Silverstein Institute
Sarasota | Lakewood Ranch | Venice

What is the Help Us Hear Program?

Written by Silverstein Institute
Published: 05 May 2014

The Ear Research Foundation at the Silverstein Institute is proud to coordinate the Help Us Hear Program, a community outreach program that gives the gift of hearing to those who suffer from hearing loss. This initiative is designed to help community members. The program's success will reach as far as the altruism of those who are willing to help. HelpUsHearFB

The Silverstein Institute created the Help Us Hear Program not only to assist those who can't hear but to also educate the general community about the miraculous new technologies that combat hearing loss. Part of the aim is also to spread the word about how many people are impacted by hearing loss and to erase commonly held stereotypes about hearing aids. In the past year, the program has already assisted 25 people to hear the wonderful sounds of life. More patients are on their way to obtaining their own hearing devices and plenty of others are waiting in the queue.

The very first person to benefit from the Help Us Hear Program had experienced hearing loss since the age of 20. This gentleman had undergone surgery in his quest to hear but his hearing only worsened. Eventually, he was downsized at work and was unable to care for his family. Thanks to Help Us Hear, he obtained quality hearing aids and is living happily because he now has the ability to provide for his family.

Helping the public is nothing new to the Silverstein Institute. Since 1979, the Institute’s nonprofit Ear Research Foundation has diligently worked to help people hear. This foundation charges eligible patients reduced fees and conducts a weekly clinic to help those in need.

Yet these efforts have not been enough to meet the overwhelming demand. Even though staff members generously volunteer their time and effort to help the community, the number of people who suffer from hearing loss far outweighs the supply of volunteers and hearing devices. In 2008, 110,000 people in Sarasota and Manatee counties reported that they were hard of hearing. This equals an amazing 16 percent of the counties' populations and represents the highest rate of hearing loss per capita in the entire U.S.

Part of the problem is the high cost of hearing loss remedies. Hearing devices typically cost $3,000 and are not eligible for Medicare coverage. Individuals who seek cochlear implant surgery face a $30,000+ expense. The majority of the patients in need are older adults because Medicare does not cover the cost of hearing aids. This means that many people often suffer in silence either due to lack of funds or because they are stuck on ever-growing wait lists for help.

Imagine how one's life is impacted by not being able to hear what is going on around them. They can't learn, work or socialize. These people often live very limited and isolated lives.

The Help Us Hear Program is designed to help those who don't have the ability to pay for their own treatment. No one with any substantial resources would opt to live life as a deaf recluse, unable to communicate with family and friends. Applicants to the Help Us Hear Program are required to prove that they are unable to pay for treatment. Those who qualify are grateful for the assistance which includes a hearing test, a fitting session for a hearing device, batteries and a subsequent visit for adjustments.

Those interested in donating to the Help Us Hear Program and the Ear Research Foundation should understand that many people have asked for help. Yet sufficient resources are not yet available. With more donations to the Foundation overall, fewer people will suffer from deafness and hearing loss. The treatments are readily available. The challenge is to raise enough funds to be able to provide the care needed. So please consider making a difference that can be heard! Give the gift of hearing. Give to the Ear Research Foundation.

To learn more about the Ear Research Foundation, listen to the podcast of Heidi Godman's interview on WSRQ radio with Foundation President, Dr. Herb Silverstein, and Executive Director, Jennifer Moss.

To support the Ear Research Foundation with an online gift during the 2014 Giving Challenge, please go to www.givingpartnerchallenge.org between noon on May 6 and noon on May 7. Be sure to specify Ear Research Foundation.

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