New Zealanders who cannot afford hearing aids are being offered a lifeline by the National Foundation for Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
The charity that advocates for people with hearing loss has launched a Hearing Aid Fund, and is offering 20 grants towards hearing aids. Each recipient will have $500 paid directly to their audiology provider to help cover the costs of devices and fitting.
“Our Hearing Aid fund could mean the difference between not getting hearing aids and finally affording hearing aids and living a fuller life,” says Chief Executive of the National Foundation for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Natasha Gallardo.
“Hearing aids can cost between $6,000 and $10,000. We want to close the gap of the cost of the hearing aids for low income individuals with the grants. The balance can then be paid off in monthly instalments with the help of audiology clinics such as Triton Hearing, as part of their Pay As You Hear. This makes hearing aids more financially achievable.
“We know that people can become very isolated if they cannot hear what is going on around them, or contribute to conversations. There have been harrowing examples of people being targeted in attacks because their hearing loss makes them vulnerable,” says Natasha.
The 2018 Trak Report – a global study that surveyed 16,080 New Zealanders, including 1,316 hearing impaired – shows that 67 per cent of people with hearing loss who do not have hearing aids, said it was due to affordability, and 29 per cent of hearing aid wearers thought hearing loss could be linked to depression. Almost half – 48 per cent – of hearing aid wearers said it gave them a greater sense of safety.
“Struggles with mental health are real. If you need hearing aids and cannot afford them, you may withdraw and become increasingly isolated,” says Natasha.
“Hearing aids are devices that whilst they cannot restore your hearing, they can improve your quality of life. Everyone deserves to be able to feel included and valued, and to have hearing aids if they need them, irrespective of their financial means.”
The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing – formerly NFD - advocates for vital services and support for people living with a hearing loss. It offers guidance to ensure people with a hearing loss are recognised and have access to the tools and services they require.
Applications for the grants, totalling $10,000, close on August 31, 2020. As part of the criteria to be eligible, applicants must have an individual income of $45,000 or less (or a combined household income of no more than $70,000) or have a valid Community Services Card. Eight of the 20 grants will be awarded to people 65 years and over, as stipulated in a bequest to the Foundation.
For details of the criteria and to apply, go to nfd.org.nz