They call it the “Sandwich Generation.” You spend your twenties and thirties bringing up your kids. Then, caring for your senior parent’s healthcare needs fills your time when you’re in your forties and fifties. The label “sandwich generation” is appropriate because you’re sandwiched between caring for your kids and taking care of your parents. And it’s becoming increasingly common. This implies that Mom and Dad’s total care will need to be taken under consideration by caretakers.
Setting up an appointment for Mom to go to an oncologist or a cardiologist feels like a priority, so you most likely won’t forget anything like that. But things like making certain Mom’s hearing aids are recharged or going to the yearly hearing exam can sometimes simply fall through the cracks. And those little things can make a big difference.
Hearing Health is Important For a Senior’s Overall Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Moreover, outside of your ability to communicate or listen to music, it’s necessary to have healthy hearing. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and several other health problems have been linked to untreated hearing loss.
So when you skip Mom’s hearing appointment, you could be unintentionally increasing her risk of developing these problems, including dementia. If Mom isn’t able to hear as well these days, it will limit her ability to communicate and be very isolating.
This type of social separation can happen very quickly after hearing loss sets in. You might think that mom is having mood issues because she is acting a little distant but in fact, that might not be the issue. It may be her hearing. Your brain is an organ that can atrophy if it isn’t used regularly so this type of social isolation can lead to cognitive decline. When it comes to the health of your senior parents, it’s essential that those signs are recognized and addressed.
Prioritizing Hearing Health
Fine, we’ve convinced you. You’re taking it as a given that hearing is essential and that untreated hearing loss can snowball into other problems. How can you be certain hearing care is a priority?
There are a couple of things you can do:
- If you notice Mom avoiding phone conversations and staying away from social situations, the same is true. Any hearing problems she may be having will be identified by her hearing specialist.
- Each day, remind your parents to wear their hearing aids. Hearing aids work at their optimal capacity when they are worn consistently.
- Help your parents remember to charge their hearing aids each night before they go to sleep (at least in scenarios where they have rechargeable batteries). If your parents live in an assisted living situation, ask their caretakers to watch out for this.
- Pay attention to how your parents are behaving. If you notice the TV getting a bit louder each week or that they are having trouble hearing you on the phone, speak with Mom about scheduling an appointment with a hearing specialist to find out if you can pinpoint a problem.
- Anybody over 55 needs to have a hearing test annually. Be sure that this annual appointment is made for your parents and kept.
Making Certain That Future Health Issues Are Prevented
You’re already dealing with a lot, particularly if you’re a caregiver in that sandwich generation. And if hearing impairment isn’t causing direct problems, it can seem slightly insignificant. But the evidence is quite clear: treating hearing ailments now can protect against a wide range of serious issues over time.
So when you bring Mom to her hearing test (or arrange to have her seen), you could be preventing much more costly afflictions in the future. You could block depression before it begins. You may even be able to lower Mom’s chance of developing dementia in the near future.
That would be worth a trip to a hearing specialist for the majority of people. And it’s simple to give Mom a quick reminder that she needs to be conscientious about wearing her hearing aids. Once that hearing aid is in, you might be able to have a nice conversation, too. Perhaps over lunch. Perhaps over sandwiches.