Do you have a senior over the age of 70 in your care? There’s a lot to keep in mind. Taking a senior to a cardiologist or setting up an appointment with an oncologist seems like a priority, so you’re not likely to forget anything like that. But there are things that are often forgotten because they don’t seem like priorities such as the annual checkup with a hearing professional. And those things are a higher priority than you might think.
The Significance of Hearing to Senior 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 goes further than your ability to communicate or listen to music. Depression and loss of cognitive abilities are a couple of mental health issues that have been connected to untreated hearing loss.
So when you skip Mom’s hearing appointment, you might unwittingly be increasing her chances of developing these problems, including dementia. 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 movies, and doesn’t meet with her friends.
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 noticing in Dad or Mom. It may be their hearing. And cognitive decline can eventually be the result of that hearing loss (your brain is an organ that needs to be exercised or it begins to diminish). So noticing the symptoms of hearing loss, and ensuring those signs are managed, is crucial with regards to your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
By now you should be persuaded. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is significant and that neglected hearing loss can snowball into other issues. What steps should you take to make hearing a priority? There are several things you can do:
- Monitor when your parents are wearing their hearing aids, and see that it’s daily. In order to make sure the hearing aids are functioning at their maximum ability, they need to be used consistently.
- Anyone over the age of 55 or 60 should be having a hearing screening once per year or so. You should help a senior parent make and show up for these appointments.
- Don’t forget to watch how your parents are behaving. If you notice the television getting a bit louder every week, have a talk with Mom about schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist to see if you can pinpoint an issue.
- Every night before bed, remind your parents to recharge their hearing aids (of course that specifically applies to rechargeable hearing aids).
- The same is true if you observe a senior starting to segregate themselves, canceling on friends and staying inside more. Any hearing issues can be identified by us when you bring them in.
How to Protect Against Health Problems in The Future
Being a caregiver probably isn’t your only job so you most likely have a lot to deal with. And hearing problems can feel somewhat trivial if they aren’t causing immediate stress. But there’s rather clear evidence: a multitude of significant health concerns in the future can be avoided by treating hearing loss now.
So when you bring a loved one to their hearing exam, you could be avoiding much more costly health conditions down the road. You could stop depression before it begins. And Mom’s risk 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. It’s also really 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.