hi-hearing-aid-cp

A single hearing aid can cost more than $1,000, more than a low-income senior citizen can afford.

The P.E.I. Senior Citizens' Federation is asking the province to offer low-income Island seniors more financial help for hearing aids.

The federation says good hearing is too important not to fund.

"There's a social isolation because you can't hear properly," said federation vice president Susan Birt.

"You don't want to be out."

Hearing loss can lead to missed conversations and confusion, which can be embarrassing, said Birt.

"Sometimes people withdraw, and they don't participate in their community, and we certainly don't want that to happen," she said.

But the cost of the devices is a major barrier for some. One hearing aid can run from $400 to more than $1,000, and the cost doubles if you need two.

The province helps pay for hearing aids for seniors who qualify for social assistance, but the Senior Citizens' Federation says that's leaving a lot of low-income Islanders without help. It's asking for hearing aids to be added to the catastrophic drug program.

Health Minister Doug Currie says he's willing to meet to try to come up with a solution, but it won't be under the Catastrophic Drug Plan.     

"A hearing aid is a device, it's a piece of equipment. It's not a drug," said Currie, "but I would open up an opportunity to at least start the conversation."

Currie said there's no money available for any kind of program this year, but agrees it's something to consider for future years.

For mobile device users: Should the P.E.I. government help low-income seniors with the cost of hearing aids?