Aging Well in the Gorge July 28th 2021

I’ve found that after I’ve asked someone to repeat themselves – for the third time, they just shake their head with that look that says “Oh, never mind. It’s not that important – even though your house is on fire!” Or when someone asks me a question, I often just silently nod, with a goofy smile, hoping I just didn’t agree to something I’ll regret. Ah, the joys of living with hearing loss.

This became particularly evident during my family reunion in Montana. The eight of us spent most of the time around the table sharing childhood memories, discussing sports and politics, and deciding who is going when to visit what the next day. But often I found it difficult to understand the conversation and would turn to my wife and ask, “What did they say?”. I felt like a tourist in a foreign land with my interpreter!

Those familiar with hearing loss get it. But those who aren’t, or experience it only once a year at a family reunion, often don’t understand. So how do you describe hearing loss to others?

Recently I read “How to Explain Hearing Loss to the Uninitiated” by Shari Eberts on the Living with Hearing Loss blog that offers several suggestions

Explain that hearing loss Is like playing Wheel of Fortune. On Wheel of Fortune, the contestants try to identify a phrase with only some of the letters visible. With hearing loss, you are trying to do the same, but with sounds instead of letters. You are constantly combining these incomplete sounds with other clues: lipreading (Masks don’t help.), body language (You need to face me!), and the context within the conversation to come up with something coherent. 

They may also believe hearings aids work like glasses and can give you 20-20 hearing. Hearing aids make sounds louder but are not always good at differentiating among sounds so the sounds often remain muffled or unclear making it harder to hear particularly in a noisy environment.

She has several other suggestions but those two I found most helpful in explaining hearing loss to my family so conversations don’t lead to frustration, anger, name-calling – which is sometimes my wife’s reaction when I can't understand her. And she loves me!

Good news! Many senior and community centers have or will soon welcome folks back for in-person activities and meals. For example, the Hood River Valley Adult Center will be open starting August 2nd. Masks will be required except when eating and there will be few other safety requirements which are a small inconvenience so we can gather again safely. Check with the meal site in your area to learn more.

The broadcast journalist who served as anchorman for the CBS Evening News for nineteen years and during that time reported on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and other significant events was Walter Cronkite. I received correct answers from Rhonda Spies, Doug Nelson, Barbara Cadwell, Jess Birge, Margo Dameier, Stephen Woolpert, Susan Ellis, and the winner of a quilt raffle ticket Alan Winans. 

And for the previous week’s Paul Lynde question, I received correct answers from Susan Ellis, Barbara Cadwell, Doug Nelson, Kim Birge, Dave Lutgens, Margo Dameier, Lana Tepfer, Rhonda Spies, Keith Clymer, Gene Uczen, and that week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket “CK the DJ” Courtney Kiser.

Even furrrrrrther back I missed Keith Clymer, Pat Kelly, J Chantler, and Clare Zumwalt, and in my coming and going I probably missed a few more.

I know many of you are country music fans so you may have watched this show starring Buck Owens and Roy Clark. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the television variety show aired on CBS-TV from 1969–1971 (before going into syndication) and featured country music and humor from the fictional rural Kornfield Kounty? E-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or drop it off with a greasy hamburger from Lulu’s Truck Stop.

Well, it’s been another week, trying to resist the irresistible. Until we meet again, in life there are good days - and then there are days when you feel like “Lonesome” George Gobel when he asked, "Did you ever get the feeling that the world was a tuxedo and you were a pair of brown shoes?"

“Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest.” Larry Lorenzoni 

Aging Well in the Gorge July 21st 2021


It’s summer in the Gorge: hot, dry, and windy. Perfect conditions for wildfires. There have already been several in the Gorge, and even though we wish and hope there won’t be any more, there probably will be. Besides the personal and economic harm wildfires can cause, the smoke from wildfires can be damaging to our health causing burning eyes, runny nose, scratchy throat, headaches, and illnessesuch as bronchitis. The smoke can also worsen chronic heart and lung disease including asthma, emphysema, and COPD 


So how do we prepare and protect ourselves from wildfire smoke?  


A mask is one way to protect yourself when outdoorsWe have all become accustomed to wearing cloth masks during the pandemic, but cloth masks offer little protection against wildfire smoke because they do not effectively catch the harmful small particles when you breathe in. But as we know the masks are effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19 by blocking respiratory droplets you breathe out.  


N95 and KN95 particulate respirator face masks can provide protection from both: wildfire smoke and from getting and spreading COVID-19. The benefit of an N95 and KN95 respirators is that they filter up to 95% of particles in the air as long as they meet the right requirements, are not counterfeit/fake, and fit properlyBut many folks find them uncomfortable - when they fit properly, they often require more effort to breathe. They also are more expensive and are meant to be used only once 


N95 NIOSH-approved masks which are commonly used in the United States are the gold standard and the supply has increased significantly over the last several months. Make sure you purchase NIOSH approved N95 mask. KN95 respirators are commonly made in China and are similar to N95 masks, but only a few Chinese manufacturers have been approved by the FDA for emergency use. You can find online a list of the NIOSH approved N95 and the FDA-approved KN95 respirator face masks. 


Besides wearing protective mask when the air quality deteriorates because of wildfire smoke, you can create cleaner air space at homeKeep doors and windows closedand if you have onecontinuously run a portable air purifier in one or more roomsIf you don’t have an air purifier, an inexpensive and surprisingly effective alternative is making your own DIY filtration unit by sealing a 20-inch square furnace filter (which you can find at any hardware store) with clear pro-strength packing tape to a 20-inch box fan 

If you have a forced-air system in your home, you may need to talk to qualified heating and cooling professional about different filters and settings you can use to reduce indoor smoke. (Set to recirculate” and “on” rather than “auto”.) 


If you want to know more about the air quality in your area, you can find up-to-date information by going to on your computer or smartphoneAirNow is one-stop source for air quality data including the air quality index (AQI) for your area, a smoke and fire map, and AQI forecast You can also find air quality information on several weather apps such as Weather Bug. 


Besides spoiling the scenic beauty of the Gorge, wildfire smoke can be detrimental to our health and should be avoided if possible. Because we know who’s at risk. Us!   


Some of my most vivid memories are from watching the evening news: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Vietnam War, Watergate. This week’s “Remember When” question is who was the broadcast journalist who served as anchorman for the CBS Evening News for nineteen years; often cited as the most trusted man in America"; and always signed off with “And that’s the way it is? E-mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or send it with the last episode of The Twentieth Century.  


The comedian/actor who found his greatest fame occupying the middle square of the game show Hollywood Squares was Paul LyndeSince I will be out of town (yes, again, this time for the annual reunion with my sister and brother), I’ll mention those who submitted correct answers next week. 


Well, it’s been another week running so fast I feel like I’m moving backward. Until we meet again, when the going gets tough, the tough – take a nap? 

If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out? Will Rogers 


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