No cost hearing aids for aging adults available through state program

Published: Jul. 14, 2016 at 6:10 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Age-related hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting older adults.  The high price connected to hearing aids can leave many settling for a life with lower sound and less independence.  Now, a state-funded program is connecting aging adults with hearing aids at no cost.

At 91 years old, Bertha Burgess of Westlake still lives independently.

"I mop my kitchen and bathrooms, I do my own vacuuming and dusting," she said.

While Burgess' physical shape is great for someone in their ninth decade of life, aging took a toll on her hearing.

"I would say, 'I'm sorry, I didn't understand what you said, or what did you say?'  All of this having to ask to repeat, it was so embarrassing," said Burgess.

Burgess connected with Gwynn Houston and the Southwest Louisiana Independence Center in Lake Charles.  SLIC has a hearing program through the Louisiana Commission for the Deaf.

"There are so many people that live in our area that need hearing aids and they don't even realize it, but their families are starting to bring to their attention 'when I talk to you, you can't hear me,'" said Houston.

This program offers hearing aids at no cost to people over the age of 50, on a fixed income, and with hearing loss.

"You have to have at least 40 decibels or greater hearing loss in both ears," said Houston.

The first step to sign up for the hearing program is to contact SLIC.  From there, they will direct you to have a current hearing exam that shows a certain level of hearing loss for qualifications.

"The second step is your finances," said Houston.  " A lot of folks are on a fixed income, social security, that type of thing.  So most of these people will qualify."

There is a waiting list, but Burgess says she got her hearing aids within two months of signing up.  They have given her back her joy in conversation.

"These hearing aids have done wonders for me!" she said.

SLIC also offers amplified phones, doorbell devices, and an alarm clock that vibrates the bed at no cost to the hearing impaired in Calcasieu, Cameron, Allen, Beauregard, and Jeff Davis Parishes.  To take advantage of those resources or sign up for the hearing aid program, call SLIC at 337-477-7194.

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