Aging Well in the Gorge September 9th 2020

Have you written something and later you could not find it on your computer? Did I forget to save it or accidentally delete it, filed it under the wrong name or in the wrong folder? I don’t know how, but that’s what happened when writing this week’s column. And what is so frustrating is that it was absolutely brilliant: witty, perceptive and concise

– at least that’s what I remember!

Oh, well. I guess I’ll just have to get straight to the problem many of us older adults who have hearing loss are facing (no pun intended) these days: how face masks make it difficult to hear.  

We know we should wear face masks for the safety of others and ourselves, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s found face masks make it even more difficult to understand what someone is saying. I can’t see their lips move or their facial expressions; and the masks muffles what is being said.

That’s not a good thing. Finding it difficult to understand what someone is saying can make you feel more isolated even when you are with others. And if you can’t understand your health care provider, it can compromise the quality of your health care. (Another advantage of virtual visits is you don’t need to wear a face mask!)  

So when wearing a face mask, it is even more important to remember how to talk with someone who has hearing loss. Here’s the short list.

1.) Face the hearing-impaired person directly and avoid speaking from another room. 2.) Try to reduce background noises. 3.) Start the conversation by getting the person’s attention to give that person a chance to focus. 4.) Speak clearly, slowly, distinctly, but naturally, without shouting or exaggerating mouth movements. 5.) If what you’re saying is not understood, rephrase the information and add supporting details. 6.) Remember which ear hears the best so you know where to position yourself.

There are also different types of technology that can help, each with their own pros and cons: handheld amplification devices called pocket talkers, speech-detection apps such as Google Live Transcribe, or a sound-amplifying app to turn up the volume of the speech around you.

Since the need to wear face masks will probably be here for some time, you can learn more about communicating while wearing a mask at “When Face Masks Interfere with Your Hearing” by Stacey Colino on the AARP website.

It’s human nature that when a situation seems to be improving, we drop our guard. But like all good boxers, tired and in the last rounds, we need to keep our guard up: wearing face masks, maintaining social distancing, and scrubbing our hands for twenty seconds. Catching COVID-19 is not my greatest fear, but unknowingly infecting someone else is.

The Center has scheduled its third and probably last “Parking Lot Concert” on Thursday, September 17th from 6:30 to 8:00 – when the evenings are still nice and comfortable – hopefully. Hardshell Harmony will be performing: an entertaining bluegrass band you may remember if you attended past Senior Picnics at the Wasco County Fair.

The country western singer/songwriter known as “Gentleman Jim” was Jim Reeves. I received correct answers from Rhonda Spies, Lana Tepfer, Jess Birge, Dave Lutgens, Diana Weston, Barbara Cadwell, and Dick LaFever this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And last week I again missed someone and this time it was Jim Donnelly.

Growing up I seldom listened to country music unless the country song made it on the pop charts as this song did. William Dale Fries Jr., known as C.W. McCall, is best remembered for his 1976 #1 hit which came at the peak of the CB fad. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the song that used CB chatter between “Rubber Duck”, “Pig Pen”, and “Sodbuster” to tell the story of rebellious truckers driving their rigs cross-country? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with vintage Cobra 29LTD chrome CB radio.

Well, it’s been another week, seeing if my own skin still fits. Until we meet again, as the Old Farmer from Fossil once said, “Most of the stuff people worry about ain’t never gonna happen anyway”.

“And keep a sense of humor. It doesn’t mean you have to tell jokes. If you can’t think of anything else, when you’re my age, take off your clothes and walk in front of a mirror. I guarantee you’ll get a laugh.”  Art Linkletter

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