February 4th, 2019
While vision and hearing loss – especially both together – can be viewed as one of the unkindest cuts of all in life, the elderly can attempt to mitigate the effects of aging on their hearing and sight by accepting the kindness of caregivers and, more importantly, being kinder to themselves. In other words, there are early warning signs to look for, preventive measures to take, and even things that can be done to improve one’s sight and hearing – whether you’re doing those things on your own, or with the assistance of a loved one.
And, should the worst-case scenario pan out and mom or dad, grandma or grandpa, suffer a partial or full loss of two of their most important senses, perhaps you should remember Mark Twain’s wise words: “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
Hearing loss – mostly untreated or undertreated – afflicts nearly two-thirds of adults over 70. Both vision and hearing impairment occur in one person in nine age 80 and older. And with recent studies revealing a cause-and-effect relationship between uncorrected deficits in vision and hearing and accelerated cognitive decline, it has become more important than ever to take preventive measures to protect and preserve proper eye and ear functioning.
*Have a regular comprehensive dilated eye exam
*Eat a balanced diet that includes dark, leafy greens and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids.
*Maintain a healthy weight
*Keep diabetes under control
*Wear sunglasses and a brimmed hat outdoors.
*Do not smoke
*Minimize exposure to loud, persistent noises
*Never listen to music through headphones or earbuds with the volume all the way up
*Wear earplugs or protective earmuffs during any activity with exposures to noise at or above 85 decibels
*Schedule a baseline hearing test to find out if you already have some hearing loss
Vision and hearing both change over time, so it’s important to not only practice the preventive measures just mentioned but also to notice the warning signs of vision and hearing deterioration. As a caregiver, if you notice any of these common warning signs (below) in your loved one, schedule an appointment on their behalf with a qualified vision or hearing professional (or better yet, schedule regular yearly appointments with an ophthalmologist and audiologist).
Common Signs That You May Need Glasses
Common Signs That You May Need a Hearing Aid