglected hearing loss can result in several health problems and that you should take hearing seriously. How can you make sure ear care is a priority? Here are a few things you can do:
- Advise your parents to use their hearing aids every day. Consistent use of hearing aids can help ensure that these devices are operating to their optimum efficiency.
- Don’t forget to watch how your parents are acting. If your parent is gradually turning the volume on their TV up, you can identify the problem by scheduling a consultation with a hearing specialist.
- The same is true if you observe a senior starting to isolate themselves, canceling on friends and staying inside more. Any hearing difficulties can be diagnosed by us when you bring them in.
- Help your parents remember to charge their hearing aids each night before they go to bed (at least in cases where their devices are rechargeable).
- Once a year a hearing screening should be scheduled for everybody over the age of 55. You should help a senior parent schedule and keep these appointments.
Protecting Against Future Health Issues
Being a caregiver probably isn’t your only job so you more than likely have a lot on your plate. And hearing issues can feel somewhat trivial if they aren’t causing immediate worries. But the evidence is pretty clear: dealing with hearing ailments now can prevent a wide range of serious issues down the road.
So you could be preventing costly illnesses later on in life by taking your loved one to their hearing appointment. Depression could be avoided before it even begins. You could even be able to reduce Mom’s risk of getting dementia in the near-term future.
That’s worth a trip to see a hearing professional for most of us. It’s also very helpful to prompt Mom to wear her hearing aid more frequently. And that hearing aid will make your conversations with her much smoother and more enjoyable.