Illini Hearing - Champaign and Mahomet, IL

Primary caretaker of a senior hugging him after making a hearing test appointment.

Are you the main caretaker for someone older than 70? You have a lot to remember. Taking a senior to a heart specialist or setting up an appointment with an oncologist seems like a priority, so you’re not likely to forget those things. But there are things that are frequently neglected because they don’t seem like priorities such as the yearly checkup with a hearing professional. And those things are a higher priority than you might suspect.

The Significance of Hearing to Senior Health

More and more published research has echoed one surprising truth: your hearing is vitally important. Beyond the ability to hear and enjoy music or communicate, your hearing plays a vitally significant role. Depression and loss of cognitive abilities are a couple of mental health concerns that have been connected to neglected hearing loss.

So when you miss Mom’s hearing appointment, you might unwittingly be increasing her chances of developing these problems, including dementia. Mom might begin to isolate herself if she isn’t hearing well these days; she has dinner by herself in her room, stops going to see movies, and doesn’t go out with her friends.

When hearing loss takes hold, this sort of social separation occurs very quickly. So if you find Mom or Dad starting to become a little distant, it might not have anything to do with their mood (yet). Hearing loss may be the issue. And that hearing-induced isolation can itself ultimately bring about mental decline (your brain is a very use-it-or-lose-it type of organ). So with regards to a senior parents physical and mental health, recognizing and treating hearing loss is crucial.

Prioritizing Hearing

By now you should be convinced. You now recognize that neglected hearing loss can lead to several health problems and that you should take hearing seriously. What measures should you take to make hearing a priority? Here are some things you can do:

  • Anyone above the age of 55 or 60 needs to be undergoing a hearing screening once per year or so. You should help a senior parent schedule and show up for these appointments.
  • Don’t forget to monitor how your parents are behaving. If your parent is slowly turning the volume on their television up, you can pinpoint the problem by making an appointment with a hearing professional.
  • Help your parents remember to recharge their hearing aids each night before they go to bed (at least in situations where their devices are rechargeable).
  • And if you find a senior spending more time at home, backing out on friends, and separating themselves, the same applies. Any hearing issues can be diagnosed by us when you bring them in.
  • Remind your parents to wear their hearing aids each day. Consistent use of hearing aids can help guarantee that these devices are performing to their optimal efficiency.

Avoiding Future Health Issues

As a caregiver, you already have a lot to do, especially if you’re part of that all-too-common sandwich generation. And if hearing concerns aren’t causing immediate concerns, they could seem a little trivial. But there’s pretty clear evidence: a wide range of significant health problems in the future can be prevented by treating hearing issues now.

So you could be preventing costly illnesses down the road by taking your loved one to their hearing exam. Depression could be prevented before it even starts. You could even be able to decrease Mom’s risk of getting dementia in the near-term future.

That’s worth a trip to see a hearing specialist for the majority of us. It’s also very helpful to prompt Mom to wear her hearing aid more regularly. And once that hearing aid is in, you may just be able to have a nice conversation, too.

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