Due solely to a lack of funds, some people are living in a world of silence without hope. But a nonprofit organization that is part of Vicar’s Landing is working to make the gift of hearing available to all low-income people in the community, beginning with seniors over the age of 60.
Lend An Ear Outreach Inc. was created in March 2012 by a group of four women who saw the impact of hearing loss on the elderly.
Advocates have found that hard-of-hearing and deaf seniors with low incomes have been forgotten in recent years. Medicare does not cover the cost of hearing aids; therefore, many seniors who could otherwise continue to be a valuable part of society are rendered helpless because they cannot hear and cannot afford the cost of hearing aids.
Hearing loss has been linked with a variety of medical, social and cognitive ills. A new research study by Johns Hopkins University suggests that hearing loss may be a risk factor for dementia, and using a hearing aid during the early stages may even prevent some forms of dementia.
Lend An Ear has found that used, or no longer needed, hearing aids could be easily recast and refurbished to fit another person.
In addition, there are audiologists who are committed to providing free examinations and, upon verification of need, have volunteered to recast and fit the used hearing aids for qualified seniors.
On June 1, 2016, Lend An Ear became part of Vicars Landing a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Ponte Vedra Beach. Both share the same board of directors.
Since then, the organization has helped more than 250 recipients in the lower income level and given them the gift of hearing.
In the fall of 2019, 38 people in the Hastings area were fitted. Since 2019, Lend An Ear has been able to help recipients get brand new hearing aids with a one-year warranty through the Starkey Hear Now program or Phonak hearing aids.
Lend An Ear is currently working with the Arlington Eye Clinic (Arlington Lions Club) with an audiologist once a month to fit hearing aids to those that qualify.