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Local nonprofit wants to 'Lend an Ear'

10:21 AM, Sep 27, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- 78 year old Jack Frost is partially deaf in both ears. He couldn't afford spending thousands on a hearing aid.  "I found that the price was pretty steep," said Frost.  But thanks to the Lend an Ear outreach program Mr. Frost and hundreds like him will soon be able to hear again.

Lend an Ear takes used, donated hearing aids, reprograms them and gives them to qualified seniors.  Audiologist Dr. Jane Burns volunteers her time to test folks at Pablo Towers, a senior care facility at the beach.  "If you take care of people it will come back to you over time," said Burns. Studies have shown if hearing loss isn't corrected it could lead to a number of other health issue, including dementia.  "Hearing loss causes so many things in life. It causes depression, it causes isolation and now that to find that it can exacerbate and cause dementia, that's really amazing," said Burns.

More than 26% of Americans over 50 suffer from some type of hearing loss.  It's the third most prevalent chronic health problem in older adults. 

Jack Frost says it was his wife, Mary, who saw that he was losing his hearing. "I was noticing that I would turn the TV up and my wife would say turn it down."  As a result, his hearing loss took a toll on his life. "You go to church and you don't hear the minister. You listened to the TV and you don't hear the news. I found out that I wasn't participating. I was fading out in the background because I couldn't hear what was going on."

Thursday night at a fundraiser, Mr. Frost will be presented with his new hearing aid courtesy of Lend an Ear.  But more hearing aids are needed.  "There are a lot of hearing aids out there in sock drawers. There are people that have passed on. A lot of times people have thrown them away. They get lost. In nursing homes people find them and they don't know what to do with them. Please give us those donations," says Burns.

Not only seniors are being helped. "When the state provides them, the children have to leave those hearing aids at school at the end of the day. That increases the danger of not being able to hear a car or they can't participate in other activities the other children do. So we want to help them too," says Lisa Sheek, founder of Lend an Ear.

Jack Frost is one success story of the Lend an Ear program. "Now I can hear much better," said Frost.  And his wife confirms it.  "I said to him are you really hearing that well? He said yes. I said turn your face and let me say something to you. He turned his face and I said 'do you still love me?' He said 'I still love you.'  So I knew he was hearing," says Mary Frost.  Those are words no one would get tired of hearing.

By the way, since Jack Frost has the name Jack Frost Sheek says he will be Lend and Ear's poster boy for a holiday hearing aid drive in a few months.  Tonight's Lend an Ear fundraiser at the Casa Marina Hotel is sold out.  But the outreach program is accepting cash donations on its website and is always looking for any used hearing aids.  They'll even come pick them up. You can also call Lisa Sheek at 904-576-3628 for more information.

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