Do you have a senior older than 70 in your care? There’s a lot to keep in mind. Taking a relative to a cardiologist or setting up an appointment with an oncologist feels like a priority, so you’re not likely to forget those things. But there are things that are often overlooked because they don’t feel like priorities such as the annual checkup with a hearing professional. 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 communicate or hear and enjoy music, your hearing plays a vitally important role. Loss of cognitive abilities and depression are a couple of mental health issues that have been associated with neglected hearing loss.
So when you miss Mom’s hearing appointment, you could unwittingly be increasing her chances of developing these issues, including dementia. If Mom isn’t able to hear as well these days, she could start to separate herself; she stops going to see movies, doesn’t meet with her friends for coffee, and eats dinner alone in her room.
This kind of social separation can happen very quickly when hearing loss sets in. So mood may not be the reason for the distant behavior you’ve been noting in Dad or Mom. It might be their hearing. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself eventually result in mental decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it kind of organ). So regarding a senior parents mental and physical health, identifying and dealing with hearing loss is crucial.
Okay, we’ve persuaded you. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is significant and that untreated hearing loss can snowball into other issues. What measures should you take to make hearing a priority? Here are various things you can do:
- Each night before bed, make sure your parents put their hearing aids on the charger (at least in situations where their hearing aids are rechargeable).
- Anyone above the age of 55 or 60 needs to be undergoing a hearing screening every year or so. You should help a senior parent make and keep these appointments.
- The same is the situation if you notice a senior beginning to segregate themselves, canceling on friends and spending more time in the house. A consultation with us can help shed light on the existence of any hearing issues.
- Monitor when your parents are using their hearing aids, and see that it’s every day. In order to make sure the hearing aids are operating at their optimum ability, they need to be used routinely.
- Don’t forget to monitor how your parents are acting. If your parent is slowly turning the volume on their television up, you can determine the issue by scheduling a consultation with a hearing specialist.
Protecting Against Future Health Concerns
Being a caregiver probably isn’t your only job so you likely have a lot on your plate. And if hearing concerns aren’t causing immediate issues, they may seem somewhat trivial. But the evidence is rather clear: dealing with hearing ailments now can avoid a multitude 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 ailments in the future. Depression could be eliminated before it even begins. You may 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 specialist for most of us. It’s also really helpful to prompt Mom to wear her hearing aid more regularly. And when that hearing aid is in, you might just be able to have a pleasant conversation, as well.