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The Elder-Boomer Buzz, Issue #005 -- Pamper Your Hearing!
July 20, 2009

Issue #5
Pamper Your Hearing!

I have been thinking a lot lately about the importance of pampering our hearing. Yes…pamper. Every day I visit my Dad in his assisted living community and often eat with him in the dining room. Almost everybody there has serious hearing loss. To a certain extent, this is common in the aging process especially for the 70+ population. But it does not necessarily have to happen or be as severe if it does. Our current elderly population was not subjected to the amount of noise we have in modern life today. So what will happen to baby boomers … and those younger?

Yeah, we may have read stuff like this a dozen times in magazines and newspapers. About how hearing loss will happen at a younger age now. Hearing specialists expect at 40 as opposed to 65+ -- just because the younger generations are so into earphones and constant loud music, not to mention other every-day loud noise. Earphones and loud music alone will make a huge impact. But there are other factors for all of us that we take for granted and don’t pay much attention to -- the every-day noise we are bombarded with that, in many cases, we can protect ourselves from.

Sound pressure, as you may know, is measured in decibels (dB). Normal conversation is at about 60 decibels. A harmful decibel is 85 or over. Let’s compare this to common sounds…
A bulldozer (that is just idling not working – 85dB (damage after listening for 8 hours).
Motorcycles – 100 dB (damage after 15 minutes per day).
Music on earphones – 100 dB, at typical setting of 5 (damage after only 15 minutes per day!!).
Clap of nearby thunder – 120 dB (damage can be immediate).
Rock concert – 130 dB (temporary damage can happen after 10 to 15 minutes; but it can also cause permanent sudden hearing loss to some degree).
Shot guns and other types of guns – 140 to 190 dB (damage can be immediate – war veterans have a high rate of hearing loss).

Hearing loss studies report that out of the 40 million Americans that now have hearing loss, about 10 million cases were due to NIHL (noise-induced hearing loss) and growing as the population ages. NHIL is, in fact, the leading occupational hazard. Yet people are still very casual about this phenomenon.

Hearing loss can be temporary or permanent. It often happens because the delicate ear hairs that conduct sound have been broken and sometimes can’t be repaired. My own father (a retired dentist) experienced mild hearing loss in his late 60s, and then sudden hearing loss in one ear in his 80s. The doctor said it was due to constant exposure to high-pitch dental drills! His ear just finally weakened. It is very sobering to daily be around so many people with hearing loss. You develop a new awareness of taking care of yourself.

So pamper your ears and be aware of sound. Lower that volume! (And explain this to kids and grandkids). Wear ear plugs as much as possible. Close windows. Steer clear of loud noise areas if you do not need to be near it. Let’s protect our hearing as much as we can and enjoy a higher quality of life, long into our “golden years.”

Read more about What Is Hearing Loss. We have a series of great articles about hearing, including solutions if loss has already occurred.
Also check out Sudden Hearing Loss.

Visit our web site for lots more great articles for baby boomers and seniors at

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