Baby Boomers and Hearing Loss

I’m working on a book called The Muffled Echo:  The Silent Health Issue Facing Baby Boomers: Hearing Loss. I became motivated to write this book because I am with a man who is deaf and we are Baby Boomers. I post short selection below and I’d love to hear your comments. I hope you enjoy it.

Recently your family has been telling you that you say “what” all the time. Really? You hadn’t noticed. Last week you went to a cocktail party or some other event where a large group of people is standing, sipping, and chatting away, only – you got maybe, MAYBE, a quarter of what was said. So instead, you smiled a lot, nodded a lot, and hoped you didn’t smile if someone was talking about their dog that just died. Ah, yes, and then there’s the television at home. Do you find that when someone else comes in to watch it, they complain about how loud it is? Do you then try to turn it down, only to become frustrated because you can’t get everything that’s going on? And here’s another one, do you have trouble hearing when you don’t have your glasses on? (This is really for near-sighted folks). People laugh at me when I say, “Hold on, let me put my glasses on so I can hear you.” My theory on this one is that I’m doing a lot of lip reading without even realizing it.

Signals of Possible Hearing Loss

Clearly our Boomer ears are not what they were back at Woodstock or at a Doobie Brothers concert. That doesn’t mean we need suffer in silence, so to speak. The Hearing Loss Association of America presents the following as signs of possible hearing loss.  You:

  • Ask people to repeat things – a lot
  • Can’t hear what people in another room are saying to you anymore
  • Get that someone is talking, but not what they are saying
  • Feel like everyone (except you, of course) is mumbling
  • Really have trouble hearing when there is other noise around
  • Crank up the volume on your television
  • Can hear some people fine, but have trouble with softer voices
  • Find you’re always turning to one side to hear things
  • Need to see the speaker’s face to really get what’s being said
  • Move closer to things or people you want to hear
  • Become frazzled and stressed when you’re in a situation where people are gathered
  • Become exhausted after spending time listening – it’s hard work!
  • Misunderstand things and sometimes respond inappropriately

All of these are things that YOU notice about your hearing. How about what other people notice? Do people tell you …

  • You don’t turn around when there’s a loud noise or when you’re called
  • You turn the television on too loud
  • You talk “too” loudly
  • Your speech is changing

Spend time pondering all these signals and clues and make an appointment with your doctor and ask him/her to arrange for you to get a hearing test. Actually, everyone should start getting screened for hearing loss once they reach the age of 50.

Miss Manners, Where Are You?

Image courtesy

I’ve been noodling around with this piece for over a week, haggling with myself over what angle to take, when Providence (not R.I.) pummeled me with the story of the kids right here in Greece, NY who relentlessly, savagely, and ruthlessly bullied their school bus monitor, 68 year old Karen Klein. Captured on video by one of their gang, these kids were 7th and 8th graders – old enough to know better, old enough to have been taught some manner by their parents, and old enough to bear significant consequences for their actions. Parents? I heard a report, though I cannot find the source, that one  parent thought the whole thing was blown out of proportion.  Are you kidding me??? This morning on Today, Matt Lauer said he wished he could say the names of these bullies right there on national television, which, of course, is not (unfortunately) possible.

In my early-week noodles, I wrote this:  “Okay, I admit it. I’m of the older (and wiser) generation dubbed Baby Boomer. I am proud to wear the label thusly. I am especially proud because I grew up in an age where manners and gracious behavior were taught, practiced and observed with MUCH more frequency than they seem to be today.”

What I really wanted to say when I wrote that was that kids today have neither the manners nor respect that any infractions thereof in “ancient” (our) time would have resulted in dire consequences. But see, I didn’t write this because I felt like an old judgmental frump, worried about losing my clout of voice amid a mass of poorly mannered young boobs.

Okay. The fact is that not every kid bullies or has poor manners. Many are socially adept, respectful, and comparatively mature. Kudos to you kids, and may you be on thresholds of great success. Perhaps the issue is that the poor mannered ones are louder and more evident that their gracious counterparts. On the other hand, and sadly, perhaps there are just indeed more of them.

So when every news medium in the country blasted this story, and when a global collection to send Mrs. Klein on a “little” vacation reached over $100,000 in a single day (it’s not over $200,000), I knew I had my angle all along: manners are a dying breed, outrageous behavior (bullying and unspeakable rudeness) is alive and thriving. I also knew that beau coup people of all ages are sick and tired of a generation that simply doesn’t give a rats ass about inflicting pain on other people. I knew, therefore, I am not alone.

A Short Note To Madonna Badger

Dear  Madonna,

I see you’re in the news again. I’ve thought about you with a heavy, heavy heart many times over these past months. Back in late December, I could not get my mind off what I knew were the depths of darkness and unfathomable agony that must have tortured you with every breath you took.

It is good, this thing you’re doing, suing the officials in Stamford. With the horror of your family’s loss, I never thought about this additional nightmare, this further violation, this unauthorized devastation of whatever of your possessions from Shippan Avenue were left in the charred rubble. Hopefully this action will give some vent to your pain as well as reassert the rights that were stripped from you, as was everything else you owned and loved.

I hear you are gone from Stamford, the area that can do nothing but bring you pain with every view, every encounter, and every cloud in the once-blue sky. It was everything once safe and familiar. But that which was safe was nothing but a sham and everything familiar became unbearably monstrous. I hope you are somewhere very different from Stamford: different climate, different geography, maybe even different hemisphere.

As a woman, as a mother, I embrace you, as do countless others who have never met or even seen you beyond the photos in the media. Wherever it is you are, I pray you are being comforted with strong and caring hands and hearts.

In the meantime, know that thousands of us are here with hearts that ache and souls that only wish they could put back the pieces and turn back the hands of time.

With love,
From All of Us

About Writing and Louis L’Amour

For years, with imperious and quite faux intellectualism, I by-passed the shelves in libraries and bookstores that homed the Western genre. The books on those shelves were akin to the ones packing the Harlequin romance shelves, or so I presumed as I marched by, head held high, to more scholarly selections, until …

One name, one author, in particular began to intrigue me: Louis L’Amour. I was struck, and initially turned off, by the number of books on the shelves by this author. I figured they were all about cowboys and Indians, the written versions of Apache Rifles or Bullet for a Badman. Well, they’re not.

Here’s the short version of how I became acquainted with Mr. L’Amour. First, I always read when I’m at the gym. I have a routine – first thing is to retrieve the book holder, second thing is to mount my machine, and third is to get in gear, start swinging along while reading. This has initiated various conversations relating to ‘what are you reading,” and such. In one of these conversations, a gent mentioned  Mr. L’Amour was one of his favorite authors. By the caliber of his other favorite authors, I began to wonder if my previous assumptions were off. Then  I was discussing books with someone in my online book club, and she too mentioned L’Amour as a very good author, naming two or three specific favorite titles. Wasting no time, I got on Amazon and ordered those titles.

They came, I saw, they conquered!

Louis L’Amour is a compelling writer with numerous passages of profundity about life, and these below, about his craft of writing. These passages are from Fair Blows the Wind.

“You may well ask, if I know so much, why am I not writing successfully … well, I know what should be done, and I can talk well of it. But … I have not the will to persist. I tell myself I shall change, but I do not. I try to hold myself to a schedule, but I am diverted by the flights of fancy in my own mind. I dream of it, want it, talk of it, think of it, but I do not do it. Writing is a lonely business and must be forever so, and I am a social being. I want and need others around me and the loneliness of my room is a hateful thing.”

“My old master… used to say that writing was not only talent, but it was character, the character of the writer. Many are called, he would say, but few are chosen, and it is character that chooses them. In the last analysis, it is persistence that matters.”

It’s writing season for me. Always in late spring, since a girl in high school when I’d lay dreamily on my white chenille bedspread, windows wide open on steamy sultry evenings, the intoxicating scents of honeysuckle and roses bewitching me into writing truly AWFUL poetry!  Ah, though I do view that work with fondness and a certain level of respect (yes, I still have it), it was full of adjectives, superlatives, and drama, just as this passage. It also weighed heavy on the dark side, my way, I suppose, of dispelling the demons that lurked within.

But I DID IT! I wrote, just as I am now. Truth be known, I am not at all a disciplined, organized writer who sets by the day and the clock, X-number of pages punctuated by endless cups of coffee that could hold a spoon upright by the end of the “set” writing period. No, I am a write by the muse sort of writer – one who goes about the business of living until I find a thought, issue, or passion about which I simply must expound. To be honest, I do wish my Muse would stop by and visit more often, but, as they say, it is what it is.

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