Birds singing, wind rustling through the trees, music and conversations with friends or loved ones. These are some of the sounds of everyday life and likely things taken for granted by those of us with normal hearing. My wife suffers from profound hearing loss, and even with the help of modern hearing aids, ordinary sounds will never sound the same again.

I count myself lucky to still experience good hearing at age 66, especially following a long career which included being around the noise of power equipment and traffic on a daily basis, and enjoying shooting sports over the years. Not only was I fortunate to work for a company that supplied hearing protection and tested my hearing annually, but I took preserving my hearing seriously outside of the work environment. I always used earplugs when target shooting and even at home when mowing the lawn or using a vacuum cleaner.

Exposure to sounds 85 decibels or greater (target shooting, power equipment, loud music, recreational vehicles etc.) can damage the hair cells in the inner ear resulting in acute hearing loss if exposure is great enough or gradually over time with repeated exposure. While hearing loss can occur at any age, it’s estimated one in three people ages 65 to 74, and half of those 75 and older will experience some degree of hearing loss.

It’s never too late to protect your hearing. Protection is as easy as inserting ear plugs or putting on a pair of protective muffs, both of which can be obtained easily at local home improvement stores or online. Once you purchase hearing protection, use it! I always carry a set of ear plugs in my pocket, and anytime I get concerned about a loud noise posing a threat to my hearing, I put them to good use.

As we age, it’s important to continue to protect our hearing, but what about our children, grandchildren, and friends? Hearing damage is cumulative and it’s never too early to protect the gift of hearing. We can set a good example for those close to us and encourage them to conserve one of the greatest blessings in life.

We live a very social life here in SaddleBrooke. What would it be like to attend a lecture, meeting, concert or even dinner with friends if we couldn’t hear? Loss of hearing leads to avoidance of social activities and even cognitive decline. Don’t take hearing for granted. Protect it!

If you are interested in learning more about hearing loss or are currently experiencing hearing loss or want to assist a loved one, please come to one of the monthly SaddleBrooke Discussion Group for Better Hearing meetings. Meetings are hybrid, with meetings in person and on Zoom. The meetings are held the second Friday of each month from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. in HOA-2 Mountain View Sonoran Room. If you prefer to participate via Zoom or have other questions, please contact Jennifer Jefferis at or (360) 909-6212 or Lyle Larson at or (360) 910-5691.

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