Are you the main caretaker for someone over the age of 70? You have a lot to keep track of. Taking a senior to a cardiologist or setting up an appointment with an oncologist feels like a priority, so you aren’t likely to forget anything like that. But there are things that are regularly neglected because they don’t seem like priorities such as the yearly checkup with a hearing specialist. And those things are a bigger priority than you might think.
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 an extremely important role. Loss of cognitive abilities and depression are a couple of mental health issues that have been associated with neglected hearing loss.
So you unintentionally raise Mom’s chance of dementia by missing her hearing appointment. Mom could begin to isolate herself if she isn’t hearing well these days; she stops going to see movies, doesn’t meet with her friends for coffee, and eats dinner by herself in her room.
When hearing loss takes hold, this kind of social isolation happens very quickly. So mood may not be the reason for the distant behavior you’ve been observing in Dad or Mom. It might be their hearing. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself potentially lead to mental decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it type of organ). So recognizing the signs of hearing loss, and making certain those symptoms are treated, is essential with regards to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
By now you should be convinced. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is important and that untreated hearing loss can lead to other problems. What steps should you take to make hearing a priority? Here are some things you can do:
- Once per year a hearing screening should be scheduled for anybody over the age of 55. Be certain that your senior parent has a scheduled consultation for such a screening.
- Monitor your parents’ habits. If your parent is gradually turning the volume on their TV up, you can pinpoint the problem by scheduling a consultation with a hearing professional.
- Keep track of when your parents are wearing their hearing aids, and see that it’s daily. So that you can ensure the hearing aids are functioning at their maximum ability, they need to be used routinely.
- Help your parents remember to charge their hearing aids each night before they go to sleep (at least in situations where their hearing aids are rechargeable).
- The same is the situation if you find 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.
How to Prevent Health Problems in The Future
Being a caregiver probably isn’t your only job so you more than likely have a lot on your plate. And if hearing problems aren’t causing immediate concerns, they may seem a bit trivial. But there’s pretty clear evidence: a wide range of significant health problems in the future can be avoided by treating hearing loss now.
So when you bring a loved one to their hearing appointment, you could be avoiding much more costly illnesses in the future. You could stop depression before it starts. You could even be able to decrease Mom’s risk of developing dementia in the near-term future.
For the majority of us, that’s worth a trip to a hearing professional. It’s also very helpful to prompt Mom to use hear hearing aid more consistently. And when that hearing aid is in, you might just be able to have a pleasant conversation, as well.