It’s known as the “sandwich generation”. In your twenties and thirties, your time is spent raising kids. And then you spend your 40s and 50s organizing the care of your senior parents. The name “sandwich generation” is apt because you’re sandwiched between taking care of your kids and caring for your parents. And it’s becoming a lot more common. For caretakers, this implies spending a lot of time thinking about Mom or Dad’s total care.
You probably won’t have an issue remembering to take Mom or Dad to the cardiologist or oncologist because those appointments feel like a priority. But things like making sure Mom’s hearing aids are recharged or making the yearly hearing exam can sometimes just slip through the cracks. And those little things can have a powerful affect.
Hearing Health is Essential For a Senior’s General Health
More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Additionally, your hearing is essential in a way that goes beyond your ability to listen to music or communicate. Neglected hearing loss has been linked to several physical and mental health concerns, like depression and loss of cognitive abilities.
So you could be unintentionally increasing the chances that she will develop these issues by missing her hearing exam. If Mom isn’t able to hear as well these days, it will limit her ability to communicate and be very isolating.
When hearing loss first starts, this type of social isolation can happen very rapidly. You might think that mom is experiencing mood problems because she is acting a little distant but in fact, that might not be the issue. It may be her hearing. And that hearing-induced separation can itself ultimately bring on cognitive decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it type of organ). When it comes to the health of your senior parents, it’s crucial that those signs are identified and treated.
Prioritizing Hearing Health
Okay, we’ve convinced you. You recognize that hearing loss can grow out of control into more severe problems and hearing health is significant. How can you be certain ear care is a priority?
A couple of things that you can do are as follows:
- Every day, remind your parents to wear their hearing aids. Consistent hearing aid use can help establish that these devices are operating to their highest capacity.
- Once every year, individuals over 55 should have a hearing screening. Be certain that this annual appointment is scheduled for your parents and kept.
- Keep an eye on your parents’ behavior. If your parent is having trouble hearing you when you talk to them or seems to be turning the TV up louder and louder, encourage them to make an appointment for a hearing test.
- The same is true if you notice Mom starting to isolate herself, canceling phone conversations, and avoiding people. Any hearing problems she may be having will be identified by her hearing specialist.
- If your parents have rechargeable hearing aids help them make certain they charge them when they go to sleep every night. If your parents live in an assisted living situation, ask their caretakers to watch out for this.
Preventing Future Health Problems
You’re already dealing with a lot, specifically if you’re a caregiver in that sandwich generation. And if hearing impairment isn’t causing immediate problems, it can seem slightly trivial. But the research is pretty clear: treating hearing ailments now can prevent a multitude of serious problems in the long run.
So when you take Mom to her hearing exam (or arrange to have her seen), you could be preventing much more costly ailments in the future. Maybe you will avoid depression early. You may even be able to decrease Mom’s chance of developing dementia in the near-term future.
For the majority of us, that’s worth a visit to a hearing specialist. And it’s easy to give Mom a quick reminder that she needs to be conscientious about wearing her hearing aids. You also might be able to have a nice conversation once that hearing aid is in. Perhaps over lunch. Maybe over sandwiches.