They call it the “Sandwich Generation.” You spend your twenties and thirties bringing up your kids. And then you spend your 40s and 50s setting up the care of your senior parents. The term “sandwich generation” is appropriate because you’re sandwiched between caring for your kids and taking care of your parents. And it’s more and more common. This indicates that Mom and Dad’s overall care will need to be taken under consideration by caretakers.
You most likely won’t have an issue remembering to take Mom or Dad to the cardiologist or oncologist because those appointments feel like a priority. What is sometimes missed, though, are things including the yearly appointment with a hearing care professional or making sure Mom’s hearing aids are charged. And those little things can have a powerful impact.
The Importance of Hearing For a Senior’s 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 transcends your ability to communicate or listen to music. Loss of cognitive ability, depression, and several other health issues have been linked to untreated hearing loss.
So when you miss Mom’s hearing appointment, you could be unwittingly 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 sort of social isolation can take place very quickly when hearing loss sets in. So if you observe Mom starting to get a bit distant, it may not have anything to do with her mood (yet). Her hearing might be the real problem. And that hearing-induced solitude can itself eventually bring on cognitive decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it type of organ). So noticing the signs of hearing loss, and making sure those signs are addressed, is crucial when dealing with your senior parents’ mental and physical health.
How to Make Certain Hearing is a Priority
Okay, we’ve convinced you. You acknowledge that hearing loss can grow out of control into more severe problems and hearing health is essential. How can you make sure hearing care is a priority?
There are a few things you can do:
- Look closely at how your parents are behaving. If you observe the television getting a bit louder each week or that they are having trouble hearing you on the phone, speak with Mom about making an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if you can identify a problem.
- 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.
- Remind your parents to wear their hearing aids every day. Hearing aids work at their greatest capacity when they are used consistently.
- Once per year, individuals over the age of 55 should have a hearing screening. Make sure that your senior parent has a scheduled appointment for such a test.
- If your parents have rechargeable hearing aids help them make certain they keep them charged when they go to bed each night. If they are living in a retirement home, ask the staff to pay attention to this each night.
Making Sure That Future Health Concerns Are Prevented
You’re already dealing with a lot, particularly if you’re a caregiver in that sandwich generation. And if hearing loss isn’t causing immediate problems, it can seem somewhat unimportant. But the research is fairly clear: dealing with hearing ailments now can protect against a multitude of serious problems over time.
So by making certain those hearing exams are scheduled and kept, you’re avoiding expensive medical problems in the future. You could head off depression before it starts. It’s even possible that dementia can be prevented or at least slowed.
For most of us, that’s worth a visit to a hearing specialist. And it’s definitely worth a quick heads up to Mom that she should be wearing her hearing aid more vigilantly. Once that hearing aid is in, you may be able to have a nice conversation, also. Maybe over lunch. Perhaps over sandwiches.