Toronto HEARS: A Community Hearing Program for At-Risk Seniors

Toronto Hears project lead Marilyn Reed demonstrates her innovation

Award Date: 2017

Project Lead(s): Marilyn Reed, Practice Advisor for Audiology

Project Title: Toronto HEARS: Community-based hearing program for at-risk seniors

What is the issue?

Hearing ability is important for brain, physical, and mental health. Many seniors have hearing loss, but it goes largely untreated due to stigma and the costs associated with hearing aids.

What did we do?

We created the Toronto HEARS (Hearing Equality through Accessible Research and Solutions) program based on a program developed at Johns Hopkins University. We provided seniors attending day programs at four Toronto community centres in low-income neighbourhoods with hearing tests and a short course on ways to improve their ability to communicate. We also gave them an opportunity to purchase low-cost hearing devices.

What did we find?

Participants said the program helped increase their knowledge about hearing and healthy living. Many of them were unaware they had a hearing loss. We were surprised to find that so many participants could not afford even the low-cost hearing devices offered. However, most people said the skills improved their ability to have conversations and their quality of life.