Listening with more than ears

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Earlier on the day I wrote this column, I was in Coeur d’Alene for a meeting. One of the participants in that meeting shared that his hearing loss made it difficult to hear most of what was happening during our time together. That led to a longer discussion on how hearing loss impacts so many parts of our lives.

On the way home from that meeting, I listed to NPR’s “Fresh Air”. It was an interview with David Owen, a writer whose new book, “Volume Control: Hearing in a Deafening World”, was just published a week ago.

As it happens, the Geezer Forum next Tuesday, Nov. 12, focuses on some of the new clinical services offered by Bonner General Health. One of those new clinics is offered by Dr. Susan Anderson, an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist.

I couldn’t do column-justice to the three BGH clinics (ENT, behavioral health and ophthalmology). So I listened (pun intended) to my earlier encounter with hearing loss conversations.

The closer I look at the dynamics of hearing loss for so many people, the more I think that perhaps “hearing loss” deserves a better -- well, hearing — at a future 2020 Geezer Forum.

One of the questions raised in my mind from listening to the radio interview with David Owen is specific to age-related hearing loss: Is hearing loss inevitable as we grow older, or is hearing loss mostly impacted by our previous life experiences? I lean toward how sounds impacted us all through our lives. How about you?

I also wonder how our hearing capabilities both impact our brain health, and are impacted by our brain health. If you read my columns regularly, you know that brain health is a subject I circle around to from time to time. Hearing and brain health have a strong connection.

As we look forward to the Nov. 12 Geezer Forum, I want to briefly introduce the three doctors we will hear from in our 2:30-4 p.m. session in Columbia Bank’s Community Room.

Dr. Susan Anderson is certified with the American Osteo-pathic Associa-tion Board with expertise in the medical and surgical treatment of conditions related to the ear, nose, and throat. She also treats sleep-related issues, like snoring and sleep apnea.

Dr. Joseph Wassif is a licensed psychologist has joined psychiatrist Dr. Terry Johnson at BGH Behavioral Health. Besides his focus on persons with depression, anxiety, personality disorders, ADHD, trauma mood deregulation and life transitions, Dr. Wassif also offers family therapy by addressing individual needs within the large family system.

Dr. Mark Torres will join BGH on January 6, 2020 to provide ophthalmology and eye surgery services. A 30-year Army veteran, Dr. Torres completed his ophthalmology residency at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash. he also specializes in corneal surgery and refractive surgery.

Erin Binall, community development manager of Bonner General Health and Foundation will moderate Tuesday’s panel. Together, they will give participants an up-to-date look at the ways BGH seeks to increase the broad spectrum of medical services to Bonner and Boundary counties.

We hope you will join us Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2:30-4 p.m. at Columbia Bank’s Community Room to learn more about the expanding medical services available to all persons in our area.

Paul Graves, M.Div., is lead geezer-in-training for Elder Advocates, a consulting ministry on aging issues. Contact Paul at 208-610-4971 or

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