The traditional model of clinic-based, fee-for-service hearing healthcare neglects the needs of fixed-income older adults. This model of hearing healthcare requires multiple visits to multiple providers over several months, utilizes expensive hearing aids ($2000-5000 out-of-pocket) not covered by most insurances and heavily dependents on a person’s access to transportation, financial resources and health literacy. Due to these barriers to accessing hearing care, the majority of older adults with hearing loss go untreated.
Access HEARS, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was founded by leading hearing experts and entrepreneurs from Johns Hopkins University with seed money provided by the AARP Foundation. Our mission is to connect people with hearing loss to the technology and resources they need to age well. We employ an evidence-based program co-designed by a diverse group of older adults and piloted in Baltimore City congregate housing to deliver services directly to communities. By offering people a low-cost, in-person or virtual service delivery, teaching them how to use high-quality listening devices and providing them with ongoing support, we overcome the barriers overlooked by traditional hearing care.